Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

A few thoughts, on the eve of battle

I have to say, I'm ruefully amused that I only agree with George Bush when he's being wildly unpopular. This is because he only does unpopular things when he's right; unfortunately, he's a lousy leader, and no good at convincing anybody. But he was right on immigration, and he's right today -- the bailout is painful, and certainly the plan is imperfect, but the need to remove the stress from the markets is crucial. Nobody seems to be pointing out that the worldwide market crash that will almost certainly occur if it doesn't happen is going to wipe out a *lot* more than $700 billion of American wealth, just in the short term, and will probably cost everybody many times that over the next couple of years in the depression that will follow.

That said, the Democrats are between a rock and a hard place: the conservatives have, as usual, set the tone of the debate, and the Democrats have run around like frightened sheep, unwilling to fight back hard to frame the conversation properly. So they're pretty much screwed: most of them know that this is necessary, but it's unpopular enough that it could completely reshape the congressional elections, and they know that.

Sadly, the right thing to do and the politically smart thing to do are totally at odds with each other. The *smart* thing would be the call the Republicans' bluff, let the bill fail by a narrow margin, let the markets crash, and blame the whole thing on the Republicans. It would be an easy case to make: the Republicans *did*, by and large, cause the mess in the first place, and then obstructed efforts to fix it. And once the markets *do* crash, it becomes much easier to frame the debate, changing it from "it's bailing out those evil corporations" to "the Republicans cost you your retirement money". Heck, it could probably even cost McCain his last hope of winning, since Obama could make the semi-true argument that even thought McCain knew that this was necessary, he was unable to lead his party into doing it.

So both the economic and political landscape, of probably at least the next couple of years, are going to be substantially shaped by the next couple of hours. I will admit that I'm scared as hell of both likely outcomes: either it fails and we likely lose some substantial fraction of our assets, or it succeeds and the Republicans suddenly have a chance of taking back Congress. That said, I'm still watching in fascinated horror as the train wreck plays itself out -- it's political brinksmanship at the highest level...
Tags: economy, politics

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