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Economics Election 2008 McCain Politics The Opinionsphere

Ideology Above Country


[Image courtesy of Barack Obama over at Flickr.]

[digg-reddit-me]Jim Manzi over at National Review‘s The Corner calls the House Republicans’ actions today “Irresponsible Folly” and writes:

Well, apparently the House Republicans have decided to run a neat little experiment to test the actual odds of the current financial crisis turning into another Depression in the absence of a bailout plan.

Kathryn Jean Lopez – also at The Corner – tries to spin this as proof of the Democrats’ lack of unity and suggests this wouldn’t happen under a Republican Congress.

Other Republicans are apparently attempting to blame their votes against the only plan to stave off another Great Depression on a few comments made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her speech to introduce the bill.

Marc Ambinder asks: “Where were you when the world economy collapsed?” That might be overdoing it a little. But not by much – seeing as the Dow is down over 5% as we speak and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are down almost 7% each.

Regardless – it seems certain that McCain failed in this – and deserves a good deal of blame for this failure.

The Democrats gave up a lot in order to win over some Republicans – but now it looks as if they’ll have to ditch them and pass a much more left-friendly bill. That leaves them without political cover on an issue that isn’t politically popular. But it is the only responsible thing to do, which is why I have confidence the Democrats will pass something.

The Republicans today have proved that they will place ideology above their country. They have proved that they will place politics above their country. Whether they voted against the bill because of their fundamentalist belief in the power of markets or because they wanted to be on the short-term popular side of a major issue is unclear. Presumably, it is a combination of both.

But they have proved that they are not willing to be grown-ups and accept the pragmatic best alternative when there are no good options. They do not take responsibility for any portion of the chaos which deregulation has contributed to here. They have not proposed some better, other plan – they have instead just been oppositional – representing the final deathblow to conservatism as a governing ideology.

This is the latest in a series of events – where conservatives have placed ideology above country, and ignored the pragmatic solutions to hard reality. From Iraq – where ideological certainty led to insanely rosy projections of the post-war period; to Iran – where diplomacy was rejected out-of-hand, and Iran’s offer to cut back on their nuclear program as part of a comprehensive discussion of US-Iran issues in 2003 was ignored; to the constant prescription of tax cuts in the face of mounting deficits; to the opposition to any pragmatic solution to the immigration problem.

It’s not that there weren’t good reasons to oppose this bill. It’s that the Republicans were unwilling to take the basic responsibility needed to govern.

Barack Obama meanwhile, says the bailout will go through. Not because he likes it – but because, as distasteful as it is, it’s necessary. As Obama said, speaking in the midst of a storm yesterday, “The skies look cloudy and it’s dark. And you think the rains will never pass. But these too will pass: a brighter day will come.”

It’s not the rhetoric that matters as much as the tone. Obama’s calm, measured, steady public presence, even in the midst of a storm, contrasts with McCain’s hysteric, dramatic, volatile one.

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