Everything Shiny and Wonderful, President Says

August 14th, 2002 § Comments off

The New York Times ran a wonderfully cynical article about this week’s so-called economic forum in Waco, Texas. Here are some of the best parts.

President Bush said today that he was optimistic about the long-term health of the beleaguered American economy as he heard from a selection of 240 carefully chosen guests who praised his policies at an economic forum created to showcase his concerns.

…Even as Mr. Bush expressed confidence in the economy and defended his policies, the Federal Reserve issued a more pessimistic assessment. It said the decline in the stock market’s [sic] and disclosures of corporate wrongdoing had prolonged a sharp slowdown that might require it to cut interest rates further.

…Mr. Bush heard no dissent and no debate at an event where the theme was that the economy was going through difficulty, but that things were headed in the right direction. The forum has been heavily criticized by the Democrats and a number of Republicans as a staged pep rally for the second Bush White House, which is ever mindful of the fate of Mr. Bush’s father.

…Most of the eight participants who spoke at a closing session of the forum echoed support for the president’s agenda, including tax cuts and the proposed energy bill and, in some cases, reflected his phrasing from recent speeches. …Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser, said after the forum that he was “not aware” that the White House had supplied the participants talking points, but “that’s not to say there weren’t any.”

Nobody should be surprised that this forum was heavily stage-managed and slanted towards Bush. What’s interesting is the insistence of administration officials that the forum was not rigged; as Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill put it, “As much as you want to say this was cooked up, this had high energy.” If the administration wants to fool the country, it needs to lie more convincingly.

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