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"Man has an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived..."
September 15, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Inside the financial crisis, from a speechwriter's point of view. And from a different vantage.
posted by peachfuzz (53 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Garr! Garr! Why wasn't he saying this in 2007? We don't have to listen to conservatives anymore! Rarr!
posted by roll truck roll at 11:39 AM on September 15, 2009


But seriously, this is really interesting. Thanks for posting it.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:41 AM on September 15, 2009


Editor Juli translates: “Paulson loved eating money. This is why the economy became so bad, because he ate all the money, we’d write. Because that’s what we were told.”
posted by dirigibleman at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


"The president was clearly frustrated with what was going on, but there was little he could do at this late hour. He went up to take a nap."

Yeah.

Pretty much sums it up.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:57 AM on September 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


“Why did I sign on to this proposal if I don’t understand what it does?”

You know, this is all potentially fan fiction, as there is no way to verify any of this. It's still the kind of fan fiction that makes me angry, though.
posted by cavalier at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love how much courage and spine these guys suddenly have now. I'd love to say it's better than sticking to their guns and being all "Bush was right! I owe you people nothing! Nothing!", but I wonder if these guys have any convictions in the first place. If the Bush gig was just opportunistic, how are we to believe this isn't opportunistic past-renouncement? If the Bush gig wasn't opportunistic, then this is a pretty drastic one-eighty.

Ah well. It's a really interesting and revealing read, all personal judgements aside. Here's hoping it paves the way for preventing any more administrations that even resemble W's.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


God I hate Wonkette.
posted by antihostile at 12:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bush didn't seem all that thrilled about Palin:
It was clear, though, that the president, ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called “interesting.” That was the equivalent of calling a fireworks display “satisfactory.”

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?”

Everyone in the room seemed to look at him in horror, their mouths agape. When Ed told him that conservatives were greeting the choice enthusiastically, he replied, “Look, I’m a team player, I’m on board.” He thought about it for a minute. “She’s interesting,” he said again. “You know, just wait a few days until the bloom is off the rose.” Then he made a very smart assessment.

“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family.
posted by octothorpe at 12:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


And as far as I could tell, the president was told the same thing by his economic advisers, led by Secretary Paulson.

This piece reads like a slimy ten-page paean to a crook. "In summary, none of this mess was Our Fearless Leader's fault."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 PM on September 15, 2009


I agree, MSTPT. It's all pretty ooky - the different shades of tell-all are always interesting; there's the wallowing masochist; the revisionists; the self-styled Laocoons. So much of it is futile; all of it's masturbatory before anything else.

Definitely a good read, though.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:06 PM on September 15, 2009


“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family.

When George W. Bush tells you you're unprepared, you know you're unprepared.
posted by jonp72 at 12:07 PM on September 15, 2009 [30 favorites]


Hank Paulson is writing a tell-all book? What, $700 billion dollars isn't enough? What is he going to tell us, "Sorry guys, you're all fucked, good luck with that. Oh yea, thanks for the cash, suckers!"

I don't know whether to buy a plane ticket to India or a shop to start selling pitchforks.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:09 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yet there were obvious signs that all was not well. The housing bubble had started to collapse, leading to a sharp increase in home foreclosures.

"Which is why I proceeded to write speeches for the President where he would tell the American people the honest truth about our economy and his role in ruining it."

wait, that's not in the article? huh.

“This is the last bullet we have,” the president said at one point, referring to the bailout. “If this doesn’t work…” He shook his head, and his voice trailed off. That wasn’t good enough for me. If this doesn’t work, then what? We’re done? America is over? I looked around at everyone else. What does that mean?

"which is why I immediately proposed speaking frankly and with candor to the American people about what could happen if the bailout doesn't work."

oh, he didn't say that bit, either? huh.

As I looked at him I thought to myself, how many more crises can one guy take?

I see there was a typo in the manuscript. Allow me to correct it:

"...how many more crises can one guy take cause?"
posted by shmegegge at 12:12 PM on September 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Geesh, should we flag this as a double? I thought we were talking about cheese and fat sandwiched between two chickens in the other thread...
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:17 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And he was there to see a president who failed to grasp his own $700 billion bailout package—even as he was pitching it to the American public on live TV.

To be honest, did anyone, even Paulson, really grasp it?
posted by caddis at 12:18 PM on September 15, 2009


“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family.
The whole "what is she, governor of Guam?" rings true as something you could picture coming out of GW Bush's mouth. This latter doesn't sound like something he would say at all.
posted by deanc at 12:22 PM on September 15, 2009


Had I the opportunity, I would have gladly worked for the Bush administration for the sole purpose of writing this kind of article or book after. The difference is, I would have timed its release for maximum fuckage of the Republicans during the next election cycle.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:34 PM on September 15, 2009


Minor derail: has anyone figured out how to get GQ articles on a single page? Their website is so horribly user unfriendly...
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:39 PM on September 15, 2009


"Even more distressing, he was wearing Crocs. "

Seriously???!!!

I'm trying to picture GWB in Crocs. Neon green Crocs. That is......... disturbing. And since I think Bush was an atrocious man who tried to break the country, I'm having a hard time placing Crocs in my taxonomy of disturbing Bush stuff.

Someone tell me there are photos please.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:44 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


We seek to maximize distress by recognizing humanity in places where it has no right to be: among the animals, in the lives of our ex Presidents, in the dealings of psychopaths and scoundrels alike, in fact, we recognize these elements of ourselves reflected throughout the natural world, and of course, we shrink back in horror.
posted by nervousfritz at 12:50 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we at least agree to believe the part where Bush refers to people as "cats"? Because I want to live in a world where George W. Bush is a secret beatnik.
posted by escabeche at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


ank Paulson is writing a tell-all book? What, $700 billion dollars isn't enough? What is he going to tell us, "Sorry guys, you're all fucked, good luck with that. Oh yea, thanks for the cash, suckers!"

Actiually, it's 350 pages of NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM
NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM
NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM
NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM
NOM NOM NOM NOM...
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:00 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


y6y6y6: Here's one.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


“This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said.

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

George Bush said Sarah Palin was unprepared.

Oh, wait, that's not funny.

My poor country.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 1:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is setting off little alarm bells. It panders a little too perfectly to the concept of a completely inept Bush white house. It's possible that it's mostly correct, just tweaked a bit to emphasize the incompetence, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it were fiction.

This piece reads like a slimy ten-page paean to a crook. "In summary, none of this mess was Our Fearless Leader's fault."

That's kind of the opposite of the impression I formed. All those digs about Bush liking the word "bold", and handing over $700 billion to Paulson without a clue why... it gives the impression that Bush was the center of the problem (which I believe he mostly was, but the article is focused on him to the exclusion of everyone else in the administration).
posted by yath at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2009


The whole "what is she, governor of Guam?" rings true as something you could picture coming out of GW Bush's mouth. This latter doesn't sound like something he would say at all.

Surprisingly, there are hours and hours of footage of GW talking to reporters and others in a more informal setting where he is actually quite astute and well-versed. He seemed very much in tune with tactical matters, but strategically blind and wholly unable in formal settings.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:29 PM on September 15, 2009


“But we got to make this understandable for the average cat." - G.W. Bush

He says "cat" in place of "guy" or "person." That is absolutely fucking hilarious. No comedian would dare include that in his Bush impression; it'd be over the top.
posted by Clay201 at 1:30 PM on September 15, 2009


Bush didn't seem all that thrilled about Palin:

Which is fascinating, since she's basically Dubya without the elite family and wealth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:30 PM on September 15, 2009


Man, all these insider tell-alls...

They're like the first wave of JFK conspiracy books, with the added twist that the authors were actually in on it.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:40 PM on September 15, 2009


Which is fascinating, since she's basically Dubya without the elite family and wealth.

That's probably the least fascinating observation of Bush I've ever read, but it's because I think you're very incorrect on this analogy. The man was a complete lie through his entire political career; one of the most pampered elitists in America today who cashed in on a good-ol-boy image to great success. Bush was an elitist who pretended to be a hillbilly. Palin is a hillbilly who dreams of being an elitist. I have no doubt in my mind Bush looks down on her, no more or less than so many others liked her he conned into voting for him as "one of their own" in Texas.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:41 PM on September 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


It was less like Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing and more like The Office.

That's what I always figured had to be true but hoped wasn't.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:45 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "she's basically Dubya without the elite family and wealth."

What else would matter to an Ivy League frat boy like him? Ability?

This is the man who appointed the commissioner of the Arabian Horse Association to head FEMA, as you'll recall.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:48 PM on September 15, 2009


Which is fascinating, since she's basically Dubya without the elite family and wealth.

But there is no George W Bush without the wealth and family. That's the beginning and end of his identity. To Palin's credit, whatever it is that she is, she's totally selfmade.
posted by octothorpe at 1:49 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


George Bush said Sarah Palin was unprepared.

George W. Bush had been around presidential politics for half of his life, and on the (side of, drinking a scotch) national stage for almost as long. He was in the White House during critical events like the first Gulf War. Had he not been a complete moron, George Bush should have been as prepared to be President as perhaps any person, ever.
posted by cell divide at 1:51 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bush-bashing is an interesting phenomenon. Normally conservativism is all about the solidarity and hero-worship and drooling over the legacies of leaders past. Look at Sullivan's editorial the other day, in which he lauded Reagan's "buck stops here" attitude on Iran-Contra while going on for pages about Bush's immoral decisions on torture.

They seem happy to scapegoat Dubya. One of my counters to my crazy relatives' arguments about how we can't afford nationalized health coverage is to ask them where their cost-aversion was during the Bush administration. Their response?
"Oh, well Bush wasn't much of a conservative."

"That's not what you said at the time, it was all 'support the troops' and 'respect the office, if not the man', and 'trust him, he has the double-secret pinky swear intelligence reports'!"

"Let's just say when one is desperate one sees what one wants to see and believes what one wants to believe. But my points are rational now, even though that's what I said then when I was apparently desperate. You can trust me, I'm a cynic."
(paraphrased, of course)

I'm almost tempted to call it progress. I want republicans to look at their own histories critically, and ideally apply the lessons learned to the present and the future. My concern is that what we're seeing is more the result of political expedience... that they know they can't get away with appealing to Bush's legacy and authority like they do with Reagan, so they throw him under the bus so they can say "see how reasonable I am?"

But maybe that's what it takes. Maybe today it's just a political calculation, but it plants the seed of doubt in their minds: "Perhaps not every republican leader is a saint in the making. Maybe Michelle Bachmann is just crazy on toast. Maybe Rush Limbaugh is just being contrarian because that's where the money is. Maybe Joe Wilson was just making an ass of himself instead of speaking truth to power."

Maybe, but probably not. I think I'm just seeing what I want to see because I'm desperate. What I need is to return to my cynical roots.

*sobs quietly*
posted by Riki tiki at 2:17 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Surprisingly, there are hours and hours of footage of GW talking to reporters and others in a more informal setting where he is actually quite astute and well-versed. He seemed very much in tune with tactical matters, but strategically blind and wholly unable in formal settings.

Yeah, he doesn't do that whole pausing every few words and spacing out thing when he's drunk.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:19 PM on September 15, 2009


"This is the last bullet we have,” the president said at one point, referring to the bailout."

which still tickles me. "well, we've shot the economy five times, now and it's still sick. maybe we should shoot it in the gut one more time. we do, after all, have one bullet left."
posted by shmegegge at 2:46 PM on September 15, 2009


So what exactly is a five-spiral crash?
posted by betaray at 2:52 PM on September 15, 2009


Ed and the president decided to give a prime-time address to the nation, and Vice President Cheney was sent to the Hill to argue for our bill

I read that as "Vice President Cheney was sent to the Hague."

Ah, wishful thinking.
posted by tzikeh at 3:13 PM on September 15, 2009


The Crocs link that mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey posted has him wearing socks with the US Presidential Seal on them, if I make it out correctly. And they're black, which everyone knows you don't wear with shorts.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 3:29 PM on September 15, 2009


Had he not been a complete moron, George Bush should have been as prepared to be President as perhaps any person, ever.

When he became president in 1857, James Buchanan had been a congressman (and chairman of the Judiciary Committee), a senator (and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations), the US minister to England and Russia, the Secretary of State, and a Supreme Court nominee (which he declined). He was an ineffectual president and is consistently ranked among the worst presidents in American history.

His successor was a one-term congressman, two-time loser in Senate races, and the greatest president in American history.

You can't always go by the resume.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:39 PM on September 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


When George W. Bush tells you you're unprepared, you know you're unprepared.

Apparently, he said the same thing about Obama, though so even that can't be taken seriously.
posted by Maias at 4:05 PM on September 15, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing : If the Bush gig wasn't opportunistic, then this is a pretty drastic one-eighty.

Something people need to understand about life in general, including politics - 99% of us count as some form of "mercenary" labor. We have no loyalty to our employers, nor do they to us. We work to make a living, period. Now, we do tend to choose employers who share our beliefs, making us side with them most of the time regardless of pay, but don't mistake that for a "teammate/traitor" situation.
posted by pla at 4:41 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Riki tiki : Bush-bashing is an interesting phenomenon.

Plain and simple scapegoating, nothing more and nothing less. Bush enjoyed the highest popularity of any president in history (before mid-second term). Even Democrats can't just look the other way here and whistle - a not-insignificant number of them approved wholeheartedly of Bush, right through the worst of his lies and the start of his policies that led us to the brink of ruin (from which we've only just started to pull back).

People don't like feeling stupid, even if they acted that way entirely of their own free will. So, someone has to pay, to atone for our collective sins. Bush (hardly an "innocent" scapegoat - Does English have a good word for a scapegoat who deserves every punishment possible and more?) fills that role nicely. His charisma appealed to both the willfully ignorant and the extremists, the "base" and the moderates, the rich-who-got-richer and the poor-who-got-bread-and-circuses.

Hell, you could probably fill a bookcase with explorations just into the phenomenon of Fox "News". We collectively ate the BS riiiight up, couldn't get enough. When I compare Bush to Hitler, I do so not at all facetiously. The similarities scare the hell out of me to think how close we came to a replay of WWII. And I think a lot of people who bought into the charade also, at least subconsciously, realize that as well.

So, put simply... It takes far less strength to demonize one man that to deal with your own demons.
posted by pla at 5:03 PM on September 15, 2009


What's interesting to me is that this guy is Henry Hill now, and there is no witness protection program for speechwriters. I don't quite understand his motivation. I mean, I hope the fucker's book sells, because his days as head flack are dead and gone.
posted by Diablevert at 5:08 PM on September 15, 2009


What is this, a cruel hoax?
posted by hanoixan at 5:55 PM on September 15, 2009


> What's interesting to me is that this guy is Henry Hill now, and there is no witness protection program for speechwriters. I don't quite understand his motivation. I mean, I hope the fucker's book sells, because his days as head flack are dead and gone.

Yeah. In that respect, this article is quite surprising. Maybe the guy has a vision of jumping to the media, like Stephanopoulos.

The most striking quote from Bush, though, came after his musings on Palin and Obama: "I was prepared." It encapsulates the tinny, brittle self-esteem underneath his aggro posturing.

> “But we got to make this understandable for the average cat." - G.W. Bush

It would be natural to note that a more ambitious project would be making this understandable for the average chimp-- but actually, Dubya doesn't strike me as the doltish innocent. Actually, he seems like a guy who was very, very successful at governing for his constituency... a group pretty much composed of his campaign donors.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:46 PM on September 15, 2009


Bush enjoyed the highest popularity of any president in history

You've got to be kidding me. The story isn't that Bush's approval rating was extraordinarily high, it's that he managed to go from the highest approval rating in history to the highest disapproval rating in history in 7 short years.

Bush's 90% approval rating occured on 9/21/01. Can we think of some event... some extraordinary event... that may have been responsible for that number? I'm not sure if anything important happened in september of 2001, maybe we can look it up. Ok, ok snarkiness aside, a blind monkey could have had a soaring approval rating on 9/21/01. You could have dug up the corpse of Josef Stalin, dressed it in the uniform of an SS Oberstgruppenführer, stapled a sign reading "I abort declawed kittens" to his chest, propped him behind the desk in the oval office, and he would have at least gotten up to 70% approval.

Those numbers were for the nation, not the man.
posted by Justinian at 10:06 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Something people need to understand about life in general, including politics - 99% of us count as some form of "mercenary" labor.

I understand that about life. But an entire country's fate doesn't hinge on my job. I'd think a moral compass would be pretty damned important with this gig.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:52 PM on September 15, 2009


I do think it's interesting how positive that article makes Bush seem, just by virtue of the article itself being fairly obvious slimeball pandering and snide remarks. By the end of the thing, I was feel genuinely sorry for the man, surrounded by vicious, disloyal sycophants like this prizewinner.

Also, I'm fairly sure the "governor of Guam" thing was intended to be a joke, no matter what Mister Article Writer Man wants to make it sound like. Bush wasn't and isn't stupid; just very willfully blind to a lot of things he should have been paying better attention to.
posted by Scattercat at 11:53 PM on September 15, 2009


Judging from the article, the guy should never have been a presidential speechwriter. Or a writer of any kind.
posted by torticat at 10:32 PM on September 18, 2009


The guy who hired Latimer rips him a new one in the WSJ: Ouch.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:14 PM on September 22, 2009


Judging from the article, the guy should never have been a presidential speechwriter. Or a writer of any kind.

Well, if there's one thing Bush was internationally renowned for, it was hiring people based on merit. /sarcasm
posted by Sys Rq at 3:17 PM on September 22, 2009


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