Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A More Plausible Cause of the Bailout Defeat: Decay of the Conservative Coalition

Yesterday's bailout defeat had less to do with Wall Street, less to do with Main Street, and more to do with Congress reflecting the American electorate's vote of no-confidence in Bush Presidency's economic policies of the past 8 years, even beyond the pull of party loyalty. You cannot at once saddle House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the Democrats (who voted 60% with the Bush bailout) for that and be called "fair."

Want to look for causes? Try the way things fall apart in the crumbling conservative wing of the Republican Party:
In Washington over the last week, there were lots of ideas about what a bailout of Wall Street ought to look like. But none had less chance of becoming law than the plan put out by the core of the House GOP caucus, the conservatives known as the Republican Study Committee. The members of this group (which has more than its share of extremists and buffoons) offered as the cure to our current woes the removal of regulations on businesses and a suspension of the capital-gains tax, as though they were the congressional equivalent of those Japanese soldiers hunkered down on remote islands, unaware that the war had ended years before and that their side lost.

Not that anyone much cares what the Republican Study Committee thinks. But its desperate attempt to head off government intervention into the smoothly humming operation of the free market, comical though it might be, tells us something about what our politics will look like after this election. The conservative movement that has dominated American politics for the last three decades is sputtering toward the end of its relevance. Its various factions, so willing in the past to put their differences aside in service of the goal of obtaining and holding power, are heading for a civil war.

One of the Republicans who voted against the Republican administration says that Pelosi's speech had nothing to do with his vote:

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