Monday, September 22, 2008


Partly, I just like the name. Stephanopoulos... Stephanopoulos.

Not to mention what a dreamboat for politigeeks this guy used to be... If only he had been gay. (Didn't you think so at the time, too?) He left the Clinton White House truly depressed, but landed on his feet appearing Sundays on This Week with David Brinkley. I think Cokie Roberts should have been tapped to succeed Brinkley, but that was a bridge to nowhere for the old boys back then. So they tried, This Week with Sam and Cokie and then This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts. Sam's toupé just couldn't haul in the ratings and so George Stephanopoulos was tapped to become anchor (skipping over veteran "and as always" guest George Will)

And now to follow up on yesterday's show...

On all the Sunday morning talking heads shows, Goldman Sachs CEO turned Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson gave his pitch as to why we need to give him 3/4 of Trillion dollars, and I do mean him. The "plan" from Bush he was peddeling stipulated that there should be no oversight from Congress or the Courts. It would be the Secretary's sole descretion which "illiquid assets" to buy with your money. "Section 8," a 32 word sentence in Bush's 3 page plan states:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency - Section 8.

Next to speak on This Week were the two leading Congressmen involved, Sen. Chris Dodd (D) who chairs the Banking Committee and the Minority Leader of the House, John Boehner (R).

It was difficult at times telling who was pitching for whom with rigidly conservative, anti-interventionist Boehner saying, "This is not a time for ideological purity" and Chairman Dodd swallowing the administration's diagnosis pretty easily, if not the medicine entirely agreeing with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that we need to "get rid of these toxic instruments that clog up the system." ($700 BILLION ought to buy a lot of corporate draino.)

Stephanopoulos asked straight up, "Is Secretary Paulson going to get what he asked for? A completely clean bill with no protections for homeowners facing foreclosure, no restrictions on executive compensation?" To hear Dodd reply, you would think he was in the Republican administration.

"Not necessarily. We're all talking about this right now... People have a lot of ideas what ought to be in or not in this package. My general thrust is this: we need to give the Secretary authority to work. These are complex issues. I don't think we ought to micro-manage that part of it."

And that my friends is your Democratic Congressional oversight. Do you suppose it's their lack of spine which enable them to bend over and take it so readily? The actual Republican guest on the show could only agree. Rep. Boehner:

"I think the American people are looking to us to give the Secretary these powers as quickly as possible. There a lot of well meaning, well intentioned ideas out there, but they don't need to be part of this package. ... We don't need 535 members of Congress adding their best idea to this bill."

The morning's three ring circus wouldn't have been complete without the commentators. Donna Brazile (who still comes off bitter that Hillary lost) joined Sam and Cokie, and as always, George Will was there to share his witticisms:

At a point when the prestige of Washington has never been lower, the power of Washington has never been higher than it is now. And it will be when they empower the Paulson administration when it begins today. You asked the Secretary is this Socialism. He answered 'No it's not Socialism. It's necessary.' That's a brave non sequitur."

Sam tried to better him with an edgier quote and cogent analysis:

"To borrow a phrase from the late gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson 'Fear and loathing.' Fear will trump loathing here.

I felt sorry for his toupé. His point was, and he did have one (back in '95) was that taxpayers cared more about saving their own assets than holding the corporate thieves accountable. He admitted to Brazile that the passage of this legislation would mean no chance for universal health care in the next administration ("No, none.") and then went on to belittle her for wanting to go about this with a trace of caution.

George Will for his part sided with Brazile and others who think maybe there's time to reflect before the end of our civilization as-we-used- to-know-it crashes like a cheap Chinese vase.

The very people that told us they know for absolute certain that there's a cliff right in front of us are the same people who told us all along that what they had done the day before would stop what was going to happen and did happen the next day.

Will scoffed at the notion that "the government is going to take over opaque and damaged assets" and yet "no one knows who owes how much to whom."Seems pretty shady to me too.

Sam got a last word in, but I'm not sure if he was referring to John McCain or his hairpiece. "I think the question of age is back on the issue."

Dodd wimps out

Roundtable pt. 1
[Back to commentary: part 1]
[**Update: Paulson testifies before Congress]

Roundtable pt. 2

[Sign petition opposing Bush's bank & billionaire bailout]

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