Monday, September 29, 2008
If in fact the crisis is as dire as Treasury Sec. Paulson and Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke have described it to be, then the leadership in both parties didn't do the job they should have to sell it to their Members. If it truly is not as bad as billed, then they've done a terrible job of educating the public.
I tend to give the Repubs a little more slack, because from what I've seen and heard on TV and read in the papers, some of them are opposed on honest philosophical grounds, and have never been on board with the plan. That's not to say that the Repub leadership couldn't have twisted the 13 arms whose votes could have passed the bill, but after Pelosi's speech just before the vote they might have thought, "Why bother--in any event we're going to be blamed for all the bad and Pelosi and the Dems will take credit for all the good, so what's in it for us to cooperate?"
Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Dem leaders don't have that excuse. Whatever else you might say about Pelosi, she is very good at political infighting, and she knew very well when she gave that speech this morning what its likely effect would be on the Repubs. She needed 13 votes for the bill to pass, and she didn't twist any of the 95 Dem arms who voted against to get them. Instead she preferred to alienate the Repubs and then blame them for the failure, while giving her own Members a pass to vote as they wished.
The backstory here is that the freshmen Members who were voted into office in 2006 and gave the Dems the majority are largely from relatively conservative districts and basically got elected by talking like a "true" Republican (as opposed to those bozos who overspent and feathered their own nests, and were voted out). They also were getting messages from the hinterlands that were running at least ten to one against the bill. So in order to safeguard her majority, Pelosi let those Members vote against the bill.
Now, when the Speaker of the House says it's the other side's fault that a bill didn't pass when the Speaker could have produced the necessary votes for passage, then what she's claiming is a bald-faced lie. If she had really wanted the bill to pass, it would have passed. Instead, Pelosi was willing to sacrifice the financial and economic health of the Nation for political advantage. That's not leadership--that's gutter politics, and Pelosi deserves all the scorn she's going to get.
If it wasn't gutter politics, then Pelosi doesn't believe that the situation is all that dire, and either she knows something that the rest of us don't or she's an idiot.
Boo! Congress! You've let us all down. I hope there's time for you all to come to your senses and pass a bill that will at least stop the bleeding before the patient dies.