Wednesday of course is Obama's 100th day as president. He is celebrating in Missouri with a "town hall" and his third prime-time address — something that I'm sure pleases the broadcast networks, who have to once again pre-empt hit shows in favor of Obama highlighting his accomplishments.
But here's the one thing about these first 100 days that you're not going to hear the president talk about: Almost all of his accomplishments have been done in the red lights of an emergency.
In an emergency everything has to be done right now. No time to think, just react — quick, go-go-go!
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Look at the economy, for instance. Yes, the president did "inherit" TARP from the Bush administration, but man, they took that ball and ran with it. Tim Geithner had to be confirmed fast and all $787 billion of the 1,073 page "stimulus bill" had to be passed immediately, without time to even read it — because it was an "emergency."
Then we moved to a "housing emergency." Obama called for another $75 billion in government TARP money to save the housing sector — because it was in "crisis."
And the "car emergency": With the same lame excuse as the Bush administration — the Big Three were too big to fail — so we handed over billions in financial aid.
The "banking emergency" continued and we are waiting for the results of stress tests. Meantime, the Obama budget sees the need for another $250 billion for banks this year.
Now, it's the "swine flu emergency." We suddenly forgot about all the important questions we had about Kathleen Sebelius and confirmed her as the new Health and Human Services secretary on Tuesday. Why? Because, according to Chris Dodd, "We find ourselves in the midst of a global crisis."
Don't think, just react — go-go-go!
The problem is that action without thought results in unintended consequences: AIG executives find angry mobs outside their homes; TARP money disappears into thin air; the CEO of GM is fired by our own president and now he appears to be hunting for the chief of Citigroup.
Did anyone wake up the day after they bailed out the car companies and say "Phew, glad that's over?" No, because these decisions were made in the light of emergency.
So to start thinking clearly, we need remove the emergency. Take a deep breath and see the "emergencies" for what they really are: problems.
Every president and every generation has had to face them and they always will. But when every problem is looked at as a crisis, we soon find that we end up trading one set of problems for another that could've been avoided had we thought things through.
Remember in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when Indiana Jones was running from a giant boulder, only to find himself face to face with 100 poison darts?
We were running from the big boulder of crisis and emergency and fear and we bailed out companies that were too big to fail. So five years from now when GM is pandering to the government and churning out cars that no one wants and the company still can't turn a profit, isn't that the poison dart that we could have avoided?
Pause: relax and think.
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