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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

McCain’s cloudy crystal ball

Confused about whether John McCain really predicted the fall of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? We don’t blame you. The McCain-Palin campaign says he did, and as proof, they point to a 2006 speech in which McCain exhorts his colleagues to vote for legislation he cosponsored, legislation that would have regulated the misbehaving mortgage giants. The Obama campaign says he did not and point out that McCain said in 2007 that he didn’t see the crisis coming. Kinda looks like 2006 McCain versus 2007 McCain.

Luckily for you, our colleagues at PolitiFact.com have financial experts at their fingertips. They’ve sorted through the dueling McCains and found that while he isn’t totally dissembling, McCain is stretching a little bit of fact nearly to the breaking point.

PolitiFact.com (Sept. 17): We give McCain some credit for weighing in on problems surrounding Fannie Mae, even though he got involved after a comprehensive government report issued a loud alarm to anyone watching. However, his attempts to depict those efforts as some sort of early warning that could have lessened the current credit crisis just don’t wash. All McCain was talking about then was the potential fallout of accounting troubles in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He didn’t say anything about a freewheeling climate among creditors that had major financial institutions becoming badly leveraged on bad loans. We rule his claim Barely True.

We recommend reading PolitiFact’s analysis. We recommend sticking them on your daily reads list, too (along with FactCheck.org and The Wire, of course). For the next 46 days, we all need all the facts we can get.