May I just observe that it’s distressing to see the news reports — and even worse, the rumors and gossip in DC — that have Democratic legislative leaders putting their primary emphasis on making sure that there are enough Republican votes for a bailout package to provide adequate political cover. Not only is it a mistake to put a primary emphasis on politics rather than on the merits of the bill, but focusing on trying to make sure that the Republicans don’t stick Democrats with the blame for a bailout guarantees a bad bill. After all, when was the last time you saw conservatives clamoring to get on board with a good bill? If you commit, in advance, to

(a) passing a bill, and

(b) passing a bill that has Republican support

All you’re doing is giving the GOP leadership all the leverage over the content of the bill. The right thing is to forget about the Republicans and focus instead on a commitment to a bill that:


(a) protecting the interests of American taxpayers,

(b) doing something to help homeowners with their mortgage problems,

(c) acquiring some stimulus for the real economy, and

(d) prevents a financial meltdown

Pass a bill like that in the House and make Bush and the Senate Republicans choose between allowing a good bill to become law, or blocking a proposal that would prevent a financial meltdown. If they want to block a good bill and then pass a bad one with Republican votes and a handful of moderate Democrats, let that happen. Or if they want to let Democrats pass a good bill, let that happen. But why pass a bad bipartisan bill? And what makes you think you could get a good bipartisan bill? It doesn’t make sense. Congress shouldn’t be looking for “cover” for embarrassing votes; members should be casting votes they’re prepared to defend on the merits.