Monday, September 22, 2008

They're Doing It Again

A specter haunts the Democratic Party – the fear that because they are fairly reasonable and because they sometimes have decent instincts, a gullible, uninformed and disinformed electorate will think them too soft to govern the Home of the Brave. Thus, with barely a squawk of protest, they signed on to both Bush wars and, repeatedly went along with Cheney/Bush assaults on such quaint, out-dated relics as privacy, habeus corpus, and the right to engage, without harassment or undue personal cost, in peaceful protest. From time to time, the bolder among them would voice obvious concerns. But, on the whole, the lesser evil party has capitulated abjectly. Trying in vain to be second to none in “national security,” they have collaborated shamelessly in Cheney’s and Bush’s efforts to terrorize an already frightened public into letting the neo-cons and their friends in Big Oil and on Wall Street have their way.

It’s happening again – not for “national security” this time around but, allegedly, to maintain the world economic system. The danger is indeed grave and a Depression is scarier than Al Qaeda. Not to worry, though. As in the “War on Terror,” a “bipartisan” consensus will come together. Perhaps it will mitigate some of the grief that would otherwise come our way. But at whose expense? Even more plainly than before, what will be done will benefit “the bad guys” the most – their gambling debts will be made good by the rest of us. But, like before, count on the media to make it to look like they’re doing it all for us.

It is remarkable how out of the picture the Bush boy is this time around; even Cheney is lying low. Thus it has fallen to that tireless representative of Goldman Sachs, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, to make the world safe for capitalism – by indemnifying the miscreants who have run the “financial sector,” as it is euphemistically called, into the ground. So far, the Democrats, Obama included, have acknowledged the necessity. The gamblers, it seems, have the rest of us over the proverbial barrel, so we must pay them off quickly. It would be nice, first, to gather a little information before embarking on a major sea change. But time is of the essence. Bail out first; ask questions later. It’s the Republican way; it’s the McCain way (as, for example, in his selection of Sarah Palin); and it’s probably going to be the Democrats’ way.

Of course, there are Democratic voices, including Obama’s (so far), trying to get just a little something out of what Paulson and the Grandees on the Federal Exchange Commission are concocting. Chris Dodd, the man whom Obama ought to have picked for a running mate, is at least raising pertinent questions. But don’t count on the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity (and Pelosiites!), to stand their feeble ground; not if the future is like the past. Don’t count on Obama either. He’s three times the “maverick” John McCain pretends to be, and ten times more maverick than the surrealistically unqualified Sarah Palin, but he’s not nearly maverick enough to buck the executive committee of the entire ruling class.

[This is a good time to note and recommend the reissue (in paperback) of Matt Welch’s McCain: The Myth of a Maverick (Palgrave MacMillan). Welch, the editor of Reason magazine, proves beyond doubt that even libertarians sometimes get it right.]

For background on the current crisis, this piece by Steve Fraser in is helpful. But Fraser’s account, like so many others, is fixed on surface phenomena. Among the many untoward consequences of the near total eclipse in which the Left seems stuck, is an absence in the mainstream press of discussions of the underlying causes for the financialization of modern capitalism and the vicissitudes of an economy that stumbles along from bubble to bubble. There is lots out there, however, for example, in the pages of Monthly Review. Should the economy tank big time, and the class nature of the “bipartisan” bailout become too obvious to ignore, perhaps these and similar matters will again find a place in the ambient political culture. Needless to say, it wouldn’t exactly compensate for the miseries that lie ahead. But it would prove, yet again, that even the darkest clouds come with silver linings.

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