By CHRIS FLOYD
The vote by the House of Representatives on Monday to defeat the Wall Street bailout plan is the first act of political courage that the Congress of the United States has mounted in the last seven years. The fact that it was due largely to right-wing Republicans afraid of going down with the sinking ship of the witless leader they have followed blindly throughout his reign is a delicious irony — but the whys and wherefores of the vote are not important. What matters is that one of America’s moribund institutions has flickered to life long enough to derail a disastrous action that would have shoved the nation even deeper into the pit of corruption and ruin where it has been mired for so long.
The New York Times called the House vote “a catastrophic political defeat for President Bush, who had put the full weight of the White House behind the measure.” But this is manifestly untrue. As everyone but the nation’s media — and the Democratic Party — knows, George W. Bush has no “political weight” to use, or lose. Yes, he still retains the authoritarian powers that the spineless Democrats have given him with scarcely a whimper of protest (and often with boundless enthusiasm); but as a political force — i.e., someone whose opinions and statements can sway popular opinion — he has been a dead and rotting carcass for a long time. He is the most unpopular president in American history; and I can report from first-hand, eyewitness knowledge that he is thoroughly despised by some of the most rock-ribbed, Bible-believing, flag-waving, down-home, John Wayne-loving Heartland types that you can imagine. Even his own party — a party fashioned in his own image, the Frankensteinian melding of wilfully ignorant religious primitivism and rapaciously greedy crony capitalism that he has embodied in his twerpish person — kept him away from their convention this year.
Nothing — absolutely nothing — could be politically safer than opposing George W. Bush. And yet the entire Democratic leadership, Barack Obama included, lined up to support a cockamamie plan proposed by this scorned and shrivelled figure, a plan that was transparently nothing more than an audacious raid on the Treasury by Big Money hoods and yet another authoritarian power grab by a gang of murderous, torturing, warmongering toadies. This was the plan and these were the people that the Democrats decided to fight for.