Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maggie Williams and sub-prime lending...Clinton campaign honcho in the crosshairs... And I ain't gonna hate on Maggie's job no more...

I ain't gonna hate on Maggie's job no more... Nor should you.

Unlike Samantha Power, I won't apologize for calling Hillary Clinton a monster. Just to prove the point, let me do it again now. Hillary Clinton is a monster. No apology forthcoming.

My point? I am virulently anti-Hillary. I am biased. I'm so biased, in fact, that I truly believe Hillary Clinton causes cancer of the human soul.

So, you're probably guessing I'm sporting political wood over the "breaking news" that Maggie Williams, Clinton confidant and campaign manager, has some strong ties to the very sub-prime mortgage industry Hillary has been criticizing day after day. I'm loving every minute of this egregious act of Clintonian hypocrisy, right?

Wrong. I'm not aroused. I'm not on the attack. If you don't like The Monster, find something else to gripe about. At least for now. This Maggie Williams thing, as currently reported, is a non-issue.

For those with better things to do than browse news headlines while watching the Washington Nationals (side note for DC fans: it is a very bad sign when you're ace is Odalis Perez, even if you do win), a quick recap of subprimegate is probably in order.

Maggie Williams is running the Clinton campaign. Maggie Williams, a long-time Clinton associate and PR guru, served on the board of directors at Delta Financial Corp. for about 7 years. Delta is one of those sub-prime lenders everyone hates these days. You know, the ones we're all blaming for the recession and those nasty foreclosures? Maggie made about $200K plus a heaping pile of now-worthless Delta stock in exchange for her guidance and advice. Delta is now bankrupt.

The Clinton campaign manager was intimately involved with a nefarious sub-prime lender! Why, oh why, am I not using this fact as a means of attacking Hillary? Why is John Brown, the guy who'd eat shit and vote for McCain to avoid a Hillary White House, taking it easy on HRC?

Here are 5 reasons why attacking Hillary based on Williams doesn't make sense to me...

Maggie isn't Hillary. Maggie works for Hillary. That's it. The transitive property of political bullshittery, where we pretend everything those around a candidate do can somehow be used to impugn the candidate is baloney. Maggie did her own thing. Part of that thing involved working for Delta. That doesn't prove Hillary loves subprime lenders or that her calls for regulation aren't sincerely motivated. Please note that I'm not agreeing with The Monster. I'm just not questioning her sincerity based on the actions of Williams.

No evidence of wrongdoing. Even if you do play the "your person is dirty, thus you are dirty" game, which I again reject, there's no dirt here. Being involved with Delta doesn't mean you supported everything that happened there. It doesn't mean you even knew or needed to know everything while you were there. The role of directors varies with the operation and there's no evidence to suggest that Maggie Williams sat around a table with a bunch of evil super-villains and plotted ways to screw the Joneses out of their money and homes. None.

Evidence of good. Williams, based on the accounts I've read, was called in to help Delta do a better job with respect to meeting legal requirements and responding to problems. Additionally, I have no reason to doubt Williams' own comments about the sub-prime industry. She saw wider latitude in loan decisions as a means by which those in lower income groups could get a decent shot at home ownership. She perceived Delta's home equity loans as a way for middle and lower class people to survive financial hardships and to improve their circumstances. Now, we can doubt the wisdom of her judgment, but there's no reason to question her motives. Many people felt the exact same way and not all of them were evil bastards. The reason so many people are getting screwed as this house of cards collapses is because so many smart people like Williams didn't see it coming and believed that looser lending made sense.

Bigger fish to fry. I can think of at least 238,300,121 reasons to attack The Monster that don't involve Maggie Williams. Over 72% of those reason are far more significant than Maggie Williams' links to Delta. Time is a finite resource for mortals. If we feel a need to spend some of our precious time berating Hillary, we should use it where it counts.

Tit for tat, ad infinitum. Roasting candidates because their friends and allies did foolish things creates an infinite loop of stupidity. Those who'll look to the Williams story as a way of turning the tables on those who knocked Obama over Wright merely set the table for the other guys to bag on Barack because of something someone involved in his campaign did. In turn, someone in BHO land will find something not to like about another Hillary backer. We've seen this shit happen over and over again in the last several months. Now is a fine time to take a stand against it. Even those blinded with rage at Hillary can occasionally take the high ground.

I'm always a fan of uncovering new and exciting reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton. I'm going to pass on subprimegate, though. Unless something extraordinary develops, I think it's a non-starter. I will, however, use the Maggie Williams controversy as an excuse to play some Bob Dylan. Maggie's Farm.


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1 comment:

  1. "Now, we can doubt the wisdom of her judgment, but there's no reason to question her motives. Many people felt the exact same way and not all of them were evil bastards. The reason so many people are getting screwed as this house of cards collapses is because so many smart people like Williams didn't see it coming and believed that looser lending made sense."

    That's much of the subprime mess wrapped up in a nutshell, I think, John. It's a lesson learned, hopefully, for the financial market. The part of Paulson's press conference I heard this morning sounded like some sensible, free-market friendly reforms (although I did hear a blurb about more power for the Feds and I didn't get to hear the specifics).

    Every time there is a market downturn, people look to government to fix it. It's caused so many problems over the 20th century, that I can hardly believe that it is still our impulse. The market is full of fallible people. Fallible people make mistakes. But reguation often compounds an already difficult situation, and, as Paulson was saying this morning, often creates new problems where businesses start develop business plans around or around avoid the regulation in ways that distorts the fundamental business, at hand, and the value to the market they provide.

    It is refreshing to see that some in government know better than to think that new legislation or regulation will solve matters that businesspeople who just went through this mess often have their heads around better, largely for having gone through it. They have every interest in keeping those businesses profitable and solvent. They just made mistakes and now they need to learn from them.

    Gotta go. Break's over.