As the economy experiences vertigo, McCain is looking to get mileage by bashing the "greed" of Wall Street and vowing "reform" of the financial industry.

But he was singing a pretty different tune just a year ago. With Democrats pushing to close a tax loophole which allowed for the most obscene profits of Manhattan's hedge funder managers, McCain scoffed at it (a helicopter in every yard!), and touted the joys of the unrestrained free market. Here he is back in July 2007:

Unfortunately, Democrats are busy filling the air with claims of "reform" that are nothing but tax increases. Recently, for example, there has been a lot of fuss over "reforming" the tax treatment of private equity firms. There's a lot of mumbo jumbo about "privately traded partnerships," "passive investments," and "carried interest" that is best left to the lawyers and economists. Rather, this proposal serves as a good example of how tax hikes come out of the Democratic Congress posing as real reform....

I'll fight to prevent government from keeping an individual from making a good living or spending and taxing our economy into decline. I won't let government make it harder for American businesses to adapt to the changes in the global economy that our own free market principles have unleashed. I won't let the government get in the way of earning an honest dollar.

In fairness this isn't completely inconsistent with what he's saying now. McCain argues that higher taxes and big government are bad for the economy. But a year ago he certainly didn't sound like a guy who saw much of a problem with the by-then-obvious excesses of Wall Street. Apparently such tiresome questions were better "left to the lawyers and economists."

--Michael Crowley