Monday, July 14, 2008

Trickle-Down in Iraq

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been walking the streets of Baghdad doling out cash to passersby. Compared to the American millions that have been paid out to tribal leaders or stolen by Iraqi politicians, al-Maliki's largesse is small potatoes, more like the street money paid out by local American pols on election day.

But the irony is that all this free money over there is flowing as American taxpayers prepare to spend billions here to rescue mortgage lenders from defaults of homeowners whose equity has plunged and who can't afford or are unwilling to make their monthly payments.

For the free enterprise enthusiasts of the Bush Administration, there is the huge embarrassment of a government bailout of what private markets are supposed to handle so efficiently and, beyond that, the continuing commitment of billions needed here to a seemingly endless Iraq adventure.

Before he took office, George W. Bush promised voters he would not get involved in nation-building elsewhere, but who have imagined that he would do just that as the nation he is supposed to preserve is crumbling all around him?

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