Something occurred to me this morning about the ongoing financial crisis. Where’s Bush?
In the face of a cataclysmic implosion of the banking and financial services industry, a disaster that has taxpayers on the hook for tens (hundreds?) of billions of dollars because we’re hoping (hoping) that we can thereby stave off something far worse, a crisis where the loss of public confidence is not just a troubling symptom but is in fact the primary engine driving the crisis forward, some happy talk from Fearless Leader would seem like just the thing to calm troubled markets and citizens. So why are we Fearless Leader-less? Why has Bush been invisible?
Partly, I assume, this is because a conscious decision has been made to keep Bush under wraps until after the election. Just as at the Republican Convention, the people trying to get McCain elected would just as soon Bush disappeared completely for the next six weeks. The more Bush is on TV, the more it will remind low-information voters how much they hate the guy, and they’re much more likely to take that hatred out on McCain than on Obama.
There’s something else, too. In a way, this reminds me of the aftermaths of 9/11 and Katrina. As in those cases, we’ve got Bush in a figurative Air Force One, jetting randomly through the nation’s airspace, keeping him safe from threats to his person, yes, but more importantly, safe from live cameras and microphones. Without wanting to minimize the tragedy of those earlier events by comparing them to a crisis where (so far) actual human deaths have been few, we now have yet another situation in which Bush put a bunch of boobs and nitwits in charge, and then Something Unspeakably Horrible happened. Partly the Something Horrible was due to circumstances beyond Bush’s control, but partly, too, to the fact that Bush put a bunch of boobs and nitwits in charge.
So now he’s faced with a situation that is pretty much unspinnable in real time. There’s no way to make a credible case that this is not a catastrophe. Some way is going to have to be found to deflect Bush’s blame to someone else, and creating such an impression in a sufficient mass of minds is not easy. It will take teams of crack image-manipulators, devious, unscrupulous liars with heads like eggplants and souls like black ice. It will take time to see how things are going to fall out, what new information might come to light, how the public will react to it. It will take careful research to identify potential fall guys, do opposition research on them, script the public statements, and get all the stories lined up.
Meanwhile, we the people are left in a familiar situation: wondering where the Leader of the Free World is hiding out.