Interesting that the Vietnamese press, which is very likely to reflect official thinking, found more to praise in the recent G-20 meeting than the Western press. (I also didn’t notice anything about bowing or who was wearing a bow in the Vietnamese press, much to my relief.) Perhaps because one of the things the G-20 did was increase IMF resources. A lot depends on where you’re standing. It perhaps doesn’t hurt that the Vietnamese economy will grow at a 3.5% rate this year in stead of shrinking at that rate like the US. Of course, if it were not for the worldwide recession, Vietnam’s economy would have grown at around 7%.
Obama is, sadly, much to blame for giving the Republicans so much leverage. He defined the challenge as biparitsanship not saving the U.S. economy. Right now, he has only one chance to re-set this deteriorating debate: He needs to give a major speech on the economy, explain to Americans what is happening and what must be done. People will, as of now, still listen to him — and what else is his political capital for?Speaking as a strong Obama supporter who put my energies and money into it, I am now very disillusioned with him. He spent the last two weeks empowering Republicans — including negotiating with them to get more into Senate and his administration and giving them virtual veto-power over his agenda — and also spending time on his personal cool-guy image (as in interview before the Super Bowl). The country is in danger and he ran for president to solve this crisis in a socially inclusionary way. He should be fighting on that front all the time with all his energies — and he certainly should give a major speech to help educate the public and shape the agenda. That is the least he can and should do. Only that will bypass the media-conserative dynamic that is now in charge.
Sorry for the Monty Python allusion, but the last few days have been so politically rediculous it seemed appropriate. And now we seem set to repeat the exercise, not as farce but as tragedy, to reverse another famous formulation. The Washington Post reports:
House Democratic and Republican leaders vowed to go back into negotiations to devise compromise legislation to stabilize the credit markets, but no talks were scheduled. After U.S. financial markets closed, with the Dow Jones industrial average down a one-day record of 778 points, or 7 percent, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. tried to calm frazzled traders, assuring them that work on a market intervention would resume.
But what if Democrats in Congress, along with Barack Obama, put together a financial plan on their own, without the reactionary hard right faction in the House? It would mean taking a risk politically, but the risk would be in the service of principle and patriotism. Democrats have the votes to pass a bill without Republican support, maybe they should try something along the lines suggested by Robert Reich or some other responsible economist. What if Obama brought in Nouriel Roubini (the one economist who seems to have seen the meltdown coming) and came up with a progressive plan? Just let the Republicans fulminate & prove the bankruptcy of the bankrupt ideology of unregulated markets and invisible hands. Republicans are saying that Democrats “injected politics” into the bailout? It is to laugh, but never mind; perhaps it’s time to show them what would happen if politcs really got injected into the process. I mean, how many times do Democrats have to get punked by “bipartisanship” before they give partisanship a try?