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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 16, 2004

 
All Grown Up

Kash at Angry Bear says:

It seems that most market players sufficiently discount what Bush says about economics that his remarks had no major effect on the markets. They seem to understand that Bush has no clue about economics. Nevertheless, his remarks still reflect staggeringly poor judgement on Bush's part, particularly for calling into question the Fed's motives for its interest rate policy.

But perhaps Bush was then trying to fix things (in an odd sort of way) when he later made it completely clear exactly how poor his understanding of international economics is:

Bush said one way to combat the U.S. trade deficit, which hit a record $55.6 billion in October and which is a major factor behind the dollar's slide, was to buy American.

'There's a trade deficit. That's easy to resolve. People can buy more United States products if they're worried about the trade deficit,' he joked.


If Bush ever listened to his economic advisors he would understand that the trade deficit has nothing to do with Americans' preference for imported goods over domestic goods, and everything to do with Americans' preference for consuming more than they produce. So maybe the clever Bush added this comment to reassure the markets that he really has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to international economics, so they really shouldn't pay attention to what he says. If it weren't for the slight detail that Bush is actually the person who gets to make the final decisions on economic policy for the country, reassuring the markets that he doesn't understand how the economy works would be an excellent idea.


Perhaps this is what the last remaining thinking Republicans believe when they hear Bush speaking unintelligible gibberish --- he is actually reassuring markets that they needn't pay any attention to what he says. But it is past time that they come to the realization, however frightening it may be, that Bush actually is making decisions. In the first term it seemed clear that he was manipulated by a powerful group of courtiers who were able to guide him in the direction they wanted him to go through flattery and access. Now that he has been validated by the people his personal arrogance has come to the fore.

All we need do is look to the Kerik debacle to see that Bush himself is now making decisions and he is doing it against the will of his advisors. It is obvious that Kerik appealed to Bush as a man's man. It was a sympatico relationship --- a pair of testosterone cowboys, one blue, one red, in love with their images as tough guys who take no shit. Bush saw in Kerik the man he now believes he is --- self-made, salt of the earth, leader of men, killer of bad guys. The empty frat boy and the crooked bureaucrat teamed up as adventure heroes.

The minute I read about this I knew that this had been a case of Bush saying "I take the man at his word, Alberto, now make it happen." This wasn't sloppy vetting. It was Junior issuing an edict based upon his vaunted "gut" with the predictable result. And I have no doubt that rather than blame himself for this mess, the Preznit blames Kerik for not being the man that Bush wanted him to be and blames the others for being right. (And I imagine that Bush will stick with Rumsfeld no matter what for the simple reason that so many want him out. That's the way dumb megalomaniacs think.)

This is the big story of the second term. Bush himself is now completely in charge. He did what his old man couldn't do. He has been freed of all constraints, all humility and all sense of proportion. Nobody can run him, not Cheney, not Condi, not Card. He has a sense of his power that he didn't have before. You can see it. From now on nobody can tell him nothin. It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, doesn't it?





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