Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Big Three: Bush, Hoover, Buchanan

Harold Meyerson looks George W. Bush in the eye and calls him what he is.... Herbert Hoover.

In "Bush's Final Fiasco" Meyerson compares the Bush administration's handling of our downward-spiraling economy to the actions of the 1930's Great Depression president .... "Herbert Hoover, we should recall, had a program for dealing with the Depression. It consisted of lending to banks but opposing fiscal stimulus or direct aid to individuals. Which is why Hank Paulson's frenzied endeavors to prop up the banking sector and Bush's dogged resistance to assisting anybody else amount to pure neo-Hooverism.

"As the 1930s began, Hoover believed that the coordinated actions of the private sector could save the beleaguered economy. It soon became apparent that the only action that private-sector businesses could agree upon was closing down factories and offices and throwing people out of work. Under immense pressure to do something, in late 1931 Hoover asked Congress to establish the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, to provide funds to banks it deemed creditworthy.

"Having done his bit to bail out the banks, however, Hoover rested. He opposed provisions that would have enabled homeowners to hang on to their homes."

Sound familiar?

As Meyerson points out, "The Bush administration's approach to today's meltdown is to direct all its energies and largess to lending institutions. There is, as yet, no program to help floundering homeowners renegotiate the terms of their mortgages. The president is opposed to further stimulus programs, even though private-sector investment in the United States has all but ceased."

Meyerson asks, where's the outrage? He suspects that the answer "is that you can only irreversibly give up on a president once. Further catastrophic failures on the president's part elicit only diminishing returns. Buchanan did nothing while the South seceded: That was it for him. Hoover did nothing as farmers, workers and middle-class America got wiped out: With that, he was beyond rehabilitation. Nixon had Watergate: Enough said. One mega-strike and you're out."

And when it comes to mega-strike outs, Bush has swung and missed over and over. Meyerson counts three biggies.... "He misled us into a nearly endless war of choice to disarm a threat that never really existed. He let a great American city drown. And now he stands by while the economic security of tens of millions of Americans is vanishing.

"Yet in the hearts of his countrymen, Bush's place is already fixed. Even before the financial collapse, he was in the ninth circle of presidential hell, with Buchanan and Hoover. At his own party's national convention this summer, his was the name that no one dared speak.

"And so, though his mishandling of the economy is criminally inept, he is being spared one more outbreak of public rage by two countervailing public sentiments: Americans' relief that he soon will be gone and their kind reluctance to kick a corpse."

Bush justifies his record by saying he kept us safe for eight years (he myopically doesn't count 9/11 or the myriad of victims of his ill-conceived policies).

That's kind of like saying that despite his rampaging through our domestic and foreign landscape like a bull in a china shop one tea cup survived..... but President Decider, that tea cup was made in China.

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