After yesterday’s vote in the House of Representatives on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, there was a heavy, disgusting game of blame being played.   Republican leaders blamed a floor speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.   Democrats countered by (deservedly) mocking them.   And then there was this:

This is why people hate politics.   This is why people don’t care anymore and don’t pay attention.   And this is why people don’t vote.

Fine if lawmakers don’t like legislation.   Argue against it.   Suggest alternatives.   But don’t look for excuses to cover your asses.   Now if (when?) the economy tanks this week without Congress passing legislation to attempt a prevention, Democrats can blame Republicans for not acting sooner.   Ugh.   More blame.   Blaming each other, not getting anything done, and who’s left holding the short straw?   You and me.

After the failed vote, lawmakers as a whole have only themselves to blame.   Ben Pershing at the Washington Post offers several reasons why the vote failed (and why lawmakers as a hole are to blame):

1) Poor Salesmanship. Did you know that the general consensus is now that this bill will not cost $700 billion? If you didn’t, it’s because the bill’s proponents did a poor marketing job. From the start, the Bush administration did not do enough to emphasize the point that taxpayers would get at least some of the money back, and that gigantic price tag got stuck in the head of the public (and the media).

The administration was also too eager and ambitious with its initial proposal, alienating many lawmakers right from the start by seeming to ask for the moon — give us everything we want, with no oversight. This White House has long played political hardball, but this was not the time for hardball. This was the time for begging. The administration also let the “bailout” label stick to the package right from the start. By the time President Bush started calling it a “rescue” measure, it was too late.

3) No Center of Gravity. Who’s running Washington right now? Bush is the lamest of lame ducks, with a minuscule approval rating and no clout or political protection left to offer. Bush and Vice President Cheney were reportedly making calls to wavering Republicans right to the end; obviously that didn’t do the trick. Barack Obama and John McCain both supposedly support the bill, but neither of them has been exactly wholehearted in their backing, and there haven’t been any reports of either candidate calling members of their own party to lobby.

House leaders, meanwhile, did support the bill and did whip it. But this wasn’t a party-loyalty vote; lawmakers were asked to vote yes, but they weren’t threatened. They (probably) weren’t bribed. Add all that up, and you had a power vacuum. […]

It’s possible despite weeks of warnings, and a stock market that is cratering as we speak, that a lot of members still aren’t taking any of this seriously enough. And that, ultimately, may be the real reason for today’s vote.

Also, Nate Silver at says the many lawmakers in swing districts that voted against the bill doomed it:

OTHERS = 197 YEAS, 198 NAYS (50%)

Members of Congress: instead of pointing fingers at each other, point them at yourselves.   Accept responsibility and do your job.   That’s what we elected you for, that’s what we pay you for, and that’s what we expect from you.