There is a talk radio show out of Orlando, Florida called The Philips Phile that I listen to on a regular basis via XM Satellite Radio. Topics on the show range from the ridiculous (who is included in Donald Duck's family tree) to the sublime (Aaron Burr being charged with murder for shooting Alexander Hamilton in a duel but never being arrested for it), and usually serious discussions are balanced out by conversations so funny you laugh out loud by yourself, which is hard for me to do.
The other day, the discussion swung to the economy (actually, it's a common topic of late) and whether or not you can blame Republicans or Democrats for the current U.S. recession.
The host of the show, Jim Philips, received a rash of calls from listeners who were berating him for saying President Bush has basically sat around with his thumb up his ass through the mortgage and banking crisis, the downward spiral of the U.S. Dollar and backwards slide of the stock market, rising gasoline prices and spiking oil futures, etc. etc. etc. People called in identifying themselves as Republicans, asking Jim to give them an example of a policy decision The White House or the Republican Party made during the last seven years that had negative consequences for the U.S. economy.
Jim's argument was that he wasn't pointing fingers at either party, he was simply stating that the Republicans happen to hold The White House right now, therefore they are, or will be, getting the blame for the current economic recession. If history is any indicator, Jim is 100 percent correct -- the president ultimately is not able to directly change the economy one way or another by waving a magic wand (this is Adam Smith's principle of the Free Market System), but in any event he will be blamed, or praised, for the behavior of the economy.
But those callers are also overlooking the most important point about the current mess we're in . . .
The point is not that any policy of President Bush or the Republicans has led us into this economic mess (or the policies of Democrats, or better yet, anything President Clinton might have done 12 years ago, as one female caller intimated with a little Republican "oh-aren't-you-cute-you-don't-understand" laugh). The point is that President Bush, as the leader of the country, has not introduced any policies, or even a single idea for that matter, designed to steer the country out of recession and pull the dollar back from its inflationary climb.
Personally, I believe that doing nothing about a problem is worse than introducing solutions to it that don't work, especially when you are the person who voluntarily decided to be put in a position, and eventually to accept the responsibility, to lead to this country -- and lead is the key word and point here -- and help solve its problems.
Where is the leadership of The White House?
Where are the ideas?
Where are the talking points?
Now, there are going to be people who read this and think to themselves, "President Bush did too do something -- he cut rebate checks to everyone who paid income taxes in 2007 to encourage spending and stimulate the economy." Sorry, but anyone with half a brain knows that this approach to solving a major economic crisis is the equivalent of trying to put up sandbags along the Mississippi River to stop the flooding -- it may help briefly, better in some places than in others, but ultimately the pressure behind those patches will eventually wipe out any benefit it created.
As the President of the United States, the leader of the country, George Bush is responsible for generating new ideas and making decisions about the creation of new policies that eventually cause changes in the economy (or whatever the situation is) to occur. It is up to the occupant of The White House to introduce policies designed to cause ripple effects throughout the system that eventually lead to positive changes, like Reagan's "trickle down economics" approach, or Roosevelt's "New Deal" with the country. (I realize that both Reagan's and Roosevelt's approach had unintended negative consequences, but I would argue that they caused greater long-term good than bad.)
The president is the country's chief executive, and part of the responsibility of being a CEO is leading the company (in this case the company happens to be the United States) through difficult times by listening to the ideas and opinions of the staff (Congress) and the shareholders (U.S. citizens), and forming new strategies and new policies and new approaches to conducting business, eventually turning the company, or in this case the country, back around and into profitability and prosperity.
Republicans can point fingers all they want, but it happens to be their turn in the captain's chair and the person they nominated to be their captain is sitting on the bridge, watching the scenery pass by while the ship is starting to really take on water and lean to one side.