The Iraqi journalist who tossed both shoes at President George Bush spoke for many Americans who were wondering why he was in Iraq instead of dealing with the crisis in the American auto industry, not to mention the larger economy.
The latest version of Mission Kinda Accomplished is the best slapstick since Spike Lee and Michael Jordan riffed on Air Jordans.
Bush’s $600 billion mistake, the aims of which could have been much more effectively achieved with an international oil boycott and 100,000 fewer deaths, is almost exactly the amount of deferred investment in education, health and energy efficiency that America will now have to go further into debt for.
But maybe there’s method in his madness. Perhaps we don’t want George Bush to try to solve the auto crisis, given his track record to date. The Ninth Ward is still a mess after his recovery plan.
The so-called free market advocates should step into the leadership vacuum, perhaps working with President-elect Obama’s transition economic team, and take some bold action. Now that the interim rescue package has shrunk to about $14 billion, there are a number of American billionaires, and lots of foreigners who could do that individually. Warren Buffett put $5 billion into Goldman Sachs just a couple of months ago.
GM actually could come up with the cash on its own, if it had enough time to spin off its profitable Opel and Saab lines in Europe and perhaps its South American operations. Most of its liquidity crisis comes not from high union wages but from money borrowed to purchase non-automotive businesses or foreign brands. To stay viable as an American company, disposing of those assets is a small price to pay.
For people who like to talk about the free market, the Republicans don’t understand it that well. Their ideology of driving down worker wages is the one cornerstone of their trade policy and erosion of labor standards.
So three cheers for the Iraqi shoe tosser, particularly from all of us who have to take our shoes off in the airport needlessly because George Bush couldn’t find Al Queda.