"Because something is happening here but you don't know what it is." - Bob Dylan
Former HuffPost intern David Vines wrote a good piece about the following little bit of video that shows a young Sarah Palin supporter being asked about the shirt she's wearing. But while Mr. Vines used it to show the ignorance of some Sarah Palin supporters, I think the video actually shows something that the White House had better take note of, because if could spell electoral disaster for Democrats in 2010 and 2012.
Watch the clip -- Jackie, a 17-year-old Palin supporter is wearing a shirt that says The US government handed out $700 billion in Wall Street bailouts and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.
Ignore the fact that Jackie didn't remember that Palin and her running mate supported the bailout in the 2008 election. That's really a relatively minor point.
Here's the thing you really need to notice -- Jackie's shirt is 100% correct.
The facts are correct. If anything, the number is about $100 billion short of the $800 billion mentioned here. Click that link and you'll see it isn't from the Glenn Beck show. It isn't from a lone wingnut on YouTube. It's from the left-wing Democracy Now.
And the sentiment is correct: that the Wall Street bailout helped the rich get richer. It didn't solve the problems with derivatives that caused the crisis. It didn't ease the lending crisis caused after Lehman failed and mutual funds broke the buck. It didn't help Main Street.
Wait! We didn't even get a lousy T-Shirt!
That shirt that says The US government handed out $700 billion in Wall Street bailouts and all I got was this lousy t-shirt could be worn proudly by Ralph Nader. Or Dennis Kucinich or Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore.
Jackie at age 17 is seeing exactly the same problem that respected progressive economists like Dean Baker is seeing. She understands that something is wrong with that bailout. In fact, if you listen to a lot of the Beck fans, tea party supporters and other supposed right wing wackos they oppose the Wall Street bailout and unlike most on the left, they actually took to the streets about it.
Does the right have the proper solution? No, they don't. Rather than seeing the confluence of multinational corporations and government as the problem, they just see the evil of big government. They don't fully grasp the danger that corporate personhood has on their everyday lives.
But don't blame people like Jackie for not understanding how the government is basically just doing the bidding of its corporate masters. Who is going to set her straight?
Not President Obama. Putting people like Geithner, Summers and Bernanke in charge of our economy doesn't make the case against corporate bailouts. Neither does the health care reform bill that's a bailout to the insurance industry and big PhARMA.
So the solutions come from people like Palin and Beck. They are overly simple and they actually make the problems worse. But Democrats are the ones I blame.
Lots of people on the right and left agree about the problems with the bailouts and the White House has no answers for them. How do you think that will play at the polls?
When such a broad swath of ideologies both see the same problem clearly and the Democratic Party doesn't have the guts to shake off the money that goes with an openly corrupt system, how can you blame people like Jackie for not seeing Obama, Reid and Pelosi as any kind of solution?