McCain Gaffe Fest Continues: Says Prez Should Fire SEC Chief, But He Can't

Adam Nagourney wrote:

Mr. McCain’s once easy-going if irreverent campaign presence — endearing to crowds, though often the kind of undisciplined excursions that landed him in the gaffe doghouse — has been put out to pasture.

(Emphasis supplied.) Think again Ad Nags. On top of the Spain brouhaha, John McCain made another gaffe today, this time wrongly claiming Presidential power to fire the SEC Chairman: [More...]

"The regulators were asleep, my friends," McCain said. "The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president. And in my view has betrayed the public trust. If I were president today, I would fire him." But while the president nominates and the Senate confirms the SEC chair, a commissioner of an independent regulatory commission cannot be removed by the president.

(Emphasis supplied.)

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

< Spain An Adversary? A Homage To TR And The Rough Riders? | Jewish Groups Withdraw Palin Invitation to Iran Protest Rally >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    As a firm believer in cyclical luck (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by blogtopus on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:26:16 PM EST
    I'm wondering how long before Obama's next week of gaffes and unfortunate news items will hit... hopefully it will hit AFTER the election.

    I'm not saying this as an Obama hater, just as a 'whistling by the graveyard' motion; I'd hate for the karma to balance just as we go into the final week of campaigns. [/hippie]

    That's (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:31:45 PM EST
    why I have to wonder about pushing any gaffe fests. I guess we no longer have any winning issues and we are now playing the election on the GOP's terms.

    MO is whipping out the gaffes now. I'm sure that's the next thing coming down the pike.

    The Yahoo headline said that Obama "mocks McCain's request to fire the SEC chief." Um, I don't really see it as helpful to Obama. The last thing Obama needs is something that pushes the "elitism" and "condescending" meme out there.


    There's firing and... (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:58:39 PM EST
    expressing the desire to fire. Not to support McCain, but--in a discussion with a friend over coffee this morning--she announced that the "lot of them" should be fired (or, for emphasis) thrown in jail. One look at this is that people are looking for a scapegoat; another view is that people want some of the financial players held accountable. So...how does a Presidential candidate relate to that? Think back to the "drilling" frame from earlier summer--one announces drilling to show action or whatever and (eventually) the other follows suit. Playing under the obvious radar may be the "leader" role that both want to fit. Think about the dinnertime briefhand: Hey, Joan, did you hear that M (or O) says we ought to do x to get us out of this mess...sounds good/nuts to me. (Whoever gets the "good" gets an extra point or two along with a nodded affirmation and a "please pass the peas."

    Scapegoating (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Fabian on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:17:42 PM EST
    a mainstay of political campaigns.

    Funny thing is that it is usually the 'orrible libruls who get blamed for everything. (eg. trying to force their godless ways on the American public)

    Now it's the gubmint?  It should be funny, yet I'm not laughing.


    Well done (5.00 / 5) (#18)
    by flyerhawk on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:04:11 PM EST
    I was wondering how you would spin this into a negative for Obama.  

    When he pushes the issues, he's too wordy and wonky.  When he attacks McCain he's elitist and condescending.  

    I don't think Rick Davis has as pessimistic a view of Obama's chances as you do.


    Reading (3.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:35:53 PM EST
    is your friend. I said that the yahoo headline is a problem. It pushes a negative narrative. I never said that attacking McCain was the problem. Sheesh.

    I see (none / 0) (#38)
    by flyerhawk on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:46:22 PM EST
    you were criticizing Yahoo.

    It's all much clearer now.


    maybe (none / 0) (#34)
    by darryl on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:17:20 PM EST
    he's a wordy wonky condescending elitist (with a dirty donkey comprehending defeatist.)  

    He should fire Zapatero. . . (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:29:34 PM EST
    while he's at it.

    What gaffe? (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:31:04 PM EST
    Aren't today's Republicans all about claiming presidential powers that don't really exist?

    Misdirection (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Newt on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:36:33 PM EST
    Maverick McCain would take bold action to solve the problems we face.  By saying he'd fire the SEC Chief, he's pointing fingers at someone else.  Tomorrow he'll have Rove's economic recovery plan (cough, I mean the maverick plan) to share with us.  BTW, don't trust the Dems because Biden wants to raise your taxes (tax and spend Democrats).  And that's just not patriotic!

    Meanwhile, Iran's nuclear program is scary!  Russia is scary!  Look over there!


    I don't understand (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by RedJet on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:54:39 PM EST
    how a presidential campaign can be so careless. I'm not saying this to be snide, I really am a little startled. Sure campaigns stretch truths but where are his advisors in all this? Is this they who are making the errors or is McCain adlibing himself into clownery?

    Here was Obama's response to firing the SEC head: (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by steviez314 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:54:45 PM EST
    [McCain] said that he is calling for the firing of the Security and Exchange Commissioner. Well I think that is all fine and good, but here is what I say: In 47 days, you can fire the whole Trickle-Down, On-Your-Own, Look-the-Other-Way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path. Don't just get rid of one guy, get rid of this administration, get rid of this philosophy, get rid of the do-nothing approach to problems and put someone in there who is going to fight for you.

    That was good. (none / 0) (#16)
    by indy in sc on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:57:44 PM EST
    Yes. Channeling Bill Clinton. (none / 0) (#23)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:13:53 PM EST
    Heck sounded like Hillary to me (none / 0) (#30)
    by Faust on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:36:18 PM EST
    Same message, of course... (none / 0) (#36)
    by oldpro on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:26:26 PM EST
    but Hillary speaks in a higher register!

    Wow (none / 0) (#29)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:27:08 PM EST
    Very very nice!

    I tend to think gaffes ... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:14:34 PM EST
    are usually a wash.  They get partisans demoralized or excited depending on which side you're on, but ...

    McCain's one about the SEC chief sounds like one which should bear (excuse the pun) dividends, because it plays into an already existing negative view of him as clueless about the economy.

    We'll see.

    he's a clown (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by dmk47 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:02:00 PM EST
    As Atrios says, the dirty secret about McCain is that he knows nothing about anything. Thank Christ people are starting to grok that fact.

    Not quite true (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by TheRizzo on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:17:29 PM EST
    They can fire him if their is cause or the second option is to put him back on the committee and replace him with one of the other 4 sitting on the committee.

    The 3rd option is ask for his resignation which almost always is adhered too in positions like these.

    So there are three ways to "fire" the chief of the SEC.

    According to this lawyer, MCCain was correct (none / 0) (#40)
    by ding7777 on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 09:23:15 PM EST
    Daily Standard contributor Adam White, an attorney, writes in explaining that McCain's critics are completely wrong:

    It's true that the SEC is an "independent agency," and that the statute creating the SEC (specifically, Section 4 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934) doesn't expressly state that the president can fire SEC commissioners. But the law on this point is well settled: As the D.C. Circuit reiterated as recently as last month, in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 537 F.3d 667, 668-69 (D.C. Cir. 2008), "[m]embers of the Commission, in turn, are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and subject to removal by the President for cause; its chairman is selected by and serves at the pleasure of the President."

    The courts have never said that Congress can completely prevent a president from firing officials of an independent agency. At best, Congress can limit the president to firing such officials only "for cause," and the term "for cause" is generally interpreted pretty broadly.

    He serves at the plesure of the president (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Saul on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 07:21:31 PM EST
    That is what was said on CNN just a while ago.

    Really? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:22:59 PM EST
    I did not know that.  And Con Law was my favorite subject.

    My favorite line of the linked article:

    The White House said this week it wants to stay out of politics, but...

    Don't feel bad (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:40:26 PM EST
    its not con law, its Securities.

    The appointment is governed (none / 0) (#10)
    by themomcat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:44:14 PM EST
    by the Constitution. The Senate's roll of advise and consent of appointees to certain positions and offices.

    Wrong (none / 0) (#12)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:49:38 PM EST
    The SEC was created by an act of Congress.  Sure, the law provides for the Senate to approve the Presidents choices, but there is nothing about the SEC in the Constitution.

    Adding (none / 0) (#15)
    by eric on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:56:24 PM EST
    I don't mean to be flip, the nomination process does mimic that for cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, etc.  But it isn't Constitutional Law that governs the SEC selection process.

    I didn't say it was in the Constitution (none / 0) (#21)
    by themomcat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:08:07 PM EST
    I said that the Senate has the right to approve or disapprove the appointment which, even though the SEC was created by law, the Senate reserved that right under the Constitution. I should have been more clear. The chief of the SEC is a specific appointment as is the Chief Justice. I was just using it as an analogy.

    Ouch (none / 0) (#28)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:26:00 PM EST
    That would make me feel worse, I'm a securities lawyer.

    But the issue of who the President has the authority to hire and fire, etc. strikes me as more Con Law than anything.  It just so happens in this case we're talking about the SEC, but it could be the FTC or whatever.


    The Pres designates one of the (none / 0) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:34:44 PM EST
    5 SEC Commissioners as Chairman.

    Can the Pres remove the title from one Commissioner and give it to another?

    I wouldn't think so (none / 0) (#8)
    by themomcat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:40:03 PM EST
    The President nominate the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He can't later decide that another Justice should be the Chief just because he disagrees with him/her. I would expect that the same applies to the Head of the SEC, since it is a specific position and needs approval of the Senate.

    and sure enough it seems to be what McCain is thinking:
    However, the McCain camp argues that McCain could remove Cox as chairman, since the president gets to designate one of the SEC commissioners as chairman. "Not only is there historical precedent for SEC Chairs to be removed, the president of the United States always reserves the right to request the resignation of an appointee and to maintain the customary expectation that it will be delivered," said spokesman Tucker Bounds in an email.

    The former Chairman (none / 0) (#27)
    by themomcat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:20:04 PM EST
    was asked to resign and did so but he was under a lot of pressure. Since the Republicans were in charge of the Senate, he could have been recalled, somewhat like an ambassador.

    Makes sense. (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 04:45:47 PM EST
    Technical matters (none / 0) (#19)
    by shoephone on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:04:43 PM EST
    So, who does have the authority to fire a commissioner? Anyone?

    Thanks. n/t (none / 0) (#25)
    by shoephone on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 05:15:43 PM EST

    Let's hear McCain own this (none / 0) (#32)
    by themomcat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:16:25 PM EST
    H/T to Edidne:

        McCain's former economic adviser is ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. On Dec. 15, 2000, hours before Congress was to leave for Christmas recess, Gramm had a 262-page amendment slipped into the appropriations bill. It forbade federal agencies to regulate the financial derivatives that greased the skids for passing along risky mortgage-backed securities to investors.

    That should be Echidne. Sorry (none / 0) (#33)
    by themomcat on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 06:17:16 PM EST