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September 22, 2008

No One Can Relate to the Bailout of a Disaster Like George W. Bush


Two thousand and eight, the summer of turmoil: Gas prices, wars and the threat of wars, the economy, an increasingly bitter presidential campaign. A dark cloud has hung over the country like an ugly omen, foretelling of dark times ahead.


Through it all, it could be that George W. Bush has delivered some piece of mind, a reminder that there are some things in this world upon which we can all rely.


That is to say that the proposed bailout of Wall Street isn’t just something that could have been seen coming through the prism of the last eight years but based on an assessment of the president’s entire life.


The crisis Wall Street today labors through mirrors the story of most of the president’s life. George W. Bush takes control of something, augers it into the side of a mountain and then someone else rides in to the rescue. It’d be no small wonder if the president sympathizes with investment banks now teetering on the edge of collapse. He must look at them and see himself.


What we’re seeing is an indictment of the 2000 election, and also his 2004 election. Both times, the president’s life story – take control of something, destroy it, rely on someone else to pick up the pieces – were brought up; both times waved away as if a pesky gnat. Today, we’re seeing that life story repeat itself, except that instead of failure come by way of poor and lazy executive decision-making, it’s via poor and lazy regulatory decision-making.


If there’s anything humorous about the situation, and it’s probably only evident to those with a gallows sense of humor, it’s the reaction of fiscal conservatives, who have suddenly figured out that the president isn’t a member of their free-market club.


Of course he isn’t one of them. He never was one of them. No one who will ever be elected to the presidency will be ever really believe in free markets.


Yet, they purchased the ticket for the ride, eagerly and unapologetically. They awarded him conservative street cred because he hated regulation. To most everyone paying attention, that street cred was based on someone just looking to dodge responsibility. The first step for that is pretending that nothing’s wrong in the first place. Now, it’s blowing up in their faces, with dislike of regulation exposed as just a way for Wall Street investment bankers to dodge responsibility for reckless decision making. Naturally, they want off the ride.


They’ve been the original useful idiots, providing a useful source of support by Bush and other politicians. They’ve wanted the same basic things – reduced oversight and regulation – but not for the same reasons. The same human mechanisms that made communism only look good on paper – greed and ambition – will always prevent a totally free market from becoming a reality. This should be the free-market movement’s version of the Berlin Wall, a final stake driven into the heart of an idea that can never work when applied to real life.


What the president has proposed isn’t even a real, proper bailout, but rather just the use of taxpayer dollars to buy overpriced, risky assets. There is no forced reorganization, no stringent oversight of operations. It’s George W. Bush’s way of saying, “Here, let me take those problems off your hands.”


At this point, there’s no reason to attack him over this. It might feel good, but really it’s like yelling at the fox after putting him in charge of the henhouse. Anyone with a memory broader than what happened five minutes ago could have predicted that, in response to a financial crisis, the president’s inclination would be to bail out the guilty. It’s been the story of his life.


America, I give you the surest bet in all the land.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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