Bailouts, Exceptionalism, and the Turks

Thoughts on politics:

Lots of words have been devoted to the current wrangling over the $700 billion bailout in the works, and I won't devote much more to them. Suffice to say that my friend Jordan has a couple of words on political hysteria that are worth a look. And as I wrote to him, while I agree that there is too much of the politics of fear-mongering, that's no excuse for us - speaking as part of a larger "public" - to excuse ourselves of not knowing enough about the situation to have an informed comment. Regarding the whole situation, a recent article about Sweden's 1992 banking crisis was particularly interesting, though it makes me worry about the exact way in which Congress is going to go about legislating this whole mess.

There have, of course, been any number of articles about Sarah Palin as a possible Vice President (for my own read on her nomination, look here). Another recent piece in the New York Times makes a good point about Palin's continued use of the word "exceptional". Roger Cohen links that word to a much older tradition in American political thought, dating back to the Puritan notion of the city shining upon a hill. Cohen's point is simple: We live in a world in which we no longer have the luxury of believing in that myth, and the challenge that faces us is how we shape something new while doing justice to our past.

Another article in the New York Review of Books may also be worth a look. It's a long piece about - a bit postdated, perhaps, in our hyperpresent media world - the Republican Convention. And not having really taken the time myself (too much to do, too quickly) to read through it carefully, Joseph Lelyveld closes well. He writes, "Back in 2000, Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, described McCain as “a conviction politician with no clear convictions.” It could be said again. Taken altogether, McCain offered not answers, not a program, but himself, the exemplary patriot." I think it's possible to again read that description of McCain as a kind of narcissism, perhaps in line with what I'd been thinking about here.

And finally, a long article about Turkey that I'm intending to work through over the next couple of days. I'll try to put something coherent about that, but it seems a worthwhile read to anyone interested in the history of Turkish politics.


Jordan M said…
"Behind Palinism lies anger. It’s been growing as America’s relative decline has become more manifest in falling incomes, imploding markets, massive debt and rising new centers of wealth and power from Shanghai to Dubai."

Unfortunately for Roger Cohen and the US, this anger has its home in large portion of the country that lies between the one and a half coasts (bc the east coast in the South is quite different ideologically than their Northern brethren). Those people are the ones who have kept Bush in power and will vote for Palin (oh, and that McCain guy) because she's "just like them".

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