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Wall Street Upheaveal Puts McCain, Obama to the Test

Wall Street's woes put the economy at the top of the campaign agendas of John McCain and Barack Obama this week as the two sought to shape their views on government regulation and other issues. Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks examine reactions to the crisis.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, you wrote in your column today that the candidates' reaction to the financial crisis has been, quote, "moronic," end quote. Would you flesh that out a little bit?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Yes, I guess I'd amend it to say "nauseatingly stupid," at least for the first four days. I think today was an improvement.

    Listen, you've got this incredibly complicated situation. You have subprime mortgages. You've got these foreign investment flows. You've got accounting these mark-to-market standards. You've got a whole range of highly sophisticated derivatives that have all fed into this crisis, an incredibly complicated crisis.

    So for the first four days, the two candidates essentially treat us as kindergarteners. Barack Obama doesn't seem to know what's causing the crisis, but he knows George Bush must be to blame.

    John McCain gives no evidence of appreciating the complexity of the crisis, but he knows there are some really bad people on Wall Street who are selfish, and who must be punished, and, by the way, there's this guy, Chris Cox, he's bad, too.

    So the descriptions of the crises were insultingly stupid and insultingly partisan. When you've got a situation like this, a week like this, when the whole world is tremendously nervous about where the whole economy is going, it seems to me it's time to elevate the tone and get a little grown-up. And for the first four days, there was none of that.

    Now, today, I think they did do that.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Both of them?

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