Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.
The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
~ Ambrose Bierce (June 24, 1842 - 1914) American Editorialist, Journalist, Author, Satirist
copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Two issues of national import flooded the airwaves on Wednesday, September 24, 2008. On every radio and television station, broadcasters spoke of the economy and the elections. Journalists reported, tonight, the current President of the United States will address the nation, One of the persons who hopes to occupy the Oval Office after George W. Bush departs will not speak directly to the people. For Senator John McCain, the fierce urgency of now is offered as the reason he will suspend his campaign. The Presidential aspirant requested his rival do as he decrees correct, delay the debates. Whilst an audience estimated to be near one hundred (100) million anxiously awaits word from the self-proclaimed "reformer," John McCain muses his presence in Oxford, Mississippi would be unwise. As Americans have witnessed on the campaign trail, enter one Grand Old Party boy; exit the other. Some suggest the Republican President and the Party nominee are rapturous; they love theatre of the absurd.
In this play, the two performers tap dance. The Republican flit requires the partners to stay separate as much as possible. Solo recitals are routine in a production such as this.
Observers reflect; the duet, John Sidney McCain and George Walker Bush, tango in tandem. History might suggest the pair work hard to limit joint appearances. Neither prefers to be associated with the problems of the other. George W. Bush worries of his base, and John fears he might be linked to the President's follies, least of which is the current economic crisis. John Sidney McCain wishes to be associated with this President's decisions if he can be viewed as the one who swooped in to save the day, to deal with the dilemma as only he can.
As a rule, or in this script, the President and his presumed replacement will share a stage only if convenient. However, if the forces of nature can provide cause for a more remote union, no one will complain, least of all John McCain. In truth, many Republicans were relieved when recent circumstances caused a change in plans. Hurricane Gustav may have brought fear to those in its path. However, for delegates, the storm was reason for silent rejoice. The present fiscal tempest might not be as fortuitous.
When President Bush thought it prudent to remain in Washington during the recent Convention his role was acted out as written. The Commander stood behind the curtain. He was but a vision projected on the screen. For a second he was there. Then, he was quickly gone and forgotten.
That scene was just as advisers prefer. Wednesday night, as the fiscal catastrophe looms, John McCain and the Republican Party may not be as lucky.
In Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the presumed soon-to-be President, Senator John McCain, was on center stage, away from the current Commander-In-Chief, whose policies bring McCain's poll numbers down. Recent realities preclude such a distance. John McCain and his public relations person were forced to consider, what might the candidate do.
The play must go on. The pair need be as players in an Elizabethan comic tragedy. Appearances need be well-choreographed It is essential the actors avoid confusion, The duo is only dynamic if they are not thought of as identical. Each fears that if the public sees one with the other the unmistakable mirror imagine may boggle the mind. Yet, bailouts beckon. The Senator must meet with the present President if he is to be thought of as the solution, the change candidate.
Hence, on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, for a moment each emerged in the vanguard. As Americans tuned into the news, the drama of Presidential politics, past and present, played out. Word was, they would again the following day. The President appealed for a joint session. John McCain and George W. Bush each thought a meeting might work to the benefit of both. Of course, out of a deep respect for decorum, hopeful Barack Obama was also invited.
President Bush exclaims the Big-business Bailout is vital to the economy. Hence, he has pledged to meet With McCain and Obama. It is fascinating to consider, the conference will take place behind closed doors.
The partners in policy will not be photographed together for more than a moment. The façade of a cordial friendship will be maintained. However, the public will be reminded, between the two, there is nothing more than pleasantries. This matter is of massive significance. Main Street could crumble. Wall Street is already in dire straits. If this affair is not addressed immediately the nation could falter; the Capitalist system might fail as all other ventures the President engaged in have.
The people were also told, ten days after the economic emergency became known, George W. Bush would publicly discuss the calamity of currency concerns. Subsequently, within seconds of the first announcement, the potential Chief Executive, John McCain publicized, on Friday night, he, would forego his scheduled appearance at the first Presidential debate.
One mouth opened and another closed. Each action was prompted by a need to emerge as Presidential. Be it in an election or on economic policy, George W. Bush and John McCain share a goal. Each wishes to look at ease and not act as flustered.
The aspirant from Arizona proclaimed, talk of the eminent election, must not preclude the greater quandary; how might America field this fiscal folly. That discussion, Senator McCain reasoned must remain in Washington. The Senator concluded he would suspend his campaign, and fly off to the Hill.
The presumed soon-to-be President said he must speak to the financial alarm sounded well over a week ago. However, the conversation would not be with the American people. Exit, stage East, or is it West Wing
President Bush, on the other hand, "decided" he could no longer hide behind the walls of the White House. If George W. Bush was to preserve his legacy as a Commander in control of the country, must take to the podium once again.
As John McCain departs, George Walker Bush enters. The characters, interchangeable, periodically reverse roles. The desire for change among the electorate necessitates these moves. When President Bush is out of sight, John McCain seeks the limelight.
President Bush chose to be less prominent as the news of fiscal debacle was delivered. Then, the challenger, McCain was very visible. Senator McCain voiced his immense concern immediately. First, as a President might do, Mister McCain assured the public, the "fundamentals were still strong." Hours later, when he realized his evaluation was erroneous, Senator McCain offered a plan. Proudly, and promptly, the confident McCain said, fire the Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Christopher Cox. The distance between the incumbent President and John must be reintroduced to the dance.
John McCain chided his challenger Barack Obama for not being as decisive as he. The Arizona rebel need not compare himself to the secluded stalwart President. Impressed with his own rapid response to a catastrophe, the Senator McCain frequently flaunted; he had not hesitated. Instinctively he shot from the hip, or the lip. Hurriedly John S. McCain suggested what he might do were he in the Oval Office.
However, the impulsive riposte John McCain presented to a frightful financial condition did not calm conventional constituents who are deeply invested in the market and the maverick's image. Indeed, some distinguished fellows such as conservative Columnist George Will trembled at the thought of what a man with the temperament of John McCain might do once secure in his seat on Pennsylvania Avenue.
While the collective consensus among Republicans, as well as Democrats is, it is time for a change, a change in command at the Securities and Exchange Commission did not seem a substantive solution to a problem so profound it affects world markets, Wall Street and Main Street.
Many agree; America can no longer stay the course. The path the Bush Administration took has destroyed our credit and credibility. Nonetheless, the people hoped for a more measured response than the one John McCain offered. This might be the reason the current President decided to step forward again. Perhaps, the previously elected Chief Executive could better explain the monetary menagerie than his protégé had.
Certainly, surrogates for George W. Bush had not clarified what seemed an incomprehensible mess, although they tried.
Days ago, the Bush appointees called for a seven hundred billion dollar ($700) bailout. This amount would be in addition to billions loaned to financial institutions weeks and months earlier. Congress heard the arguments. Anxious citizens also tuned in.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke testified before the Joint Economic Committee. He warned lawmakers of the "grave threat." Banks, businesses, and the American people might find it near impossible to secure a loan. Economic conditions have deteriorated. Soon the monetary system will be severely hampered. The future is grim. Chairman Bernanke claims Congress must act post haste.
More than a week ago, United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson called for the creation of a massive government "war chest." His proposal expressed an immediate need to take illiquid assets off the books of banks and other financial firms. Secretary Paulson, and hence, the Administration he represents, hoped that if Congress, and the American public adopted this strategy credit markets would again be open. For too long now, for increasingly large segments of the business world, the markets have been closed. Financially, mortgage-related debt strangled the free enterprise system.
While the words of those in charge of monetary affairs were audible, the people, even economists, and market experts did not comprehend the specifics. John McCain's statements had not reassured.
The people sought more. The public wanted solace from a situation, they were told, is dire. Yet, tonight countless citizens may have realized neither man could supply the answers the common folk crave.
The idea of bailout burgeoned. The audience became impatient. The viewers, American people, saw no vision. All the electorate became anxious. It had been ten days without a word from the presumed main character, George W. Bush. After word of the economic emergency first emerged, the President was near silent.
The script called for more action. Finally, the declared "lame duck" President would appear. He would publicly discuss the calamity of currency concerns. The persons who produce an image understood without the presence of Mister Bush spectators and speculators were left to wonder; what would be. Might the maverick McCain make a move and assert his decisiveness. The nominee tried to calm fears. He presented a plan. However, these were not enough to alter the downward fiscal spiral.
Therefore, it had to be announced. George W. Bush would again take center stage. President Bush, "decided" he could no longer hide behind the walls of the White House. If George W. Bush was to preserve his legacy as a Commander, in control of the country, he must take to the podium once again.
Subsequently, within seconds of the first announcement, the potential Chief Executive, John McCain publicized, on Friday night, he, would forego his scheduled appearance at the first Presidential debate.
One mouth opened and another closed. Each action was prompted by a need to appear as Presidential. Be it in an election or on economic policy, George W. Bush and John McCain share a goal. Each wishes to look at ease and not act as if they are flustered. Ultimately, they opted for a mere moment the two would stand together as one. It seemed applause would come only through a cooperative effort.
Here we are today, back where we started. The curtain opens. The aspirant from Arizona and the man who now resides in the White House stand together on stage. It is Wednesday, September 24th.
A person of quality who asks to be President, or one who has been selected to serve as our nation's Chief Executive, shows up, speaks to the people, and struggles to share his proposals, disappears, only to arise again. The resurrection, the renaissance, and the reality revealed.
The debate tonight was to focus on Mr. McCain's perceived strength, foreign policy. Mr. McCain had not planned to devote large blocks of time to debate practice as did Mr. Obama, who was holing up with a tight circle of advisers at a hotel in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to prepare. Mr. McCain had a preparatory session on Wednesday afternoon at the Morgan Library in Manhattan, but advisers said it had been interrupted by his decision, announced immediately afterward, to suspend his campaign.
Astounding. Fascinating. Each of McCain's action demonstrates he is no more ready to Command in a crisis than his stand-in, alter-ego, his counterpart, George W. Bush. The audience wonders will the curtain ever close.
The Program Bill . . .
* Bush Issues Warning, Calls For Action On Economy, By John McChesney, Daniel Costello and Deborah Tedford. National Public Broadcasting. September 24, 2008
* McCain suspends campaign to work on Wall Street plan, By Steve Holland. Reuters. Washington Post. Wednesday, September 24, 2008; 7:35 PM
* First Debate's Fate Unclear As Obama Resists McCain's Call to Postpone, By Robert Barnes. Washington Post. Thursday, September 25, 2008; A01
* McCain suspends campaign to work on Wall Street plan, By Steve Holland. Reuters. Washington Post. Wednesday, September 24, 2008; 7:35 PM
* McCain and Bush: Gone in under 60 seconds, By Mosheh Oinounou. Fox News. May 27, 2008
* Bush Is Remote Presence at Convention, to McCain Camp's Relief, By Edwin Chen. Bloomberg. September 3, 2008
* Link to Bush still hurting McCain, poll finds, Candidates back to where they were before conventions, and Palin pick. By Robin Toner and Adam Nagourney. The New York Times. MSNBC News. September 18, 2008
* Bush Calls Bailout Vital to Economy, Will Meet With McCain and Obama, Proposal Takes Shape in Congress, but Broad Support Is Lacking. By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane. Washington Post. Thursday, September 25, 2008; A01
* McCain and Obama different on style as well as substance, Their responses to recent crises suggest what kind of a president each might be. By Doyle McManus. Los Angeles Times. September 20, 2008
* McCain: Fundamentals are (still) strong, By Ben smith. Politico. September 15, 2008
* Fed Chairman Stresses Urgency of Bailout Plan, Lawmakers Told the Proposal Is Essential to Economic Health. By Michael A. Fletcher and Neil Irwin. Washington Post. Thursday, September 25, 2008; D01
* Quick bailout action urged, Senate pushes back, By John Poirier and Glenn Somerville. Reuters. Washington Post. Tuesday, September 23, 2008; 4:47 PM
* First Debate Up in Air as McCain Steps Off the Trail. By Elisabeth Bumiller and Jeff Zeleny. The New York Times. September 24, 2008