Pants Afire

The President of the United States seems to be a complete asshole.

I’ve been in a state of humiliation since the “election” of 2000, or at least since I got over the disbelief and rage. I can say from first-hand knowledge that this has been easily the worst seven years the U.S. has endured since the middle of the 20th century. Sorry, I can’t speak first-hand about stuff before the midpoint. The Great Depression was probably a pretty rough time, but at least for most of it there was not an idiot at the top of the government.

Yes, George W. Bush is an idiot. Worse, he is under the control of a cabal of ultra right-wing ideologues who have no clue how to run things, or maybe they just don’t give a shit about justice or morality, as long as they get theirs, which they most assuredly are. Since I live here and people around the world have no reason not to believe that I am OK with his presidency, I am humiliated.

Except every now and then the rage comes out again.

I don’t usually do this, but here’s an entire op-ed from today’s (March 16, 2008) New York Times. I know no one ever follows my links, so I’m putting the whole thing here. It’s short and easy to read, so you should read it, especially if you are one of those who think Bush is a president kind of like other presidents, that he’s good at some things, not so good at others, that he’s essentially an honest man with the best interest of the nation and the people at heart, that he makes sensible decisions that intelligent people might disagree with, but they’re still sensible. Here you go:

Through Bush-Colored Glasses

Published: March 16, 2008

President Bush admitted on Friday that times are tough. So much for the straight talk.

Mr. Bush went on to paint a false picture of the economy. He dismissed virtually every proposal Congress is working on to alleviate the mortgage crisis, sticking to his administration’s inadequate ideas. And despite the rush of serious problems — frozen credit markets, millions of impending mortgage defaults, solvency issues at banks, a plunging dollar — he said that a major source of uncertainty today is whether his tax cuts, scheduled to expire in 2010, would be extended.

This was too far afield of reality to be dismissed as simple cheerleading. It points to the pressing need for a coherent plan to steer through what some economists are now predicting could be a severe downturn. Mr. Bush’s denial of the economic truth underscores the need for Congress to push forward with solutions to the mortgage crisis especially bankruptcy reform to help defaulting homeowners. Lawmakers also must prepare to execute, in case it is needed, a government rescue of people whose homes are now worth less than they borrowed to buy them.

Mr. Bush said he was optimistic because the economy’s foundation is solid as measured by employment, wages, productivity, exports and the federal deficit. He was wrong on every count. On some, he has been wrong for quite a while.

Mr. Bush boasted about 52 consecutive months of job growth during his presidency. What matters is the magnitude of growth, not ticks on a calendar. The economic expansion under Mr. Bush which it is safe to assume is now over produced job growth of 4.2 percent. That is the worst performance over a business cycle since the government started keeping track in 1945.

Mr. Bush also talked approvingly of the recent unemployment rate of 4.8 percent. A low rate is good news when it indicates a robust job market. The unemployment rate ticked down last month because hundreds of thousands of people dropped out of the work force altogether. Worse, long-term unemployment, of six months or more, hit 17.5 percent. We’d expect that in the depths of a recession. It is unprecedented at the onset of one.

Mr. Bush was wrong to say wages are rising. On Friday morning, the day he spoke, the government reported that wages failed to outpace inflation in February, for the fifth straight month. Productivity growth has also weakened markedly in the past two years, a harbinger of a lower overall standard of living for Americans.

Exports have surged of late, but largely on the back of a falling dollar. The weaker dollar makes American exports cheaper, but it also pushes up oil prices. Potentially far more serious, a weakening dollar also reduces the Federal Reserve’s flexibility to steady the economy.

Finally, Mr. Bush’s focus on the size of the federal budget deficit ignores that annual government borrowing comes on top of existing debt. Publicly held federal debt will be up by a stunning 76 percent by the end of his presidency. Paying back the money means less to spend on everything else for a very long time.

The fiscal stimulus passed by Congress, and touted by Mr. Bush on Friday, could juice growth for a quarter or two later this year. But the economy’s fundamental weaknesses indicate that Americans are ill-prepared for hard times. That makes the need for clear-eyed policies all the more urgent. We need them from the president, Congress and the contenders for the White House.


You can read this for yourself at the Times’ web site. They no longer charge for any of their content. It’s a great paper. They have made some mistakes, but let me know if you know someone who hasn’t. Mainly, they hold their fire until they’ve got the facts. They give you the benefit of the doubt.

There is no more doubt about George W. Bush. He’s either a liar or a boob, or both. I hope there’s something left to govern when his successor is sworn in next January.

Share this:

4 Replies to “Pants Afire”

  1. It’s a great opinion piece, although it’s always annoying when the NYT does that thing where the author’s name doesn’t appear in a readily accessible place. I’m afraid I can’t share your opinion of the NYT, either. I can’t believe the shit they printed before the war. Shameful. These days I’m gravitating more toward WaPo, although lord knows they are far from perfect as well.

  2. Vikki – Yes, the prewar reporting was a shameful performance by the Times, but the thing is, they’re not going away, their voice is powerful, opinion-makers read it and they do hold back on the inflammatory stuff (usually), so when they come out with something this strong, it really carries some weight.

    Don’t you believe in journalistic redemption?

    PS:Â Thanks for saving this post from the Blog Death of “no comment.”

  3. No comment is the equivalent of blog death?? I always assumed that readers were trying so hard to get past the shock and awe of my insight that they are rendered speechless.

  4. Holly – When I started blogging almost four years ago I told myself I was “writing for myself.” I think you know this was baloney, but with each post I come a step closer to that goal. Still, I don’t think I have ever had a complete “no comment” post. Maybe I have and I am just blocking it from my mind. When it happens I’ll probably quit in despair.

Comments are closed.