Friday, December 05, 2008

Obama and the transition period

The cloud of darkness is still with us

Barney Frank came up with what will probably be the definitive judgment on Bush's "lame duck" months between November's election and Obama's inauguration. Speaking of the saying that we have only one President at a time, Franks said, "I'm afraid that overstates the number of Presidents we have."

Bush has been largely AWOL from efforts to stem the collapse of the economy. In itself, that's not a bad thing.

But Joan Walsh calls attention to a meme that Secretary of the Treasury Paulson's people seem to be floating, that Obama is showing insufficient leadership (Let Obama be Obama Salon 12/05/08).

Actually, it seems to me that he's been doing an unusually good job of speaking as the national leader during this period. It's obvious that Bush and Cheney are pretty useless in dealing with the crisis. And I don't say this often. But as I predicted, the necessary bailout for the financial institutions has been implemented consistent with the Cheney-Bush "predator state" style.

James Galbraith in his book of that name, argues that the incompetence most of us see in this administration is actually only a side-effect of its mode of operation. When most of the public looks at the government, we expect it to be able to ensure airline safety, keep the food supply untainted, taking effective emergency measures when a major American city is drowning, and stop the private financial system from failing. Just to take some random examples.

So we look at the administration's failure to do these things and we think they're incompetent. But the administration is not interested in providing public services or effective government. They're interested in helping their cronies and Halliburton and elsewhere enrich themselves at the public expense.

And Bush actually is still useful at that. At the rate he's been removing anti-pollution restrictions, turning public land over to be exploited by private companies, and so on during the transition, you wonder if we'll have any environmental protections left by Inauguration Day.

Global warming? Hail, boy, we got air conditioners in Texas!

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