I share Thomas Friedman’s angst about the financial crisis and the unbridled, but unrealistic aversion to “bailing out Wall Street”:
We’re all connected. As others have pointed out, you can’t save Main Street and punish Wall Street anymore than you can be in row boat with someone you hate and think that the leak in the bottom of the boat at his end is not going to sink you, too. The world really is flat. We’re all connected. “Decoupling” is pure fantasy.
And he is right that this is the result of uncontrolled, furious partisanship:
I always said to myself: Our government is so broken that it can only work in response to a huge crisis. But now we’ve had a huge crisis, and the system still doesn’t seem to work. Our leaders, Republicans and Democrats, have gotten so out of practice of working together that even in the face of this system-threatening meltdown they could not agree on a rescue package, as if they lived on Mars and were just visiting us for the week, with no stake in the outcome.
But isn’t the first the natural result of decades of the Democrats’ unremitting class warfare? And the second what comes from “all evils lead to George W. Bush”? As to the first, the Left aided by the MSM has perpetrated the notion that wealth at the top comes at the expense of those below, that capitalism is a scam and that financial stability and success comes from doling out goodies to those in need (e.g. “affordable housing” to those not credit-worthy). So when the political establishment must turn on a dime (or $700B worth of dimes) and tells voters that you can’t let big financial institutions perish without wiping out the savings and livelihood of all Americans there isn’t a reservoir of goodwill, is there? And it doesn’t help to have a Democratic presidential nominee fomenting the antagonism between “Wall Street” and “Main Street.”
And as for the bitter partisanship: when exactly did that become a danger to good government? Perhaps it was when the Left advocated an “impeach or indict Bush” program. Was it when every miscalculation and error by the Bush administration became a “lie”? One need not vouch for the competency of every aspect of the Bush Administration to realize that the opposition to it has become unhinged and exaggerated. Once you go down that road and condition voters to hearing “Bush lied, people died” it’s hard to convince them “The President’s got a point here.”
In short, the dismal disintegration of common sense and civility which has now come back to paralyze us didn’t start this week. After staring into the abyss perhaps it’s time to rethink the notion that you can wage a populist class warfare and vilify the opposition without consequence.