Is this thing on?

IS THIS THING ON?…. A pattern seems to be emerging — every day the crisis on Wall Street grows in severity, every day the president makes a public statement calling for congressional action, and every day the president’s remarks are largely ignored.

This morning kept the trend alive, with a four-minute Bush speech from the White House.

“Producing legislation is complicated, and it can be contentious. It matters little what a path a bill takes to become law. What matters is that we get a law. We’re at a critical moment for our economy, and we need legislation that decisively address [sic] the troubled assets now clogging the financial system, helps lenders resume the flow of credit to consumers and businesses, and allows the American economy to get moving again.

“I recognize this is a difficult vote for members of Congress. Many of them don’t like the fact that our economy has reached this point, and I understand that. But the reality is that we are in an urgent situation, and the consequences will grow worse each day if we do not act. The dramatic drop in the stock market that we saw yesterday will have a direct impact on the retirement accounts, pension funds, and personal savings of millions of our citizens. And if our nation continues on this course, the economic damage will be painful and lasting. […]

“As much as we might wish the situation were different, our country is not facing a choice between government action and the smooth functioning of the free market. We’re facing a choice between action and the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans. And for the financial security of every American, Congress must act.”

As a practical matter, I’m not sure who Bush’s target audience is. Voters don’t like him, and lawmakers don’t trust him. The president has spent a fair amount of time in recent days trying to lobby Republican members of Congress. Yesterday, we saw just how much sway he still has on the Hill.

After the president’s remarks this morning, New York Magazine’s John Heilemann told MSNBC, “I don’t think that comforts anybody. I don’t think that moves a single vote. With due respect and sympathy for the man, that was the picture of a beaten dog. That was the picture of presidential impotence right there.”

Ouch.