I wanted to alert my readers to a great excerpt printed in the Wall Street Journal from Henry Paulson’s new book entitled On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System .
Paulson, is the former United States Treasury Secretary and at one time was the CEO of Goldman Sachs. The book excerpt in the WSJ concerns the now infamous McCain 2008 presidential campaign suspension meeting which lead to TARP. The event made for one of the most memorable and intense campaign debacles in modern history. John McCain and Barack Obama were about to meet for their first presidential debate and then the economic crisis hit the fan. McCain appeared flustered and suffering from knee jerk-itis while Obama was calm, cool and unaffected ( We would later find that this is Obama’s normal demeanor with everything from paper cuts to oh say overly endowed Muslim Nigerian citizens with snakes on airplanes—pretty much everything).
The dick measuring contest centered around who could handle the financial meltdown the quickest while appearing the most presidential.
From this excerpt in the Wall Street Journal
FEBRUARY 6, 2010
When Mr. McCain Came to Washington
Inside the White House meeting where Obama called McCain’s bluff: ‘I could see Obama chuckling’
By HENRY M. PAULSON JR.
…When the hearing recessed, I went into [Democratic Massachusetts Rep.] Barney Frank’s office and called [White House Chief of Staff] Josh Bolten to tell him in no uncertain terms that I thought it was dangerous for McCain to return. Josh said the White House was equally frustrated. McCain wanted a meeting at the White House, and the president felt he had no choice but to accommodate him.
I called Obama right away. He said that he would try to be as constructive as possible but that the Democrats were doing their part and I had better keep in touch with McCain. The president was scheduled to give a major speech that evening making the case for TARP, but news of McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign dominated the rest of the afternoon.
We’d devised TARP to save the financial system. Now it had become all about politics—presidential politics. I wondered what McCain could have been thinking. Calling a meeting like this when we didn’t have a deal was playing with dynamite.
At 2:25 the following afternoon. I spoke with John McCain, who had just returned to Washington. The call did nothing to ease my mind. “We have to protect the American taxpayers,” he told me, pointing out that nothing would get done in Congress without the House Republicans. They didn’t like our proposal and I needed to listen more carefully to them, he said.
“John, our system is on the edge,” I told him. “WaMu barely got bailed out today. Several other institutions are on the brink. If we don’t get something done soon, this economy is going to collapse.”
I was so concerned that McCain would do or say something rash that I resorted to a veiled threat: “I’m not a politician, but if you or anyone else does something that causesthis system to collapse, it is not going to just be on me. I am going to go and say what I think to the American people.”
I will let you be the judge, all I can say is:
Autographed Letter Signed,