Bush and the Financial Crisis: Blame God, Not Me
Floyd Norris of The New York Times picks up on President George W. Bush’s myopic views of the nation’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, expressed as part of that valedictory news conference Monday. Personally, I was struck by Bush’s flippant comment that he came in during a recession and he’s leaving during a recession — which completely discounts the scary and precarious state of trouble we’re in now, as compared to a typical downturn.
Norris took note of this comment:
I believe this — the phrase “burdens of the office” is overstated. You know, it’s kind of like, why me? Oh, the burdens, you know. Why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch? It’s just — it’s pathetic, isn’t it, self-pity.
As Norris points out, Bush views the financial crisis as an act of God, and seems “to have given no thought to the role his administration’s policies played in creating it.”
I don’t recall the Bible preaching the gospel of deregulation, or Jesus directing federal regulators to overrule state predatory lending laws that would have put a halt to abusive subprime mortgages. I think God is busy with wars, diseases and famines, and he probably wasn’t all that interested in blessing Countrywide as it churned out high-rate loans to people with less than perfect credit.
For Bush to acknowledge no role here goes beyond dishonest. He’s still the leader of the country. Couldn’t he have taken this opportunity to urge us all to have a thoughtful conversation on both the advantages and the limits of home ownership — or to guide a discussion on how to encourage homeownership while ensuring it can be sustainable? Since World War II, attaining homeownership has been the American Dream, but if this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we must rethink that goal — or at least reshape it. It’s a huge task ahead.
But we got nothing from him, other than events were out of control, and he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. That’s nice, for him, in a self-help sort of way. The rest of us adults have work to do, to get the country back on track.
If Bush is looking for a legacy in the way he handled the financial crisis, he found it on Monday: Don’t look at me.