Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout blues: the Stupid Party and the Evil Party

By Rick Morris

It's pretty pathetic when yesterday's fiasco in the House of Representatives most reminds me of prepubescent squabbling between my younger brother and myself -- neither one of us was even ten years old at the time. What excuse do these clowns have?

Specifically, I'm thinking of times when our family would be riding in the car, with my brother and myself in the backseat. He would flip me off or stick his tongue out at me or something like that -- and I'd reach over and start pummeling him. Shrieks and tears would ensue, my parents would whirl around and I'd be in trouble for "attacking my brother without cause."

In this example, Nancy Pelosi is my younger brother and the hapless John Boehner is the childhood version of me. Everything everyone has ever said about America having a "Stupid Party and and Evil Party" was also validated in the chaos yesterday.

You see, what San Fran Nan did yesterday, in delivering her hateful, petulant, double-crossing speech at the end that blew up this deal, is what she always does, and moreover, the only thing she should have been expected to do. It's what she is, it's what she does, and it's what she has always gotten away with -- she did become the speaker, after all. She's a product of the excreble anti-American values populace she represents, people who are (no joke) spending time and energy carrying out a vendetta that would rename one of their municipal facilities "The George W. Bush Sewage Plant."

John Boehner then did what the extremely youthful version of myself would have done with his reaction. Why, in a million gazillion years, would he ever admit that Republican votes on what was the right thing to do for the country in a severe national crisis could ever be swayed by something like this? Did he not know that he was setting up the Republicans to be mocked mercilessly by Barney Frank and the others who probably helped plot Pelosi's vile speech? She sought to blow up the deal and have the Republicans assume responsibility for it -- and she succeeded. It might not have been fair for me as a child to get in trouble because I was the one who got caught throwing punches, but life's not fair. And it might not be fair for Pelosi to get away with her evil plan to sabotage this fragile deal and blame Republican policies (ignoring, of course, her party's indulgence of Fannie and Freddie's excesses over the years), but again, that's life.

Moreover, in Boehner's feeble attempt to play chicken with folks who long ago proved their ability to run rings around him, he then told the cameras -- while the markets were still open, and plummeting like a rock, mind you -- that his members were already on their way out of town and that an immediate salvage effort was impossible. I sure hope this poor man's Mike Adamle doesn't ever encounter a would-be suicide victim teetering on a bridge, because within five seconds his efforts to talk the person down will have them jumping in despair.

When the historians look back at the extreme breakdown of this country's political process due to the unprecedented partisanship (yes, even worse than anything in the late 19th century), they will find no better example than this episode. All of the jerks on both sides who helped shut this thing down have blood on their hands in terms of how much worse they made this dire crisis. What is particularly galling to me is the born-again fiscal conservative nature of so many Republican hypocrites who never fought Big Government George W. Bush nearly this hard over the past eight years just because he had an "R" next to his name on the ballot and now want to draw the line. In that sense, they mirror perfectly former House Speaker Newt King Squish, who talked tough but surrendered to Bill Clinton on principle every chance he got. He famously killed the GOP's negotiating stance back in '95 by admitting to shutting down the government not on principle but because Clinton hurt his feelings. So this two-faced idiot, like Pelosi, should have been predicted to do what he did yesterday: lobby against this bill and undermine the republic just like he did through his inept four years as speaker.

This is a national emergency, demanding immediate action, and all that the jackals on both sides can do is argue and posture. Henry Paulson's initial bill was horrible, but it got hammered into something that was still very bad, but significantly better than doing nothing. While it's human nature to let the "perfect be the enemy of the good," what I've learned in the course of trying to build a business is the fact that often, the key to succeeding is to realize when you only have two bad choices and you have to avoid the worst of the two. The shameful children that we call congressmen have not learned and will never learn that lesson or anything else useful in the course of performing the jobs they are being vastly overpaid to perform.

This bailout is unpopular with the public, but they don't understand that Wall Street is the engine of our economy. If it collapses, it takes our entire system down with it. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a democracy, it's a constitutional republic (as my FDH Lounge colleague Nate Noy is fond of saying). We don't directly vote on these matters, we vote for these people to vote for us and then we hold them accountable. The cowardice involved in surrendering to the ignorant mob mentality is as shameful as anything we've seen out of Congress in decades, and that covers a tremendous amount of territory. Let me state this clearly: the entire system of commerce could collapse. Our currency could become meaningless and our country could devolve into anarchy and lawlessness as people fight to literally survive on a daily basis. The way the government's running the printing presses pumping out money anyway, we're already heading down the Argentinian path of pushing a wheelbarrow of caysh to the store to buy a loaf of bread.

As I said to a nervous friend yesterday, they'll pass something eventually. By the time they come up with a solution, it may well pass unanimously and with overwhelming public support -- but by that time, I'm likely to be driving around wearing an eyepatch clutching a rocket launcher. I pray that is not the case, but as a longtime student of our rotten modern political institutions, I fear that it is.

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