17 March, 2009

Bring on the Santelli revolution

So much has been written and said about Rick Santelli’s not-so-impromptu rant on CNBC a few weeks ago that to say any more seems like piling on. It has been debunked, exposed as planned, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs quite inadvertently revealed Santelli to be a crybaby too. Santelli claimed that Gibbs’ comment, “I'm not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives,” was a veiled threat against his family. Rick, if you’re going to call for a new revolution, you’re going to have to learn that if someone wanted to threaten your family, he would say, “We know where you live.” Of course, the mistake here is Gibbs’. When someone is calling for insurrection, the government ought to know where he lives. But the administration is right not to make Santelli any more important than he is.

But the reason I am bringing this up now is that for all the back and forth over Santelli’s “Chicago tea party,” speech railing against “losers” who can’t pay their mortgages, I have yet to see anyone just call Santelli’s bluff. There he was rallying the troops on the trading floor but when the most mild-mannered of press secretaries wondered about what kind of place he lived in, he cried foul. What’s more, I haven’t seen similar cries for revolution over the news that AIG is using some of its bailout money to pay executive bonuses. History has shown that this is how revolutions really starts, not by upping taxes on futures traders.

But if Santelli sees things differently, if he thinks his people are the real victims and they’re not going to take it any more, then I say Go for it! It will be great! Just think about it: a bunch of pale, pudgy share traders versus thousands of angry working class people who are about to lose their homes. Is that a fight you really want to pick Rick? If so, then bring it on! I’ll sell tickets.

Here was I thinking I was late with this comment. It turns out I couldn't have timed it better, since a few hours later, Santelli went on tv and rationalised the AIG bonuses.

In fairness to Santelli, he was making the point that the bonuses are a drop in the bucket compared to all the good money being thrown after bad at AIG. But it's still rather telling that he whips up an angry mob at the thought of having to pay losers' mortgages but not at having to pay other losers' bonuses.

Or maybe he'd just learnt from his mistake before. Place your bets.

No comments:

Post a Comment