Saturday, September 20, 2008

You bet it’s big, because it needed to be big

Today Bush met with Colombian President Uribe. He even, for the first time in weeks, took a couple of questions.

WHAT EMPTY PROMISES WON’T BE: “In the last few years, thousands of members of FARC have deserted. They’ve realized the empty promise of the leaders of -- you know, won’t be met.”

He lectured Congress about the importance of ratifying the free-trade treaty: “And members of Congress from both parties have got to understand the following facts.” There were three of them.

IN OTHER WORDS: “First of all, about half our growth last year, Mr. President, was because of exports. In other words, exports have affected our economy in a positive way.”

There were two more facts that members of Congress from both parties have got to understand. See if you can follow along with the MBA president’s sophisticated analysis: “Secondly, a lot of small businesses trade -- send goods and services to Colombia. It’s important for the small business sector to be vital and strong. Thirdly, a lot of jobs depend upon exports.”

STRUTTING OUT: “Dos preguntas por cada lado. Deb. That’s two questions per each side. (Laughter.) Just strutting out my Spanish here.” (Later, he will beg Colombian reporters not to speak in Spanish.)

OF HOW SIGNIFICANT: “My first instinct was to let the market work until I realized, upon being briefed by the experts, of how significant this problem became. And so I decided to act and act boldly.” You know, I can picture him standing in front of the mirror saying to himself, “I must act. And act boldly!”

WHAT IT TURNS OUT: “It turns out that there’s a lot of interlinks throughout the financial system. The system had grown to a point where a lot of people were dependent upon each other”. Yes, a lot of people are dependent on each other now; the economy has changed since you went to Harvard Business School, back in 2000 B.C.

IN OTHER WORDS: “In other words, the system risk was significant, and it required a significant response, and Congress understands that.”

HEH HEH, HE SAID BIG PACKAGE: “This is a big package, because it was a big problem.”

HE’S THE REMINDERER: “And, you know, I tell our -- I will tell our citizens and continue to remind them that the risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package, and that, over time, we’re going to get a lot of the money back.” Heh heh, he said “the risk of the package.”

THEY’RE THE REMINDERERS: “We’re going to go to New York and talk to -- and remind people here in the nation’s capital that this is an issue that affects a lot more than countries than just Colombia.”

FABULOUSNESS ALERT: “And therefore, I asked Hank Paulson -- who, by the way, in my judgment, is doing a fabulous job”.

WHAT HE UNDERSTANDS: “And I understand it’s important to have confidence in a financial system.”

HE HAS AN MBA, YOU KNOW: “At first I thought we could deal with this -- deal with the problem one issue at a time. We made the decision on Fannie and Freddie because there was systemic risk to our mortgage markets. And then obviously AIG came along -- and Lehman came along and it was -- it declared bankruptcy; then AIG came along and it -- the house of cards was much bigger, beyond -- started to stretch beyond just Wall Street, in the sense of the effects of failure. And so when one card started to go, we were worried about the whole deck going down, and so therefore moved, and moved hard.” Because when you’re worrying about a house of cards going down, you move, and move hard.

WHY IT’S BIG: “And you bet it’s big, because it needed to be big.”

BUT YOU’LL TELL US WHEN IT IS THE TIME, RIGHT? “Now is not the time to play the blame game.”

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