scholars and rogues

Country Ambition First

“This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.” 

That’s John McCain’s take on why the House failed to pass a bipartisan Wall Street bailout bill today, according to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s economic adviser.  The McCain camp cites Nancy Pelosi’s “strongly worded partisan speech” that “poisoned the vote” as the deal-breaker.

So, let me see if I understand this correctly.  McCain’s campaign theme is “Country First.”  McCain, in step with President Bush, championed the passage of this compromise bill.  And a host of House Republicans refused to get on board because they were upset at Pelosi’s rhetoric, so they sulked, rejected their own president’s impassioned insistence, and voted no. (Identify them here.)

Legitimate concern about the bill’s specifics aside, if that is indeed why it failed, McCain is shooting himself in the foot to suggest that such pettiness reigns among Republicans that they cannot– or will not – rise above partisan sensitivities for the nation’s welfare.

And it’s not just McCain’s ambition that’s shoving country aside in making such absurd claims, it’s Republican ideology as well.  Consider this remark from Representative Darrell Issa, the conservative multi-millionaire California Republican, whom the New York Times reported today was “’resolute’ in his opposition to the measure because it would betray party principles and amount to ‘a coffin on top of Ronald Reagan’s coffin.’”

Again, let me make sure I’m clear on this: what is most important at this moment of collective crisis is that we put philosophy over pragmatics to ensure that we do not dishonor Reagan’s legacy.  Is there nothing that has happened this week to suggest to Congressman Issa that perhaps the Reagan philosophy has been a failure?  That indeed, it has driven the catastrophic deregulation that’s defined virtually the entire McCain tenure in Congress, which has led to the current economic implosion? 

Oops — I keep forgetting that logical analysis has no place in politics anymore.

Categories: scholars and rogues

4 replies »

  1. But Wendy, don’tcha know that Thou Shalt Not Besmirch the Holy Name of Reagan?

    For the last 30 years Reagan was held up by Republicans as the greatest president of all time. I suspect that, 20 years from now he’ll be held up as the president who started us down the road toward a second Depression (successfully or, as I hope, not).

  2. Yes, I had a temporary lapse for a moment and forgot that Reagan was God. Never good to suggest adding rationality into matters of religion.

  3. What about all the Dem’s that voted against this? Bipartisan opposition is just as bipartisan as support. Anyone who thinks they can point he finger soley at the other party is dishonest about the complexity of this problem. Yes Clinton’s policies of encouraging low income home ownership were a factor and no it wasn’t the sole cause. Yes predetory lending and wall street greed helped get us in this mess and no it wasn’t the only cause.

    If nothing else I’m glad to see Congress as an institution doing something not along party lines.

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