NO, THEY CAN'T MANAGE
I've been sitting her for months wondering if Republicans would ever be able to get away from reflexively leg-humping Big Money and their general love of handing taxpayer money to rich people and start out-outraging and out-populisting Democrats about this bailout stuff.
Some signs today they might be going there. It's an obvious route, even if it means going against the money boys. Can they manage?
Simple answer: no.
Oh, sure, the front page of the New York Post today reads, NOT SO FAST YOU GREEDY BASTARDS -- but the same paper includes editorials headlined MANUFACTURED OUTRAGE and (from Michelle Malkin) SPARE US YOUR FAKE FURY, DC HYPOCRITES. The Posties aren't expressing outrage at greedy Wall Streeters -- they're leveraging that outrage to use against the same old target, affirmative government as practiced by Democrats (and by Bush late last year in the financial realm; the right has posthumously declared Bush a tax-and-spend liberal much in the way that LDSers baptize the dead as Mormons).
Rupert Murdoch's New York paper may seem populist, but his rising Fox News star Glenn Beck defends the sanctity of the contracts that led to the AIG bonuses. So does Rush Limbaugh. These are the true leaders of the GOP; nobody's going to get too far afield of where these guys are. (By the way, a bankruptcy judge in California just said that the city of Vallejo can void its union contracts; anyone think Beck or Rush or any GOP member of Congress is going to express outrage over that?) Even if Republican officeholders don't join Beck and Limbaugh in defending the bonuses, they're certainly joining them in making the argument that we should have just let all the financial institutions fail (and, presumably, taken whatever massive global depression resulted) -- that's essentially the argument John McCain made in his Twitter interview with George Stephanopoulos yesterday (despite his vote in favor of the first bailout). This is a neat trick, but they're pulling it off: they're selling Hooverism disguised as populism. They're defining affirmative-government types in Washington and Wall Street greedheads as indistinguishable (with, admittedly, a big help from the greedhead enablers in the Obama administration).
Are Republicans going to favor the non-rich over the rich? No -- they're just going to call for a budget-busting open-bar tax-cut party, with everyone, rich and non-rich, invited. McCain, as I noted yesterday, told Stephanopoulos yesterday that he admires the ideas of Congressman Paul Ryan, who wants to drop the top marginal tax rate on zillionaires from 35% to 25% as well as dropping everyone else's tax rate (up to $100,000) to 10%. He also wants to lower the top corporate tax rate to 25% and eliminate the capital gains tax. Senator Jim DeMint also wants to drop the top tax rate on individuals and companies from 35% to 25%, with the middle and lower rates dropped to 15% and 10%; he wants the estate tax reduced to 15% on estates above $5 million. (Spending cuts, I guess, will be penciled in later.) Get away from reflexively leg-humping Big Money? Forget it. These guys are never going to be able to abandon the core notion that business owners, big and small, are the studly gods who were put on earth by God to make everything in the world work properly.