Bush Names Wall Street CEO For Mr. Irrelevance
John Snow resigned today as Treasury Secretary, to be replaced by Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson, whom the White House thinks can sell Wall Street on how well the economy is doing. Why Paulson would take a job and humongous pay cut to be a hood ornament on an Edsel is beyond me, especially since 1) he comes aboard just in time for an economic slowdown in the second half of this year; and 2) having a Wall Street guy tell Joe Lunchbox that things are going well may be about as successful has having a railroad executive tell Joe Lunchbox the same thing.
No matter how much Rove may want the fall midterms to be about the economy and not about gas prices and Iraq, polls indicate that the public gives Bush very low marks on the economy, even as the indicators seemingly point to a strong economy for some of us. Paulson will have no sway inside the Oval Office, and he is coming aboard a ship about to be buffeted by high gas prices, an unsure Fed policy direction, and further declining consumer confidence. Add to this a president who doesn’t listen to anyone offering contrary opinions to his own, and a domestic policy run by ethically bankrupt folks intent on politics as policy, and you have a recipe for Paulson making a major career mistake. The problem isn't with the Treasury Secretary, the problem is with the guys at the top, and the reality that the public is done with Bush and Cheney already, regrets their 2004 vote, and would move on right now if they could.
This pick would have made sense at the start of the second term, if Bush was really interested in changing course and listening to wise folks on Wall Street about the mess his tax and fiscal policies have created. Instead, he waits until now to bring aboard his own Bob Rubin, way too late, in the hope that this window dressing will keep Wall Street money flowing to GOP coffers this fall and prevent a loss of one or both houses in November, which would make Paulson's job change irrelevant come January.
But in one way, he is well equipped for his new job: Paulson loves snakes.