GW was MIA (Guest Voice)

G.W. was MIA
by Michael Reagan

Democrats have been blaming George W. Bush for the last four years.

Now I think it’s time for Republicans to start blaming George W. for the next four years.

For a week we’ve been pinning last week’s debacle on everything from Mitt Romney’s moderation to low Republican turnout.

But the most important Republican who didn’t turn out to support Romney this fall was George W. Bush.

You can make an honest argument that G.W. was as much to blame as anyone else for our being unable to defeat an incompetent incumbent of historic proportions.

For four years Barack Obama has blamed the Great Recession on G.W. and used his presidency as his excuse for why the economy is taking so long to get fixed.

And where’s G.W. been? MIA or AWOL, take your pick.

He didn’t show up at the GOP convention. He didn’t become an enthusiastic surrogate for Romney in a handful of swing states where a few hundred thousand more Republican voters could have changed history. He didn’t stump for senatorial candidates in contested states such as Virginia and Montana.

G.W., the ex-cheerleader, was nowhere to be seen or heard during Romney’s campaign. What’s worse, he didn’t even defend his own economic record. He let the conservatives on talk radio and at Fox News do it.

The trouble is talk radio and Fox only reach about 20 million people during a week — and most of them are already in the conservative Republican choir.

Last I checked, 121 million Americans voted on Election Day. That left us Republicans with 101 million people who still needed to hear our message about who’s really to blame for the broken economy of 2008 to 2012.

We griped and moaned and pointed to Obama, but the mainstream liberal media were too busy protecting their hero to fairly tell our side of the story.

The only way conservatives can get the national news media to deliver our message to the American people is to go over the media’s heads. And the only people who can do that consistently are ex-presidents of the USA.

Bill Clinton became Obama’s best propaganda weapon. When Clinton claimed that no one, not even a super-genius like him, could have solved the economic problem G.W. Bush left Obama within four years, every voter in America heard it.

Even Jimmy Carter was hauled out of mothballs to help the Democrat cause.

The 2012 campaign was all about “the economy, stupid.” Obama blamed G.W. and Republicans. Plus, he had Clinton and Carter bashing G.W.’s record with their bully sticks every day and countering Romney’s arguments that Obama was to blame.

We should have had G.W. standing up and saying, “This is bull. I’m tired of this. This is what I did or did not do with the economy as president. The real culprits are Dodd & Frank and four years of Obama’s failed policies.”

Instead G.W. stayed quiet, even on the issue of Benghazi. Because he refused to show up and defend himself and his record, the Republican Party had to take arrows for him and we lost our second presidential election in a row.

The question I’d like to ask my fellow conservative Republicans is, if G.W. isn’t willing to stand up for his own presidency, why the heck should we?

Copyright ©2012 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to [email protected] Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Author: CAGLE CARTOONS

23 Comments

  1. Reagan could have a point here, but “could” does not equal “does”.

    The point he could be making is the GOP failed to link the financial crisis to the Dems via not only Dodd-Frank but also to various misdeeds around Fannie Mae, and not just G.W.’s incompetence. I think there is enough legitimacy to that claim to at least make it a campaign issue.

    But he falls flat on trying to pin the slow recovery on Obama. He thinks the American people are stupid enough to think there is any “magic policy” that could solve this mess quickly. 2008 was a HARD FALL. Job losses were large and dragged on for years. Housing market bubble burst was a metaphorical tsunami across virtually the entire country. 401K’s everywhere lost a ton of value (40% was not unheard of). There are few alive who’ve ever seen an economic catastrophe like this before.

    The people ARE upset this recovery is taking a long time, but we’re not stupid enough to think anyone (Obama or someone else) could legitimately say “we could have fixed this in four years” using any approach (well, without creating more bubbles or using phony stats). The best anyone could really do was staunch the bleeding, and although the bandages this administration applied may be a bit sloppy, they did the job just fine. Now comes the slow healing process to get everything back on track.

  2. Fortunately for the country.. the people who voted to re-elect Pres. Obama were well aware of what W. Bush and the rest of the shameless, republican sycophants did and didn’t do during their eight years of incompetence.

  3. Agree with you Michelle.

    Had the fool –trying to be kind here — who took our nation into an unnecessary war, based on false pretenses (a war where 4,000 Americans died) and who caused our country’s biggest economic disaster since the Big Depression, actively championed for Republicans, Romney’s defeat would have become a rout.

  4. Agree with the other commenters on here that GWB’s support for Romney or the defense of his record would not ave helped Romney.

    What’s really scary is that Michael Reagan apparently thinks that GWB did such a good job as president and (by extension) that GWB’s policies were so beneficial to the country that voters needed reminded of that for the 2012 election… and GWB’s support of Romney would have lifted Romney over the top on election night.

  5. What’s really scary is that Michael Reagan apparently thinks that GWB did such a good job as president and (by extension) that GWB’s policies were so beneficial to the country that voters needed reminded of that for the 2012 election…

    I agree it is scary, but it is understandable when you consider how the author esteems the policies of his father (whom he uncharacteristically does not mention here).

    If he were to criticize Bush’s policies of tax cuts, profligate spending, deregulation, and military adventurism, he’d come close to criticizing He Who Must Not Be Questioned. I’d hazard a guess that perhaps Mr. Reagan sees the Bush administration as part of the legacy of President Reagan, and as such is above a certain level of criticism. If he were to admit that Bush’s policies were what failed us, then he’d be tacitly conceding that Trickle Down Economics might not work after all.

    With regards to his parting question, Mr. Reagan has obviously forgotten that it was the American people who overwhelmingly passed judgement on George W. Bush’s Presidency in November of 2008. Even a grizzled war hero and a populist in a tight dress couldn’t rescue the GOP from their self-inflicted wounds four years ago. “Dubya” did more to hurt the Republican brand than any President since Nixon. Yet it only took the GOP six years to recover from that blow. It remains to be seen if it will take them the full 8 years of Obama to realize that the battle cry of “more tax cuts for the wealthy” isn’t a winning message.

  6. I think it would have been good for the American people to hear GWB try to defend his record. It would have hurt Mitt even more, but I would like to hear how he defends himself and his administration.

  7. GWB staying away was the smartest thing he ever did. Other than ducking when that crazy shoe hurling guy who showed up during a press conference. He never stood up to defend his record simply because – there is no defense. He was a royal screw up and the GOP knows this. And wisely kept him out of things. Although Romney still did not win. Having GWB around would have meant certain defeat for him.

  8. The left has been successful in their campaign of blaming GWB for not only what occurred during his administration but those before him (and now those that have come after him).

    “As progressives, we can view President-Elect Obama’s emerging economic team in one of two ways. Either he has disappointed us by picking a group of Clinton retreads–the very people who brought us the deregulation that produced the financial collapse; the fiscal conservatives who in the 1990s put budget balance ahead of rebuilding public institutions.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....45879.html

    “President Clinton’s tenure was characterized by economic prosperity and financial deregulation, which in many ways set the stage for the excesses of recent years. Among his biggest strokes of free-wheeling capitalism was the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, a cornerstone of Depression-era regulation. He also signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which exempted credit-default swaps from regulation. In 1995 Clinton loosened housing rules by rewriting the Community Reinvestment Act, which put added pressure on banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods. It is the subject of heated political and scholarly debate whether any of these moves are to blame for our troubles, but they certainly played a role in creating a permissive lending environment.”
    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/speci.....22,00.html #ixzz2CbkAbSVv

    “The only major piece of regulatory legislation enacted during the Bush years was the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which dramatically increased regulation of corporate financial disclosures. The really big regulatory changes being pointed to now as possible culprits for the crisis date back to Bush’s predecessors: Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, even Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. So the popular Democratic refrain that “Bush-era deregulation” is to blame for our troubles is a little hard to square with the evidence. What is true is that most Bush-era financial regulators were less than enthusiastic about the very act of regulating, and that Bush’s “ownership society” push glossed over a lot of potential dangers. Bush didn’t cause the financial regulatory breakdown, but he didn’t jump in to fix it either.
    http://www.time.com/time/speci.....35,00.html

  9. Zusai, a few points:

    Clinton’s deregulation efforts were ot his, they were Republican-led items to which he agreed as part of larger compromises.Gramm-Leach-Billey itself is named for three GOP heavyweights of the late 90s who wrote the legislation.

    Housing, however, was a Democratically-inspired fiasco,of that I agree. But even there, the Fannie-Mae complicity in the mess clearly happened during Bush’s tenure.

    I maintain that, mostly, deregulation was smart. It just went too far, allowing for “too big to fail”. That’s why we often fail: we takea good idea too far, which turns it i to a bad idea.

  10. Barky, Clinton planted the seeds of the Fannie Mae debacle and Barney Frank was denying there was a problem right to the end.

    “Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

    In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.
    ”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990′s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

    Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

    In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980′s.

    ”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09.....nding.html

  11. Barky,
    “which he agreed as part of larger compromises.”
    It seems all too often with compromises, we are promised two good things, end up with two bad things, and would have been better off with nothing.

  12. But even there, the Fannie-Mae complicity in the mess clearly happened during Bush’s tenure.

    Complicity indeed. There were, if I remember correctly, some signs during the Bush years that a problem was brewing. Even some proposals to fix the looming problems with Fannie and Freddie, but despite having a lock on both the White House and Congress, the administration failed to act.

  13. cjjack, Just to be clear, who was trying to regulate and who was fighting it tooth and nail?

    ““I think that the responsibility that the Democrats had may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress, or by me when I was President, to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” – Former President Bill Clinton (D-AR), September 25, 2008

    “Like a lot of my Democratic colleagues I was too slow to appreciate the recklessness of Fannie and Freddie. I defended their efforts to encourage affordable homeownership when in retrospect I should have heeded the concerns raised by their regulator in 2004. Frankly, I wish my Democratic colleagues would admit when it comes to Fannie and Freddie, we were wrong.” – Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) , September 30, 2008″

    “Democrat Delay Tactics: There was a particularly illustrative example of Democrat Party administrative tactics during the September 25, 2003 House Financial Services Committee hearing, in which Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) argued it should take a very long time for Congress to debate any serious GSE regulation. Steve Bartlett, President of the Financial Services Rountable — an organization that represents practically every major US bank — responded,

    “Mr. Kanjorski, our organization and our companies have been quite concerned about this from a safety and soundness as well as mission, for the last several years. We have communicated that concern, but recently that concern seems to have been highlighted by a number of factors. So yes sir, I believe there is an urgency to the tune of some $3.3 trillion that is either owned or guaranteed by these two agencies…We think they are not being properly regulated, and we believe that with $3.3 trillion, you don’t want to wait too long, and so now is the time to act.”

    Mr. Kanjorski then continued as if Mr. Bartlett had never spoken, and brought up something Franklin Raines had suggested Congress debate, saying, “I could anticipate it taking weeks and weeks and weeks“ just to do that.

    A few minutes after this exchange, Mr. Bartlett tried to persuade David Scott (D-GA) that Democrat statements of concern about regulation potentially impacting Fannie’s mortgage lending “mission” was becoming empty, stating,

    “It’s gotten to a $3.3 trillion overhang over the nation’s economy, and unless strong, independent regulation is provided, the housing goals for Fannie and Freddie will go in the tank, because the system will ultimately not…will be in jeopardy.””

    “Clinton GSE Framework Leads to the Rise of ACORN in Chicago
    “You’ve got only a couple thousand bucks in the bank. Your job pays you dog-food wages. Your credit history has been bent, stapled, and mutilated. You declared bankruptcy in 1989. Don’t despair: You can still buy a house.” – so said an April 1995 Chicago Sun Times article that directed people with very poor credit to contact to a group of “community organizers” called ACORN.”

    And isn’t it ironic that with ACORN we arrive at Obama?
    “I don’t mind cleaning up the mess that some other folks made, that’s what I signed up to do” – Barack Obama (D-IL), October 20, 2009″

    Maybe some of the cleaning up he’s doing is after himself?

    http://tjhancock.wordpress.com.....ssessment/

  14. Zusai, yeah, great points. Now we’re heading into a college tuition bubble & debt crisis. These are great arguments to keep government out of directly promoting commerce.

  15. cjjack, Just to be clear, who was trying to regulate and who was fighting it tooth and nail?

    Well we can play cut and paste quote games all night, but that aside I think you’d have a much harder time establishing the fact that it was the Republicans who were fighting FOR regulation.

    Barney Frank was, after all, only a member of the minority when the Bush administration held all the cards.

  16. Cjjack, point taken. But are the Republicans more responsible for a problem the Democrats caused than the Democrats themselves who caused it?

  17. Z, I don’t think it was the “Democrats themselves” who caused it.

    The Republicans were on board for the whole deregulation/encouraging of irresponsible lending/securitization of debt debacle from day one.

    What happened under Clinton (repealing Glass-Steagall, deregulating markets, allowing Wall Street hacks to write fiscal policy) was not the Democratic party going off and implementing policies that the GOP couldn’t stomach. No, what they did was to one-up the Republicans. They appropriated free market policies, applied them judiciously, and the GOP didn’t fight because they fundamentally agreed with those policies.

    For lack of a better analogy, the Democrats stole the Republicans’ playbook in the 90s, and the GOP played along.

    Yet the catch is that the Republican Party has for decades now sold themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility. Nobody ever accused the Democrats of being fiscally responsible, but the Republicans should know better, shouldn’t they?

    I mean, I don’t expect a Democrat to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the GOP?

  18. Cjjack, it never works well when the dem’s try to be like rep’s and vice versa. You end up with no one guarding the chicken coop. The rep’s are generally for deregulation but against social engineering which is what was at the root of the Fannie Mae melt down.

  19. More delusion from the author. The idea what GWB would have helped anyone this cycle is laughable. Clinton and Reps started us down the road to the economic crisis, but W put things into overdrive and was running the country when it all spiraled to hell. The world economy is not something you can just “fix”.

    Funny how MR forgets how great Iraq and Afghanistan were doing during W’s reign of terror.

    W was a disaster, period. Republicans will be smart to let the man retire in peace.

  20. Just so we are clear here, the issuance of sub prime loans to lower income people wasn’t what caused this crisis. The requirements for those loans were loosened, but not completely thrown out the window, for lower income borrowers. I’ll tell you what caused the wheels to come off the wagon.

    It was when they started turning sub prime loans into securities. You see, these “High Risk” loans were being paid back at rates that were better than regular loans. They weren’t defaulting, the program to get minorities into housing was actually working. The ravenous investment market was looking for new vehicles to safely make money on, which was getting pretty hard to do with the Fed stating they had no intention of raising the interest rate for the foreseeable future, and so they tapped into subprime mortgages as a basis for securities to trade. The problem was in a matter of a few short months, the banks all ran out of subprime mortgages to turn into securities.

    This is when the wheels came off the wagon.

    You see, the banks were making a lot of money off this. But unless they made more subprimes loans, they couldn’t make more off the sales of securities. So the banks, not the Federal Govt, decided to loosen up the loan requirements even further. They put HUGE pressure on the mortgage divisions to generate more subprime loans to feed the securities market. Bonuses and commissions were paid out lavishly to encourage this process. Lending requirements and safe lending procedures that had been around forever were tossed out the window in the pursuit of subprime loans, to be generated as fast as possible. This was not because of the federal govt, and it wasn’t because we tried to get lower income people into housing. It was directly because the banks wanted to sell more securities, and they went insane selling sub prime loans to make that happen.

  21. This entire “blame the poor people” dodge that they have successfully cooked up really pisses me off. It is an unbelievably craven deflection of responsibility for this mess. Literally to imply that their malfeasance, greed, and total willingness to abandon their own protocols for ensuring safe banking can be laid at the feet of a govt program to help poor people, a SUCCESSFUL one at that, is just shameful. The fact anyone actually believes that it was poor people that are to blame for the financial sector implosion is pretty mind boggling to me.

  22. OH, and as to the original article here by Mr. Reagan, wow. Does anyone need any more proof that conservative voices like him, Rush, Hannity, etc… are just delusional. To imply that Dubya would have had a positive effect on the Romney campaign by trying to justify his utterly bungled 8 years of running this nation just goes to show how truly incompetent some people are at making an analysis.

  23. Does anyone need any more proof that conservative voices like him, Rush, Hannity, etc… are just delusional.

    Delusional is the right word – and it equally applies to those who treat it as gospel. Bizarro world stuff.

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