It’s time…

…to bust out the only thing in my arsenal that can adequately respond to New York Times columnist David Brooks’ contention that anyone who opposed the Paulson bailout bill (yeah, that would include me) is a nihilist. Yes, it’s Mr. Walter Brueggemann, again.

In a hospital room we want it to be cheery, and in a broken marriage we want to imagine it will be all right. We bring the lewd promise of immortality everywhere, which is not a promise, but only a denial of what history brings and what we are indeed experiencing.

Even in the knowledge that Monday’s House vote was rancid with petty political calculations all around, I find Brooks’ column a masterpiece of the sort of accusatory denial we’re seeing from all quarters of the media now. We will see much more of this sort of thing in the weeks ahead, as the Good and the Great continue to preen their way out of relevance while events continue to unfold. Cheerful, hard-working Americans who have held the country together with spit and sweat can expect to be called ignorant, gloomy, wild and (worst of all) angry — remember the same accusation the GOP threw at us four years ago? (They can also expect to be insulted with some real “lipstick on a pig” — when is a bailout not a bailout? When it’s an “investment.”)

I’m sure that in a few days, they’ll cobble up some compromise bill that’s marginally better and will get it passed. We should be spending this money on infrastructure and social safety nets. But it’s important that, for one day at least, the “Masters of the Universe” did not get what they wanted. I’m hopeful because not enough Americans seem to be swallowing the scare stories trotted out by CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and by an increasingly ineffectual Washington leadership — and the whole world now knows just how ineffectual — as they try harder to re-sell the lewdest of lewd financial promises to the American people. A people that just maybe is finally ready to own its losses, instead of borrowing more dreams.

3 thoughts on “It’s time…

  1. sean

    seven hundred billion dollars.

    we can’t get our crumbling and dispiriting city schools fixed in syracuse because of what … $30 million?

    we can’t fix the water lines spilling all that precious fresh water in these northeastern cities because of what … $500 million? maybe $1 billion?

    when nader spoke of a massive public works project that would provide work for the countless young men standing on corners, he was derided as a kook because of what … $20 billion? $25 billion?

    seven hundred billion dollars, just like that, for a wall street bailout.

    i take my own swing at it tomorrow, but i think your final line sums it up: are we ready to own our own losses? or will we just keep rolling, and push them down the road?


  2. Robinia

    So, what I want to know about this is: now that the “crisis” (or, is it just a strike on the part of capital?) has caused the biggest stock-market loss since 9-11, is it ok to start calling the Masters of the Universe terrorists?

    If that question is too hard– what about the idea that the CEOs of the investment banks should be fired, because they were persuing a flawed business model (which even the investment banks themselves could see now, which is why they turned into bank holding companies…)? We could, of course, start with Paulson…. or, is he persuing a different business model now? When did he switch, after Lehman went down?

  3. Ellen

    Sean, your column today touches on the truly personal aspects of economic downturns that most people are inclined to guard (and hence resist honesty about): money and relationships. You’ll either get a ton of reader comments on that, or none…

    Robinia, I don’t know if you can call them “terrorists” and get away with it, but I noticed that a NYT columnist (can’t remember if it was Krugman or not) offhandedly mentioned the specific streets in Greenwich, Conn. where many of these “masters” live. That was an eyebrow raiser.

    There has been whispering that Lehman was “let go” because of their leaders’ political (ie Democratic) leanings; one thing that is commonly thought is that there is a club of banks who are “in” and others who are/were “out.” We are losing financial advantage in this deal, but the “masters” are also tipping their hand and forced to reveal themselves more than they have been comfortable with. Knowledge is also power.

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