Bush's Financial Katrina: As the storm clouds gathered, was President Bush once again asleep at the wheel? Aconsistent theme in today's political and economic coverage is that Bush's failure to recognize the severity of the ongoing financial crisis and act accordingly is reminiscent of his disastrously slow and inept response to Hurricane Katrina.
Maura Reynolds and Janet Hook write in the Los Angeles Times:
In some ways it was a throwaway line, the kind of praise a boss tosses out casually. But as the economy teetered Monday, President Bush's words to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson struck many as discordant and disengaged. 'I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for working over the weekend,' Bush said as he met with his economic advisors at the White House. 'You've shown the country and the world that the United States is on top of the situation.'
Actually, many analysts and critics said, by focusing on Paulson's working hours instead of on the fear gripping Main Street and Wall Street, the president seemed to show just the opposite -- that he has failed to grasp the gravity of the country's economic crisis. 'He has no idea what's going on. Even by his standards, he's wrong,' said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who said he had been trying to get the president to pay more attention to the economy for more than a year.
Bush's 'working over the weekend' line also suggested a comparison to another disaster in which he was accused of acting too slowly: Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, the president was ridiculed for praising FEMA Director Michael D. Brown for doing 'a heck of a job' -- even as thousands remained stranded in floodwaters in New Orleans.
It is remarkable: how many weekends in the past twenty years have not seen Hank Paulson at work?
Dan goes on:
Reynolds and Hook write....
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said he had been trying to get the administration to tighten the rules for mortgage lenders for more than a year -- to little avail.
'They could have done a lot of things over the last year, in my view, to make a difference and refused to do so,' Dodd said. 'They are lagging in terms of their response to all of this. Had steps been taken over the last year, we could have avoided a lot of this.'
Matt Spetalnick writes for Reuters:
Not since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 has Bush faced so much criticism of a too-little, too-late government response in a national time of need....
Frederick Kempe writes in his Bloomberg opinion column:
The cost of faltering American leadership is growing as quickly as you can say Bear Stearns. . . . International financiers . . . fault George W. Bush for having failed to realize that he has another Katrina on his hands, this time of a financial nature, for which private-sector solutions are useful but not sufficient to keep the levees in place. They believe he has to deploy greater government means to send a message to the financial world that he is drawing a line in the sand. . . . As with the war in Afghanistan, the Iraqi war aftermath, the Hurricane Katrina disaster and current efforts at Mideast peace, investors are concerned that the president is responding too late and with inadequate understanding, resources and creativity....
On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart shows a clip in which CNBC anchor Mark Haines literally throws his hands in the air in disbelief after Bush's positive comments about the economy. Stewart listens to Bush's constant repetition of economic affirmations and concludes that "must be his attempt at a Jedi mind-trick." But, Stewart says: "Here's the thing, Mr. President: In order for the Jedi mind-trick to work -- you have to be a Jedi"...