Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Irresponsibility in Government

There are many criticisms that can be made about the consequences to the market of a federal bailout (see George Will today, for instance) but I am certainly willing to take the lead of Paulson, Warren Buffett, etc.

Nonetheless, I do not credit most House Republicans with being thoughtful free marketeers. The sequence of events over the last week suggests that many had trouble understanding the crisis and that political calculation was predominant aspect of their thinking, despite the serious crisis. Michael Gerson points out, additionally, the many Democrats made similar calculations and that Pelosi's prevote speech was exceptionally poorly considered.

All in all, I agree with Gerson's estimation that the current political crisis in more frightening than the economic crisis:

America is left with one portion of one branch of government that does not seem to work. House Democrats seem temperamentally incapable of building genuine consensus on issues that matter. Many House Republicans seem so alienated from the mainstream policy consensus that they inhabit a different world. One wonders if any emergency short of an invasion of American territory would unite them. Even then, Pelosi would probably blame the conflict on cowboy diplomacy, House Republicans would talk of the natural fruits of McGovernism, and the vote on declaring war would be close.

Though some compromise may eventually be passed, it is now clear that American political elites have lost the ability to quickly respond to a national challenge by imposing their collective will. What once seemed like politics as usual now seems more like the crisis of the Articles of Confederation -- a weak government populated by small men. And this must be more frightening to a world dependent on American stability than any bank failure.