The Real Economy

You can put earrings on a hog, but it won't hide the ugliness.

George W. learned this the hard way at the silly "Economic Forum" he held in Waco, Texas, where he used all the PR gimmicks of his presidency to try putting a yellow smiley-face on the ugliness of America's current economic reality. On the very day Bush spoke, even as he cheerfully declared that he's put the economy on the right track, American Airlines slashed 7,000 more jobs, IBM punted 15,000 workers out the door, and the Dow Jones average fell another 200 points.

At taxpayer expense, he flew in Vice President Cheney, seven cabinet members, a gaggle of White House aides and a load of PR flacks to sit around for four hours with fat cat CEOs, a bunch of economists, and a handpicked crowd of partisan cheerleaders -- all to tell him what an excellent job he's doing. Afterwards, Bush's top political operative bragged with a straight face that "There was unanimity that we've taken the right [economic] steps, that we're going in the right direction." Then he scolded critics: "Everyone ought to applaud when the president sits down with ordinary people."

First of all, George didn't sit for long with anyone. Never a deep study, he popped into only four of the eight forum panels, staying only 20 minutes at each before dashing back to his ranchette to resume his summer vacation. Secondly, instead of sitting with a regular Joe, Bush pointedly sat next to Charles Schwab, the billionaire Wall Street broker who is a $400,000 giver to Bush and the Republican Party.

As for the "ordinary people," why didn't they invite one or two of the eight million Americans who are unemployed right now? Or how about a few former Enron employees? They could've given George an earful on whether the economy is headed in "the right direction."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... I also think it would've been instructive to have had Bush's top campaign contributor, ex-Enron honcho Ken Lay, sitting next to George. That would've been a real snapshot of what's wrong with our economy.

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