Saturday, September 27, 2008

Recklessness in a dangerous time


In the wake of the turbulent events of the last few days, a moment of unhappy reflection is necessary.

A large amount of uncertainty gripped the markets, lawmakers and the American people this week. It was and still is an unsettling time.

And during times of national crisis — make no mistake we are in one — Americans look for strong leadership that can compel the public and decision-makers to be reasonable and pragmatic.

Normally, we look to the president, but unfortunately George W. Bush does not have the power or the credibility to lead us through any event, especially a challenge as monumental as this one. So the torch had to pass to members of Congress, to party leaders and to congressional committee chairs.

It is hard to fully celebrate any of them, but Democratic leaders seemed to do what they could, within the constraints they were dealing with. There was, from an early stage, a consensus to pass a bill with a number of key provisions with an emphasis on helping homeowners, strong oversight and limits on executive pay. But there was also, from the beginning, a clear understanding articulated by Democrats that they would not go this alone.

They insisted on cover, if you will, from Republicans. The Democrats were right to say that they were not going to absorb all the blame that was primarily the making of the peddlers of laissez-faire economics within the GOP and the White House.

Give credit to members of the president's staff for working with the Democrats and many Senate Republicans.

The failure and the recklessness, then, came from a specific corner of the other side.

We speak here not just of Sen. John McCain's political maneuver to "suspend" his campaign to return to Washington only to throw a monkey wrench in the cogs of a developing deal, but a widespread revolt in the House among some 100 conservative Republicans against a compromise measure developed by leaders of both parties and members of President Bush's team.

This group of GOP representatives pulled stunt after stunt as the markets continued to gyrate, as the credit markets continued to dry up, as the very fabric of the American economic system — right down to the hometown independent bank — was beginning to look imperiled.

The GOP House leader showed up at one key White House meeting on Thursday with the presidential candidates, only to drop the bombshell that he didn't have the support of the majority of his members. This seemed a surprise to everyone, except John McCain, who decided to keep that bit of information to himself.

Ranking Republicans in the Senate and the House darted in and out of committee meetings announcing they were there as observers, or only there to represent themselves or only as a representative of some faction or another.

It was all fun and games at the circus when the town was on fire. It was unacceptable, ridiculous, embarrassing and dangerous.

But most of all it was political.

At the end of the week, it be-came clear that the princes of free-market economics represented by this group of House members were intending to use this national emergency as an opportunity to define their faction of the party.

This, they were shouting as the sirens were screaming, is what the GOP will stand for in the future: no government intervention in the economy and no regulation. We are the party of Reagan, they bellowed.

Nevermind that they are the party that has long advocated the disastrous policies that led to this in the first place.

Here, then, is the slogan of these House members and their new enabler, John McCain: Party First.

source: Recklessness in a dangerous time
Anniston Star