We’ve seen this movie before. Different setting, more fantasy than reality (as this one appears to be). But the principle applies. Catastrophe looms. The president proposes an expensive plan with little or no oversight, essentially saying “trust me.” He insists, as do his advisers that Congress needs to act immediately. Now! Approve the plan as written; there is no time to debate, to discuss, to modify, to amend. Trust us. We know what we are doing. And if you don’t do it, and do it now, you’re not acting in the best interests of the people.
Roll back the tape to 2002. We could be talking about Iraq. Fast forward a few years, and this time the movie's about Iran. Or wiretapping and FISA. But it's not 2002 or 2007. It's 2008 and we’ve seen this movie, called "The Great Bailout of 2008." Once again, the sky is falling (and it well might be – this time).
But, as I said, we’ve seen this movie before, and pardon my cynicism if I have a bit of a “fool me once shame on you; fool me twice (er…three times) shame on me" vibe going. This is where Iraq–and the lying, deceit and treachery of the Bush presidency leading up to it–suffers some blowback, and in an unexpected way. Had the administration not been revealed as having lied, finagled, fudged and over-hyped Iraq; had they not questioned the patriotism of anyone who dared disagree or desire better oversight, Bush might have found a Congress more willing to “trust” him.
But the administration has used its “chicken little” approach too often and too misleadingly for much of anyone to trust the president with $700 billion. Threats of doom on Wall Street may be real, but given the track record of the Bush Administration, how can we dare trust it? How can we afford to trust it? How do we know that this isn’t only the beginning? How do we trust the Administration that brought us Iraq, Katrina, the botching of Afghanistan to do this right and without sufficient oversight? The simple answer is: we can’t.
“Yes, of course there are refinements that must be made; oversight and other things. But we’ll work that out later. Trust us” says President Bush. Yeah, right. Somehow, the Bush administration thinks we’re all idiots, and if Congress follows like fettered sheep and signs over the $700 billion—no questions asked, insofar as Congress is concerned, Bush is right.
No. We’ve been fooled too many times by this cynical, sometimes incompetent, arrogant administration. Forgive me for being a little skeptical here. I do not believe for one minute that reviewing the proposal, offering counter-proposals, and arguing this out over the course of a week will send us reeling into the Great Depression Part II. But if we do this wrong, without safeguards, without careful and comprehensive oversight, I guarantee we’ll live to regret it. For a very long time beyond when Bush’s black mark on the presidency fades into oblivion.