As I write this, there has been no bailout passed and enacted, no $999 gazillion dollars has been deposited directly into Henry Paulson's off-shore account, and no CEOs in the last 48 hours have been granted $800 septillion dollar bonuses for turning their once-vibrant companies into a fecal smear. And yet, friends, as John McCain might say, my friends, look at the Big Board: The Dow is up 200 points in lively trading and we're back up over the 11,000 mark. So forgive me for asking, but: Is this particular Handout (I mean Bailout, sorry!) really necessary? As electoral-vote.com put it this morning:
When you read that this "crisis" is about economics, don't believe a word of it. It is 100% politics, pure and simple. Yes, something needs to be done, but if the markets know that Congress is working on it, they will wait a few weeks before dissolving in a puddle.
Machiavelli's treatise on the ruthlessly effective exercise of political power was, of course, entitled The Prince. Had he based his analysis on the Bush era, however, it might better be The Jester. Look around you and everywhere are telltale signs of the bad news: as much as we have ignored him of late, written him off and awaited his demise, the truth is it's George W. Bush's world, and we're just being foreclosed in it.
How does Bush rule with such an iron grasp? It's the stupidity, stupid!
At the most crucial moments, the Worst President Ever (WPE) always seems even more flummoxed, unintelligent, and brain-damaged than usual. The key word here is seems. Like this week. Every comment and speech has been grist for The Daily Show's mill. But if you've been paying attention, you'll know: whenever, in this interminable presidency, The WPE serves up a WTF-burger with a side order of extra-stoopid, your bullcrap detector should be in full red mode.
Careful historical analysis reveals a pattern to Bush's presidential vacuity. There's an algorithm at work here: the level of intelligence he displays is always in inverse proportion to the grand vileness of the plot he is hatching. The greater the evil, the dumberer he acts. I'm saying that George W. Bush may be stupid, but he's no fool. In a humble, folksy twist on Machiavelli, he uses his stupidity for political gain. And that's precisely what's going on right now.
Picture, if you will, a graph of W's stupidity -- call it the Idiometer. There are spikes at vaious places on the graph: immediately following 9/11 when the Patriot Act was being passed; in the buildup to the invasion of Iraq when the administration was dog-and-ponying up a stable full of false evidence; when the media belatedly turned as WMDs turned out to be non-existent; and again when it was time to sell the Surge and stay the course in Iraq despite all common logic.
At each of these most notably despicable moments in or recent political history, Bush's misnomers and gaffes, his goofball locutions, his deer-in-headlights stares, and his embarrassing gaps in knowledge all hit extreme highs.
Now superimpose on this graph another one, known as the Catastrophonic Instrument, where moments are ranked higher or lower depending on the disastrousness of their consequences, the spectacular nature of their historic awfulness.
Hey, Prof, this graph is virtually identical to the Idiometer!
Since last week, W has been staging a one-man Moron-a-thon -- kind of like the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon but held to raise money for a little-known charity called Save The Billionaires. There's always a plan behind the W dumb-show. So what is this telltale spike in presidential tomfoolery telling us this time?
Simple. It's the Republicans trying to buy a nice big set of handcuffs for President Obama -- or anyone else, for a long time to come. When the funds transfers are complete, be it in installments or one spectacular $700 billion tranche, there will be virtually no new social spending possible. There will be no way to lower taxes on the middle class. There will be no way to enact health care reform. There will be no means for the federal government to effectively run many existing programs, which will lend luster to the Republican calls for privatization of Social Security. All of the potential good that could come from finally jettisoning the anti-New Deal Party (because, let's face it, that's all the Republican platforms have amounted to from Goldwater to Reagan to Gingrich to W) will be lost in the tranches of capital diverted to those who need it least. The Gilded Age will come to look like Sweden by comparison. Tranche Warfare -- the elite vs. everyone else. That, my fellow Americans, is the Plan. Bush is playing dumb so we won't notice that his final stroke in office will be to make the Republican Revolution permanent and impossible to repeal for decades to come.
Exit into history, the Reaganites and the Bushies, repairing to the feast where caviar and foie gras are served and real power is consolidated. There will be two history books in the end: ours, wherein Bush was a moron, truly the WPE. And theirs, where his legendary dumb show provided the perfect cover for the Repeal of the 20th Century. That goofy sound you hear is the Worst President Ever, laughing all the way to the banquet.