21st Century Leadership

The events of the financial crisis that has gripped Wall Street and the world has been very instructive in terms of telling us who is effectively doing their job in this heavy duty political and financial minefield.

I think back to last week, when President Bush addressed the nation about the need for a Wall Street bailout bill. 

His speech landed with a thud and was pretty much an afterthought by lunch time the next day.

That was reinforced by his inability to twist arms and get GOP lawmakers to vote for the Wall Street Bailout/Rescue plan on Monday in the House.

When you call 19 Republicans from Texas and ask them to vote with you, and only four of them vote "aye" - that's not a good percentage, even for a switch hitting second baseman in the International League.

I've also been somewhat bemused by the reactions of both Presidential candidates.  I understand that they didn't want to wade into a situation that both of them probably didn't really comprehend, but their actions have been a bit fuzzy up until now.

Their answers to Jim Lehrer's questions at the first debate were not inspiring.  John McCain's little visit to Washington, D.C. didn't exactly put him at the center of the Wall Street Bailout Universe.  Barack Obama hasn't exactly been a financial rock star either.

In Congress, the leadership of both parties got singed by the defeat of the bailout plan on Monday in the House.  Nancy Pelosi delivered her Democratic votes as she promised, but then she dropped a stink bomb on the House floor with her unnecessarily partisan speech.

Republicans meanwhile didn't look much better, alternately boycotting the negotiations on the bailout bill, then joining them, and finally being unable to produce enough votes for victory.

Then they raised eyebrows by blaming Pelosi's speech for the decisions of GOP members to vote against the bill. 

That was enough for conservative activist Richard Viguerie, who has now called for both House GOP Leader John Boehner and his top lieutenant Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri to resign their posts.

"The incompetence of Boehner and Blunt and their team is beyond belief," said Viguerie in a news release on Tuesday, as he bashed GOP leaders for agreeing to the bailout deal in the first place.

"If Republican congressional leaders want to buy into a Democratic vision for a socialist America, let them do it as private citizens, not as Republican leaders."

It hasn't been a great last week in terms of political leadership from Washington, D.C.  Maybe that will change in coming days.

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