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Where’s George? You know… George W, the guy who’s supposed to be president, the one who calls himself “The Decider”?
Here we are in the midst of a financial meltdown that Wall Street, the media, the Congress, and even Bush’s own treasury secretary urgently tell us is of almost biblical dimensions. Yet, George is oddly aloof, disengaged… almost nonexistent. Yeah, he did make a couple of brief statements, but nothing to match the magnitude of the moment. Far from presidential, Bush has essentially handed off his economic responsibilities to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, showing up only occasionally as a sideman in “The Hank Show.”
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And when he has stepped onto the presidential stage, George has appeared clueless and foolish. It was five days after the White House’s massive Wall Street bailout was proposed before he even deigned to give a 10-minute speech to a nation nervously wondering what the hell is going on – and it was not exactly a Rooseveltian performance. Instead of rallying the people with something like, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” a tentative, weak-sounding Bush babbled about needing 700 billion of our tax dollars “to purchase trouble assets that are clogging the financial system.” He seemed to be talking to us about a plumbing problem.
More recently, the president was propped up for a White House dog-and-pony show that was supposed to celebrate a bipartisan agreement on the bailout. Congressional leaders attended and both presidential contenders made an appearance, but Bush was totally out of the loop, unaware that there really was no agreement. To his astonishment and dismay, the carefully staged session soon deteriorated into a verbal brawl, and Bush was reduced to shouting at the participants with such keen economic insights as, “this sucker could go down.”
I know Bush is a wildly-unpopular lame duck, but even a duck could be more presidential than this guy.
“Amid crisis, Bush has been a man of few words,” Austin American Statesman, September 19, 2008.
“When ideologues duck responsibility,” www.statesman.com, September 26, 2008
“GOP rejectionof bailout shows how little influence Bush has,” www.statesman.com , September 30, 2008
“Absence of Leadership,” www.nytimes.com , September 25, 2008
Speech Text: Bush Adressses the Nation on Bailout, www.wsj.com , September 24, 2008