Perhaps Dubya was being genuine this time; I’ve heard it said that, if for no other thing, you can’t fault him for not caring for America. So when he gave out a call to both parties in Congress and the two guys who want to replace him in January of next year, he probably had the best interests of the United States in mind. Of course, if it makes his reluctantly-chosen successor, John McCain, look good, even better.
But as the news roundup shows – read this article from the International Herald Tribune, and this one from CBS – the Republicans may just have sealed their fate this November with their own hands by torpedoing what was announced as a landmark, bi-partisan supported move by the US Government to solve the economic crisis gripping their economy and threatening the whole world’s.
If I read the reports right… it appears the Republicans have done two things:
(1) A lot of them were unable to get over their ideological boundaries to stomach the unprecedented, almost-Socialist (oh, am I saying its not yet that? ) nationalization of a huge chunk of the economy of the world’s leading capitalist country, and;
(2) That they were manuevering this as – and this is the odd part – something that would help John McCain’s campaign for the Presidency.
The first is regrettable. I’ve seen articles and OpEd pieces since the announcement of the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and especially after the virtual nationalization of AIG, how Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were both giving impressions of swallong a very bitter medicine to cure a very serious ailment. Terms like, “I don’t like this” were almost regulars in “Paulson quotes” everytime he was a talking head in articles and OpEd pieces, protraying a man who was going against his deepest instincts as a former major Captain of Industry himself because he had little or no choice in the matter.
With their top economic ministers giving them the lowdown, you expect Republicans to gnash their teeth at the glaring and very spectacular failure of their “less Government” approach to the economy (and I’m supposed to sympathisze, being a liberal democrat in the European sense of the word), but to recognize that ideology should and must give way to the exigencies of the moment. Even their (admittedly) lame duck party boss in Dubya recognized the reality that the best he could leave as an economic legacy is one where the patient is “critical but stable,” that he is saddling his successor with not only several deadly and costly wars abroad, but an economy teetering on the brink.
Instead, the Republicans, right in the face of their own current Party boss, and in front of their rivals no less, thumbed down the deal. In extremely spectacular fashion, with several dramatics like the senior Republican in the Banking Committee, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, telling the anxious reporters on the lawn of the White House that “the agreement is obviously no agreement,” or a Senior Republican lawmaker contradicting his own colleague’s words, not blocks apart from each other’s presscons, about whether there was a deal or, haha, no deal.
But most spectacular was John McCain.
According to the aforelinked IHT article, when the meeting opened, Dubya was shocked by his own Partymates when the House Republican leader, John Boehner of Ohio, declared to everyone that “his caucus could not support the plan to allow the government to buy distressed mortgage assets from ailing financial companies.” He presented an alternative supposedly researched by members of this rebellious caucus. What did John McCain do?
Commit to nothing and stand up for nothing.
And as the IHT article described it, “McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.”
As we say in the Philippines: “ayun naman, o”, or “there it is.”
To think the old geezer was the one insistent on this. He even covered up his lack of preparation for the first Debate this Friday (Saturday here in our sunny-but-drenched Islands) in high moral language, calling for a suspension of the vicious politicking of the campaign in order to see the bailout deal through.
Even worse, the Republicans had the gall to paint their rejection of the deal not only over ideological issues but also because the Democrats were purportedly doing this to edge McCain out of the picture of the rescue of the American economy by ramming the agreement through Thursday.
The Democrats, for their part, were reportedly in shock over what had just transpired. They were SURE a deal was in the making. Would you have pulled your candidate from his campaign in a hotly-contested election season if only bullshit would transpire in the supposedly important meeting he was going to? Remember that Obama was stridently against the cancellation of the Debate.
Bush was reportedly angry. If I was him, I would be very much so, too. First, as the supposed leader of his Party – John McCain won’t be Alpha Republican until January, IF, and that’s still a very, very big IF, he wins in November – he probably expected recalcitrance, even a good bit of petulance, but not the kind of truancy from his own boys that is the political equivalent of a kid throwing a “don’t like!” tantrum when there’s a guest in the house.
Even worse, the man who he thought would back his play, the guy who he wants to turn over the reins of government too, just sat there. Period. Breathing, no, WASTING oxygen and the American taxpayer’s money with that little absurd display of ideological shit and politicking.
From my read of the situation, few people liked the deal that Paulson and Bernanke proposed to Congress as it was first proposed. $700 billion in taxpayer’s money would be used to save the asses of greedy corp execs without any guarantee that taxpayer money would at least see some ROI. In fact, the Treasury/Fed deal was sharply being contrasted with the one Warren Buffet did with Goldman Sachs. IHT’s Garrison Keillor, in this article, points out that the guys who put the American economy in this mess – and also the world’s, given how connected the world economy is with that fo the US – appear doubly… evil because they weren’t using their own money in those risky-yet-absurdly-high-yield deals, but those of the American taxpayer, their savings and retirement funds. With those in the ICU, Paulson and Bernanke were then asking to put more of taxpayer’s money at risk for apparently nothing in return.
But everyone agreed that something needed to be done by Government, because no one else could give the kind of assurance it can to markets and investors. The Democrats, working on their own ideology and perhaps with the not-so-underlying motive of appearing to the American public as having played a big part in ensuring that the solution to this mess won’t be as messy after, bargained hard with Paulson and Bernanke but with a sense of the urgency to the whole thing that they gave way to certain things that normally they wouldn’t.
Surely, there was politics at work, and most definitely the looming presidential election next month figured into the dynamics of how the Dems dealt with this issue. But at least they did what they thought they could to help ensure that no one would be given a $700 billion blank check without any means of oversight. There was politics involved, but I would like to think that the Democrats were also aware that politics and ideology can only go so far with the United States so much at risk.
What about the Republicans? Politicking from the very start.
God, they’re beginning to sound like the “trapos” – Filipino political term for “traditional politician” – we have here, putting their own interests first before that of the nation.
The Republicans have doomed their own campaign to retain the White House for another four years.
And if by some off chance they win even after this…
Be very afraid then. Because I really, really, won’t understand how the Americans think, by then, to elect into office someone as so obviously not worth to hold the most powerful position in the world as John McCain is.
And don’t get me started with his VP.