"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system"


That's my Bush!

Agence France Presse adds the inaccurate context:

Bush's comments reflect an extraordinary departure from his longtime advocacy for an unfettered free market

If by "unfettered" AFP means "most fettered since Richard Nixon," etc.

More from our lamest duck:

"I am sorry we're having to do it," Bush said. […]

"I feel a sense of obligation to my successor to make sure there is not a, you know, a huge economic crisis. Look, we're in a crisis now. I mean, this is—we're in a huge recession, but I don't want to make it even worse." […]

In the interview, Bush said that a "disorganized bankruptcy" of the carmakers could create "enormous" economic difficulties.

One reason that this series of events, starting with Bush's four-paragraph white flag of Sept. 24 and on through a bailout season that may climb to $10 trillion before Barack Obama even shows up for work, has driven some of us near-crazy with apoplexy, is that every last detail has been straight out of the classic playbook of reluctant central planners everywhere. It's not the bankruptcy, it's the disorganized bankruptcy. Messy! Heedless risk-takers deserve to fail, but, c'mon, Goldman Sachs!  Theory X is great, but we've got a crisis here!

Back when the subject was still the War on Islamo-jerkoffs, I called this phenomenon "Women's Shoe Libertarianism"–fun to wear on a sunny day, but useless in a storm. Same goes for the Women's Shoe Capitalism of George W. Bush, the modern Republican Party (until we see any proof otherwise), and the playground scheming of would-be kingmakers from the once-proud intellectual Right. They blinked, tightened the screws, and embraced big government when 19 hijackers killed 3,000 people on that terrible day, and they're blinking, tightening the screws, and embracing big government before handing off the reins to the alleged "party of Big Government."

All this doesn't mean, despite the fervent wishes of feeble anti-libertarians, that those of us who on balance prefer less government refuse to acknowledge when private actors in the market royally fuck up, or when the government does its regulatin' badly. Quite the contrary–as Katherine Mangu-Ward ably demonstrates in our dynamite January issue (would you people subscribe, already?), the failure to create a clearinghouse for credit default swaps, among other financial instruments, was a critical mistake.

But the real failure here is one of nerve, of imagination, of historical memory. You cannot save something by destroying it, or abandoning it, or even giving it a few stiff raps in the kneecaps. "Paternalism" is too mild a word for the mentality that produces such a sentiment, let alone the disastrous policies to back it up.

Here's the Abandoner in his own words:

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