by Jeff Siegel
(Cue the theme music — probably something from Monty Python's "Money Programme.")
Announcer: Welcome to The Hypocrite Game, in which U.S. politicians compete for campaign contributions and elected office — all by saying one thing and doing something completely different. And, boy, don't we have a great show this week, Jay?
Host: Thank you, Mark. We certainly do. The Bear Stearns bailout — that's an opportunity our contestants haven't had in a good while. Who is playing the game this week?
Announcer: We've got a terrific lineup, Jay. How about a president and three presidential candidates? Let's meet them now!
(Cue music, and camera pans to contestants standing behind lecterns.)
Host: Tell us a little about yourselves, contestants.
President Bush: Well, I've been been president of the United States for nine years, and my administration invaded Iran. (Looks offstage). Ooops, sorry, seven years and Iraq.
Senator McCain: I'm running for president and my administration will invade Iran. (Looks offstage). Oops, sorry, stay the course in Iraq.
Senator Clinton: My husband used to be president. Not that that matters or anything.
Senator Obama: Can we change the subject?
Host: All right, contestants, let's play The Hypocrite Game! (Cue crowd noise). You know the rules. Whoever can be the biggest hypocrite — in this case, dealing with this week's federal bailout of the Bear Stearns investment bank, which allowed JPMorgan Chase to pick up Bear Stearns' assets for pennies on the dollar — wins. And that means more campaign cash and a better chance to win your next election! (Cue even louder crowd noise.) President Bush, since you're our defending champion, you'll go last. We'll start with Mrs. Clinton.
Senator Clinton: Well, Jay, I have accepted more than $350,000 in campaign contributions from Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase employees. Plus, when the deal was announced, I was very careful not to criticize it. And then, to show just how much of a hypocrite I am, I criticized the Bush Administration for not doing enough, and said Main Street was as important as Wall Street. And I didn't mean any of it! (Cue crowd noise, wilder than ever.)
Host: Wow, you're going to be tough to beat, Mrs. Clinton. How about you, Senator Obama?
Senator Obama (looking obviously crestfallen): I say we need a change from Mrs. Clinton's ways. I only took $300,000 from Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase employees, and though that doesn't sound like more than Mrs. Clinton, it's really better — because it's different. And I said that the economy is in a shambles and that we're teetering on the brink of a crisis, but I know better than to bite the Wall Street hand that feeds me by saying that the deal was bad policy! (Cue loud crowd noise, but not as loud as Mrs. Clinton's.)
Host: Impressive, Senator, especially for a rookie. How about you, Senator McCain?
Senator McCain: Well, I'm a Reagan Republican, and I'd like to point out that the Reagan Administration did something completely different during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s. It closed insolvent S&L's and wrote the bad loans off. It didn't give anyone a sweetheart deal like the Bush Administration gave JPMorgan, one of the richest and most powerful companies in the history of the world. How's that for hypocrisy? (Cue wild crowd noise.) And I have between $3 million and $7 million of my money invested with JPMorgan — and I even defended the Federal Reserve for getting involved!! (Cue the wildest crowd noise yet.)
Host: Boy, Senator McCain, that's why you're the Republican nominee. What do you say, President Bush?
President Bush: One thing is for certain — we're in challenging times. But another thing is for certain — that we've taken strong and decisive action. How many more sides can I take with that statement, without actually saying anything? And let's not forget that my administration loosened federal banking regulations that helped get this lending crisis started and pushed for the bankruptcy reform act that makes it more difficult for working men and women to file for bankruptcy. So we made it possible for banks to lend money to people who couldn't afford it, and then we punished the people who got the loans. Pretty spiffy, huh? And all the while, I'm a firm believer in the free market and laissez faire capitalism (looks offstage). Yes, that's right, laissez faire. So what do I do at the first chance? Protect my buddies on Wall Street! That's why I'm the champ!! (Cue riotous, impossibly loud crowd noise.)
Host: And you're still the champ, President Bush! You win again!! That's all this week — join us next time, when baseball commissioner Bud Selig and slugger Barry Bonds play The Hyprocite Game! So long, everybody.
For more posts on similar topics, please see:
- "A Sucker's Walk Down Wall Street;"
- "Did Barack Obama Get the SNL Endorsement?"
- "Super Tuesday & Hillary Clinton's Economic Strategy;"
- "John McCain and the Republican Right;" and
- "The Bush Recession: Spending is the Solution?"
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