NYT Nails Bush and Calls for Leadership

The New York Times editorial board gets this one spot on. George Bush’s speech on the economic crisis was useless, save for exposing his ineptness.

It took President Bush until Wednesday night to address the American people about the nation’s financial crisis, and pretty much all he had to offer was fear itself.

There was no acknowledgement of the shocking failure of government regulation, or that the country cannot afford more tax cuts for the very wealthy and budget-busting wars, or that spending at least $700 billion of taxpayers’ money to bail out Wall Street and the banks should be done carefully, transparently and with oversight by Congress and the courts.

We understand why he may have been reluctant to address the nation, since his contempt for regulation is a significant cause of the current mess. But he could have offered a great deal more than an eerily dispassionate primer on the credit markets in which he took no responsibility at all for the financial debacle.

He promised to protect taxpayers with his proposed bailout, but he did not explain how he would do that other than a superficial assurance that in sweeping up troubled assets, government would buy low and sell high. And he warned that “our entire economy is in danger” unless Congress passes his bailout plan immediately.

In the end, Mr. Bush’s appearance was just another reminder of something that has been worrying us throughout this crisis: the absence of any real national leadership, including on the campaign trail.

The editorial goes on to say that neither of the two conventional presidential candidates to succeed Dubya are offering much in the way of leadership either.

McCain, correctly, gets slammed for his tepid, largely meaningless response, for saying the economy was fundamentally strong just this week. and for the Republican’s ill-advised “suspension” of his campaign. (Don’t believe it – depsite reports from the McCain/Palin camp that all advertising would stop, it hasn’t. I’ve been seeing those attack ads McCain approves all day long. Again, they lie.)

The Democratic nominee, rightly, is not spared either.

Mr. Obama has been clearer on the magnitude and causes of the financial crisis. He has long called for robust regulation of the financial industry, and he said early on that a bailout must protect taxpayers. Mr. Obama also recognizes that the wealthy must pay more taxes or this country will never dig out of its deep financial hole. But as he does too often, Mr. Obama walked up to the edge of offering full prescriptions and stopped there.

That’s why Obama needs to keep preparing for the debate so that he can offer the specifics voters need to hear, to make the sale Bush couldn’t make and McCain obviously cannot. Organizers say Friday’s event will go on as planned. The Democrat says he will be there.

Given the continuation of McCain’s unforgivable parade of attack ads, I suspect the GOP campaign suspension is hogwash, a politrick, a grandstanding move by a desperate man finally being seen for what he is — an opportunistic man who cares not for truth, and certainly not for the little people. All he wants is to be president — to hell with the rest of us.

If I were a gambler, I would place bets that whether or not Congress comes to agreement about the Paulson corporate welfare scheme, McCain will show up in Oxfod, MS, on Friday night. His opponent is calling on him to be there. But if the GOPper chooses not to show, Obama certainly will look more presidential than McCain’s empty chair — which they had better leave on the stage.

Here’s an idea: Why not invite the third-party candidates? Surely Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin, Ralph Nader, et al have ideas that may offer insights and alternatives regarding fixing the financial mess. So far, no one else has proposed a workable solution that all of Congress seems willing to accept.

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