All second-term presidents are lame ducks. But it's been a long time since we've heard President Bush give out much of a quack.
Silence marked his role in the financial market meltdown -- until, that is, lawmakers and their constituents finally heard too little from him, and too late.
In March, when the investment bank Bear Stearns was on the brink of collapse, damage control negotiations were conducted by officials at the New York Federal Reserve, with Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson weighing in by phone.
Throughout September, as federal takeovers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were followed by government rescue of the insurance giant AIG, the same troika of Bernanke, Paulson and New York Fed president Timothy Geithner called the shots.
You could read all about it -- and barely stumble across the name George W. Bush.
The parallel to the president’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina, captured in the famous photograph of him peering at the submerged Gulf Coast from Air Force One, is unmistakable. So is the resemblance to the video of Bush reading to schoolchildren on Sept. 11, 2001, after he was informed the nation had been attacked.
Bush’s inability to persuade House Republicans to back bailout legislation he sold as crucial to staving off an economic crisis shouldn’t surprise. It’s not just that the president is unpopular or on his way out. In the annals of the Bush administration, the president’s disengaged absence has often been what amounts to his presence.
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