The Politico is reporting:
Facing the potential bankruptcy of iconic American firms, President Bush on Friday abandoned his longstanding objection to using using the Wall Street bailout fund to help save G.M. and Chrysler.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino announced, in part:
"...[W]e will consider other options if necessary - including use of the TARP program -- to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers. A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time."
Unfortunately, as Michelle Malkin notes, the TARP program -- according to its own guidelines -- can only be used to offset troubled assets held by financial institutions.
What would make the President change his mind on such an issue, and possibly order a violation of the terms of the TARP program in order to save Detroit?
According to the same Politico story, Vice President Cheney bluntly told an unnamed Republican senator that if Congress failed to pass an auto bailout, it would be "Herbert Hoover time" for the Bush Administration. Sadly, I think that Cheney is right.
Perhaps George W. Bush has finally reached the breaking point, with respect to the amount of piling-on that he can take and still remain unrattled. He probably realizes that those who shape our popular culture (the majority of whom are very progressive and loathe anything to do with Republicans) have been diligently crafting the perfect hyperbolic description of his legacy for the last four years. First he was the president who mired us in the unwinnable quagmire of Iraq. When that didn't work out, they rejoiced at the prospect of casting him as the most unpopular and deviously criminal President since Richard Nixon. Now, they are dying to make him into next Herbert Hoover, the President who single-handedly destroyed a balanced budget and a surging economy, and failed to even lift a finger to help the country, even as Americans were begging in the streets for relief. Concurrently, they have enshrined Barack Obama as America's greatest President, even though he has yet to take the Oath of Office.
I believe that President Bush also knows that standing on principle and refusing to give money to Detroit is a losing proposition. There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama will bail out Detroit if President Bush doesn't. Therefore a Bush stall serves no purpose other than prolonging the inevitable, which will simply make Bush look like a villain and Obama look like a savior. And Bush knows that at this late date, no one will be willing to back him up. A Senator can deflect some portion of his responsibility back onto the corporate body of the Senate. The President stands on his own.
I'm a little angry at President Bush for caving in on this issue, but at the same time I can't help but pity him. He is a good man, he has thus far refused to lower himself to the level of his most vicious critics, and I truly believe that he has a compassionate heart for this nation. Few things are more exasperating than seeing a good man smeared as an evil-doer, or more wretched than watching that same man sign a deal with the Devil in order to save himself.
- Michael Laprarie