The Fundamentals of Our Democracy Are Strong
'The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book." ---John McCain
Well thank goodness he hasn’t read it. As Dubya’s MBA has proven, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and McCain has not yet attained even that level.
Nonetheless, in a society where the public yearns to have a few aspects of their lives protected in some manner from the vicissitudes of the marketplace (things like their retirement and their healthcare), the McCain platform and the McCain record is one of advocating that market forces be unleashed in the manner of a mad and rabid dog to render their magic and transform our society in ways unimaginable to those not suffering from acid-induced nightmares.
After all, the fundamentals of our economy are strong (it's that damned bastard Chris Cox's fault; if only he'd done his job instead of running things the way we asked him too).
I too love the marketplace and its magic. I also love to drink fine Belgian ales, but I know when I’ve had enough.
And I don’t mind calling a cab to get the drunk home, and if necessary, I suppose we may have to pay for his cab ride, lest the drunk do greater damage by getting behind the wheel; but, I’ll be damned if I’m going to pick up his entire bar tab and clean up his vomit, without at least some hope of getting a return on my investment.
Everyone knows Congress will pass a bill; what choice do they have? Apparently, August Bebel was wrong when he said “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools.” The "socialism of fools" clearly comes in other flavors.
Everyone knows the bill eventually passed can be more punitive than Wall Street would like, because it’s not like they can just pick up their ball and go home. Likewise, Congress can put in the bill whatever safeguards it can muster--what’s Dubya going to do? Veto it?
And the ideologues of the right and left are clearly correct in all their withering critiques; but, in the end, what of it? We will get a better bill, and we should get a better bill, one more accountable, more fiscally sound and more willing to replicate some of the indignities the marketplace from time to time visits upon the over-adventurous and under-cautious. Perhaps some token rachmonis on the victims of our economic rollercoaster ride might be in order as well. But, in the end, the whole process does bear some slight resemblance to putting lipstick upon a pig.
It is a crisis, and it is nice that Obama reached out to McCain in private for a little bipartisanship, although it was perhaps a bit less inspiring that McCain responded by making his counter-proposal for national cooperation by way of a public ultimatum, the purity of McCain's intentions thereby untainted by the sleazy and corrupt backroom tactic of private cooperation.
Ultimately though, both candidates will sign onto the deal, because the risk of not doing so will outweigh its benefits. And, ultimately, the bill which passes will look pretty much the same as it would have, with or without the candidates' active participation.
As such, it might be helpful to remember that, as much as this is a crisis, it is not the moral equivalent of war. The bill before Congress is a stopgap to dampen down the impact of an economic meltdown, but we have not suffered another September 11th. In fact, the immiment passage of the bill has already accomplished its goals, calming the markets.
Politics does not need to stop. Politics needs to start. We can work together to apply the ace bandage, but even more, we need to have a loud and contentious debate on where we go from here, and how the hell we got here in the first place.
We don’t need to have this debate right this second--Friday night will do nicely.
Unlike our economy, the fundamentals of our democracy are strong. But, like our once strong economy, the Republican Party appears intent on undermining those fundamentals as well.
In using a national crisis as a means of avoiding debate, McCain is almost channelling Rudy Giuliani's attempt to declare martial law and extend his term in office in the aftermath of September 11th (my guess is that Rudy was in on the strategy session where this abomidable idea was concocted). The implicit subtext is that democracy is a nice indulgence when times are good, but when the going gets tough, it is a luxury real men can't afford.
After Sarah Palin was chosen, I truly believed that there was nothing John McCain could do that would more clearly prove his unfitness for the White House.
If he fails to show for the debate on Friday night, he will have proven me wrong.
The unnecessary ginning up of hysteria over whether Congress will enact a bill whose passage is near-inevtable is pure politics divorced from any concerns over content or principles.
In a national security emergency, a President must be able to manage the neat trick of remaining cool while acting decisively. In a sneak preview of his presidency, John McCain has shown himself but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, his words full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
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