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Should President Bush Leave Office Early?

November 25, 2008

There has never been in recent memory, during the transition between an outgoing Administration and the incoming one, a need to voice ‘we only have one President at a time’.  There was tension between President Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and the first months of 1933, while the nation suffered during the Great Depression.  Even though Hoover tried to tie the hands of FDR with policy decisions, the Democrat was smart enough to not agree to join his wagon to that of the GOP.  The nation had to wait until FDR was sworn into office to begin to see a change of national policy. 

Most presidential transitions are times when the nation is more interested in Holiday parties than who the new treasury secretary will be at the White House.  But the state of the nation today is such that there is a growing appreciation for the fact that the economy is tanking faster and deeper than first thought, and January 20th may be too long to wait for the start of corrective action.

There is a growing list of writers, thinkers, and publications that is giving voice to the lame duck status of President Bush, and the dire situation that may turn a recession into something much deeper and long lasting for America.  Might President Bush have finally found a way to create a legacy for himself by leaving office early so that the nation can start to repair the damage?  History would view him favorably by stepping aside a few weeks early for the good of the nation.  He has no public support, and has no ability to fashion any plans for the future.  By staying in office he only prevents the needed policy changes from starting to take hold.  Though unprecedented, it would be a statement by a failed President that country is more important than politics or personal motives. 

I fully understand the revulsion that this would have within the GOP, and I can see Dick Cheney running for a Bible to swear an oath on, but the nation is at such a point in time that these acts by desperate Republicans would be long remembered at the election polls. The nation needs our new leader to start the business of governing.

Newsweek notes that these are not ordinay times.

In ordinary times, a leisurely transition and the fact that Congress is full of lame ducks for nine weeks don’t matter much. In ordinary times, the lack of civic-minded business leaders with credibility and a desire to exert forceful leadership doesn’t matter much either. But as the president-elect has acknowledged, these are not ordinary times. A sense of drift has gripped the politico-economic nexus of New York and Washington, and the markets have begun to fear that what was already a major recession could turn worse. Panic sent the yield on the only known safe investment haven, U.S. Treasury bonds, to record lows of less than 1 percent in some cases. What that means is that people don’t even expect to earn profits anymore; they just don’t want their money to disappear entirely. Investors have been unwilling to commit capital to a wide range of stock sectors (financial, auto, insurance, housing) because they don’t know the amount or scope of federal aid.

The Geithner appointment, and Obama’s announcement Saturday that he is developing a two-year stimulus plan including new job-creating investments in infrastructure and alternative energy, are signs that he is beginning to grasp the economic rudder. Even so, many say more will be expected from Obama before he takes office. Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, told NEWSWEEK HE has urged the president-elect to make a statement right away asking that Paulson’s Troubled Asset Relief Program—or TARP—be redirected for wide-scale mortgage relief. “It has become important for him to speak out about that,” Frank told NEWSWEEK. “My sense is that Paulson is steering clear of any further use of the TARP because he doesn’t want to pre-empt the president-elect. But the danger is Obama will get blamed for Paulson’s decision” to hold back the money. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, another Obama adviser, urged the president-elect to push for a stimulus “north of $600 billion.” “You have to pick a program that is going to have overwhelming force,” Corzine told NEWSWEEK. To reverse market psychology, Obama should “get something together that could be proposed the moment he’s sworn in.”

The New York Times reports that Congress will work overtime to get a bill that meets the needs of the naiton ready for Barack Obama to sign.

In an inauguration year Congress usually convenes in early January, a few weeks before the inauguration, then members leave again. This year, however, they intend to stay and work in anticipation of the president’s inauguration and the heavy agenda he is expected to bring.With the economy likely to get worse before it gets better, Mr. Axelrodsaid, “We want to hit the ground running on Jan. 20,” the day of Mr. Obama’s inauguration. He said a plan should be “big enough to deal with the huge problem we face.”

Mr. Obamasaid Saturday that he hoped to sign the stimulus package into law soon after taking office. He is already coordinating efforts with Democratic leaders in Congress.

Thomas Friedman, one of the smartest columnists in the nation, thinks that President Bush should assign the new treasury secretary to the post now so to start the work of fixing the economic problem.  In one of the most frantic articles I have read a clear path was laid out for the future.

Now you know why I don’t get invited out for dinner much these days. If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day. Forget the inaugural balls; we can’t afford them. Forget the grandstands; we don’t need them. Just get me a Supreme Court justice and a Bible, and let’s swear in Barack Obamaright now — by choice — withthesame haste we did — by necessity — with L.B.J. in the back of Air Force One.

Unfortunately, it would take too long for a majority of states to ratify such an amendment. What we can do now, though, said the Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein, co-author of “The Broken Branch,” is “ask President Bush to appoint Tim Geithner, Barack Obama’s proposed Treasury secretary, immediately.” Make him a Bush appointment and let him take over next week. This is not a knock on Hank Paulson. It’s simply that we can’t afford two months of transition where the markets don’t know who is in charge or where we’re going. At the same time, Congress should remain in permanent session to pass any needed legislation.

This is the real “Code Red.” As one banker remarked to me: “We finally found the W.M.D.” They were buried in our own backyard — subprime mortgages and all the derivatives attached to them.

  1. Beth permalink
    November 25, 2008 6:59 PM

    And just who has been the professor of constitutional law? Hmmmm, let’s just say that liberals and conservatives both generally respect the constitution and other forces are at work here. Like the lamest duck we’ve ever seen. Let’s choose real issues to fight about between liberals and conservatives and leave relative patriotism and “real” Americanism out of it.

  2. notalib permalink
    November 25, 2008 3:29 PM

    No Someone who deals in reality not being a phony. Under the Constitution, there is no such thing as the Office of the President-elect. I know libs have a hard time sealing with the constitution but facts are facts.

  3. November 25, 2008 1:49 PM

    I smell a bitter man in Green Bay. Whaa…..Whhaaa.

  4. notalib permalink
    November 25, 2008 1:21 PM

    Obama needs to learn a quick lesson, he is not president until Jan 20 and if the current president wants to let him know what he is doing fine, but he has not say, no power and is not the leader yet. he needs to go back to the gym and stay there until it is his time. He was not voted emperor unlike what the left wants people to believe. he will have plenty of time to do his special messiah pose after jan 20 until then sit down shut up we don’t want to here about your coming socialist agenda and taxes on the working class.

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