The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Profiles in Hypocisy

It’s very difficult to determine whether the Democratic and Republican members of House who voted against the $700B bailout did it out of cowardice or ideology.

There is little doubt that many of the “no” votes were predicated on cowardice—members in close races (the vote is 35 days away) felt that a “yes” vote would antagonize “main street” and might cost them their house seat. Never mind that the people on "main street" do not seem to understand that unstable markets will affect them very harshly (e.g., inflation, a credit crunch, unemployment, business failures, escalating local government costs and therefore higher local taxes). Those Congressman who are poll driven (that’s just about all of them) were more afraid of the voters than they were of the laundry list of woes I just mentioned.

But ideology had a role to play as well. House members on the Right have seemingly just remembered after 6 years of amnesia that fiscal responsibility is a basic tenet of conservative thinking. All of a sudden, they balk at government expenditures? More than a few House members on the Left voted “no” because the expenditure wasn’t big enough—no money for corrupt “community organizations” like ACORN.

By the way, the bill did have assistance for mortgage holders, but it was buried in the fine print.

One thing is certain, there was plenty of hypocrisy to go around. Jonah Goldberg comments:
The bill failed on a bipartisan basis, but it was the Republicans who failed to deliver the votes they promised. Some complained that Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi drove some of them to switch their votes with her needlessly partisan floor speech on the subject. Of course Pelosi's needlessly partisan. This is news?

The Republican complaint is beyond childish. Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a man saturated with guilt for this crisis, nonetheless was right to ridicule the GOP crybabies on Monday. "I'll make an offer," he added. "Give me [their] names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country."

Would that Frank had been imbued with such a spirit earlier. Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has spent the last few years ridiculing Alan Greenspan, John McCain and others who sought more regulation for Fannie Mae's market-distorting schemes -- the fons et origo of this financial crisis. Now he says "the private sector got us into this mess." His partner in crime, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), a chief beneficiary of Fannie Mae lobbyists' largesse, claims this mess is the result of poor oversight -- without even hinting at the fact he is in charge of oversight of banks. They sound like pimps complaining about the prevalence of STDs among prostitutes.

And let us not forget that the Democrats, with a 31-seat majority, could not get 95 of their own to vote for the bailout, largely because it didn't provide enough taxpayer money to their left-wing special interests. Would that they thought about the country.

The one man who truly tried to treat this crisis like a crisis -- McCain -- was ridiculed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who implored him to come to Washington to help in the first place. And the news media, which now treat any Republican action that threatens a Barack Obama victory as inherently dishonorable, uncritically accepted the bald Democratic lie that McCain ruined a bipartisan bailout deal last Friday.

So, those of us who have acted responsibly watch the Washington elite provide us with a lesson in how NOT to lead. True profiles in cowardice, wrong headed ideology, and hypocrisy.

As the stock market yo-yos, you gotta begin wondering who’s right for the wrong reasons—the yeas or the nays. Maybe letting the blood run in the streets is just what we need. Everyone will suffer, but maybe, just maybe, we’ll come out a better economy on the other side.

Nah, playing chicken with the life savings and retirement assets of hundreds of millions of people is not a game I’m willing to play. Let’s hope that our "leaders" (I gag when using the term) will get a deal done—and soon.