About a week after the election, my wife and I were atop a double-decker bus in New York City, taking in the grand tour of the amazing city on a crisp, sunny day. As we drove through the towering buildings of Wall Street, we went past the famous sculpture of the bull that stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Now this bull (www.conceptualist.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/wall-street-bull.gif) is all muscle, and it is ready to charge, maybe even run you down. The look in its eye is shrewd and determined. It is made of darkened brass.
At the other end of the bull was a young man posing for a photo. He too had a determined and cunning look. His arm was extended from beneath the tail and his third finger was extended straight up, just below the tail. His arm was steady, his face held in a gleeful grimace.
I love it when the world functions as a work of art. Thanks, Ed, for seeing this drama in a gesture revealing our moment in history. Here embodied, that big reality: the American people got screwed by Wall Street, picking up the tab for their irresponsibility and dishonesty. And Wall Street shows no gratitude and has repented nothing, but shows instead its fundamental sociopathic tendencies as it makes obscene profits and gives nothing back to the national body politic that saved their bacon.
Wall Street indeed.
And here our new president, in whom we had so much hope, failed us. He failed to give expression to the legitimate feelings and priorities of the American people as we picked ourselves up from that crisis that crested before he became president. A crisis when it was thought we were on the brink of a kind of financial collapse. Obama, like Bush before him, chose not to drive a hard bargain.
President Obama did NOT give expression to that legitimate feeling your tourist by the sculpture was embodying. President Obama did not seem to think that he needed to fight for the public interest where it might differ from the interests of Wall Street, even after all that had happened.
Here is illustrated the liberal failure: failure to press the fight, failure to hold its ground.
Here our tourist enacts what Obama failed to enact, after the
scandalous doings on Wall Street, with its false packaging of "AAA"
mortgages, with its rating agencies that were cheating in cahoots with the
companies rated, with that housing
bubble in which smart money was arranging for OTHER PEOPLE to get hurt
when the bubble burst. And we the public called upon to rescue them from going the way of Lehman brothers, while those rescued gave up
nothing to thank the public and to serve the greater good.
Your tourist is right. That bull richly deserves it.
stands as a model to us all for what liberalism should be doing-- not only with Wall Street but with the destructive force that has taken over America's conservative political party: Stand
up. Press the battle. Hold your ground.