One of the perils of being a populist, as John McCain is finding out, is that the public is allowed to change its mind, but politicians who attempt to follow them end up looking bad.
the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.
"Obviously, that didn't happen," McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The [Arizona] Republic's Editorial Board, recounting his decision-making during the critical initial days of the fiscal crisis. "They decided to stabilize the Wall Street institutions, bail out (insurance giant) AIG, bail out Chrysler, bail out General Motors.... What they figured was that if they stabilized Wall Street - I guess it was trickle-down economics - that therefore Main Street would be fine."
I am not sure this is much of a defense. Even without McCain's access to such financial luminaries, I and many others predicted at the time the $700 billion slush fund would be used as, well, as slush fund to bail out the politically well-connected. I must admit I didn't see the GM/UAW bailout coming, but its not wildly surprising in retrospect.
Unfortunately for all of us, McCain's competition in the next election, JD Hayworth, is even less appealing.