Friday, December 05, 2008

One President At A Time?

I have owned two Chevys, a '76 Nova and a 1985 Impala; an '87 Nissan Pulsar; an '88 Mazda 323; an '88 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, and a 1998 Toyota Camry. I loved them all in one way or another. But the Japanese cars outclassed ours by a mile.

It saddens me to say that I will likely never buy another American car.

And apparently, I am not alone.

From my perch here in the psych ward where I work, it seems like the insanity in our society is on the outside of our magnetically-sealed double doors even more so than within them.

Today, new miserable unemployment numbers show Americans in free fall all over. Half a million jobs lost in one month, the largest increase in thirty years. We have the CEO's of Ford, Chrysler, and GM sitting humbly in a row before the House of Representatives, publicly shamed in a rolling Kabuki perp-walk across the highways of America, behind the wheels of their own doomed vehicles.

Forcing an incompetent though fabulously rich executive to travel this way is fun, and in better times would cheer us up significantly. But today it's a different story. Today our economy is on the line.

Segments of our economy were already toppling like dominoes before the big three called for their own new welfare program. The bankruptcies and defaults spawned by auto crisis have only just begun. The dominoes will fall faster and faster and millions of people will be left with nothing, no home, no health coverage for their families. True Depression-era poverty seems to be right around the corner if something decisive is not done immediately, and in such a way as to restore to the equation that tenuous tendril of civilization: public confidence.

Barack Obama has some bold ideas for an enormous works project to stimulate the economy from the bottom up and top down simultaneously. We all hope these plans will succeed. But he's right that, at the moment, he is not the the president and can do nothing but draw up plans and, in the words of his opponents, "measure the drapes."

He is quite right to remind us that there is already a man in the big chair.

So my question today, as the descent into economic disaster quickens, is where the Hell is George W. Bush?

The man is still president, and he isn't out of the hot seat yet. Even if W's actual leadership abilities and suitability as president were fictional - and it's becoming clear they were - it is a few weeks too early for the man to drop his pretense of strong moral fiber and calm, mature stewardship. We have seen fleeting images of the man, grinning from ear to ear, shoulder not to the grindstone, barely containing his glee over finally being able to flee Washington for his life, and beat a hasty retreat to his new three million dollar home in comfortingly Red Dallas.

As unbelievable as it may be, there are millions of Americans who need this man to calm their fears and stall what appears to be a perhaps inevitable disaster from gaining momentum.

Where is the man?

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