I have a sneaking suspicion that President Barack Obama has a sign on his Oval Office desk that reads, “The buck stops with Dubya.”
According to the Boston Herald, “Our President cannot resist a good opportunity to blame Bush.” The President has blamed Bush on everything from the credit crisis to Hurricane Katrina.
It was on the five-year anniversary of Katrina late last month that Obama showed courage in the face of criticism and calmly reiterated the message from that chart topping song a decade past, “It Wasn’t Me.”
Last month the President was campaigning for the upcoming elections in New Orleans, ground zero for Katrina. He told the audience that he would not abandon their cause. Then the President called Katrina and its aftermath not just a natural disaster but “a manmade catastrophe — a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women and children abandoned and alone.”
“Implicit in Obama’s remarks,” wrote The Associated Press: “is an indictment of sorts against former President George W. Bush’s administration for its handling of the crisis.”
When it comes to the Gulf Coast the President just can’t resist blaming Bush. During the height of the BP oil spill the President was at it again.
“For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill,” said Obama from the White House Rose Garden last May. “It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore."
In fact, the Obama administration has a laundry list about the previous President, two wars in the Middle East and an economy that can’t get traction. The way Obama is revving up for the fall elections you would almost think he himself was running against Bush.
While giving a speech last month, Obama said the Republican Party hasn’t differentiated itself from its predecessor.
“They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas — not one,” Obama said to applause. It seems that Obama thinks he is taking the high road as to not actually naming Bush but instead saying, “The previous administration.”
Countless times Obama has said that it is Republican policies which caused the recession.
“We got here after 10 years of an economic agenda in Washington that was pretty straight forward,” Obama said in August. “You cut taxes for millionaires, you cut rules for special interests, and you cut working folks loose to fend for themselves. That was the philosophy of the last administration and their friends in Congress.”
And it is not just Obama whose mantra is to fault Bush. Congressional Democrats like to blame the former President for just about everything. Even with the 2010 midterm elections a couple of months away, Democrats think that “blaming Bush” is still a winning strategy, even though they have had a majority for almost four years and Obama has been in control for nearly two.
I am not yet an old timer but I have been around the block. Never before have I seen a sitting President blame his predecessor the way Obama has blamed Bush.
Consider the mess Ronald Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter.
When Reagan took office on Jan. 20, 1981, inflation was out of control, the economy was in a deep recession, and America was coming off of two oil embargoes which had lead to gasoline lines that stretched for blocks. On that day Iran still held American hostages and the nation’s standing in the world had never been lower.
Yet according to my research Reagan did not blame Carter once. Instead he got on about the business of leading the nation forward. And he did a damn fine job, coaxing legislation to stimulate the economy while curbing inflation and increasing jobs. Reagan also cut taxes, strengthened the nation’s armed forces and created renewed confidence in the United States such that the greenback surged.
The same could be said about President Lyndon B. Johnson, whose downfall was caused by Vietnam. It was President John F. Kennedy who first sent combat advisors to Vietnam and it was Kennedy’s Cabinet that urged Johnson to get tough on North Vietnam. Yet during his Presidency and the years that followed when he was on his ranch near Stonewall, Texas, Johnson did not blame JFK.
And was there ever a leader who could more easily blame his predecessor than Winston Churchill? It was Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain who placated Hitler and neglected Britain’s defense forces. It can be argued that Chamberlain laid the groundwork for World War II. Yet when Chamberlain died it was Churchill that defended him with a eulogy: “Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority.”
Good leaders don’t make excuses and lament about their circumstances. They move forward. They lead. This is something that a whining and complaining Obama can’t seem to do, and the nation is suffering because of it.
Unemployment remains stunningly high, the housing crisis is unabated and investor confidence is shrinking rapidly. Late last month the Spectrem Millionaire Investor Confidence Index (SMICI) fell to its lowest level in more than a year as wealthy U.S. investors worried about politics and unemployment.
The SMICI fell 11 points in August to minus 18, its lowest level since June 2009, when it fell a record 18 points to minus 20 shortly after the S&P 500 index hit a 12-year low. Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg calls current economic conditions “a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession,” and notes that any good news both during the initial 1929-1933 recession and the one that began in 2008 triggered “euphoric response.”
“Such is human nature and nobody can be blamed for trying to be optimistic; however, in the money management business, we have a fiduciary responsibility to be as realistic as possible about the outlook for the economy and the market at all times,” he said.
Rosenberg points out that encouraging gross domestic product (GDP) news happened in the period 1929-1933 where there were six quarterly bounces in GDP with an average gain of 8 percent.
“False premise,” warns Rosenberg. “We may well be reliving history here. If you’re keeping score, we have recorded four quarterly advances in real GDP, and the average is only 3 percent.”
Rosenberg points out that the “overall economic malaise” has come despite aggressive efforts by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy through rate cuts.
Given the growing economic crisis Obama would be smart to listen to political opponent, Senator John McCain, (R-Ariz.).
“George Bush looks like a piker compared to what has taken place since President Obama has come into the presidency,” McCain said. “He can keep ‘B.I.O.B.’ no matter what it is, ‘Blame it on Bush’ — he can keep that up. The American people are going to hold him accountable this November, not an administration that went out of power more than a year ago."
The problem is that the ultimate judgment on Obama won’t take place for another two years and two months. That’s another 26 more months of Obama blaming Bush while doing precious little else to reshape America’s fortunes. We can only hope that in the autumn of 2012 we have a new President; a President who gets on with the business of leading rather than finger pointing.
Yours for real wealth and good health,
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report