It does not matter what you think about the propriety of Wall Street paying $18 + billion in bonuses at the end of 08 (about what they paid in 04).  What matters is that senior management may have blown it.  Here’s why:

1.  It is a PR disaster at an especially bad time.

2.  They (the banks/Wall Street) need the support not only of politicians but also the rest of America.  Just how many unemployed workers will like that news?

3.  Now, imagine politicians voting for the next bank bailout.

Whether or not the bonuses were earned is not the issue:  It is the bad taste this news leaves in the mouths of important constituencies.