Last night’s presidential debate made me even more convinced how significant this picture is. It was taken October 2nd and shows Secretary Paulson at the White House after meeting with Bush about the bailout bill. Bush signed the legislation the next day.
In the lead story in the NYT a couple days later, in almost a throw-away line, it was reported the measure hadn’t even made a ripple in the crisis.
Is there any wonder why that debate audience was so icy last night? Not only did these “Main Streeters” walk into that debate feeling alienated, the problem was compounded by the dismal failure of either candidate to explain either the cause of the bailout, or the logic of the multibillion dollar rescue itself.
What the photo captures (in its media rabidness) is the feeling that the bailout, and the intense, end-of-the-world drama surrounding it, was just a show by and for the suits (with you and I, typically, stuck back here to watch). I’m not saying that’s true, by the way, but in the pitiful absence of communication and education from anyone in leadership, it makes it all too easy to suspect.
(slightly revised 3:25 PST)
(image: Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME. White House Photo Blog. Oct. 02, 2008. caption: U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson speaks after a meeting with President George W. Bush House at the White House.)