Tuesday, October 14, 2008

George Bush Saves the World

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 10/14/08

The Tony Auth cartoon in our morning paper shows a graph of the World Financial System with a snake moving downward and cut into pieces with each piece marked Britain, Japan, Europe, etc. Maybe they sent it up from Philadelphia and it just arrived. Paul Krugman, the economist at the NYTs has likewise been pitching the end of the world as of last Friday. He’s since won a Noble Prize for his visionary scenarios, most of which are dark. Krugman says he got into economics by reading Isaac Asimov in college. Possibly the Swede elders thought Krugman an appropriate dog to catch the bone after declaring the entire American race to be too stupid and linear to receive a prize for literature. I wonder if the Swedes knew that Krugman’s economics is Asimov fundamentalism?

What a difference a weekend makes. Today, the world crisis is over. Yesterday the stock markets jumped 900 points, the greatest single day gain in history. Last night the Asian markets jumped 15%. “World Stocks Soar on Bank Rescue Plans,” is the AP headline this morning. George Bush saved the world. And with two weeks to go before the election.

In new Quinnipiac University polls conducted in conjunction with The Wall Street Journal and Washingtonpost.com out today Obama has taken a significant lead over McCain in four battleground states, as much as 54% to 37% in Wisconsin. But look at the dates of the polling: The surveys were conducted from 10/8 to 10/12; that is, from last Wednesday to Sunday, the days of rapid slide and economic decline. Prior to the financial crisis, McCain and Obama were running dead even. Obama rose with the fiscal crisis, interpreted widely as being another issue of White House incompetence, like Katrina and the first inroads to Iraq.

But stocks and world markets could stabilize now. Comparisons to the Great Depression, ubiquitous in the press, were overwrought. Stocks in 1929 were in the hands of the very few and the very rich. Today, hundreds of millions hold stocks and such vast and diverse distribution is a stabilizing factor.

David Brooks has a thoughtful column on the economic dilemma in today’s NYTs. “Big government ahead,” he says and the times favor Obama: “What we’re going to see, in short, is the Gingrich revolution in reverse and on steroids. There will be a big increase in spending and deficits. In normal times, moderates could have restrained the zeal on the left. In an economic crisis, not a chance.”

Yes, but perhaps the fear and loathing has been over reported. The 900 point gain on Wall Street yesterday suggests that there is a large secondary wave of investors out there – out there around the world – ready to put up cash on acceptable risk just three days after stocks lost 20 percent of their value. Commentators last night on Nightly Business Report predicted a rise in the Dow Jones to 13,000 by Christmas.

Nothing succeeds like success. If Obama gained through perceived failure by Bush and Henry Paulson, McCain could well gain it back if their efforts in this crisis prove successful. Next weeks polls should be more telling.

We could be back to flat even in polling as we were at the beginning. But Obama has two problems now. His vital connection with the likes of Bill Ayers in the formative days of his career is casting legitimate shadows on his campaign. One has to ask, how could a politician with any serious ambition be so stupid as to start his political career in the house of two of the country’s most notorious violent radicals in their day? As McCain said the other day, Obama is a good and decent man. But he certainly is a rallying point for those who hate America, including his half-mad preacher friends and the anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who sees him as a messiah.

His other problem is the venomous nihilism of liberal bloggers. Liberalism has found its Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, not in just the one or two thugs on the radio, but in a horde of locusts on the internet. They have poisoned the air, much as the underground presses did in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, when they helped to cripple the chances of main stream politicians like Hubert Humphrey. As it did in the day of hippie vs. hardhat, the country could well polarize again in opposition on November 4.

Early in his campaign Obama said he had little interest in the primary liberal blogs; he didn’t see much there. Unfortunately today, he is stuck with them.