Bush's Leadership Deficit

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, September 26, 2008; 12:43 PM

The emergency White House summit that President Bush called as a special favor to Republican presidential candidate John McCain backfired spectacularly yesterday afternoon, leaving what had appeared to be an emerging bipartisan deal in shatters.

So this morning, it was time for the president to come out and show some real leadership.

Instead, Bush briefly popped out of the Oval Office to deliver what, all things considered, may be his lamest remarks ever. Here they are, in their entirety:

"Good morning. My administration continues to work with the Congress on a rescue plan. And we need a rescue plan. This is -- it's hard work. Our proposal is a big proposal. And the reason it's big and substantial is because we got a big problem.

"We also need to move quickly. Now, anytime you have a plan this big, that is moving this quickly, that requires legislative approval, it creates challenges. Members want to be heard. They want to be able to express their opinions, and they should be allowed to express their opinions.

"There are disagreements over aspects of the rescue plan, but there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done. The legislative process is sometimes not very pretty, but we are going to get a package passed. We will rise to the occasion. Republicans and Democrats will come together and pass a substantial rescue plan.

"Thank you very much."

Yesterday's Leadership Debacle

Michael Kranish writes in the Boston Globe: "A high-stakes White House meeting that was supposed to seal an agreement on a $700 billion plan to avert financial disaster on Wall Street unexpectedly dissolved into a heated argument over an alternate proposal by conservative Republicans, leading congressional leaders to clash over a deal that had suddenly turned sour.

"This is deteriorating," President Bush declared as the meeting grew more heated, according to one of the participants."

David Rogers writes for Politico that "the meeting was described as among the wildest in memory. A beleaguered President Bush had to struggle to maintain order and reassert himself. . . .

"[T]he whole sequence of events confirmed Treasury's fears about the decision by Bush, at the urging of McCain, to allow presidential politics into what were already difficult negotiations."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times: "It was an implosion that spilled out from behind closed doors into public view in a way rarely seen in Washington. . . .

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