President Bush, Congress, confidence and trust

Who woke President Bush up last night? I know he scared the crap out of me. I was restfully snoozing through the end of Dancing With The Stars when I was jarred awake by someone mumbling that our entire economy was in danger. Say what?

Was this the same W. who a few months ago assured us that we weren’t in a recession? That the economy was strong? That the $600 rebate checks would usher in a new era of prosperity? That the Cleveland Browns would make the playoffs? Well, you know.

Oh, my. Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be lame duck presidents.

Particularly one with a job approval rating only slightly better than Congress.

We’re in deep doo-doo. Why? The people on Main Street no longer have any confidence or trust that the guys and gals in Washington can get just about anything right — let alone the nationalization of Wall Street. That by the way is not just the rant of a quasi-retired PR guy and teacher in Ohio. Here’s David Broder, dean of the Washington mainstream media, writing in The Washington Post this morning, “Credibility Test for Congress.”

We know why George Bush has not attempted to play that role in this crisis. The past 44 months, since his second term began, have so depleted Bush’s personal credibility and political influence that he is crippled as a national leader. His own party, at its nominating convention, could barely bring itself to acknowledge him. Attaching his name to almost any proposition costs it public backing rather than attracting support.

Paulson and Bernanke are not charismatic figures, but it clearly is better to have their names attached to the rescue plan than Bush’s.

But how do you explain the transfer of authority from Pelosi and Reid to Dodd and Frank, the chairmen of two congressional committees that supervise the operations of financial markets?

The reason, I have to believe, is that public disdain for Congress and its top leaders is as great as the disillusionment with the president.

Well it should be an interesting meeting at the White House today as members of the administration and elected officials come together to figure out what to do. And I expect they will reach an agreement. Members of Congress want to adjourn and head home to campaign. W. wants to go back to whatever he does these days.

I have no idea what the final bailout plan will look like. But here are two things I do know.

If Bush interrupts Grey’s Anatomy tonight I fret for the future of our Democracy.

And while Misty May is on Dancing With The Stars, Brooke Burke could make you forget about beach volleyball.


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