David Brooks leads his latest column this way:
There is roughly a 100 percent chance that we’re going to spend much of this year talking about the subprime mortgage crisis, the financial markets and the worsening economy. The only question is which narrative is going to prevail, the Greed Narrative or the Ecology Narrative.
And this got me to thinking: 2008 has the potential to be a very good year politically. I might, for the first time in my adult life, have a choice in November between two presidential candidates I actually feel good about. Sure, a lot of obstacles have to be overcome. Obama might not get enough bounce from South Carolina to roll over Hillary Clinton on super-duper-pooper day. John McCain could still slip in Florida on account of the very quality that makes him viable in the fall. (Party orthodoxy types, from Don Fowler to Jim DeMint, can’t stand the thought of nominating anybody that swing voters might actually want to vote for in a general election.)
But still, there’s a very good chance that this could be the best year ever for the UnParty.
But then comes David Brooks raining on my parade. And I don’t mean the Greed Narrative vs. Ecology Narrative. Both are are excruciatingly boring. No, the bad news is that when he says "there is roughly a 100 percent chance that we’re going to spend much of
this year talking about the subprime mortgage crisis, the financial
markets and the worsening economy," I’m afraid he’s right. And this fills me with horror. It would mean a year of reading columns like this one. I normally enjoy Brooks columns, but this one was mind-numbingly boring, and stupid. Really, tell me — what the hell is the difference between the "Greed Narrative" and the "Ecology Narrative?" Doesn’t the ecology one assume greed? ("Everyone seeks wealth while minimizing risk.")
What if I get two candidates I can get excited about — not just one, which would in itself be an embarrassment of riches going by recent years, but two, a no-lose proposition — but they spend all their time talking about … what did he say? Oh, yeah: "complex financial instruments, like globally securitized subprime mortgages."
I get mad just thinking about it. Wall Street is a con game, folks. Take the equities markets (you see? they’ve already got me saying stuff like "equities"! and I probably used it wrong!) — analysts con people into overvaluing dot-coms, or undervaluing newspapers, with little regard for reality. And other people have to live and die by the foolish investments made or unmade as a result.
And then there are the folks at the big brokerage houses that invent "products," from which they make billions, when they never produced a damn’ thing. They’ve added value to nothing.
I’m not crazy about having a mortgage to begin with, but if I do make a deal like that with somebody, I
want to deal with that same somebody for the full 30 years (or 15, if you refinanced a while back the way I did). It should be like the nearest financial thing to a sacrament. What kind of sense does it make for mortgages to be gathered up like soybeans and bought and sold in bulk… Can you believe I said "in bulk?" A mortgage has no bulk! It’s an abstract concept! Like money! When your mortgage gets sold, you have to think, it’s not bad enough that I’ve indentured myself to this institution that made me the loan for the rest of my useful life, but now I’m being sold down the river!
If they’re gonna talk about this stuff, I’m liable to haul off and start talking like John Edwards, and that would not be pretty! So back off with the money talk!
Can’t we talk about war, or health care, or something I care about? Please. If I had wanted to talk about markets and such, I would have voted for Steve Forbes. Or Pierre "Pete" DuPont. Or Mitt Romney. Or Ben Stein. Same diff.