Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bush Leaves U.S. Battered & Bruised

In his two terms in the White House, US President George W. Bush has presided over a precipitous fall in America's reputation around the world. History is likely to judge him a failure. Now, his successor will have to dig the US out of a deep hole.

The Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang was filled with pride as he reported to Chinese mission control from his space capsule. It was Saturday, Sept. 27 and Zhigang was about embark on his first space walk, marking a breakthrough for the space program of this rising power in the Far East. President Hu Jintao looked jubilant in the live television broadcast. With its successful excursion outside the space capsule, the People's Republic, as a nation in space, drew level with the United States and Russia in one important respect. Indeed, Beijing is already discussing a manned expedition to the moon. Once exclusively American, the Earth's biggest satellite may soon become Chinese as well.

Almost at the same time, at a point halfway around the earth, a finance minister was doing something highly unusual: falling to his knees in a gesture of desperation. The Republican Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson was kneeling before the Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, begging her to do everything in her power to make sure that the $700-billion bailout package for the US economy was passed. Paulson's unmistakable message was that the United States was on the brink of an abyss.

Meanwhile, the White House, the center of power in this superpower, seemed oddly abandoned, as if no one were at home. As if 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., were temporarily closed for renovations. It wasn't, of course, but amazingly enough, had it been, hardly anyone would have noticed. The master of the house, certainly, would be missed by only a few. Bush did address his fellow Americans to talk about the financial crisis, but he seemed oddly disinterested. And even in these dramatic times, hardly anyone was listening. He may still be the president, but is he no longer shaping policy.

"The fundamentals of our economy are strong," the president said in August. But what could be more disconcerting than to be told by George W. Bush that everyone is going to be alright?

Click the title of the Blog to Read More

No comments: