EMAIL PAGE NINE
COLUMN SEVENTY-SIX, OCTOBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
BY MAUREEN DOWD
SURFING THE ECONOMY
Surfing the Economy
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 20:33:39 -0700
From: "venire" email@example.com
August 14, 2002
By MAUREEN DOWD
WASHINGTON " President Bush tried to fix the economy
before lunch yesterday.
He managed to last for 20 minutes each in four economic
seminars at Baylor University. He dutifully scribbled some notes as participants
talked, looking as happy as a high school kid in trig class, and bounded out of
his chair when Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told him he could be excused.
"Yes, well," a visibly relieved Mr. Bush said,
jumping up after an exhausting 18 minutes in "Economic Recovery and Job
Creation," "that's the life of the president. Always has to go."
Or as the radical economist Groucho Marx once observed:
"Hello, I must be going."
The seminars lasted only an hour and a half. But Mr. Bush
and Dick Cheney divided the eight so as not to overly tax themselves.
By the final session, Mr. Bush was staring into space,
finding the talk of stimulus unstimulating. As the president told one group:
"I can assure that even though I won't be sitting through every single
moment of the seminars " nor will the vice president " we will look at the
summaries." The Cliff Notes presidency.
Before wrapping up with chicken salad, key lime pie and Stars
and Stripes Forever, the president did some cheerleading.
"Even though times are kind of tough right now,"
Mr. Bush drawled, "we're America." As usual when the president talks
up the economy, the Dow dived under the bed, dropping 206 points.
He thanked all the "good folks" for "putting
on a great show." Like his dad, W. reads his stage directions. It was a
"Message, I care" P.R. pageant, so why not just say so?
His father, accused of being out of touch on the economy,
got in trouble for checking his watch twice during a debate with Bill Clinton.
That's why W. didn't even wear a watch while debating Al Gore. But, perhaps
because of his short attention span, the younger Bush always gives the
impression of checking his watch.
Although it seemed that Mr. Bush wanted to go deeper into
his job after 9/11, he's still riding the surface, treating photo-ops like real
events and passing off fortune-cookie comments as policy pronouncements.
This president's speed-dial economic summit was an
interesting contrast with the last president's preening cult-of-personality
economic summit a decade ago.
Mr. Bush, as always, seemed to be trying to get through the
morning without saying anything that would expose him as empty-headed. He has a
pathological fear of talking.
Bill Clinton has a pathological fear of not talking. He
held a talkathon in Little Rock before he started his presidency " also for
self-serving P.R. reasons.
While Mr. Clinton wanted to convey concern about the
economy he inherited from Bush p're, he mostly wanted to show off his
wonkishness. Putting on the glasses he had rarely worn during the campaign, the
smartest kid in the class dominated the room for two long days without yawning
once. (The vice president, dragged back from fishing in Wyoming to scurry around
the Waco sessions with Mr. Bush, was caught on camera stifling yawns twice.)
While Mr. Clinton designed his summit to show that
Democrats could be cozy with Big Business, Mr. Bush designed his summit to show
that he is not too cozy with Big Business.
At one of his drop-bys yesterday, Mr. Bush admitted to
longing to see a few corporate malefactors in handcuffs. And White House
planners were careful to scatter token blue-collar folks among the customary
The Bush family used to sit outside the Clinton White
House, stewing that Bill had besmirched the honor of the Oval Office that they
held dear. Now the Clinton family sits outside the Bush White House, stewing
that W. has besmirched the spectacular (but somewhat artificial) boom they held
The Clintons would love to see President Bush, lately of
Harken Energy, endure his own equivalent of Kenneth Starr.
The scandalous condition of American capitalism has even provided Hillary Clinton with the political opening she needed. By insisting that the average American's financial well-being was better in Clinton times than Bush times, she is breaking ground for her presidential campaign in 2008. If she can wait that long.
(Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company) ##
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