It’s almost as if Herman Cain hasn’t paid any attention to the economy at all in recent years. An exchange from last night:

Q: [O]ne of the most important appointments that you’re going to have to make your first year, should you be president, would be Fed chairman. So which Federal Reserve chairman, over the last 40 years, do you think has been most successful and might serve as a model for that appointment?

CAIN: Alan Greenspan.

He added that Greenspan’s approach “worked fine back in the early 1990s.”


To see Greenspan as a model for Fed success is to be blind to reality. How can Cain not realize the former Fed chairman has been discredited? Three years ago this month, Greenspan acknowledged how spectacularly wrong he was about regulation of the financial industry — a mistake that nearly collapsed the global economy.

Earlier this year, Greenspan nevertheless felt comfortable arguing that Congress should repeal all those pesky safeguards intended to prevent the next disaster, because, “With notably rare exceptions (2008, for example), the global ‘invisible hand’ has created relatively stable exchange rates, interest rates, prices, and wage rates.”

“Notably rare exceptions”? Felix Salmon responded at the time: “Greenspan could hardly have made himself look like more of an idiot if he’d tried, not only because the ‘notably rare exceptions’ construction is so inherently snarkworthy, but also because it’s so boneheadedly stupid. Anything which normally makes money is a good idea if you ignore the times that it doesn’t work.”

Alex Eichler added, simply, “Everyone is laughing at Alan Greenspan today.”

Perhaps Herman Cain didn’t understand the humor.

It was Greenspan’s incompetence, negligence, and ridiculous ideology that helped bring the global economy to its knees. At this point, he should hope that the world simply ignores him, and chooses to forgive his role in a failure for the ages. That Cain looks back at Greenspan’s tenure as a successful model to emulate should be a campaign killer.

Postscript: In the same part of the debate, by the way, Cain says he has secret candidates to replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed, but he won’t tell the public who they are. Anyone who respects this clown as a serious presidential candidate isn’t paying close enough attention.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.