The establishment is going all out for Blanche Lincoln in an attempt to save her job. Bill Clinton told a small crowd that national progressives were “manipulating your votes to terrify members of Congress and members of the Senate” by working with Bill Halter in a primary against Lincoln. But who’s doing the manipulation in this Clinton radio ad for Lincoln?

“In Washington everybody was betting Wall Street would beat her efforts to clean up trading practices that led our country to the brink of economic collapse, but they were wrong, she won that fight.”

I’m sorry, that fight has been won? You could have fooled me. I’m looking in the federal register for bills recently signed into law, and I’m not finding the Wall Street reform bill. Maybe that’s because the conference committee kicks off the day of the runoff election between Lincoln and Halter. In other words, there’s plenty of work to be done before Lincoln or anyone else can claim credit on “cleaning up trading practices that led our country to the brink of economic collapse.” In fact, the entire world except for Blanche Lincoln and Bill Clinton, apparently, knows in their bones that Lincoln’s derivatives title will get weakened in conference, and in particular her Section 716 provision to spin off swaps trading desks will get eliminated.

I think SEIU misses an opportunity in this ad to draw this contrast fully. Sure, Lincoln supported the bailout, and she gets money from the financial services industry. And I understand that it’s harder to explain her double-dealing on derivatives, and easier just to focus attention elsewhere. For the record, I think Bill Halter’s new ads, focusing on Lincoln’s call for cuts to Social Security and Medicare (see below), are pretty powerful. But Lincoln’s phoniness on derivatives is the key point of the campaign, IMO. She’s wearing this bill as a badge of honor, when she couldn’t even defend her own proposal to her colleagues, and chose not to defend it on the floor of the Senate, when Maria Cantwell tried to close a massive loophole inserted into the language. Despite this, she claims to have “forced Wall Street to accept real reform” before the conference committee has even met once. It’s just a total fake-out, and it symbolizes the general phoniness people feel coming from Washington politicians.

This isn’t that hard an ad to write. “Blanche Lincoln talks about holding Wall Street accountable. But there’s a huge loophole in her bill that eliminates the penalties for all those tough measures. She could have done something about it, she could have stopped the bill from going forward until the loopholes were closed. But when crunch time came and the final vote approached, Lincoln backed down. She wouldn’t even defend her own reform bill from attack from the Wall Street lobbyists. Maybe that’s because she never intended to get tough on them in the first place.”

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