This is another in what I hope to be a month long series of quasi-aphoristic (ἀφορισμός) essays, meant to provoke thought rather than explain it. The hope is that, built up on each other, the series will provide a matrix of thoughts that together might lead the reader in new directions. Though each can be read independently of the others, they are intended to be read together and against each other.
In both cases, the great dramatic events of its passage served as the stage on which the politics of the government's response to the current economic turmoil was played out. It appeared that great matters hinged on the construction, debate, negotiation and passage of a set of complex provisions by the legislature of the United States. Yet it is not clear that any legislator wrote the measures, considered all of its provisions, read them or considered them, except in broad strokes, and for the purpose of inserted or eliminating special provisions of particular interest to them, or of interest to the media. The drama in House and Senate was important as gesture, as the control of broad strokes but not as participation in the generative acts of these measures. The approach, framework, principles and scope of each of those measures--one the product of a democratic administration, the other a product of a Republican administration--was conceived, fashioned, generated and controlled by the President and his ministers, not by the legislature. A vote on the final product was a vote of confidence for the authors of the respective acts, or a gesture of support, or an affirmation of the idea that some sort of action was required. But it was not a considered vote on the provisions, the terms of which were beyond the control of the legislators.