Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 30, 2008

CRY BABIES.... When the Wall Street Journal's editorial page mocks House Republicans, you know the GOP has stepped in it.

"Their immediate response was to say that many of their Members turned against the bill at the last minute because Ms. Pelosi gave her nasty speech," the Journal's explained. "So they are saying that Republicans chose to oppose something they think is in the national interest merely because of a partisan slight. Thank heaven these guys weren't at Valley Forge."

To be sure, the House Republican leadership was in a bind yesterday -- they'd failed miserably, with the eyes of the world upon them, and accepting responsibility apparently wasn't an option. They needed to blame someone, and time was of the essence. "How do we blame Speaker Pelosi for Republicans rejecting a rescue plan?" a GOP member no doubt asked. "I know! We'll say her speech was mean and left us no choice!" another probably added.

And that's exactly what they did. The top three leaders of the House Republican caucus -- all of whom supported the legislation -- held a press conference to say, earnestly and sincerely, that a "partisan" speech led at least a dozen House Republican lawmakers to vote against a package they would have otherwise supported. Seriously.

It never seemed to occur to them that a) they were implicitly accepting responsibility for the debacle; and b) they were effectively admitting that they were screwing over the country because Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings.

Barney Frank was in rare form: "Frankly, that's an accusation against my Republican colleagues I would have 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. I mean, I would not have imputed that degree of pettiness and hypersensitivity.... [T]hink about this. 'Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country.' That's hardly plausible. And there are 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interest of America, but not if anybody insulted them. I'll make an offer. Give me those 12 people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country."

If there were any justice, the House Republican caucus would never live this one down.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Comments

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Shouldn't be too hard a meme to get the 'murkin people to understand.

Posted by: milo on September 30, 2008 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

"If there were any justice, the House Republican caucus would never live this one down."

you may get your wish, steve. even the msm trumpeted this foolishness all over their news broadcasts last night. barney frank's remarks got a tremendous amount of airplay.

orange

Posted by: just bill on September 30, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Our poor trolls' heads must be explosion at the conflict among their sources for Republican talking points. Will they drop the "Pelosi did it!" line or double down?

Posted by: Gregory on September 30, 2008 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Republican Response Policy:
#1.) Admit nothing
#2.) Deny everything
#3.) Blame someone or something else.

Posted by: Stephen on September 30, 2008 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Great Judo move by Frank. He eviscerated them by rushing to their defense. There is nowhere for Boner to go. Trapped like the rat he is.

And the country has gotten to the point where everyone is sick of the Repubs delicate nature and sensitivity to attacks from those awful people

Posted by: Comrade Snarky Shark on September 30, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

So much for "country first." They talk a good line of patriotism, and then they commit the equivalent of financial terrorism. No, wait a second. It's not the equivalent. It's the real thing.

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on September 30, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Barney Frank is, for today at least, my damn hero. A brilliant rebuttal.

Posted by: Matt on September 30, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Assuming the Dems who voted against the bailout did it either because a lot of the populist provisions were watered down or removed, or because they were in tight races, this vote and Republican reaction could be a big opportunity.

Change the bill, but only very slightly, like adding a transfer tax, so that investors would be partially financing the bailout, or lowering the 100M limit for warrants/equity. Then ram the bill through with overwhelming Dem support. Republicans would be left arguing a very small difference, while Dems could claim it was up to them to get the extra 12 votes. They could also honestly claim that they left it as close as possible to the bipartisan compromise as they possibly could. Meanwhile the Reps would be holding the blame they so richly deserve.

Posted by: danp on September 30, 2008 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

I still don't have a good explanation for what happened. Did Boehner tell Pelosi he had the votes? Did Pelosi allow the vote even though she knew Boenher didn't have the votes? Despite the conventional wisdom, why am I still relieved that it didn't pass. If we Dems are really going to carry the water for this Administration, why don't we write our own bill and pass it? Force Bush to veto it?

Posted by: Scott F. on September 30, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

We know John Boehner. If he couldn't conjure up at least a few fake tears on behalf of his suposedly outraged colleagues, their feelings weren't really hurt that badly.

Posted by: N.Wells on September 30, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

A pox on both parties. Neither came out of this looking good. This is all bullshit silliness.

Posted by: lou on September 30, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Since when does anything Pelosi has to say make a difference to the Rs? This is so much childishness. What does Palin think?
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on September 30, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Did Boehner tell Pelosi he had the votes?

Yes.

Did Pelosi allow the vote even though she knew Boenher didn't have the votes?

I doubt it.

why don't we write our own bill and pass it? Force Bush to veto it?

Because without the cooperation of Senate Republicans, it'll never get to Bush to veto. Any bill must be bipartisan, both for that reason and so neither party perceives a political risk in supporting the bill.

Posted by: Gregory on September 30, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Did Boehner tell Pelosi he had the votes? He had to promise about 80 votes, so it wouldn't look like Dems pushing through a big government solution, while Reps continue to claim the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Pelosi not only allowed the vote, but told Dems to vote their conscience. She did not push to get those last 12 votes.

Posted by: danp on September 30, 2008 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

As if the idea of them being offending for stopping the bill isn't a big enough of load of garbage, we've seen from Steve M's page that Pelosi said little more than what other Republicans had said about their own party and from Mark Kleiman's page that most of them weren't even there for the speech! This is pathetic and ridiculous behavior for high school students, much less members of Congress.

Posted by: Brian J on September 30, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing that could have made Barney's statement better would have been to read Pelosi's speech and then say, "Republicans can't handle the truth!"

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 30, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Pointing out the WSJ criticism of Republicans is rather strained as I note the first three paragraphs of their article indirectly or explicitly castigate Democrats for alleged failures in the process. When finally assigning blame on The Right it is only to note they "share" in it, ignoring the fact they've held the Presidency for the last 7+ years and the Congress for nearly all the last 14. Tepid criticism, like faint praise, doesn't rise to the level of courageous journalism.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 30, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

As if the idea of them being offending for stopping the bill isn't a big enough of load of garbage, we've seen from Steve M's page that Pelosi said little more than what other Republicans had said about their own party and from Mark Kleiman's page that most of them weren't even there for the speech! In fact, Pelosi went out of her way to say nice things about Republican leaders. This is pathetic and ridiculous behavior for high school students, much less members of Congress.

http://www.samefacts.com/archives/_/2008/09/mean_old_nancy_part_ii.php

http://www.samefacts.com/archives/garbage_pail_/2008/09/mean_old_nancy.php

http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2008/09/nancy-pelosi-insulted-republicans-how.html

Posted by: Brian J on September 30, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

You know a lot of Republicans bought it. One of my brothers blamed Pelosi, right up to when I pointed out the absolute absurdity of allowing hurt personal feelings to damage America. That brought him up short.

The mighty noise machine still has listeners.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 30, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

I'll say what I said last night: She didn't blame them, she blamed the Bush administration. You know, that guy they have spent the last year distancing themselves from, the person who was lobbying them heavily (by his standards anyway) to vote with Pelosi. This line that her speech made any difference to anyone is bullshit.

Their excuse for torpedoing the stock market was to blame the failure on Dems politicizing the process, and they played it to the hilt regardless of how pathetic it makes them look. Witness McCain's embarrassing display yesterday.

Posted by: Shalimar on September 30, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Barney Frank, I love you! Just a little though :-)

Posted by: NewHorizons on September 30, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans running out of the schoolyard because someone called them names. This will go down in history as "The Doodyhead Defense."

Posted by: gradysu on September 30, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Soundbyte with bite:

Barney saved the laugh for last.
Nothing like leaving the audience snickering at chumps and wanting more...

Posted by: koreyel on September 30, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Makes me proud to say that Barney is my Congressman -- and I vote for him every chance I get. Even though I am a Republican.

Posted by: Ted Frier on September 30, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Steve Duncan,

Steve Benen only noted that the WSJ mocked the republicans for whining about Palin's speech. He didn't claim that the WSJ didn't apportion some blame to the Democrats.

It is, after all, the WSJ (which makes the above-referenced mockery so notable).

Feeling a little defensive lately?

Posted by: bdop4 on September 30, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Good post except I disagree that Barney was in "rare' form. This is Barney, day in and day out.

Also, in the video, did you notice Rahm Emmanuel behind Barney? He's got his fingers pressed to his lips as if he''s thinking, "No matter what bombshell this guy drops on the Rs, I will not laugh. I will NOT laugh."

Posted by: Rod Hoffman on September 30, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Lemme see the next bill before I give Barney Frank props.

If this crummy bill gets replaced with a better one, what an opportunity for them to have said, "Democrats voted for this garbage bill! We sopped it! We rule!"

Now, they claim they tried to support the bad bill.
The incentive, it seems, is to produce a bill more favorable to Wall Street and blame the Dems for stopping them from voting for this one?

Truly perverse incentives.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on September 30, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Of course it would have been impossible, but I always thought that Barney Frank would have been even better a VP than Biden -- as good as he is.

Posted by: Prup (Aka Jim Benton) on September 30, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Barney was my congressman for a long time too. The moral of the exchange: don't tangle with a smart-mouthed Jewish guy who comes from Brooklyn and went to Harvard Law.

Now I have Rothman (D) of NJ, who voted "no". I called last night and expressed my opinion of that...agreeing with his basic problems with the bill as is but strongly urging him to do something now and adjust it later. My invested savings lost about $6K in a few hours yesterday (and I am a very cautious investor) and having been retired for some time and nearly 70, I haven't got decades to make up the lost ground.

Posted by: jrosen on September 30, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

As a current Brooklynite, I'd love to claim Barney Frank for us, but in fact he was from my native state, New Jersey -- Bayonne, in fact.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on September 30, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Today's WSJ frontpage lead story inadvertently gets something right:

"The bill's failure puts the Treasury Department in a bind. Officials there considered the rescue plan as a last-ditch effort to come up with a systemic approach to tackling the financial crisis."

I think 'systematic' was intended.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122270285663785991.html

Posted by: nnyhav on September 30, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

The House Republicans who voted against the bill were flooded with emails and faxes from their constituents (and others) saying that they will not get reelected if they vote for the bill. That's the fact and it's important.

There is strong anger among the Republican base for this bailout. Stronger by far than the Dumbocrats who never saw a handout they didn't like.

No one likes this bill. I doubt even Paulson likes it at this point. It's a bad piece of legislation according to Krugman and Roubini. So why are you getting your knickers in a twist because it didn't pass? You are acting like a Bush. Ready, fire, aim.

Posted by: LJR on September 30, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think we need to canvas the House to see who the 12 are. Really. Who were these people? Boehner et alia wouldn't simply lie would they? Who were they?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 30, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

" So why are you getting your knickers in a twist because it didn't pass?"

Because we are looking at a decade long pothole in American prosperity if we don't throw something big and soft onto the crack in the pavement of global credit.

It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't even have to be particularly good -- the timing is the key. Doing something big and shitty now will be worth a LOT more than doing something perfect in January.

Posted by: anonymous on September 30, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The House Republicans who voted against the bill were flooded with emails and faxes from their constituents (and others) saying that they will not get reelected if they vote for the bill. That's the fact and it's important."

So if these Republicans sided with the Democrats and voted for this bill, their constituents would then vote them out of office.

And replace them with...................who?


Posted by: 2Manchu on September 30, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Talk about cherry picking.

FTA:

"The 228-205 defeat reflects badly on all concerned, starting with the Democrats who run the House. The majority party is responsible for assembling a majority vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed in that fundamental task.

Her highly partisan speech on the floor -- blaming "right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation" for the financial distress -- is no excuse for Republicans to vote no. But it is indicative of the way she has governed for the past two years -- like Tom DeLay without the charm. The cynics are saying Ms. Pelosi deliberately tanked the bill by giving 95 Democrats a pass, knowing failure would hurt John McCain, and given her track record we can see why people would believe it."

I'm still waiting for Democrats and their liberal sycophants to actually take responsibility for the harm they have caused this country for the last 40+ years.

Posted by: SteveIL on September 30, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK
I'm still waiting for Democrats and their liberal sycophants to actually take responsibility for the harm they have caused this country for the last 40+ years.

Yes, please name those harms, Steve.

Deregulating businesses? No, that was Republicans.

Poking holes in the social safety net? Republicans.

Pushing tax revenues down so far that we can't even afford to repair heavily-used bridges?

War in Iraq that's costing us $1 billion a month?

Please, Steve, name the Democratic policies that led us to this point. And since you seem to have trouble with dates, please remember that the Democrats have only been in charge of Congress for two (2) years. They were elected in 2006; it is now 2008. That's 2 years, not 4 as you often like to claim.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 30, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. Frank calls out Boehner nicely:

Give me those 12 people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country.

Of course, those 12 people don't really exist, and it's fairly plain Rep. Frank knows it. Boehner, et al, are simply blaming Ms. Pelosi for their own failure.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 30, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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