Whoever wins the GOP nomination will be at a clear disadvantage in financing and campaign infrastructure against Senator Gillibrand. But she’s on the wrong side of key issues for many voters, just last week claiming she has no regrets about her support for the TARP bailout of financial institutions in 2008. ~John Fund
It would be very strange that she says that, since the House roll call does not list her as a supporter of the TARP bailout in 2008. As the roll call shows, then-Rep. Gillibrand voted against the TARP, which would seem to put her on the right side of one key issue for many voters. It’s not as if her opposition was a secret. The New York Times’ profile of Gillibrand following her appointment noted her opposition to the TARP:
Ms. Gillibrand is also a fiscal conservative who vehemently opposed the financial bailout bill — not once, but twice.
Unlike some members of the House, Gillibrand did not waver and change her vote to yea after the bill’s initial defeat in late September was followed by a sharp downturn in the stock market, so it’s not as if she tried to have it both ways on that vote. In fact, it seems like only yesterday that Harold Ford Jr. (D-Overclass) was floating the idea of a primary challenge to Gillibrand because she was seen as insufficiently slavish to Wall Street. The most recent news report I could find about Gillibrand and TARP came from earlier this month from The Ithaca Journal, which includes this passage:
But Gillibrand said she doesn’t regret her vote against the Trouble Asset Relief Program [bold mine-DL] proposed by President George W. Bush.
So Fund believes that Gillibrand recently said that she doesn’t regret her supposed support for the TARP in 2008, when she actually just said that she doesn’t regret her opposition to it. That’s a bit of a problem for an article that is already long on speculation and extremely short on any supporting evidence that there might be an upset in the making in the New York Senate race.
Why does this matter? Getting facts right should be reason enough, but there is something else. Fund’s article on Gillibrand’s potential weakness is based on an entirely false and easily checked claim, and on the basis of this rather glaring error Fund fashions the idea that anti-TARP populist anger may dislodge Gillibrand from a Senate seat that is safely Democratic in reality. That completely misleading reporting then creates the impression that New York Republicans have a far better chance of defeating Gillibrand than they actually have, and that feeds into the general hype about Republican election chances. It is also a bit rich that Fund is invoking anti-TARP anger as a threat to Gillibrand, when Fund’s own editors endorsed the TARP and did their best to encourage the flop that was Harold Ford’s insurgent campaign from Wall Street. Even though it is the WSJ and the candidates it supports that are on the wrong side of the public mood regarding the bailout, Gillibrand is painted as the villain. That reinforces my assumption that a lot of claims about Republican political strength in this cycle have very shaky foundations, and it should make us all very skeptical whenever we see stories hyping improbable Republican successes.