by Whet Moser
Right now the Washington Post has two analysis pieces on its homepage, both about how no one can make progress on the Mother of All Bailouts because the rubes aren't willing to trust their leaders in Washington.
Joel Achenbach and Ashley Surdin: "A political establishment held in higher regard might have been able to hold together some kind of coalition of the willing.... Members of Congress in both liberal and conservative districts were inundated with e-mails and phone calls from angry voters opposing the bailout. With Election Day a little more than a month away, many lawmakers appeared to pay greater heed to their constituents than to their party leaders."
Steven Pearlstein: "The basic problem here is that too many people don't understand the seriousness of the situation."
If you need the message to be any clearer, Conor Clarke at the Atlantic spells it out for you:
"The bailout crashed, and so did democracy...."
"The Republican and Democratic congressmen who voted against the bill were responding to angry constituents who thought of the bill as nothing more than a gift horse for the rich -- on CNN a moment ago a reporter said such constituents were phoning in 'a hundred to one' against the bill. The congressmen who serve these constituents are afraid of losing in November, and they are pandering with shameless zeal and reckless abandon."
Then again, maybe today's Failout Bill died because it sucked and no one liked it, including such dim-bulb hick constituents as Robert Reich, Brad DeLong, Nouriel Rubini, Dean Baker, and Ken Rogoff. The volk have already watched the wool get pulled down once, and perhaps twice, and this--crowd-sourcing? user-generated opinion? democracy?--is something like a natural response.
Besides, there will be plenty of panic tomorrow to set things in motion.
Update: Probably didn't put this clearly enough--Paulson basically began negotiations like Alec Baldwin's character from Glengarry Glenross. And I don't think people expect their treasury secretary to deal with the public like that during a time of crisis, or that we'd have to worry too much about his allegiances. So maybe the country is playing brinkmanship too. It's, you know, allowed.
But I may be exaggerating the effects of all this, given how many low-information voters there are.