Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Now What?

As I asked yesterday afternoon when the bailout bill failed to pass the House, a lot of people are wondering what will happen now. There’s a breather built in today — it’s Rosh Hashanah — and President Bush — remember him? — will address the nation before the markets open, probably to try to reassure the markets before they open.

Some kind of compromise is in the works. Meanwhile, you can tell who feels like they’re the ones with the most political exposure: the ones who immediately started blaming the other guy.

That would be the Republicans, and they certainly didn’t waste any time looking for scapegoats, going so far as to blame an innocuous floor speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they claim “politicized” the deal for scuttling the defection of some Republican votes. If you buy that argument, then John McCain claiming credit for the bill before the vote — and accusing Barack Obama of doing nothing — may have just as easily alienated some Democrats.

Whatever. I don’t think the average voter is paying attention to the inside baseball going on in the Capitol and don’t really care who gets the credit or the blame. They are aware of it, however, when they checked their retirement accounts or updated their Quicken and found that they lost a lot of money on paper, or got an e-mail from their broker with a tone of suppressed panic that said, “Don’t Panic!” followed by “Now is a great time to buy!” Those things matter, and they’re starting to ask questions that have nothing whatsoever to do with the polling data or the posturing by politicians serving up a crap sandwich.