Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pickpockets and Politicans. Our Fearless Journalists (or, Hard Questions Aren't Hard To Answer If No One Asks Them).

Poor John McCain. Poor, poor, Senator John McCain. Poor old flip-flopping, tap-dancing, stuttering, Republican John McCain. Poor old lying, twitching, sweating, trembling, confused, desperate, Washington-insider John McCain.

No one should have to repudiate a lifetime of strongly-held principles overnight, especially a presidential candidate, and especially one who cannot run on his party's accomplishments and is forced to run on "character, not issues."

Goddamn timing. If only he'd been elected in 2004. If he'd won then, he'd be retiring now, and the broken economy he did so much to ruin would not even be on the news. In that time of war and fear, his war-hero story would be all he needed.

Today John McCain's future, his only hope, really, rides on the possibility that investigative reporters will not do their jobs and will not ask hard questions about our current economic collapse. Hard-hitting questions like, "how did this happen?" or "whose idea was this deregulation?" or "who's going to pay to clean up this mess? or "could this have been prevented?" You know, the questions reporters used to ask, which they never ask anymore, about anything.

In other words, he ain't doing too bad. As long as no one watches "the View."

Here's a way to understand the reality of our current situation, and the reason for John McCain's massive, Alaska-sized flip-flop on economic policy:

A pickpocket hangs around the train station stealing wallets and watches. Eventually the complaints from commuters pile up and the police set up surveillance, a small sting operation, and the crook is captured. He is marked, no longer invisible, unable to ply his trade. He does some time and leaves town.

But public opinion changes and new officials are elected. Crime is no longer the focus of Republicans' disapprobation - government's attempt to control free markets is. The large police presence in the train station is bad for business, for tourism, new leaders say, so the police go elsewhere. A new ethic emerges: "government isn't the solution, it's the problem."

The pickpocket comes back. This time, there is no one to stop him, and he steals with abandon, shouting "government stifles the entrepreneur!" as he makes off with even more loot.

Only later do we find out that the television ads, the radio spots, and the direct-mail pamphlets that convinced the people to elect anti-government candidates to the government were paid for by... the pickpocket himself! But it's too late. Our money is gone, and the thief got away scott-free. He even got to keep the money.

Then he went into politics.

Deregulation, like many Republican ideas - such as privatizing social security, for one example - is a massive scam and has been all along. Corruption being the end as well as the means, Republicans by necessity became effective image-mongers, manipulators of the under-informed. They succeeded fabulously at replacing their public image as rapacious robber-barons with one of religious piety and concern for the least among us.

A tiny, elite clique of Americans with nine or ten-digit incomes convinced a majority of Americans that fundamentally redistributing the wealth of our society directly to them was a selfless and Godly act.

To them I say: I admire your chutzpah. Now give me my country back.

I will not be using the past tense to describe John McCain's overnight conversion to liberal progressive economic policy, since I don't believe he actually believes the things he is now saying.

John McCain defines himself as "primarily a deregulator." This means he wants less government regulation of industry. He wants to remove regulations that were established decades or centuries ago to protect the economy and the American people from rip-offs and scams by shady and corrupt business leaders. Apparently these regulations hurt profits.

He claims to be sincere. He wants the government to leave corporations and banks and insurance companies and mortgage companies and investment houses and global financiers alone - because free markets are rooted in American liberty, not because he is in the pocket of industry leaders who are dying to cut corners, make deals in the dark, and line their pockets at the expense of the people.

I am convinced he believes he's doing the right thing. But this is not only not good enough, it's exactly the reason why he can't be allowed to be President.

The McCain campaign, in the desperate attempt to ensure no one looks backward at how we arrived where we are, is now in full whirling-dervish mode, creating the new "reality" as fast as the old one implodes.

The new narrative: we're rolling up our sleeves and fixing the economy, and we're too busy to figure out what went wrong. So don't ask.


Flamsey said...

I couldn't get a loan for pick pocket school.. great analogy...

The worst is yet to come.

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings.
Steal a little and they throw you in jail,
Steal a lot and they make you king.
There's only one step down from here, baby,
It's called the land of permanent bliss.
What's a sweetheart like you doin' in a dump like this?

DW said...


Another Dylan fan. How marvelous!

Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.

If you're lucky.