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Monday's news: McCain seeks oversight board for finance rescue

September 21, 2008 | 10:15 pm

A little advance peek at the news you'll hear much more about Monday morning and afternoon:

John McCain's campaign, after talking inexplicably last Monday about the country's fundamentally strong economy and then having to spend days backfilling, will try to start the new week out on the offensive.

Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain

According to briefing notes shared with The Times' Maeve Reston this evening, McCain will agree that the country (Congress and the Bush administration) must move quickly to address the Wall Street financial crisis. (Remember, quickly in Washington has a whole different meaning than out here in the real world.)

The senator will say that he has the greatest respect for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who's served his country honorably in Vietnam and spent all that time as a POW. No, wait, that's what the Democrats are supposed to say about McCain before undercutting him.

McCain talked with Paulson several times over the weekend. He will say that he is "greatly concerned" that the current....

...economic rescue plans call for placing responsibility for spending upwards of $1,000,000,000,000 in the hands of one person "on the basis of not much more than 'trust me.' "

That is a lot of zeros, even for Washington.

Here's what you'll see McCain utter on tomorrow night's evening news: "We will not solve a problem caused by poor oversight with a plan that has no oversight."

You can't imagine how many people worked together Sunday afternoon to hone that applause line.

So come Monday morning, the Arizona Republican will also denounce outrageous bonuses for failed company executives and McCain will suggest some kind of high-level bipartisan oversight board for all those zeros.

He'll suggest it contain people like billionaire Warren Buffett, who supports Barack Obama, former Gov. Mitt Romney, who supports McCain, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat, former Republican and current billionaire, who supports himself.

McCain suggesting these folks, of course, instantly dooms any chance of any of them making it on to such a board.

But the whole thing does afford McCain another priceless opportunity to separate himself from President Bush.

In reality neither McCain nor Bush can really stand each other. But neither can say that publicly because of the party thing, even though it would really help McCain now to counter Obama's clever but empty specter of a third Bush term headed by the Arizona senator who truly forgave the North Vietnamese for what they did to him during 66 months of tortuous imprisonment but has yet to forget the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary.

Here's another line the McCain crowd would like to get on the Monday evening news, even though they'll probably only get one: "Times are tough for the American people, and I expect more tough economic news before the election."

You could take that to the bank. But these days you better be careful which one.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Associated Press

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