If Paul Krugman’s writing is a breath of fresh facts compared to the stale propaganda of David Brooks, Frank Rich’s is a mighty wind. For starters, he understands basic economics, unlike the admittedly ignorant Mr. Brooks. He writes about real people and problems, not Randian fantasies or the tortured misapplication of Edmund Burke’s eighteenth century oratory. As a former film critic, his power to deconstruct political theatricality is nearly unrivaled, as is his respect for the power of metaphor to drive home essential truths:
[A] chastened Warren Buffett likened our financial institutions’ recklessness to venereal disease. Even the innocent were infected because “it’s not just whom you sleep with” but also “whom they” — unnamed huge financial institutions — “are sleeping with,” he wrote. Indeed, our government is in the morally untenable position of rewarding the most promiscuous carrier of them all, A.I.G., with as much as $180 billion in taxpayers’ cash transfusions (so far) precisely because it can’t be disentangled from all the careless (and unidentified) trading partners sharing its infection.
[T]he CNBC carnival barkers are now…assailing the president as a radical saboteur of capitalism. It’s particularly rich to hear Cramer tar Obama (or anyone else) for “wealth destruction” when he followed up his bum steer to viewers on Bear Stearns with oleaginous on-camera salesmanship for Wachovia…two weeks before it, too, collapsed. What should really terrify the White House is that Cramer last month gave a big thumbs-up to Timothy Geithner’s bank-rescue plan.
The true American faith endures in [visions, such as Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play,] “Our Town.” The key word in its title is the collective “our”…. The notion that Americans must all rise and fall together is the ideal we still yearn to reclaim, and that a majority voted for in November. But how we get there from this economic graveyard is a challenge rapidly rivaling the one that faced Wilder’s audience in that dark late winter of 1938.