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Bush Just Makes It Worse

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Friday, October 10, 2008; 12:14 PM

When it comes to the current financial crisis, it's become pretty clear that an appearance by President Bush doesn't calm nerves. It rubs them raw.

With global markets in a state of panic, with the world talking about the end of American capitalism, with ordinary citizens watching in despair as their savings vanish, we could all use some reassurance.

Had the president this morning announced something new, specific and verifiable, it might have helped. Most economists are persuaded that the semi-nationalization of American banks through direct infusions of capital is our best bet at this point. And the administration is reportedly working on a plan to do just that.

But today all Bush gave us was limp cheerleading, vaguely assuring us he's doing everything possible.

The president seems checked out. His approval ratings are in the toilet. His credibility is shot. He's arguably responsible for this mess in the first place. And his presence and his words have led to more fear and panic, not less.

They Just Don't Get It

Bush still seems to be operating in a fantasy world where people look to him for direction. His eight-minute speech in a sunny Rose Garden this morning consisted of a dry laundry list of previously announced government actions, punctuated by listless platitudes.

"Here is what the American people need to know: That the United States government is acting. We will continue to act to resolve this crisis and restore stability to our markets," he said.

"Anxiety can feed anxiety. And that can make it hard to see all that is being done to solve the problem. The federal government has a comprehensive strategy and the tools necessary to address the challenges in our economy. Fellow citizens, we can solve this crisis, and we will. . . .

"As we act, we will do so in a way that is effective. The plan we are executing is aggressive. It is the right plan. . . .

"This is an anxious time. But the American people can be confident in our economic future. We know what the problems are. We have the tools to fix them. And we're working swiftly to do so."

No Confidence

Demian McLean writes for Bloomberg: "Previous statements by Bush and members of his administration haven't calmed markets since Congress passed a $700 billion bailout package intended to shore up banks and other financial institutions and stabilize markets.

"Since Oct. 1, when the Senate gave final passage to the legislation, Bush has spoken publicly or issued statements about the rescue plan and the markets six times and the Dow has fallen 20.8 percent.

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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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