Ezra Klein sums it up here. But the bottom line, for me, anyway, is that this is a defining moment in American history. The problem is clear, the solutions available. All that was needed was fourhundredsomething individuals to figure out a way to stop vying for petty advantage - to put their nation's fortunes first, and their own political fortunes second - and they could not do it. Our Chief Executive is plainly a gormless idiot. And now our Congress is exposed as a cabal of puling fools and cretinous timeservers, more worried about their acess to the malefactors of great wealth and their filthy lucre and the tools of power than their nation's well being. As Paul Krungman says:
"I don’t think the Dem leadership was in a position to craft a bill that would have achieved overwhelming Democratic support, so make or break was whether enough GOPers would sign on. They didn’t....So what we now have is non-functional government in the face of a major crisis, because Congress includes a quorum of crazies and nobody trusts the White House an inch. As a friend said last night, we’ve become a banana republic with nukes."
Even though my damn representative voted against the thing, make no mistake. Sixty percent of the Democrats gritted their teeth and voted for this ugly baby. Sixty-seven percent of the GOP whined and held their breath and drummed their heels and voted no. They chose their policies over expedience, the best over the good. The damned meeching traitors should all be hurled from the Tarpeian Rock.
So everything from here on is just the long imperial sunset. Our economy is showing signs of breaking. Now our political system has shown it is broken.
But imperial evenings can be long and luxurious, and I plan to stretch mine and my chidren's as far as I can. I hope you are well placed for yours. Because, like Ezra, I can think of nothing as appropriate as this:
Update I, 9/30: Many, many observations and amendations in the comments section. What appears to becoming clear to me is that:
1. The primary reason for the failure of politics here was an attempt by the House Republicans to ratfuck the House Dems in an election year.
2. The House Dem leadership, with which I typically hold little brief, appears to have, for once, outtricked the Republicans and let them sink a bill that they otherwise MIGHT have wanted with their stupid politican tricks.
3. There does seem to be some legitimate groundswell of hatred for this bill. The problem I see with it is:
..a. The opposition from the left seems to be based on fairly hardheaded suspicions of the Wall Street shenangans that got us into this mess, but
..b. The opposition from the right seems to me, frankly, delusional. You people are worried NOW about "government interference in private business" when it was your messed-up deregulation and inattention that CAUSED the mess? You want to abolish the capital gains tax? Why? You want to "solve" this using private commerce?
Frankly, my personal opinion is "fiat justicia, ruat caelum"; let the damn larcenous banks and hedge funds and investment houses fail. Let the theiving, greedy petty men and women who helped engineer this disaster go broke, and then the adults will move in and sweep up the pieces.
We saw this before - the Nineteenth Century was filled with these "boom and bust" cycles. And I suspect that this time, as before, the malefactors of great wealth and their wealthy enablers in business and politics will get away just fine. It will be the farmer who needs a loan, the small grocer looking for a mortgage, the individuals who need jobs but will lose them when these businesses fold, that will be hurt. The oligarchs will just sell off a yacht or three.
I wish I thought that the righteous anger of the American people would cleanse these moneychangers out of the temple. I don't. I think that the NEXT "bailout" (thought they'll get wise and call it something different) will be WORSE than this one. That's what happens when you're the mark and the people who are supposed to be your "leaders" are in on the con.
Update II, 9/30: I have to agree with Krugman here:
"But putting myself in Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi’s shoes, I’d look at it this way: the Democrats could start over, with a bailout plan that is, say, centered on purchases of preferred stock and takeovers of failing firms — basically, a plan clearly focused on recapitalizing the financial sector, with nationalization where necessary. Maybe such a plan would have passed Congress; and maybe, just maybe Bush would have signed on; Paulson is certainly desperate for a deal.
But such a plan would have had next to no Republican votes — and the Republicans would have demagogued against it full tilt. And the Democratic leadership cannot, cannot, be seen to have sole ownership of this stuff. So that, I think, is why it had to be done this way. I don’t like it, and I don’t like the plan, but I see the constraints under which Dodd, Frank, Pelosi, and Reid were operating."
But what does it say about our "democracy" that the adults in the game have to play by these idiotic rules?