Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bush & the Troubled Economy.... Who? Me? What?

The U.S. economy is tanking and its financial system is in shambles. So what does the U.S. President do? Well, he goes to Europe -- the same "Old Europe" that his former Secretary of Defence (Donald Rumsfeldt) used to dismiss as irrelevant -- asking for more troops to Afghanistan.

In Economic Drama, Bush Is Largely Offstage New York Times' writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote in a White House Memo on April 3, 2008.

"WASHINGTON — The first hint that President Bush might be detached from the nation’s economic woes was in February, when he conceded that he had not heard about predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline.

Then Mr. Bush went to Wall Street to warn against 'massive government intervention in the housing markets,' two days before his administration helped broker the takeover of the investment bank Bear Stearns."

"For a man who came into office as the nation’s first M.B.A. president, Mr. Bush has sometimes seemed invisible during the housing and credit crunch. As the economy eclipses Iraq as the top issue on voters’ minds, even some Republican allies of the president say Mr. Bush is being eclipsed and is in danger of looking out of touch.

'He’s over there arguing about who should get into NATO, and the American people are focused on what’s in their pocketbooks,' said Kenneth M. Duberstein, who was chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan in his second term. 'He has talked about the economy, but it is not viewed as being a satisfactory response. Unfortunately, the lasting image is of not knowing of $4-a-gallon gas.' "

Instead, his leutenants Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson have been left to do whatever they can to fix the short term crisis on Wall Street, why the democrats and republicans are trying to put together a package that could help out homeowners who are risking losing their homes (and are not being much helped by the "Hope Now" that Bush touted as some kind of miracle cure against foreclosures). Bernanke and Paulson are bright men, and not as limited ideologically as we are used to in this administration, but even they are working within a rather narrow republican straightjacket, so their solutions have been too limited to really fix the problems looming over Wall Street. Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today, and refused to use the word recession, but said that the country faces “a rough patch” and stayed away from Bush's "everything is fine" statements, and Alice-In-Wonderland-talk.

“He has to get back in the public conversation again,” Mr. Duberstein said. “All the conversation going on now is Obama, Clinton and McCain, and people are not talking about: ‘What’s George Bush thinking? What’s George Bush going to do?’ ”

On the other hand? The economy will probably do best without too much meddling from the dunce who occupies of the White House.

Hans Sandberg

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