Friday, October 14, 2005

GW - Failed President?

Unless GW gets very lucky, very quickly, I think he will go down in history as a failed President. The primary basis for my anticipated future assessment is the Iraq fiasco. It is possible at this point that tomorrow's vote on a new constitution will lead to stability - but I doubt that the stability will emerge prior to GW's exit from office. It remains possible that GW will concoct a brilliant strategy to end the insurgency, stabilize Iraq, and foster democracy - but again, absent unexpected good fortune, such a strategy is unlikely to visibly change the security situation before he leaves office. Once he leaves office, his successor will lay claim to any successes. If things haven't markedly improved since that time but improve afterward, the successor will claim that new policies and approaches led to any success. If things don't improve, eventually a President will announce our withdrawal from Iraq and be credited with getting us out of Bush's quagmire. Either way, absent a quick payoff to the present constitutional gamble, Bush would lose.

Meanwhile, one way or another, his reckless fiscal policies will catch up with us. And as much as it is nice to speak of an economic "recovery" that favors the rich, the blue collar middle class is likely to eventually come to resent globalization that results in their downward spiral to lower middle class or working poor. Take a look at the Delphi bankruptcy - which appears to be focused on avoiding union contracts, reducing wages by 2/3, and avoiding present and future health care obligations. (Prior to declaring bankruptcy, Delphi demanded wage concessions of up to 61% as well as significant reductions in its health care obligations - with, of course, no parallel sacrifice by its generously compensated executives - even those executives who are being laid off are receiving an 18 month severance package.)

At the same time, bankruptcies to avoid pension obligations shift more and more corporate debt onto the consumers, through the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., and it is likely that additional major employers (such as GM and Ford) will follow Delphi's lead. Now it is possible that some of the major bankruptcies (such as Ford or GM) will occur after Bush leaves office, which could cause the public to perceive some of the responsibility as falling on his successor, and it is probable that the history books will acknowledge the global trends which contributed to this result. But unless he does something quite surprising and out-of-character, Bush will still be the President who didn't even attempt to formulate a coherent response to globalization. Even a failed attempt is better than none at all.

Increases in poverty, the beginning of the end for the blue collar middle class, increasing numbers of workers who are without adequate health care coverage, a quagmire in Iraq, absurd debt accumulated while slashing taxes for the rich, record prices for energy (with record profits for energy companies, who nonetheless receive billions of dollars in new subsidies) which may even bring back stagflation.... Well, you tell me - what you you think the history books will have to say?

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