Monday, March 24, 2008

Its Called Kabuki because its Stylized, Not Because Its Art

Atrios complains today that Hillary Clinton, like everyone in Washington, continually makes gestures towards the "grand old men" when looking for a way to fix the very problems the grand old men have caused. I don't disagree. I'm on record calling for everyone who recently published a mea not-so-culpa on the Iraq war to be taken out and shot *just so we never have to see their names in print again* other than in a snarky obit. But in complaining about Hillary calling for an old fart council on economics composed of Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan Atrios is mistaking shadow boxing for the real thing. A public call for something is a signal *to the public* not the actual thing in itself. And the public doesn't know anything about economics--barely knows (if it knows) who the F*&^^ Alan Greenspan *is.* Atrios and the other economists and econ mavens are still pissed off at Greenspan for giving the green light to the rapists and looters known as ARM mortgate sellers. And they are right to do so. But I guarantee you that no one who took out an ARM looked to Greenspan's moronic comments to legitimize their choice. They didn't know what he'd said and clearly wouldn't have grasped it if they had. All that the names "greenspan" and "rubin" mean to the public is "some old guys with experience." Converseley, choosing (wisely) some young or old turks who actually knew what they were doing economically and had the people's interest at heart instead of being corporate cronies? Would signal nothing to the public since they wouldn't have even the dimmest hope of name recognition (Unless you could tack "nobel prize winning" blah blah after their name and we see how far that got Stiglitz). Hillary's comment is *positioning* to call attention to *The problem* that bush et al and mccain et al are pretending doesn't exist. Saying you'll put greenspan on the theoretical, hypothetical, never to be constituted working group is like saying you'll have a stuffed margaret thatcher sitting at the end of the table. It just makes bush et al look weak and meanspirited when they refuse to constitute such a working group.