WHICH GUY HAS ‘NO CLUE’?…. Matt Latimer, a former Bush speechwriter, has a new book coming out, featuring some provocative behind-the-scenes insights from the confused and mismanaged White House. The published excerpts are already causing a bit of a stir.
The former president wasn’t impressed with Sarah Palin, for example, saying she wasn’t “remotely prepared” to seek national office. Bush also had unkind things to say about Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. In particular, he said the current president “has no clue.”
Coming from George W. Bush, it was ironic criticism.
GQ published a lengthy excerpt in its new issue, most of it focusing on the Bush White House’s response to the financial crisis a year ago. Apparently, it took some effort to help the then-president understand the seriousness of the crisis and the solution he ostensibly supported.
Finally, the president directed us to try to put elements of his proposal back into the text. He wanted to explain what he was seeking and to defend it. He especially wanted Americans to know that his plan would likely see a return on the taxpayers’ investment. Under his proposal, he said, the federal government would buy troubled mortgages on the cheap and then resell them at a higher price when the market for them stabilized.
“We’re buying low and selling high,” he kept saying.
The problem was that his proposal didn’t work like that. One of the president’s staff members anxiously pulled a few of us aside. “The president is misunderstanding this proposal,” he warned. “He has the wrong idea in his head.” As it turned out, the plan wasn’t to buy low and sell high. In some cases, in fact, Secretary Paulson wanted to pay more than the securities were likely worth in order to put more money into the markets as soon as possible. This was not how the president’s proposal had been advertised to the public or the Congress. It wasn’t that the president didn’t understand what his administration wanted to do. It was that the treasury secretary didn’t seem to know, changed his mind, had misled the president, or some combination of the three.
Later, Bush rehearsed an address he was going to deliver the country, and was annoyed that his speechwriters hadn’t included language about the government plan to “buy low and sell high.” Aides tried to explain to the president that he misunderstood his own plan. At that point, Latimer said, “the president was momentarily speechless. He threw up his hands in frustration.”
Bush asked his staff, “Why did I sign on to this proposal if I don’t understand what it does?”
Remember, this man was president of the United States for eight years. Eight long, painful years, during which, he nearly destroyed the country.