President Ben Bernanke?


I find most of Gail Collins columns to be, well, ersatz Maureen Dowd, who is ersatz enough all by herself.

Today’s, however,  has so many good, mostly funny lines that I’m going to quote it at some length just so I can bold-face them all for you enjoyment and, in some cases, edification:

These times are so perilous that George W. Bush emerged from his burrow on Friday to reassure the American people about the financial crisis.

Looking either grim or overmedicated, Bush spoke for several minutes — 1,260 words worth of reassurance. That was a far more ambitious effort than the day before, when, as Politico’s Roger Simon noted, our president devoted 100 fewer words to his public utterances on the collapsing economy than he did to toasting the president of Ghana at dinner.

Behind the-first-president-with-an-M.B.A.-and-a-lot-of-good-it-did-us stood the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, who appears to be actually running the government. On Thursday night, Bernanke had called Congressional leaders together and terrified them into supporting a quadrillion-dollar rescue plan. Legend has it that there was a time when these sorts of gatherings took place at the White House, but it would probably have really cast a pall on the president of Ghana’s big night….

Down in Florida, Barack Obama was also endorsing a bipartisan approach to the rescue. For good measure, he also tacked on a call on both parties to join together in backing “an emergency economic plan” crafted out of a whole bunch of things that the Republicans are never going to support in a million years.

Obama declined to provide many specifics. The most notable thing about his performance this week — besides his really extraordinary skill in packing large numbers of economic advisers onto a stage — has been his calm. Even this late in the campaign, it’s hard to tell whether it’s the product of wise serenity or a low metabolism. But, under present circumstances, it was definitely soothing.

John McCain, on the other hand, was angry. Still. He had been angry Monday, when he blamed the financial crisis on greedy speculators, and on Tuesday, when he blamed it on people who didn’t respect the American worker. He was furious on Wednesday, when he blamed the crisis on C.E.O.’s with golden parachutes until it was pointed out that one of his highest-profile advisers, Carly Fiorina, had sailed out of Hewlitt-Packard with a 24-karat whopper. On Thursday, he was mad at the head of the Securities Exchange Commission.

On Friday, McCain looked steamed when he gave a new policy speech in Wisconsin with Sarah Palin at his side. The Republicans have discovered that McCain can’t draw a crowd without Palin, and the dangers of letting her float off by herself are apparent. So the two are manacled together these days like Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in that old escape-from-a-chain-gang movie.

I like that last image so much it must might turn up as a Dubya Chronicles cartoon.

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