There is a scene in Herman Wouk's book, War and Remembrance: a writer leaves a stockade following a beating to find the guards who'd brought him there engaged in an impromptu game of soccer.
The writer's epiphany comes in this assessment: "We're in the hands of adolescents."
I am not comparing anyone in our government to those guards (or to the writer or Wouk, for that matter). I bring up the epiphany as parallel to one I felt as I watched today's self-serving rhetoric, the House Republicans' finger pointing, the White House without a Plan B, the overall failure of responsibility and leadership, the willingness to put individual electoral status before country, the whining, John McCain's through-the-looking glass attempts at twisting the truth and projecting his own failure upon his opponent after the bailout bill went down in flames amidst precipitous market drops (the Dow closed down 777.68 on Monday) and the corresponding failures of banks in Europe that do not bear similar responsibility to Wall Street for this failure.
The credit market which took its own hit and which each of us will feel in ways we could never have imagined...
While no one mentions that hedge funds are due to reset, allowing investors to pull their billions out should they decide America is not the place in which they want their money anymore.
Which leads one to wonder about Congressional Republican's maturity as they try the excuse that a speech by Nancy Pelosi (one we can argue whether she should have made or not) had caused the exact number of their membership needed to pass the vote to walk because they had been offended.
I'm offended that we're in the hands of adolescents and have been since late 2000, when Republican staffers went into the White House to find the w keys removed from their computers and, instead of laughing about the practical joke (if it even happened), as was the transition tradition from one party to another since time immemorial, they held press conferences to whine about their unfair treatment at the hands of the big bad Democrats that had proceeded them.
What the Republicans in Congress have now proved (after Iraq, Katrina and, now, this fiscal failure) is that they haven't grown up since.
The Democrats in Congress are not faring much better. Was Pelosi's speech ill-advised? Given the Republican's need to point fingers, perhaps. But, as they pointed out, if all it takes is bruised feelings for them to fall short of the exact 12 votes they needed to meet their promised obligation, is it possible they didn't have the votes in the first place and were looking for an excuse?
And what an excuse! Pelosi was mean!!!! Whaaaa!!!!
"I am appalled; frankly that's an accusation against my Republican colleagues I would never thought of making. Here's the story: There's a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis. And because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country. Give me those twelve people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are if they'll now think about the country."
Did Pelosi have the votes or not? It's hard to believe she would have brought the vote if she had not been assured that she had them. Did the Republicans lie about it? Or are they that immature, that a speech blaming the Bush Administration (who they're all trying to distance themselves from anyway) for the crisis would cause twelve votes, again, that exact number needed, to walk away.
McCain's message in all this? It's Obama's fault!!! (whaaaaaaaaaaa!!!).
Barack Obama's message? "It's important for the American public and for the markets to stay calm because things are never smooth in Congress and to understand that it will get done."
I don't presume to know the best course for our economy but I do know that after eight years of being in the hands of adolescents, I'm exhausted.
I want a grown-up government. I want representatives who take responsibility for their actions, even if it means losing their seat. And I want the finger-pointing and projection to stop (John McCain).
Barack Obama may have his detractors, but I know he's the only one in this mess that makes the pit in the bottom of my stomach ease in that: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" way when he speaks about this financial mess.
Unlike his opponent.
I want a grown up in charge for a change. What we've seen now with Iraq, Katrina, Wall Street, is only the beginning if he fail to effect a change in leadership. The next crisis: a climate out of control.
Who do you want handling that?
If I hadn't been voting Obama before (which I was), I would be voting for him after this.
One more thing: There is talk that voter fraud, redistricting, misdirection (sent to the wrong polling location if you're a minority), insufficient ballot supplies to low income polling stations, refusal to allow those in foreclosure to vote, etc... are all in the works, not to mention the questionable reliability of electronic voting machines.
This is where the American electorate needs to grow up and assume responsibility. If you have early voting or vote by mail in your state, apply for it today, especially if you're in a swing state or from a minority district. If you are not registered to vote, register today.
The only way we'll change this disastrous course is by making sure every vote is counted -- that means we need extras, because many that should be counted will not be.
More on this topic at THE ENVIRONMENTALIST.