In my previous life, I witnessed far more difficult postmortems. This one is easy. The patient was fatally stricken on Sept. 15 — caught in the rubble when the roof fell in (at Lehman Brothers, according to the police report) — although he did linger until his final, rather quiet demise on Nov. 4.
In the excitement and decisiveness of Barack Obama‘s victory, we forget that in the first weeks of September, John McCain was actually ahead. Then Lehman collapsed, and the financial system went off a cliff.
By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, November 7, 2008; Page A19
Above: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election night rally in Phoenix Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
This was not just a meltdown but a panic. For an agonizing few days, there was a collapse of faith in the entire financial system — a run on banks, panicky money-market withdrawals, flights to safety, the impulse to hide one’s savings under a mattress.
This did not just have the obvious effect of turning people against the incumbent party, however great or tenuous its responsibility for the crisis. It had the more profound effect of making people seek shelter in government.
After all, if even Goldman Sachs was getting government protection, why not you? And offering the comfort and safety of government is the Democratic Party‘s vocation. With a Republican White House having partially nationalized the banks and just about everything else, McCain’s final anti-Obama maneuver — Joe the Plumber spread-the-wealth charges of socialism — became almost comical.