So today was a horrific day for the stock market. Setting aside the economic impact of today's financial news, what is the political impact?
The pundits vary on their opinions but there is a slight consensus that this banking crisis will benefit Obama more than McCain, at least in the short term. There's certainly a chance that attempts to blame the events on Bush might work and it is one more step to argue that McCain is just like Bush. Now I personally find the McCain as Bush's third term meme ludicrous--wasn't it just two months ago that people were saying that McCain was so liberal that the conservative base would rather stay home than vote for him? But regardless of my personal opinions, it can't be denied that some portion of the public might be sympathetic to that argument. John Dickerson at the Slate doesn't think the news is going to matter much in the long run.
The main point is that the bad financial news represents a political opportunity for Obama. It gives him a chance to jump in and say how his economic plan is needed, that change is indeed needed. He wouldn't even have to get that specific--the "I'm not Bush and Bush caused this" argument might actually work for a change. Even more importantly, he could get Sarah Palin off the front page. The focus would be him, on his economic plan, on how his leadership could prevent further economic problems.
So what does the media do today? Why naturally it runs a story about Sarah Palin. Here's the front page of CNN.com:
There is every indication that this investigation isn't going to lead anywhere--just like the last 7,312 attempts to bring Palin down. And while the McCain camp has been crying "unfair!" a lot lately, the fact that the investigation is being controlled by Democrats seems suspect to many. But the media can't help themselves. Just as the terminator was singularly focused on killing Sarah Connor, the media is as focused on somehow ruining the career of Sarah Palin.
They seem unable to shake themselves from this task. It would actually be better for Obama if they dropped Palin from the news and focused on a 500+ point drop on Wall Street. But the media is so obsessed with Sarah Palin that their initial goal of getting Obama elected is now secondary. What I said before about Palin dominating the news seems to be even more true today.