Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lagarde the Lobbyist

It was pretty gutsy for Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to go on ABC’s This Week this morning.  As Christopher S, Rugaber reported her appearance for the Associated Press, she openly acknowledged that the scandal around the sexual assault charges filed against her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, caused “a very strange chemistry of frustration, irritation, sometimes anger, sometimes very deep sadness” among the IMF staff.  I just wonder if she gave any thought to what IMF clients must be thinking.  They probably have a “strange chemistry” of their own;  but I suspect that their own chemistry is a mixture consisting primarily of fear and loathing.

This then leads to her taking the bait to comment on the debt ceiling debate currently taking place in our own country.  That she should have commented at all struck me as questionable.  I suspect that she was not particularly well briefed on either the practices of what Calvin Trillin has called the “Sabbath-Day Gasbags” or the Sunday morning habits of American television viewers.  Whatever the case, her decision to frame her comment around a phrase like “really nasty consequences” could well be counterproductive.  If the primary obstacle to raising the debt ceiling comes from the influence of the TEA Party, then it is worth considering what the TEA Party may think of the IMF.

My guess is that they associate the IMF with that recently coined noun “banksters,” bankers who care only about return-on-investment at the expense of just about everyone else.  I would also suspect that TEA Party ideology is strongly isolationist, which would lead to intense distrust of any organization whose first name is “International.”  Add to that mix the fact that Lagarde is not American, and you have a toxic ideological brew that automatically assumes that anything she says is definitely bad for the United States and probably flat-out wrong in general.

The waters of the debate over the Federal budget have already been poisoned by short-sighted ideologies;  neither Democrats nor Republicans will benefit from third parties adding further poison, no matter how well-informed or well-intentioned those third parties may be.

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