Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pointing Fingers

Up until now Jimmy Carter has been the worst president in the lifetimes of most living Americans. He inherited an inflation problem and made it much worse, eventually leading to the recession of the early 80s. He blinked on terrorism and helped to forge the "paper tiger" impression on the minds of radicals.

But unless things change radically before January 20th, George W. Bush may soon be awarded the top spot, helped along by Democrat strategists like Peter Feld:
It doesn't matter who wins the election. Either side will spend all of a first term (maybe even a second), cleaning up after George W. Bush - with little or no options as to how.
As they say, history is often in the eye of the beholder, and the mainstream press, and academia, and Democrat strategists (or is that redundant?).

Case in point, Feld bolstered his argument by explaining how Bill Clinton's hands were tied when he replaced Bush 41 in 1993. His utopian campaign promises of cutting taxes for the middle class while offering free health care were quickly scuttled in favor of the largest tax increase in history and concurrent spending cuts, causing him to lose Congress in 1994.

Partially true, but he suffers from selective amnesia. The firing of the White House travel office staff; the placing of his unelected wife in charge of socialized medicine; allowing Craig Livingstone to rifle through FBI files of Republican adversaries; Vince Foster's strange death; advocating for gays in a military he loathed; and the Waco debacle all contributed to the quick rise of Newt. Feld also forgot to mention the spending cuts hit the DoD hardest--the so-called peace dividend, while also forgetting the bill he signed in 1999 that put in motion some of the current shenanigans. Or that some of those vaunted financial advisers ended up working for Fannie Mae.

Instead he traces the root of all our current evil to the tax cuts of 2001 while totally spacing that 3000 point drop in the stock market and near-immediate recession later in the year. Evidently many liberals see that as just a blip to be dusted under the rug just as terrorism was during the 90s.

Tax cuts alone are not the problem--Obama is now backpeddling on his plan to tax "the rich" as he knows tax increases on the job-creators during an economic downturn isn't very smart. Bush could hardly do otherwise in 2001 without risking a worldwide depression, especially with more terror attacks looming. Hence his plea to "go shopping". He had moral support as well.

But the defense ends there. America took him literally. We shopped and shopped and shopped, mainly with other people's money. Now we've dropped. All along the bully pulpit remained silent.

As a self-described "compassionate conservative" without a mandate (Feld described it a bit differently) Bush had little choice but to cut deals with the spenders while trying to balance it out with tax cuts to please the base and set up reelection. And the tax cuts worked--they stimulated the economy despite the simultaneous breaking of the dot com bubble and a massive terrorist attack on our financial underbelly. But they were not accompanied by the necessary fiscal discipline, which is partly the reason McCain initially opposed them. In that respect Feld is correct--the president has his hands full.

So here we are. The political winds are blowing, and Obama could grab a huge advantage by channeling Bill Clinton's economic legacy while maintaining his fib of tax cuts. What better way to cement that impression by tossing Biden under the bus and essentially putting the Clintons back in charge by recruiting the wicked witch of the West Wing and her Oz-like husband? That is, if he can stand the pain. We can only guess where that yellow-brick road might lead.

But for now the blame must be assigned, and it usually falls at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Historians would surely be remiss without mentioning the pork dripping off the lips of almost every Congressman and local official in America along with the citizens who wanted Christmas to come every day, or a government that couldn't stop rampant illegal immigration and its resulting economic drain, not to mention the requisite funds spent keeping the barbarians from the gate. But somebody's gotta take the blame, and unless a magic wand is soon waved the concrete is almost set.

MORE 9/21/08

In his typical brash New York manner, Mark Levin explains all, including the unarguable fact that Bush's legacy should be a bit better than that of Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, and all other social engineers who pushed for "affordable housing".

All true, but they likely won't be a huge part of his history--after all they were only trying to save America by forcing businessmen to make loans to people who had no business getting loans in the first place. We've already seen this in action, such as when Enron executives were being crucified as greedy Republicans for using accounting tricks to get bonuses while Franklin Raines was doing the same thing at Fannie Mae. Now Raines is working on his handicap while most of the Enron execs are either dead or in jail.

MORE 9/21/08

The Gateway guy has a handy list of Bush's history on this issue, which seems to suggest the bully pulpit wasn't silent. Unfortunately, too many people (including yours truly) would rather watch a scoreless soccer game than talk economics, meaning to get the concern across he almost needed that proverbial white bullhorn.

Besides, a lot of Republicans made a lot of money on this house of cards before it collapsed, even if only following the sub-prime regulations put in place by social leftists. So yes, Bush might have been mentioning the issue here and there but it was akin to him standing in centerfield of Busch Stadium talking in a regular voice during a fireworks show. Where was Levin's screaming a few years ago? Maybe if more of his compatriots in talk radio or cable had spoken out it would have gotten more attention but few want to be accused of upsetting the apple cart with doom talk (everyone has investments). So it's a catch-22.

Meanwhile, the self-congratulatory liberals writing this into Bush's legacy had no incentive to sound any alarms ahead of time, knowing that a calmer Iraq left Obama with only a had economy to run on, and we all know the ends justify the means--that became evident from watching the Sarah Palin smearfest.

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