Wednesday, November 08, 2006

political capital | part two

The day after the 2004 election a reporter asked President Bush, "Do you feel more free, sir?" Mr Bush replied: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style."

Something about that line bothered me.

At first I thought it was just that his tone struck me as arrogant. But I think the problem runs deeper. I think what troubled me most was his intent to spend his capital. Not that anyone around the trailer park comes to me for economic insight but I don't think capital is meant to be spent; I think capital is to be invested to generate income and other useful outcomes. Individuals, companies, nations and cultures that live off their capital eventually wake up broke.

I think that's what this President did. I never thought the 2004 elections were as significant an infusion of capital as Mr Bush believed they were. But whatever the case, he employed bullying and fear to spend himself and us into the hole in Iraq, in foreign policy, in the dissolution of the constitutional balance of powers and - literally - in the US budget.

So President Bush is left with too few allies in the Congress, too few allies in international politics, too little progress on the things he said mattered. "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital," he said, "and now I intend to spend it. It is my style."

Indeed, it is his style.

For the sake of argument let's say the new Congress possesses political capital. If that's the case, I think we need to insist that they invest it wisely in constitutionally mandated oversite, in making peace, in crossing political lines to draft, conference and pass sound legislation for the good of the nation and the world. Doing that will increase the income we need to live on and enhance the capital we rely on to build the future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

investment takes a lot more work, and a lot more brains...

hopefully the new set will be willing to engage in both!

great thoughts jim, hope your celebration was fun! i was so glad to see that my suspicions of a stall on the part of the dems was wrong, wrong, wrong!