The Democrats need to get their story straight. On one hand, it is beyond dispute at this point that Congressional Republicans were never on board. It is equally clear that the Democratic majority won’t act without the ”cover” of a substantial number of Republican votes–that is they demand that this deal not be done, in Chris Dodd’s words, ”on a three-legged stool.”
So several things follow. First, this is precisely why Hank Paulson and Harry Reid summoned John McCain–to get Republican cover for the Democrats who despite the looming crisis can’t bring themselves to govern (that is, to vote on and pass a bill which they believe is essential). Second, that is why McCain presented but did not endorse the GOP’s wish list of conservative suggestions in the White House meeting. That is how one cajoles and drags along a recalcitrant party–by allowing them to have their say. (From reports it appears that the hyper-empathetic Barack Obama attempted to corner the Republicans, not a comforting sign that he knows how to negotiate with people who are in fundamental disagreement with him.) Third, while it would be nice for the Democrats to drag more Republican votes along, it is highly unlikely that they need as a mathematical matter all 100 Republican votes they have asked for. Whether they get 50 or 100, Democrats almost certainly could pass the Paulson bill in a form acceptable both to the White House and the Senate. But they don’t want to–Chris Dodd told us that.
And finally, if there is no deal, if the stock market drops hundreds more points, if there is no abatement in the short term credit crunch, and if more banks and other institutions fold today, we’ll see if running off to a debate and lifting whatever pressure exists to make a quick deal seems like such a good idea. Having spent over twenty years as a labor negotiator I can tell you: unless you provide contentious parties with a deadline, no matter how artificial, they will never reach a deal.
Another element of the politics of this, which the libs are trying to paint in the worst possible light for McCain and the Republicans, facts be damned (Alan Colmes was particularly guilty of this last night), is that the Congressional Dems just can't help themselves. I have heard that there are upward of 2,000 earmarks attached, with frivolous spending items and completely unrelated matters (e.g., Harry Reid's attempt for GOK what reason to ban oil shale exploration). It was just Sunday on Fox News Sunday that Chuckie Schumer, seated next to John Kyl, stated with all the credibility he could muster that he and his Democratic colleagues would not "Christmas tree this thing". I thought it was an interesting verbing of a noun (I usually think of decorating or trimming a Christmas tree, but I digress), and that made it perhaps more memorable. Yet here they go, at a time of crisis, trying to slip in their pet projects. I think that any lawmaker who tries to slip in an earmark should be publicly humiliated. And not just if he or she is a Republican.
UPDATE: More from KLo at The Corner:
This is what Lindsey Graham said on Greta's show: “And this deal that's on the table now is not a very good deal. Twenty percent of the money that should go to retire debt that will be created to solve this problem winds up in a housing organization called ACORN that is an absolute ill-run enterprise, and I can't believe we would take money away from debt retirement to put it in a housing program that doesn't work.”ACORN is one of the dirty little secrets of the left that needs to be exposed by more than just Michelle Malkin.
UPDATE 2: I found the transcript of Chuckie Schumer and Jon Kyl being interviewed by Chris Wallace; here's the relevant part:
WALLACE: If you hear some Democrats talk about a stimulus package — infrastructure, you know, a variety — unemployment relief, a variety — even a bailout to the auto companies. Are you going to "Christmas tree" this bill?
SCHUMER: No, we will not "Christmas tree" this bill. The times are too urgent. Everyone has their own desires and needs. It's going to have to wait.
Now, as for a stimulus package, I think that is — the economy is sinking. Unemployment, 6.1 percent. Many of us believe we need a stimulus package. Many of us believe this is the appropriate time to do it before Congress adjourns. We can't wait three months.
WALLACE: As part of the bailout?
SCHUMER: But it doesn't necessarily have to be part of the bailout. That's something that's being decided right now.
And I think our leaders both in the House and Senate are coming to the conclusion it should be alongside the bailout, but not part of it.
WALLACE: Senator Kyle, can you live with the kind of add-ons that Senator Schumer is talking about?
KYL: Well, first of all, I think that he is correct to say that these things should not be added on to this particular bill.
WALLACE: Oh, I think he did say that the mortgage should be added onto the...
KYL: Well, all right. We'll talk about that separately. But with regard to the stimulus package...
WALLACE: Stimulus, right.
KYL: ... look, there is a crisis in our country. And we've got to come together as House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, and deal with this crisis as Americans, for the American people, and not try to bring on all of our political agendas.