Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three cheers for the 'lunatic fringe'

In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank, a study in inside-the Beltway Stockholm Syndrome, had this reaction to the defeat of the bailout bill favored by both Democratic and Republican leaders:

After the shocking vote of 228 to 205, party leaders did their usual rounds of partisan finger-pointing, but it really wasn't a partisan issue at all. The center had collapsed in favor of a coalition of far-right and far-left zealots. What was once the lunatic fringe was now a majority: 40 percent of House Democrats, going by yesterday's vote, and fully two-thirds of Republicans. ...

On the floor, the usual partisan splits gave way to two new coalitions: pragmatists and wing nuts. Far-left Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) crossed over to the Republican side to strategize with far-right Rep. Steve King (Iowa), while Gohmert made common cause with Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) celebrated with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.).

The New York Times's favorite establishment cheerleader, David Brooks, pissed the following screed down his own leg:

And let us recognize above all the 228 who voted no — the authors of this revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed. They did the momentarily popular thing, and if the country slides into a deep recession, they will have the time and leisure to watch public opinion shift against them.

Hmmm ... I see a common thread here. The "problem," from the perspective of serious thinkers at America's newspapers of record is that too many legislators from both major parties turned out to have actual principles -- they wouldn't drink the Kool Aid when ordered to knock it back by the leadership. Free-market conservatives and populist liberals took a look at what they were being sold, looked deep down at what originally got them into politics, and found too much vestige of things they actually believe in to allow them to impoverish American taxpayers just to favor the likes of Bush, McCain, Obama, Pelosi and their friends.

"Wing nuts" did indeed rule, as Milbank put it, since, by D.C. standards, a wing nut is anybody who has firm and fast ideas of right and wrong and doesn't simply roll over for leaders who issues orders.

"Pragmatists," on the other hand, believe in the supremacy of the mushy consensus of power that rules in D.C. over whatever their constituents might favor, and have a healthy respect for the idea that, as Brooks puts it, "What we need in this situation is authority."

Authority, of course, comes in the form of comfortable, powerful public officials.

But this time, when "authority" tried to jam its most ambitious gambit in decades down the nation's throat, factions of the lunatic fringe who have never agreed on anything, looked at each other and recognized a commonality: the desire to do the right thing, even if they don't agree what that is.

Yep, the "far-left" and the "far-right" may not always be right in their beliefs, but at least they have beliefs. That's what saved us -- at least temporarily -- from the bailout bill.



Blogger lauran said...

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November 14, 2008 7:21 PM  
Blogger melvin said...

A lunatic is a commonly used term for a person who is mentally ill, dangerous, foolish or unpredictable a condition once called lunacy.
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November 16, 2008 11:07 PM  

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