A Failure Of Leadership

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There was a lack of trust, a loss of confidence, a popular revolt.

Nearly every major political leader in America supported the bailout bill. The President of the United States. The Vice President. The Treasury Secretary. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Democratic and Republican nominees for president. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and the Senate. All of them said the same thing. Vote yes.

But the leaders anointed by the U.S. Constitution to most reflect the will of the people voted no. This is a remarkable event, the culmination of a historic sense of betrayal that the American people have long felt for their representatives in Washington D.C. Roughly 28 percent of the Americans approve of President Bush. Roughly 18 percent of Americans approve of Congress. These numbers have been like that for years.

Now those bad feelings have manifested themselves in the starkest of terms. Not enough of the American people believed their leaders. And so the politicians that were most exposed ran for cover. With an election on the horizon, 95 House Democrats and 133 House Republicans opposed the bill. Now, there is significant potential for grave effects on the nation.

As I write, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 724 points–one of the largest drops in percentage terms in history, and perhaps the biggest single-day point loss. The credit markets may soon seize. The campaigns and parties are pointing fingers. And the nation lacks a leader with the credibility to take control of the situation.

This is no longer just a credit crisis. It is a credibility crisis.

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