Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another Critical Time in History for Bush

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Every few decades, events occur in our nation that were largely unforeseen and making misguided or uninformed decisions could bring about disastrous consequences affecting the lives of every American. I would include WW II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iranian Hostage Crisis and 9/11 as ones that come immediately to mind. The first two were handled ably by Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy as was the last by President Bush. The Iranian crisis was handled horribly ineptly by President Carter and we are still dealing with the ramifications to this day.

Most presidents are never faced with such a crucial situation yet President Bush has now been faced with two. The complete disintegration of financial firms we've seen in the last few weeks is a crucial test for America and wrong moves and decisions could have far-reaching effects that will wreak havoc on economies the planet over. President Bush is handling this situation in what appears to be a steadfast manner. While carrying the burden of a lame-duck status and low approval ratings, plus a Congress that is worse than do-nothing, he's allowed his key personnel to deal with what is easily the most critical economic crisis in years and they seem to have handled it in a manner that has calmed financial markets around the world.

Luckily for the President, Congress has thrown up their collective hands and said they have no idea what to do (which sums up the last two years pretty much). In fact, they've been shell-shocked by the scope and ramifications:

WASHINGTON — It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first.

Mr. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had made an urgent and unusual evening visit to Capitol Hill, and they were gathered around a conference table in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“When you listened to him describe it you gulped," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”
Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”

When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

The fact that Sen. Dodd took more money than anyone from the corporations that are the biggest contributors to this mess will be commented upon in another post. Now please shut up and get out of the way so the results of your scandalous inaction with regard to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can be fixed.

So it's up to the President and his advisers to handle it once again. Trillions of dollars in savings and pensions are riding on the next few weeks and the shoulders of the man from Crawford.

History will look kindly on President Bush and his handling of the national shock and response to 9/11. One suspects that this market meltdown will also be a major factor in his legacy.
Update: It seems that both Bush and McCain were well ahead of the curve on this and no one listened.

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