The Arizona Desert Lamp

Bailout reactions, and other national politics

Posted in Politics by Evan Lisull on 30 September 2008

Taking a brief foray into the national scene, allow me to join Justyn’s praise for the surprising defeat of the $700 billion bailout plan. He praises Gabby Giffords for voting down the bill, but in fact the entire Arizona delegation in the house joined here — Grijalva, Flake, Shadegg, and everyone else. Suffice to say, this is one of the very few times Grijalva, Flake, and Shadegg will all vote on the same side of any bill.

If you really want to get down and dirty with the economics behind the opposition, here are four links to that effect; also, for an apt analogy to a certain disgraced official, read here.

From this, Justyn makes some interesting points, not all of which I agree with:

1.) The vast majority of GOP incumbents aren’t worried about getting re-elected. They know they’re going to get re-elected. In other words, they probably didn’t vote against the plan solely in order to please their constituents, though I do think a strong element of old-time Western Republicanism — defined not merely by hatred of big government but resentment of big business — was there.

I think some may have been posturing, but it’s posturing within their basic framework of thought. It’s not so much that it’s an anti-Wall-Street attitude, but an anti-$700-billion-helicopter-drop principle. The Republicans that supported the bill did so largely out of party loyalty: loyalty to the Bush Administration (which has hardly been loyal to conservative principles, but that’s beside the point).

The Democrats against the bill are also being cited as “political opportunists”, but this is similarly fraught with error. The Democratic Party has exhibited an anti-Wall-Street, anti-Big-Business attitude for a very long time. This has been the best chance to represent that they “stand up for the little guy, against corporate bailouts, against Wall Street buying Washington.” The Democrats-for-Wall-Street portrayal in the press is, suffice to say, a bit odd given recent history. As the similar candidacies of Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul exhibited, pseudo-socialists and pseudo-libertarians have far more in common than one might initially believe.

2.) They don’t care if John McCain gets elected. Rollins, who’s as far “inside” as an insider gets, very strongly hints that they may well not want him elected, and that sending the bill to defeat had something to do with that wish.

This is important, and Justyn goes further and wonders why he was nominated at all. Part of this had to do with the primary process, and the fact that the GOP had almost the reverse party of the Democrats: a myriad of candidates, none of which fit the bill. McCain was dumped early on, but a vague nostalgia for his 2000 campaign, along with the importance of foreign policy at the time, brought him back from the political grave. Had the GOP known that the economy would be at the forefront of the campaign, I have little doubt that Mitt Romney would be the GOP candidate.

This is a losing year for the GOP, another fact Justyn hits upon. But I don’t think that Goldwater was “thrown away”, any more than McCain is being “thrown away.” Both actual won through the nomination process; once nominated, a candidate can’t be removed.

Let’s start by looking at Goldwater. While he failed epically on an electoral level, it is a fact that his supporters were fervent, and, more importantly, very young. It was this support, embodied by Y.A.F (Ron Paul is attempting, IMHO, to replicate this effect with his Liberty Caucus, although the split between Baldwin and Barr is rending this into irrelevancy. It was this support that led the Reagan majority of 1980, which in reality has lasted through the present day (the Clinton years, of course, were overshadowed by the ’94 contract revolution, which defined the rest of his administration).

McCain was supposed to replicate this. McCain should have strongly stood for laissez-faire markets, strong defense, the Moral Majority, etc. etc. The base should have been rallied, the polls should have fallen, and the GOP would have marched proudly into the Wilderness, prepared for guerrilla warfare against the Obama-led majority.

The problem is, as odd as this may sound, is that McCain is a failed failure. Somewhere down the road, someone convinced him that the short-term is more important than the long-term. Thus, while he has stayed remarkably close, he has also blithely endorsed this bill. Ultimately, McCain will keep it close; however, by failing to provide any compass for the GOP to follow, he will make the stay in the Wilderness more confused and, ultimately, longer, than it should have been with a genuine Goldwater at the helm.

2 Responses

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  1. J.D. said, on 1 October 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Hey Evan — thanks for the kind words and comments. I came to my conclusions about the ’64 nomination largely from my reading of Theodore White’s “The Making of the President, 1964,” which relates how Republican elites steadfastly refused to endorse Nelson Rockefeller against Goldwater, even though Rockefeller was a strong candidate who had polled well against Kennedy. Goldwater did have a devoted following but suffice to say, an electorate that gave a landslide victory to Mr. Great Society probably wasn’t ready for him.

    I don’t know if McCain could have convincingly stood for any of those things except strong defense — the fallout from the Bush era is so toxic the only way a Republican could’ve pulled off a win (barring Clinton’s nomination, which might have provided a rallying cry for the right) would’ve been to run against the administration and try to scoop up as many disaffected independents and conservatives as he could. But of course, McCain’s committed to the Iraq effort, which alienates him not only from independents but a growing number of traditional conservatives.

  2. […] quickly things change. After a few short, sweet days of schadenfreude over the defeat of the Big Bailout, Congress and the President handed $700 billion to Hank Paulson Friday, via the second draft […]

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