2:30 p.m. ET: Continuing with this morning's theme, President Bush went before the cameras a few hours ago and stoutly demanded that Congress deal with the auto bailout before it leaves town, and that the auto industry must pay back any money it gets from the government.
Or else ... or else what? What punishment could Bush inflict if Congress doesn't bend to his wishes. He has zero leverage at this point. What's the opposite of a bully pulpit? Perhaps Bush is grumpy about his rapidly dwindling power, and that's why he got snappish when a reporter asked him about his new house in Dallas.
On a more cheerful note, Tom Daschle has an idea for your upcoming Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa party. The HHS Secretary-in-waiting gave a speech in Denver today, during which, according to the Wall Street Journal, he was expected "to suggest that Americans hold holiday-season house parties to brainstorm over how best to overhaul the U.S. health-care system." The Rundown personally believes that is an awesome idea. Health Care Reform = Holiday Fun. Just as long as no one posts any of the party pictures on Facebook.
8 a.m. ET: Amid the constant focus on the Obama transition effort and speculation about the future -- Will he give a speech in Cairo? Who will fill the remaining Cabinet spots? -- it's easy to forget sometimes about the current occupant of the White House.
But the ongoing stalemate over an auto bailout is providing a useful reminder that George W. Bush is still in charge of more than just lighting the national Christmas Tree. And while Jan. 20 may not seem like that far away for most Americans, it might just be too late for GM and the affiliated companies and employees that depend on it.
The Big Four Democrats on financial matters -- Pelosi, Reid, Frank and Dodd -- reiterated yesterday their desire for the Bush administration to shift some of the existing financial bailout money toward helping the auto companies. That solution would work nicely for Democrats, as it would let Congress leave town next week without having to forge a tough compromise, and it would remove one immediate challenge from Obama's post-Inauguration plate. But Bush is holding firm.
What if GM goes bankrupt in the last month of Bush's term? How might that affect his legacy? And are Republicans on the Hill prepared politically to take the blame if that happens? Or is the weakened minority already in "nothing to lose" mode?
Or maybe it will be seen as Obama's fault, even if he's not yet in office. Frank, for one, would like to see the president-elect "be more assertive than he's been" on economic matters. But even if Obama did speak up more forcefully, what incentive does Bush have to listen to him? In a little over six weeks, 43 will be getting comfortable in his new suburban Dallas home, and all of this will become 44's problem.
December 5, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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