Monday, September 29, 2008

Liu: "This Is A Moment For Senator Obama To Rescue The Rescue Effort"

A fine mess we are in. We will probably have to recapitalize the banks, which made faulty loans and should probably -- theoretically at least -- take their goddam beatings like adults. Unfortunately, we, as adults, cannot do that; but we can force the bankers, int he next incarnation of the bailout, to clean up their act.

Today's financial rescue plan failed in the House of Representatives, brought low by votes influenced in part by 2008 election realities as well as the desire, as one Congressman put it, "not to play Russian Roulette with America's future." The credit markets are presently frozen. The Dow Jones fell a record 770 points. Stock losses have been driven down by a profound crisis of confidence.

We cannot fail to note that congressional constituents from sea to shining sea generally did not like this bill. It wasn't politically yummy, readers. It reeked of Establishmentarian elitism and the rescue of financial industry douchebags (In San Fernando Valley, constituent phone calls went 300-2 against the bailout's price tag). And no one -- no one -- likes those thumotic douchebags that work in the financial industry and their disgusting aggession.

And now, given the urgency of this financial crisis, Congress will have to go back to the table -- humbled, to be sure; ass-dragging -- to craft another bailout. But their heads will be held a little lower this time. there will be no pep in their step. And those who want results had better look to Obama and McCain, the standard-bearers of their parties, to make something relatively post-partisan happen and not fall prey to their own hubris. We are post-hubris now; we are post-Thumos.

Senator Obama has lent his soaring rhetoric to the subject of race in Philadelphia, launching a thousand conversations on the subject nationwide. Former Clinton advisor Eric Liu via Politico's Arena argues that he ought to lend his talents to explaining the crisis and the need for some sort of bailout package -- a much better bill than the present one, to be sure -- to Americans in a way that clearly is beyond President Bush's abilities:

"We need one of our three would-be Presidents to explain the reasons for a rescue plan in a clear narrative based on clear principles.

"Sound easy? So far no one has effectively painted the big picture. No one has told the American people in plain terms that when a block of houses is on fire you put out the fire first, then later you punish the arsonists and reform the building code. Nor has anyone laid out the social contract implied in any bailout plan: that in exchange for eating the bad debts of private interests, we the people will get ... what, exactly? Experts tell us -- as does history (see the early chapters of David Kennedy's 'Freedom From Fear') -- that what we would get from a bailout is an unfreezing of credit that will prevent a total choke and stall of the economy. But right now, the voters and their spooked can't see this big picture or the principles of reciprocity at work. All they see is something massive and scary that offends their sensibilities. This is a moment for Senator Obama to rescue the rescue effort, and to give us the frame of purpose and context that we need. Among our uneasy troika of national leaders, only Obama has the credibility and the cool to remind us not to fear fear itself. He doesn't need the office at this juncture to lead us like a president.

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