CURRENT MOON

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why He Sounds Especially Incoherent


Gail Collins dispenses rather easily with George Bush's most recent speech on America's in-the-tank economy:

Watching George W. Bush address the New York financial community Friday brought back many memories. Unfortunately, they were about his speech right after Hurricane Katrina, the one when he said: “America will be a stronger place for it.”

“You’ve helped make our country really in many ways the economic envy of the world,” he told the Economic Club of New York.

You could almost see the thought-bubble forming over the audience: Not this week, kiddo.

The president squinched his face and bit his lip and seemed too antsy to stand still. As he searched for the name of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (“the king, uh, the king of Saudi”) and made guy-fun of one of the questioners (“Who picked Gigot?”), you had to wonder what the international financial community makes of a country whose president could show up to talk economics in the middle of a liquidity crisis and kind of flop around the stage as if he was emcee at the Iowa Republican Pig Roast.

We’re really past expecting anything much, but in times of crisis you would like to at least believe your leader has the capacity to pretend he’s in control. Suddenly, I recalled a day long ago when my husband worked for a struggling paper full of worried employees and the publisher walked into the newsroom wearing a gorilla suit.

The country that elected George Bush — sort of — because he seemed like he’d be more fun to have a beer with than Al Gore or John Kerry is really getting its comeuppance. Our credit markets are foundering, and all we’ve got is a guy who looks like he’s ready to kick back and start the weekend.

This is not the first time Bush’s attempts to calm our fears redoubled our nightmares. His first speech after 9/11 — that two-minute job on the Air Force base — was so stilted that the entire country felt like heading for the nearest fallout shelter. After Katrina, of course, it took forever to pry him out of Crawford, and then he more or less read a laundry list of Goods Being Shipped to the Flood Zone and delivered some brief assurances that things would work out.

O.K., so he’s not good at first-day response. Or second. Third can be a problem, too. But this economic crisis has been going on for months, and all the president could come up with sounded as if it had been composed for a Rotary Club and then delivered by a guy who had never read it before. “One thing is certain that Congress will do is waste some of your money,” he said. “So I’ve challenged members of Congress to cut the number of cost of earmarks in half.”

Besides being incoherent, this is a perfect sign of an utterly phony speech. Earmarks are one of those easy-to-attack Congressional weaknesses, and in a perfect world, they would not exist. But they cost approximately two cents in the grand budgetary scheme of things. Saying you’re going to fix the economy or balance the budget by cutting out earmarks is like saying you’re going to end global warming by banning bathroom nightlights.

Bush pointed out — as if the entire economic world didn’t already know — that Congress has already passed an economic incentive package that will send tax rebate checks to more than 130 million households. “A lot of them are a little skeptical about this ‘checks in the mail’ stuff,” he jibed. Jokejoke. Winkwink.

Then, after a run through of “ideas I strongly reject,” Bush finally got around to announcing that he was going to “talk about what we’re for. We’re obviously for sending out over $150 billion into the marketplace in the form of checks that will be reaching the mailboxes by the second week of May.

“We’re for that,” he added.

Once the markets had that really, really clear, Bush felt free to go on to the other things he was for, which very much resembled that laundry list for Katrina (“400 trucks containing 5.4 million Meals Ready to Eat — or M.R.E.’s ... 3.4 million pounds of ice ...”) This time the rundown included a six-month-old F.H.A. refinancing program, and an industry group called Hope Now that offers advice to people with mortgage problems.

And then, finally, the nub of the housing crisis: “Problem we have is, a lot of folks aren’t responding to over a million letters sent out to offer them assistance and mortgage counseling,” the president of the United States told the world.

But wait — more positive news! The secretary of Housing and Urban Development is proposing that lenders supply an easy-to-read summary with mortgage agreements. “You know, these mortgages can be pretty frightening to people. I mean, there’s a lot of tiny print,” the president said.

Really, if he can’t fix the economy, the least he could do is rehearse the speech.



There's a reason that Bush often sounds like a bored husband pretending to discuss his failing marriage with his angry wife while he's really watching the ballgame and playing with his new X-Box.

He didn't really want or intend to do anything for the victims of Katrina. They're poor black people who aren't in "his base" and his base enjoys hating on them and screaming about how they're lazy looters and should just hurry up and die. (His own mother made pretty clear how the Bush family really felt about the victims of Katrina.) So he gave a crappy speech that did about as good a job of convincing anyone of his concern for people in New Orleans as the bored husband's "Mmm Hmms" and "OK, I knows" do of convincing his wife that he's really interested in saving his marriage.

Similarly, he doesn't really want or intend to do anything about the causes of our economic decline. That's because, like the husband whose refusal to get a job and determination to never do any housework are the root cause of the problems in his marriage, Bush's tax policies, unfunded Iraq war, and full-fleged attack on government regulation are the root causes of our current recession/depression. He's not going to change a damn thing that he's been doing wrong and he's kinda pissed that he has to drag his attention away from the ballgame to even pretend to care.

When pushed to the wall, like many irritated husbands, he blames the victims: Problem we have is, a lot of folks aren’t responding to over a million letters sent out to offer them assistance and mortgage counseling,” the president of the United States told the world, and complains that his wife just doesn't appreciate what he does do: Bush pointed out — as if the entire economic world didn’t already know — that Congress has already passed an economic incentive package that will send tax rebate checks to more than 130 million households. “A lot of them are a little skeptical about this ‘checks in the mail’ stuff,” he jibed. Then, he insists that the problem is really her mother: “One thing is certain that Congress will do is waste some of your money,” he said. “So I’ve challenged members of Congress to cut the number of cost of earmarks in half.”

Besides being incoherent, this is a perfect sign of an utterly phony speech. Earmarks are one of those easy-to-attack Congressional weaknesses, and in a perfect world, they would not exist. But they cost approximately two cents in the grand budgetary scheme of things. Saying you’re going to fix the economy or balance the budget by cutting out earmarks is like saying you’re going to end global warming by banning bathroom nightlights.


It's long past time to throw this bum out.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always think I am beyond outrage at what Chimpy will say or do next, but he manages it. Every. Single. Time. -Stormysu

Anonymous said...

You can see it in his face! He is mad because they made him dress up, go out and read another danged speech! He knows NOTHING. Could care less and gets angry when they force him to go on camera!

PEASANTPARTY

mattsmom said...

I look at that expression on his face and can see his soul. What a sad picture this is! How sad for the world!

Anonymous said...

Very nice post as always.

Shared Humanity

Soprano said...

The country that elected George Bush — sort of — because he seemed like he’d be more fun to have a beer with than Al Gore or John Kerry is really getting its comeuppance.

I'd like to know when the New York Times is going to get its comeuppance for aiding and abetting the process Collins describes.

"Fair and Balanced" Dave said...

To paraphrase Groucho Marx:

Bush may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: He really IS an idiot

Anonymous said...

off topic, have you seen Daou's latest?
http://www.attacktimeline.com/

Anne Johnson said...

My rebate check is going to help the economy in the form of helping pay my quarterly property taxes. Not one penny will go to retail. Not one.

Mr.Murder said...

Don't stare into the abyss for very long....