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George W. Bush: Our Hoover?

Let's take the briefest timeout from our discussion of Barack Obama and John McCain to focus on our President.

Remember him?  You could be forgiven if you don't.  His name is George W. Bush and in the last several days he has cemented his legacy as the worst President of the last hundred years.  

For over a year he and his Administration ignored the clear warning signs that our financial markets were headed for deep trouble.  He missed every possible opportunity to address this problem earlier, when it could have been arrested at less cost to taxpayers and ordinary investors.

Finally, last week, when the cost of inaction became catastrophic, he remained on the sidelines, outsourcing the job of selling a fix to his Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Fed.  He initially made no effort to court public opinion, even as it turned against the deal and began to make its passage less likely.  His televised address to the nation was too little and too late.  There is no evidence he has personally interceded with rank and file lawmakers, especially House Republicans, to get them on board.

And, shamefully, he went along with John McCain's stunt and interjected Presidential politics into the process, calling a useless summit at the White House that seemed only to make a deal less likely by retarding progress already made.  At this point we expect Senator McCain to grasp at every straw to turn around his flailing Presidential campaign -- but a moment when the nation faces financial calamity, our President should have resisted the temptation to play along.  

My bet is we get a deal today, and certainly by Monday.  But when we do it will be in spite of Presidential leadership, not because of it.

During the Kerry campaign we used to invoke Herbert Hoover's record on the economy when discussing the Bush record.  Who knew that he would end his time in office, four years later, making Hoover look good?

During this campaign Senator Clinton used to say that it really matters who's President.  It still does.

Howard Wolfson blogs at GothamAcme.Com