Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 30, 2008

IS THIS THING ON?.... A pattern seems to be emerging -- every day the crisis on Wall Street grows in severity, every day the president makes a public statement calling for congressional action, and every day the president's remarks are largely ignored.

This morning kept the trend alive, with a four-minute Bush speech from the White House.

"Producing legislation is complicated, and it can be contentious. It matters little what a path a bill takes to become law. What matters is that we get a law. We're at a critical moment for our economy, and we need legislation that decisively address [sic] the troubled assets now clogging the financial system, helps lenders resume the flow of credit to consumers and businesses, and allows the American economy to get moving again.

"I recognize this is a difficult vote for members of Congress. Many of them don't like the fact that our economy has reached this point, and I understand that. But the reality is that we are in an urgent situation, and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act. The dramatic drop in the stock market that we saw yesterday will have a direct impact on the retirement accounts, pension funds, and personal savings of millions of our citizens. And if our nation continues on this course, the economic damage will be painful and lasting. [...]

"As much as we might wish the situation were different, our country is not facing a choice between government action and the smooth functioning of the free market. We're facing a choice between action and the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans. And for the financial security of every American, Congress must act."

As a practical matter, I'm not sure who Bush's target audience is. Voters don't like him, and lawmakers don't trust him. The president has spent a fair amount of time in recent days trying to lobby Republican members of Congress. Yesterday, we saw just how much sway he still has on the Hill.

After the president's remarks this morning, New York Magazine's John Heilemann told MSNBC, "I don't think that comforts anybody. I don't think that moves a single vote. With due respect and sympathy for the man, that was the picture of a beaten dog. That was the picture of presidential impotence right there."

Ouch.

Steve Benen 9:59 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

If it looks like a lame duck and quacks like a lame duck...

Posted by: Gregory on September 30, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

He squandered his credibility like he squandered everything else in his range. Reality is what they say it is, if they just clap hard enough? Well, I guess they is learning now.

Posted by: Raenelle on September 30, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Yesterday, a trillion dollars plus was extracted from the stock market. Where does it go? Does that amount not go some way to lubricating the credit flow?

Posted by: Goldilocks on September 30, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think Bush is trying to scare the ever-loving shit out of the American people just before election time. True, we're in a real crisis and all. But, at some point this bastard is just completely in the way, doom and gloom.

"The only thing we have to fear..." Indeed! Bush revels in stoking the furnace of "fear itself."

Posted by: chrenson on September 30, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Impotence is not the right word here, Bush is still screwing the country as hard as he can. But the entertainment value of trotting him out every morning in sackcloth and ashes is immeasurable. Maybe charging tickets for this spectacle could increase revenue.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Impotence? The big drug companies have a pill for that. One of their lobbyists is probably in the White House right now . . .

Posted by: pj in jesusland on September 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

If it looks like a lame duck and quacks like a lame duck...

More like a cooked goose.

Posted by: lobbygow on September 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

The problem clearly is that, at this point, people either tune out Bush or simply don't trust a word he says. And yet, there is a clear need for national leadership to explain the situation to the public.

Wouldn't a joint statement from past presidents Clinton and Bush St. be more effective? Perhaps the optics of even arranging that are beyond W's capabilities of imagination.

Posted by: Jake on September 30, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

How about getting him some space on Mount Rushmore? The least we can do for this paragon of delusion.

Is Tweety still pushing for that?

Chris: "Can I ask the questions Howard?"

Howard: " Please don't hurt me." (my own phony dialogue)

Chris: So what do you think about your paper, running that story the very day of the President's greatest victory? You guys are raining on his parade, the best day of his life.

Anne: If only we were that organized...

Chris: ..if this gamble comes through and it's note clear yet. If this gamble that he can create a democracy in the middle of the Arab world, and he does it; he belongs on Mt. Rushmore....

Posted by: SteinL on September 30, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand why the Dems aren't offering their own plan right now. If I were Obama, this is what I would propsoe:

1. recapitalize the institutions using debt for equity swaps (read Krugman's site)

2. Buy the the toxic assets with a new facility funded with an income tax surcharge on the wealthy.

3. And add on bells and whistles like limits on golden parachutes, bankruptcy work-outs, etc.

Why is it so difficult to propose this? It's sensible and it would work. I would dare Bush to reject this.

Posted by: g. powell on September 30, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Remember the Republicans chiding those of us in the "reality-based community" and explaining how they "create reality."

Just look at what they created.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 30, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand why the Dems aren't offering their own plan right now.

Lack of real leadership is the short answer. They have a fairly diverse group of Dems in the House. I suspect it's extremely difficult to craft something they can pass on their own, without much of any GOP support.

Posted by: Jake on September 30, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Let's agree the economy is in for a sustained rough patch and measures now enacted will only blunt (or possible exacerbate) what we suffer. Republicans are going to go into hyperdrive on the blame game. Their window of opportunity is now for imprinting on the public mind that it is the Democrats that have let them down. Immediate blame needs assigned. The presidency may be lost but the 2010 midterms loom large even now. Crippling Obama with a sustained message will render his term a lost cause and in Republican's minds reduce it to an inconvenient yet ultimately fruitful 4 year timeout. It's going to be blame, blame, blame for several weeks and months to come. It is imperative they avoid having this fiasco pinned on their watch.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 30, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Bush: "Ah cain't figger out wha this ain't workin'. I give 'em ol Number One about the end of the world an all."
Adviser: "People are saying that you have no political capital sir."
Bush: "Well shit, I'll just borrow some from them Chinese fellers. They're always loanin us stuff."

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on September 30, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Pretty soon no one will show for one of his pressers.

Posted by: SteinL on September 30, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Pretty soon no one will show for one of his pressers.

Posted by: SteinL on September 30, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Bush has to "do something," even if it won't do any good. Plus, he gets to say it's all up to Congress now. That's about all there was to that.

As for Obama and the Democrats, I think they're not working very hard to fix this for two reasons, (1) people blame the Republicans, and you don't get in the way when your opponent is self-destructing, and (2) even if passing a fix might be popular in some circles now, the Republicans would immediately oppose and denounce it, and they would continue to whine and complain once the pain of the fix really began to bite (which will last for months or years).

The Democrats have rescued the Republicans too many times, so they're feeling a bit burned. I don't blame them, even if it seems a little irresponsible.

Posted by: bleh on September 30, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Tomorrow he should slip in a line that announces that Jenna has made a career change and become an exotic dancer just to see if anyone is listening. Or maybe he already did and no one noticed.

Posted by: Tim H on September 30, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Is there any program that Bush has sold other than by using fear?
Bush is an ineffective communicator.

Posted by: bakho on September 30, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Duncan has the politics right. That's why the Dems need to offering a solid alternative to Paulson right now. If it passes, great, then Obama has a better chance of overseeing a thriving economing. If the GOP rejects it, then they're the jerks. They're certainly not offering anything.

I'm afraid McCain will take the opportunity and offer a plan. That's his only shot.

Posted by: g. powell on September 30, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Yesterday, a trillion dollars plus was extracted from the stock market. Where does it go?

Into the ether...

Posted by: koreyel on September 30, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

That was the picture of presidential impotence right there.

Yeah, but isn't impotence the way Bush pronounces the word importance?

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on September 30, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

You know who might actually be able to talk some of those Republicans into changing their minds? Wait for it ... Barack Obama. Yup, have him call up a bunch of Republicans directly, chat them up, speak uncharacteristically kind of them (per Barney Frank's advice), and get them onboard with our next President.

Furthermore, if he accomplished this, the election would simply be over: McCain riding in on his white horse in a shameless grandstanding ploy couldn't do anything, and Obama takes over the mantle of bipartisan "maverick".

Posted by: Franklin on September 30, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

I no longer believe anything that Bush says, nor anyone in his administration. I also no longer belive anything that anyone in Congress (both houses) says about this 'crisis'. One month before the Republicans lose the White House and more seats in Congress, we have this massive financial crisis that we, the taxpayers, have to fix. I don't believe any of it and neither should anyone else in this country! Meanwhile, those of us in the Southeast also now have a gasoline crisis -- which, in my opinion, was just manufactured to divert our attention and keep African-Americans in Georgia, Tenn., N.C. etc., away from the polls. Come Nov. 5, there will be plenty of gasoline to go around. Shame on all of them!

Posted by: bigapplegeorgiapeach on September 30, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, now old pardon guy may swerve his media mess/campaign further off track and solve the whole bushcon-omic sucking sound by throwing what few brain cells he has into the vacuum.
He has "prepared himself" for this by discussing with bushcon and the other head looters.
What better prep could he get than talking to kenron lay clones and crew to be sure he gets the scoop straight on how to pass out what $$'s left.
Nothing like soaking in sewage before a meeting.

Posted by: Johnsnottoodistracted on September 30, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

A beaten dog? I'd say Bush looks more like a horse---post-glue-factory, that is. Thus it is that we pull away the veil, exposing the Bush "legacy for the ages."

10:39 Eastern; the DOW is up 263---without a bailout. The financials had their "prop" crutches yanked out from under them yesterday, and now they need to crawl on their own if they want to go anywhere.

They're starting to do so.

Before the vote yesterday, everyone on Wall Street thought this thing would pass, but they were still "down" over 350 before the vote actually got started---which proves that they have the internal ability to create and correct at will.

Posted by: Steve on September 30, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

It matters little what a path a bill takes to become law. What matters is that we get a law.

Poor George, he never watched Schoolhouse Rock. It ABSOLUTELY matters what path it takes. For a guy who short-shrifted the checks and balances of this nation, this is most telling.

GWB has effectively killed the integrity of the GOP, along with his pack of hyenas.

Posted by: RememberNovember on September 30, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Wouldn't a joint statement from past presidents Clinton and Bush St. be more effective? Perhaps the optics of even arranging that are beyond W's capabilities of imagination."

I think Bush should just stay in the White House for the next 3 months. Anything he is for others will instinctively want to be against, regardless of the merits. Is there anyone left in the Executive with any credibility though? They would never give Clinton the satisfaction of occupying the bully pulpit again.


Posted by: John Henry on September 30, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Wouldn't a joint statement from past presidents Clinton and Bush St. be more effective? Perhaps the optics of even arranging that are beyond W's capabilities of imagination."

I think Bush should just stay in the White House for the next 3 months. Anything he is for others will instinctively want to be against regardless of the merits. They would never give Clinton the satisfaction. That would make Cheney's head spin. Is there anyone left in the Executive with any credibility though?

Those are the dividends of a consistently dishonest policy. I guess they've found out that leadership is more than just acting tough and looking confident. You can't lead if no one wants to follow you.

Posted by: John Henry on September 30, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

If it looks like a lame duck and quacks like a lame duck...

Posted by: Gregory on September 30, 2008 at 10:04 AM

That's no lame duck -- it's a eunuch.

Posted by: Vincent on September 30, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Personally this is a failure on congress and the administration to do this "in house".

After days of hearings with the same administration officials trying to explain a three page plan, and FAILING, a new plan was constructed behind closed doors based upon principles that sounded good.

That is not what is needed now. What is needed is outside, respected, non-ideological comment on the reasons for the crisis. Unless everyone can come to agree on the reasons, congress, the administration and the political parties will continue to push for their old ideological solutions that sound great as political speech to selected groups, but are not sound policy.

We need a solution that is arrived at like a business, that focuses on preserving and maintaining our national assets.

The easiest concept is "Buy American".

We need a plan which will buy American assets and preserve their ownership by Americans. The other option would allow foreign capital to come in and buy assets at pennies on the dollar.

I also think the plan should be more aggressive in trying to make money. The original Dodd proposal sounded better in this respect as it penalized the companies for selling assets above their market value (when sold).

So the plan should be for the US Government to re-purchase American assets, work to maintain their value, and eventually sell them back to US Banks at a local level to manage them like the old days. Wall Street need to get out of the business of pumping money into home ownership.

Posted by: tomj on September 30, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Hard to believe that sending Dick Cheney up on the Hill didn't bring people in line.

Posted by: Glenn on September 30, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he and Cheney should meet McCain and Palin should in Crawford, Texas and go hunting for Bin Laden...

Posted by: effluviantOne on September 30, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Tomorrow look for Bush to declare a "Threat Level Meter" that shows the economy is in code orange. That'll be sure to work.

If not, he can create a Department of Economic Security. Brownie might be available to head it up.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 30, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Moderates and Democratic Party 'liberals' want to pass the President's bailout of predatory lenders. If given a chance, they would probably support an invasion of Iran if W. Bush told them it was urgent and must be done right away.

Posted by: Brojo on September 30, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

The other pattern is whenever Bush opens his mouth about the economy the market rolls over and plays dead.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on September 30, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

So we should be okay with a government that comes out and tells us this bill needs to be passed right NOW without any checks and balances in place? Paulson who is an ex Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs with ties to AIG and other recently taken over companies is the man pulling the strings. It seems that the hurry to get this bill approved is more about not finding out certain details about Paulson’s past than it is about helping our country. This administration has never been up front with the American people so why would they start now. Americans should be in an UPROAR over what is going on right now!

Posted by: Mojoe on September 30, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

As a practical matter, I'm not sure who Bush's target audience is. Voters don't like him, and lawmakers don't trust him.

Aw, he just wants to be relevant.

It's kind of embarrassing, watching him, isn't it? These sad little attempts to regain his 'Decider'-ness fill me with something akin to pity - pity with a big dose of loathing thrown in. There must be a name for that emotion, but I don't know what it is.

Posted by: cmac on September 30, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Yesterday, a trillion dollars plus was extracted from the stock market. Where does it go?"
____________________________

Think of it like a house. It's worth what you can sell it for and if people can't borrow money to purchase it, it's worth less then if money was readily available. The house/stock hasn't changed, the availability of cash has.

The hope is that by removing bad debt from the books of financial institutions, it will reverse the above trend and make money more available which in turn will make the house/stock more valuable. It should stabilize the markets and the economy.

Posted by: on September 30, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK
Yesterday, a trillion dollars plus was extracted from the stock market.

The decline in value is not money "extracted" from the stock market, its just notional wealth that ceased to exist.

There is no conservation law that applies to wealth or to money: they can each (independently of the other) be created or destroyed.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 30, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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