ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports from Capitol Hill: Democrats are straddling two, conflicting arguments in their criticism of Sen. John McCain on the economy. With one foot, they're kicking forward the notion that McCain is a new Herbert Hoover, deluded and talking about a strong economy even as the stock market crumbled. At the same time, they're telling Americans there's not depression in the offing and "Don't panic."
On the Senate floor this morning, the Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., launched into a lengthy analogy comparing McCain, who Democrats have pounced on for yesterday saying the fundamentals of the US economy are sound, to Herbert Hoover, the Republican President who oversaw the stock market crash in 1929 and the advent of the Great Depression.
"On the morning of October 30, 1929, President Herbert Hoover awoke the day after the biggest one-day stock market crash in American history, surveyed the state of the U.S. economy and declared, "The fundamental business of the country, that is production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis," said Reid, quoting Hoover.
He went on: "In the coming weeks and months, President Hoover remained in an economic bubble, unaware of the extreme suffering of ordinary Americans -- even declaring that anyone who questioned the state of the economy was a "fool." For Herbert Hoover, ignorance was bliss. And it wasn't until the American people replaced this out of touch Republican president with a Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, that our nation's economic recovery began."
Reid, ticked off the woes on Wall Street, "With our financial markets reeling, the American people are wondering whether they will lose their jobs, whether they will be able to pay their child's next tuition bill, whether their pension and retirement savings will be safe."
But this is a slippery slope. A Pandora's box. A cat in a bag. If the economy is truly unsound, what's a taxpaying voter with a 401k and a stock portfolio to do? Panic?
It may be fine to compare McCain (fairly or not… he did clarify his "fundamentals are sound" comment repeatedly over the past day) to Hoover, but Democrats don't want a run on the skittish market either.
So Reid dialed things back.
"There is no reason to think we are headed into an economic depression," Reid said. "There is no reason to panic. Yet one Senator -- John McCain -- woke up yesterday morning, surveyed the state of the U.S. economy, summoned the ghost of his fellow Republican, Herbert Hoover, and declared, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."
Question - if there is truly no reason to think we are headed into an economic depression and truly no reason to panic, aren't the fundamentals, on some level, strong?