John. McCain. Does. Not. Understand. The. Job. He. Is. Running. For.

He’s asking the Fed to stay out of the bailout business? Why the hell does he think central banks were invented in the first place?

McCain today:

… the Federal Reserve should get back to its core business of responsibly managing our money supply and inflation. It needs to get out of the business of bailouts. The Fed needs to return to protecting the purchasing power of the dollar. A strong dollar will reduce energy and food prices. It will stimulate sustainable economic growth and get this economy moving again.

The whole point of having a central bank is to prevent financial panics: in effect, cascading bank runs. What’s happening now on Wall Street has all of the makings of panic. The Fed and the Treasury are stepping in to stop that panic from bringing the real economy to its knees. That’s their job, dammit!

There may be a case to be made against either the AIG bailout or the proposed Garbage Pail, but McCain isn’t even trying to make that case: And as to “a strong dollar”: yes, more imports and fewer exports are exactly what the doctor ordered for an economy slipping into recession. Not. McCain isn’t offering anything resembling a coherent analysis of the situation and how to get out of it: he’s just blithering, reciting slogans he vaguely recalls from the Reagan days.

Christopher Hayes on John McCain as Andrew Mellon.

Brad DeLong: “Milton Friedman is spinning in his grave.”

If McCain is going to run his campaign as the Original Amateur Hour*, maybe he should dump Palin and pick Ted Mack instead.

The money-cons who really wanted Romney but settled on McCain instead of the semi-populist Huckabee must be regretting the past right about now, and thinking hard about what to do next. Yes, Obama’s principles aren’t theirs, but on the other hand they have some serious skin in the game, and they know what, e.g., “a strong dollar” would mean in real life, as opposed to how it sounds in a stump speech. Some of them have to be asking themselves whether they need a steady hand on the tiller more than they need a volatile and ill-informed ideological soul-mate.

* Late-medieval version of American Idol.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com