September 30th, 2008
01:17 PM ET

A Deepening Leadership Crisis

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Yesterday's stunning rejection by the House of Representatives of the financial rescue plan represents one of the clearest signs yet of the deepening leadership problem we are facing as a people.

The pleas of a President, Congressional leadership, the business community, the press - all were ignored and defied by a majority of Members in the House. The opposition was especially intense among House Republicans, even though the most urgent pleas came from fellow Republicans in the executive branch. Those who voting against a rescue, in my judgment, should be held accountable by voters at the polls this November if the country now endures greater hardships.

But we should recognize as well that the reason so many voted against the package was that the public has been against it - and in turn, the public has not been persuaded because it has lost trust in our national leadership. And THAT is a serious problem for a democracy - one that deserves more extensive debate about why the breakdown in trust and what can be done about it.

At Harvard's Center for Public Leadership, which I have the privilege of directing, we have taken public surveys in each of the past three years measuring confidence in our nation's leadership. Our surveys have been done in partnership with U.S. News & World Report as well as Yankelovich.

The results haven't been pretty. In the fall of 2005, some 65% said we have a leadership crisis in the country. By 2006, the number had risen to 69%. And last fall, no less than 77% declared there was a crisis of leadership. Moreover, 79% said the United States would decline unless we get better leaders.

Please note that this survey did not reflect just an unhappiness with President George W. Bush. It was widespread across 12 different institutions and leadership groupings. Only the military and the medical profession were given relatively high marks this past fall. Strikingly for purposes of understanding these past few days, the institutions and groups with the lowest levels of confidence were smack in the middle of this financial meltdown. Four of the five lowest rated groups in the index were business, Congress, the executive branch, and the press. No wonder the "leaders" of these institutions had so much trouble persuading the general public about the seriousness of our financial mess.

What we see today then is a leadership vacuum. And in particular, we are experiencing an interregnum in Washington, a moment when the highest office in the land seems vacant and we are awaiting a new national leader.

But we cannot assume that a new president, whether Barack Obama or John McCain, can magically wave a wand and solve our problems. It is clear that we need to rebuild leadership in institutions and groups across the board. And unless we do so, America's greatness as a nation will be severely challenged.

How should we renew and rebuild our national leadership? That, I hope, will be a conversation in which we can all engage in the days ahead. Your views would be welcome right now. Thank you.

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • David Gergen
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Priscilla

    I hope those people that are OUTRAGED by this bail-out are just as equally OUTRAGED by this war in Iraq.. And if they aren't I dont even want to hear what they are saying. Because it is outrageous that it is somehow acceptable to spend $1 Trillion in a war trying to reform ANOTHER country's government.

    At the very LEAST the bailout has been supported by many economists here in the US who recognize that this bailout is a necessary evil that if not attempted will affect all of us.

    I refuse to elect a man into office that just a couple of months ago refuted any claim our economy was in any type of danger. At least OBAMA has warned of our failing economy from the beginning...

    Wake up America!

    September 30, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  2. Marilyn

    Well, here's the sad truth as I see it. I'm a "slightly older" woman who has voted in every election from the beginning, who is something of an Historian and who seems to live with the shades of the Founding Fathers looking over my shoulder at all times–yes, it's a heavy burden. But my family goes back to the Pilgrims' second ship, the "Anne," 1623, so I feel it's my responsibility to bear the burden, gratefully. But this election? I find myself unable to support either candidate; 1) I know too much about both of them (I am a political junkie); and 2) it's not a pretty picture. We see what the House and Senate are doing, our devoted public servants, with their posturings and finger pointings, their completely political moves, they seem to care nothing for the Country; we have seen what Bush the Second has done, also not a pretty picture. So, I am bowing out, it turns my stomach, literally, but I simply will not be able to vote this time. I see my vote as too sacred, as something of great value, I will not participate in this sham any more, I'll save my vote for another time, and I'll dwell on earlier times–oh, sure, they weren't always terrific either, there has always been corruption in the system–but I just can't give either of these candidates my vote of confidence. Regards, Mr. Gergen, think you're terrific!

    September 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  3. Greg

    BRAVO republican and democrats congress persons who voted no to bail out. As irresponible as it sounds I say let the chips fall where they may.

    People who shouldn't have been loaned money were and probably put very little down and this is where we are today –LET THEM SINK

    September 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  4. Linda

    Both President Bush, other political leadership, and the media did a poor job of educating the public on the risks of failing to act. The president should have spoken out much earlier and more often than he did. Of course, he lacks credibility due to his many past blunders that I won't bother to list.
    Also, too many pundits in the media used this as an opportunity for populism: raving against "bailing out the fat cats on Wall Street" instead of explaining that such a step was only a necessary evil on the way to shoring up the credit markets. (Joe Scarborough and Lou Dobbs, anyone?)
    To answer your larger question about restoring leadership, I think we need to return to a society that values education and citizenship above partisanship and meaningless flag-waving.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  5. cliff jones

    Mr. Gergen,
    You have been around the political arena too long. You now seem to think that politicians know more than the people that they represent. The outcry from the public was heard by those legislators who voted no. This whole thing was brought on the public in such a surprise that they rebelled. Frankly it stinks. It was hurry hurry hurry the world will end by the weekend if you don't give us 700 billion. Who the hell are they kidding. Well David, its past the deadline and the world hasn't ended yet. As a matter of fact, the Dow just gained 400 points and most of the Congressmen took off for a Jewish Holiday. Maybe the world can't end on a Jewish holiday. Maybe they can reset the worlds end date to a better time but not on a Jewish holiday.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  6. John B

    I think any discussion on leadership has to begin with the way we select our leaders. As long as running for office is dependent on money then we will always get leaders who are "owned". Take away the money and what's left? I think it's ideas and character, the values that lead to good if not great leaders.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  7. phil, NJ

    It doesnt help that the press is so biased. Everyone, Liberals, and conservatives know it, so they HEAR for entertainment value but dont LISTEN for substance. The result is that the message, no matter what it is, isnt taken seriously.

    You, the media, need to shape up

    September 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  8. brizzle

    Tax every stock trade. This will pay for the bailout. Ordinary citizens like me, who rent and pay taxes with no problems, should not be made to pay for the failures of Wall Street.

    If American taxpayers are forced to pay for this bailout, we will revolt. It is only a matter of time. Make this bailout work a different way...make the bankers pay for it. It was their fault, anyway...

    September 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  9. Dennis, Park City Ut.

    Let's try and understand that everyone benefited from the excesses which were created from the lending practices of the past 15 years. Everyone. I have not heard anyone complain about the fact their home values in the past 8 years have increased 30-90%. You only hear about the issue when home values decrease 10-15% as they are now. No one complained about being able to get low interest loans on homes, cars, appliances and furniture. No one has complained about the availability of low cost energy, prior to $3 per gallon gas when even now our gas prices are far below Europe and Asia. If there is blame it is on all of us and I mean everyone. Not just here at home but those abroad as well. The problem is before us and what do we do about it. Typically we want to focus the blame. We want names, someone to pin this on. That's not going to happen because the list is about 2 billion strong. The issue is how can we most effectively tackle the problem of the housing market which is where it all began. First and foremost make this bill a bottom up solution not top down. Deal with the people at the bottom first. Those who have lost their homes, those who are in the process of losing their homes and those in danger in the next 12 months. Reset their mortgages to be more reflective of the home real value. Reset interest rates and make the payments affordable. Start there, work our way up the ladder and if there is anything left over to rescue a bank whose CEO is looking at losing his 20 million dollar bonus, tackle that problem with the couple of bucks left over. The banks will be there in one form or another this time next year.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  10. Tom

    We have an executive branch whose "brand" stands for lying, secrecy and contempt for Congress - and a legislative branch whose "brand" stands for cowardice, ignorance and expediency. It is no wonder few Americans trust either. The next White House administration must feature a bipartisan cabinet, operate with self-conscious transparency, and set clear success metrics for itself. The next Congress - and I hope as many incumbents as possible are swept out in November - should elect new leadership. Democrats must realize that Reid and Pelosi are as tainted and ineffectual as the Bush regime. I would also urge America's more mature allies in Europe to bring the same kind of reform pressure on Washington that the US imposes on emerging democracies. Our ineffectual, bickering government has already made us the laughingstock of the civilized world. If we do not change our ways, the world's leading nations will shrug, work around us and leave us further behind.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  11. Richard

    As usual, very well stated and right on the money advice from David Gergen.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  12. Daniel

    You could start by being frank about how we got in this mess. By, 30 years ago, starting down the road of encouraging loans to poor credit risks in the name of "fairness." And how Democrats are at least as guilty as Republican. And how the center of the mess is Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and how Democrats were, as recently as 2006, opposed to new regulations on them, and Republicans were supportive. So, a little real research, and a little real balance. That would be a start.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Andrew Foster

    Maybe a bailout is needed, it seems to be the case. But, you're right, I don't trust the people telling us of the solution. They claim that we are headed for dire straits if we do not act. Ok, that is most likely true. I would say to them something like: BUT, where were you a year ago? You're the expert, didn't you see this coming? Were you too busy looking the other way? Or, worse, padding your accounts before the trouble hit? That is a terrible accusation, but somebody has been "ethically" cheating. Some smart people should have known, and they did nothing. Now you want us to bail you/them out? And you'll fix it all for us. Sounds convenient, and suspicious.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  14. megan

    David, get real! this whole mess started with freddie and fannie. this is big government corruption brought to you by democratic leaders like frank and dodd. why cant you please state the obvious? too worried it might hurt OBAMA??

    September 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  15. David Lovelady

    I know how hollow this may sound, but I would encourage all folks in leadership positions to read "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is about the political wisdom of Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet. My point is that in all recent crises, I have wondered "Where are the adults and when will they arrive?" Lincoln was all too human, but thoroughly adult. Well, maybe in our time "they" are not going to arrive; instead, those in leadership must become adults. And if they choose not to do so, may God save us all.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  16. zlatko anguelov

    It is true that the people react not exclusively to Bush's incompetence and inadequacy at the top, but David, we should not forget the old saying that the fish begins rotting from the head. This makes even more urgent the election of a NEW leader who will–by what he has so far shown on the campaign trail–begin to change the perception of a failed leadership: one, by his own leadership example but two, also by appointing people with excellent leadership abilities on key positions in government. I cannot be more puzzled by how the genuine fairness of the Americans, including your own, translates into the so-called equal treatment of the candidates, which has the consequence to give credit to McCain where it is not due. If Obama has no "killer instinct," the media must!

    September 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  17. Danny S.

    I must say in the business world if we have a crisis we work the holidays and weekends, Its sad that elected officials still take a holiday when the country is falling apart.
    Dont we have a leader to say stop no holiday until we resolve our economic issue!!!!
    I was was very disappointed to hear our politicians took a holiday in the middle of the worst financial crisis of our time.


    September 30, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  18. Ron Illinois

    Throwing money at a problem will only be a temporary fix. Stupidity and Greed caused this and it will only happen again without new rules.

    We all know there are at least 535 people on the take here. Congress. Throw in a couple thousand Bankers and we will have a good start to a complete Prison Population. Let's get started.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  19. eddy

    What makes me cringe to my stomach and is more pathetic then the non agreement between both parties yesterday is the fact that congress and senate have the audacity to take 2 days off from the most important law making days in the history of America to celebrate and observe a Jewish holiday!!

    .I'm shocked so we lose billions of dollars setting back the bill to observe a Jewish holiday..Come on give us American Christians a break. Wasn't the Constitution written on Christian faith? Makes me wonder who is more important American economy or the Jewish holiday...HMMMM.

    Eddy Nafal

    September 30, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  20. Doug

    Lack of trust in politicians, especially the President, the lack of accountability initially presented, the lack of telling the people 'why' and 'how', the failure to ensure this bailout would succeed among other issues, defeated this bill. Politicians lack the credibility.
    There is alot of blame that could go from the consumer to the President.
    I have read another post where the individual said to give every man, woman and child who is a citizen of the US one million dollars and let the money flow back into the market while the powers that be begin regulation. Approximately 300 million vs 700 billion....if the banks can't get their money from the consumer who has a million dollars, go bankrupt. Give the money BACK to the consumer instead of incurring a 700 billion dollar debt.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  21. Maritza

    Your views are welcome you say?" well how about reporting it form BOTH sides , why don't you address the action McCain tried to take back in 2005 the warning he sounded to congress about the upcoming calamity, will you in all fairness report how congress and the democrats blocked his attempt at fixing the problem before it blew up to where we are now , how about a piece on Franklin Raines counting the green and the glutony of 90 MILLION , why not report the whole story he's Obama's advisor , Fannie and Freddie's little cash out friend , while there is plenty of blame going around it's enormous enough to bring to light and the American people the entire truth no matter who you constantly give glorious praise to on CNN. will you post this?


    September 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  22. Helen from Mifflin County, PA

    Trust has been a non-reality in the political atmosphere for too many years. People in high offices have lied about everything from security to affairs to war. Self-preservation is the guideline that shapes words. Actions are planned as photo ops with no meaning. What does it say when almost none of our elected officials can speak 'economics' except in media soundbites? What happened to statesmen and stateswomen? Will we ever achieve a place where crises are managed by something other than money – perhaps sound judgment, accountability, responsibility? Perhaps if 'trust' was valued by people as much as money is, we could change our nation and the world.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  23. Nelda

    I want to see a plan where the CEOs and other responsible parties for this mess cough up some of the money instead of the taxpayers taking all the hit. I am an attorney getting ready to retire and I bought a small, modest house for retirement with mortgage payments that I know I can afford on my post-retirement income. Why should I and other citizens living within their means be required to bailout those who try to live beyond their means? When I've made bad financial decisons and got in over my head, no one bailed me out. I had to "pull in my belt" and suffer the consequences for a while. It's called being responsible.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  24. Shaun

    Why can't the failing companies just declare bankruptcy and sell their assets at 10-20-30 cents on the dollar? Then maybe some of those on Main Street (who didn't buy an expensive house with a sub-prime mortgage) can actually afford a decent house, which would ironicaly be purchased from the "fire sale" of one of the companies that tried to pursuade them to buy a house that they couldn't afford.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  25. Mike

    "The people" opposed the plan. "The people" are also the reason we need it. You know - the ones who maxed out their credit cards, took out loans they couldn't afford to pay back, borrowed against their inflated home equity, and supported generous gov. benefits while advocating for tax cuts.

    I guess we'll get what we deserve.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    One step toward restoring trust in leadership I think would be for Congress and the Senate and all the rest of the government to set aside their petty partisanship and work on what the nation and the population needs – wrangling over party politics and basic party philosophy should take a seat at the back of the bus when there is legislation to work on – especially emergency legislation. If we saw more working together instead of working in spite of each other it would be refreshing. And it might just prove inspirational.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 30, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  27. lula

    Thank you David for your work–a reasonable, rational voice is seldom heard these days and I always like to know what you are thinking.

    Another problem, that no one want sto discuss, is the lack of education regarding economics and how the entire credit industries of the world work. If the people of the US, the masses, the silent majority, do not understand that, how can they make sensible choices? Why is THIS not discussed by the media?

    Well, partly, because the media is uneducated and only knows how to "primp" for the cameras. There seems to be no true journalists interested in bringing the facts to the public. Before a "media person" starts spouting off a personal point-of-view, someone–a producer or director–should take responsiblity to make sure that reporter is schooled on the realities of world finance; or any other situation frankly. Journalists are not meant to be entertainers.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  28. Michael

    I think that the American people have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to their leaders and the direction the country should be headed in. They were a breath away from impeaching the best leader they've had in decades, with Bill Clinton, but they let the Bush administration steal two elections, de-regulate to the point of crisis, lead them right down a path of occupation and destruction in a country that was never a threat, ship off their jobs to other countries without replacing them, all but eliminate the middle class etc...etc... However, never once was impeachment mentioned. Even after being lied to again and again by their own President.
    The older a civilization gets, the murkier their scope becomes, and the more complacent they become, until the point of demise.
    Money and politics have destroyed the electoral process and the current "leaders" have figured out ways to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. What happened to the days of protests that political leaders could not ignore? Protests that changed and shaped your country for the best? Is everyone really too busy watching American Idol?

    September 30, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  29. Pat Canada

    You have some very good points! And an explanation from the Politicians might be a very good idea.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  30. Gerald L. Agliata

    David, You are so right about lack of leadership in America today. Why is is that our great American society can't produce leaders? The NFL is very successful in recruiting many Americans to play football. We seem to be far more productive in running sports franchises than our own government. We have become a country of high anxiety money chasers that place little value on true leadership, only power.
    We must first take the profit incentive out of politics. All funding for political office must be provided by the public. Once congress is "cleansed" of the charlatans that have run our derelict government for years, we can make running our government far more attractive to true leaders.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm |
  31. Rosey


    My husband and I have been wrapping our brain around this bailout, trying to look at it from all directions. We can see from two sides – one being the "middle class average joe" and the other being a small business trying to expand. As we see it, no matter what side you view this decision on, its impact will be greatly felt in one way or another. We do not support our tax money bailing out any business, especially after all these years of paying our bills and taxes on time. To put it plainly, it just doesn't seem fair because its very hard to relate to Wall Street . However, its at times like this when we have to look at the greater picture and we've decided to do that. If a bailout plan is implemented, I hope for us average joes, were not taken so lightly ever again.

    Thank you for all your insight and opinions on CNN. We've really learned a lot.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  32. Carol, Champaign, IL

    David, why aren't alternative strategies that are currently being floated by various economists and finance experts being weighed against one another in the public discourse? Are we all doomed to understand our options only through the voice of the media that seems only able to frame the problem in one way ("bailout" or else)? As information consumers, we aren't really begin given information that could help us make an informed decision (and thereby inform our representatives in Congress with any advice other than VOTE NO) only that Congress must act and the only option is the remanufactured Paulson plan put forward by the leadership team in Congress. Every plan will have its costs and benefits, the question is who bears the costs and who beneftis. I'd like the chance to help make that choice–this is a democracy after all...at least the last time I checked. Please, somebody treat us like adults so we can start behaving like them.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  33. Tina

    It is not our fault people buy a house that's worth 80,ooo and pay 300,ooo or 400.000 dollars.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  34. Marty

    It is so crucial in all institutions, across the board, politically and religious. As someone who works with young people, there is an over-riding mistrust of institutions; maybe it should also include the institution of family. There is such a breakdown and a sense of apathy among people that it is almost disturbing. Was this the right time for Congress to listen to the people, probably not, but if there is any hope, even if politically charged, there is the beginnings of an uprising going on within the people, that maybe their voices need to be heard. I hate to be pessimistic, but I think most of the slate is going to need to be wiped clean for us ever to move on in this situation. So much of politics is self-driven and who really cares about the common good of the people, by the people, for the people. Some of the great leaders of this country, including the Founding Fathers, are probably turning over in their graves right now as this all unfolds. Who really knows anymore what is truth, since we are never given the story, including in this economic situation. Until we return to the values and principles on which this country was founded, even if that means moving beyond the absurdity of "political correctness" it must be done or we are doomed for failure. It makes me sad to be an American and at times, even ashamed, while the rest of the world sits back and laughs at us. We need a leader with compassion, vision, a backbone, concern, can listen, can admit mistakes, honesty. As much as those ideals are sometimes considered signs of weakness, they are signs of a healthy leader who doesn't act impusively but with thought and can see, with some clarity, the direction this country and society must go.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  35. Liz

    The mass majority of people opposing the bailout simply do not understand that this is not a bail out of Wall Street, it is a rescue of entire economy.

    Most people cannott grasp the enormity of this crisis because they do not understand the complexities involved. It isn't just Wall Street, it is a credit crisis, a housing crisis, a global economic crisis. They do not understand the relationships between the entities involved and how it will effect them and the world.

    Perhaps if our leaders would do a better job of educating people on the issues they wouldn't be opposed to it.

    More immportantly, house Republicans showed a complete lack of leadership. Voting for the bailout was the right thing to do, despite it being the hard thing to do and none of them had the guts to do the right thing.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  36. Stephanie, Yukon, OK

    I agree with Sharon that both candidates are afraid to voice any type of opinion. Main street as they keep calling the "little" people want t o hear NOW what both will do once in the White House not when they GET into the White House as too late then. On November 1, 2007 the FEDs injected $41 billion into the financial system and on February 7, 2008 a $170 million stimulus package was voted on by Congress so, where did all that money go? Keep hearing that the "little" person should save and save and use cash not credit so why is it so hard for BIG BUSINESS to go along with that same theory. How am I expected to save when Wall Street must be bailed out or credit will go downhill. Credit is what got us into this mess and think that if working only with a cash flow helps the "little" person, that it should at least work for the BIG Businesses. Let those CEO's put there money back into their businesses and the price tage for the BAIL OUT would shrink!! This may not be all the money it will need as no one knows for sure how much any of the mortgage loans the government is talking about taking over are worth. Are we to gamble on IF the economy will re-bound in months or years upon years? Unemployment has been high for sometime and a lot of people don't even get counted if don't apply for benefits or are denied & who put these people out of jobs, BIG BUSINESS once again – GM who can't even make or won't make a car that is affordable gas wise and continued to even as going under. Not only did their lack of common sense put people out of work for GM in Oklahoma but all the other companies that depended up GM! Frankly, all those involved don't have the expertise to tell the public the real truth and are just "talking out of the sides of their mouths."

    September 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  37. Lane S

    Sharon is right on target! At least Ron Paul displays "leadership", instead of just paying attention to polls, and adjusting political rhetoric as needed. Obama wants to socialize America under the guise of change. I am disgusted that so many Americans buy into the crap he is shoveling. Shame on you all. I have little doubt that our founding fathers are turning over in their graves......................be Americans, not puppets of propaganda for crying out loud! Use the brian you were given. We do need a change, but it needs to be in our Leadership. Dump McCain and Obama. Let's start over. I vote "None of the Above"......

    September 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  38. GF, Los Angeles

    The more I've learned about the existence of ACORN and the involvement with the government to have both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with the banks in doing their 'job" to help those who could never afford a house i.e. the underprivledged – the more it makes me sick. No one stood up to say this is a bad idea to give loans to people who did not have the income to pay for it for fear of being called a racist (most were African American and Latinos that ACORN was concerned about being shut out of the housing market). Shame on those who applied for the loan and took it knowing full well they could not afford it. I have credit cards that allow me credit that total over $30,000 but I sure didn't charge $30,000 of debt just because I have it. It'd take one blip for me not to be able to pay that back just like how the blip in this case are ARM's adjusting before refinancing could be done and the housing bubble popping. The world will not explode...let the markets adjust FREELY.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  39. Bev C Town of Tonawanda, NY

    It's an election year, David, and these people care more about keeping their cushy jobs than what's best for our country. By the way, I don't think these fat cat bankers and Wall Street investors should be bailed out either. Use that money for the "little guy/gal" who have lost their jobs, health care, etc.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  40. Achintya Das

    A day loss in re-building US economy in this crisis is huge. Getting legislation through to bailout or rescue is just first step. immediate re-structure is subsequent steps and that is more dificult task. US people are lucky that they are in the verge of electing their new leader who possibly can bail the country out of the crisis. In this situation US can't afford to leave the country in the hand of caretaker government for about two months even after the new president is elected. They should bring another legislation to handover the power to new president elect within 15 days of election result is out.

    It is now evident that revival of US economy will benefit the whole world. US also need to learn from the World.

    September 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  41. Tavi

    Maybe those who voted against the bailout are sublimally suggesting that there are other alternatives to consider. We've not been offered any solution other than the bailout; yet, as many in the general public know from first-hand experience, there are often several alternatives to bailouts. In fact, bailout is the one alternative much of the general public was never offered as solution to their own financial crises. Why should we now consider it for others?

    September 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  42. Mike in NYC

    A true leader would tell, well, the truth. That the American lifestyle is a largely debt-driven illusion, that all levels of our society, including government, have been willing participants in this charade, and that an inevitable shakeout must and will take place, with a commensurate drop in the American standard of living. The impossibility of separating the "innocent' from the "guilty" will ensure that misery will inevitably afflict many of those who sincerely felt that they were "playing by the rules."

    Simply criticizing "leadership" is an empty gesture, as most people want leaders who will (1) give them more of what they want, and (2) tell them more of what they want to hear.

    September 30, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  43. Chip

    I don't think we can rebuild our national leadership.
    We are too polarized as a country.
    It doesn't matter if McSame or Obama gets in. We're still split as a country and that's the biggest problem.
    Even when Clinton was doing a great job, GOP folks were spending an enormous amount of time, tax payer money and energy to disgrace the man and make our whole country look like fools.
    I'll admit that if McSame gets elected, I won't give him a chance.
    I don't trust our election process any longer or any of our leaders.
    This country has really gone downhill since W was put in office, but most Republicans will still vote for McCain, and convince themselves our present problems are because of Reid, or Pelosi.
    It's to the point where if I find out someone is a Republican, I assume they're a fool and I make no effort to even be pleasant to them.
    I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here.
    Given all this, I believe the only way we can rebuild our leadership is to elect an Independent, and vote out both present parties.
    Perhaps it's time to create a new party – the people's party!

    September 30, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  44. Matthew

    We are spiraling towards the need to institute a redeclaration of independence because the leadership in Washington doesn't and hasn't derived their powers from the consent of the governed for decades.

    Seriously, these clowns aren't even making decisions that simply make sense anymore... Everything revolves around capitalist influence; bending the rules to let cronies take advantage so that legislation is passed in favor of few and in return, politicians get kick-backs to maintain their office. That's not what this country's vision is truly based on. It just took over due to greed.

    Our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is being infringed. Let's take this Government back to bare bones and try again. Maybe next time we'll get it right.

    September 30, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  45. Sue, Billerica, MA

    We need the wisdom of an FDR... There is nothing to fear but fear itself. I believe all this fear monger by Republicans first Bush and now McCain too, is our REAL CRISIS! Bush made us so afraid of terrorism that we allowed him to con us into starting a war with Iraq who it turns out had no WMDs and no ties to the terrorists, and whose people are far worse off now, especially their religious minorities. Bush made us so afraid for the economy that he sent the market into a panic the past days and maybe this will turn out to be another smoke screen.. the question is what is the real agenda THIS TIME! And now McCain is trying to make us fear EVERYONE, especially Obama, and all because McCain does NOT put country first but rather his own ego and delusions of greatness... and sorry but it makes me wonder how much of his staying a POW had to do with his thinking of his IMAGE and future political career versus the commadery with his fellow POWs since we are all prisoners right now of the fear they are mongering and he doesn't seem to have any solidarity with us common folk!

    September 30, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  46. Julie San Diego, CA

    David, I love you but I've got to disagree with you on this one.

    You write:
    "The pleas of a President, Congressional leadership, the business community, the press — all were ignored and defied by a majority of Members in the House. "

    That's because they were listening to THE PEOPLE.

    Amen, brother.

    September 30, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  47. Cindy

    We definitely have a lack of leadership in all areas. I mean from the president, to congress and on down. It seems that most of them are in it for themselves and what they can get not for us and how they can better this country. That is why they all have such a dismal approval ratings. I mean heck President Bush has a better rating than congress...that ought to tell you something right there! No one trusts them at all. My opinion is we get rid of them all and start over! And put in a time limit that they can serve in congress then these big companies can't be buying them because it'll do no good.

    And I must say that 11 of the House members from Georgia voted against this bill. I hope that they get voted out in November.


    September 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  48. Robert Reynolds

    What we have just witnessed is panic mongering by the president, a fellow that has done that before. And more panic mongering by the congress in a poor attempt to sway an election to the upfront socialist candidate. The president is confused (easily) and the congress is fundamentally evil (witness their approval rating numbers).

    What we need is for congress and the president to shut the hell up and stay out of the way. It was the socialistic housing program that dug this hole and politicians need to pack it in and get lost for a goodly while.
    And the Fannie Mae leaders should be prosecuted for cooking the books, stealing and maybe we should simply drag them to the gallows.

    September 30, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  49. Mike, Syracuse NY

    David, the public has been unpursuaded not just due to a lack of trust, but by a failure of our leaders to expain how we got here, why a bailout is even needed, and who gets bailed out and how. I've yet to see an explaination given for the sitaution other than it's due to defaulting subprime mortgages. How many are there? Why should banks that loaned money to those who couldn't afford the homes they bought get any bailout? Why should homeowners who signed mortgages they couldn't pay for get saved? Many bet on unending increases in real estate. How is that different than betting on a horse race.

    September 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  50. Sharon

    Anyone else ready to throw the towel in on BOTH CANDIDATES??
    Honestly. The American people are saying overwhelmingly "NO" to the bailout. And yet, both candidates are stumping away about how we need the bailout, how it's not their fault we don't have a bailout.. I can hear Obama right now on CNN saying "This is an outrage. This is the direct result of the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street and Washington." Umm... ok.... Are politicians too afraid to say that this is the fault of the greed and irresponsibility of the AMERICAN PEOPLE! Time to live within our means. It's been fun... but "spring break" is over, and it's time to get back to the business of living within our means. Irresponsible lenders and irresponsible borrowers is what got us into this. So...where is a true leader in either candidate? One who will stop the complaining and the blaming, and the "I'm better than you are. It's all your fault" crap. One who is not afraid to piss off voters by rightfully laying some of the blame on OUR shoulders. And who isn't willing to socialize the government to solve our problems. Why is CNN no longer interviewing Ron Paul? He's against the bailout, and is very articulate in his reasons why. Wish he was still in the race for the White House. I think it's time for Americans to bail on BOTH parties at this point. Both are way to out of touch with most Americans...

    September 30, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
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