AC360° Contributor and CNN Political Analyst
In the dramatic courtroom showdown between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in the film 'A Few Good Men,' Nicholson, in the role of Col. Nathan Jessep, famously declared to Lt. Daniel Kaffe, played by Cruise, "You can't handle the truth." As I sat in the movie theater in 1992 (yes, there were no DVD's at the time but it was a talkie and in color) awed by that powerful performance, I would never have imagined Jack Nicholson to emerge as a political prophet in 2009. Yet that dramatic line – a challenge to confront the truth - has special insight and wisdom now.
As the Obama administration faces an economic crisis of historic proportions, we hear a self-important refrain from too many political pundits, members of the mainstream media and the political establishment. The public will not be able to "understand," "get their arms around," "grasp" or "appreciate" the "financial stabilization plan," the "mortgage plan," the "economic stimulus program," the "small business loan program" or the "public-private investment program to buy toxic assets." You get the point. Take your favorite pretentious sound bites and place them into a sentence of your choice.
I will be the first to acknowledge that I do not get all the details of these plans. I am also willing to bet that not too many financial experts on Wall Street understood a lot more than the rest of us. And, of course, we know all too well that many members of Congress did not even bother to read the economic stimulus legislation. However, I do not doubt for a moment that the American people get it.
Our frustrations with the role of the Obama administration and Congress over the AIG theft of our tax dollars in the form of bonuses, the culture of misconduct and entitlement on Wall Street and the failure of Congress to draft legislation that protected our tax dollars from bailout abuses can consume us. However, the solution will not be found touring the homes of AIG executives who looted us. It will be found by demanding greater accountability on the part of our government.
The Obama administration has taken important initiatives to do just that. President Obama, to his credit, acknowledged responsibility for the disgraceful AIG bonuses. That may not sound like a lot, but let's not forget President Bush telling the American public he could not think of a mistake he made as President. The administration has offered bold proposals and has taken ownership for resolving this economic crisis. Some will argue that the Obama agenda creates an uncontrollable deficit and that it is social engineering. Others will argue that more tax dollars have to be spent and the banks need to be nationalized. These issues will be debated and ultimately resolved.
The truth that our government and political parties have to "handle" is that we cannot begin to resolve the economic crisis unless we have more than a few good men and women who are prepared to bring Congress, Wall Street and Main Street together. Our country requires that we rise to the challenge, and our history has proven that we can do it.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with