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George W. Bush: Latter Day Millard Fillmore?

Reported by Marie Therese - November 6, 2005

Virtually all of FOX's financial shows (Your World, Bulls & Bears, Cavuto on Business, Forbes on FOX and Cashin' In) exhibit a massive obsession with the minutiae of George W. Bush's political life. If he's had a good week, like good Bush fans, the FOX hosts will claim that it bodes well for the markets. If Bush's numbers are in the tank, why, they can spin that too.

I watch CNBC fairly regularly and rarely, if ever, see their anchors, brokers and/or analysts connect George Bush to the health and well-being of the stock market. Yet on FOX's financial shows, there is a constant attempt to tie the ups and downs of Wall Street to the ups and down of the Bush Presidency.

There was a segment on yesterday's Forbes on FOX show entitled "Bush Rebound Rally?" that illuminated this point - and also revealed that there are some major fault-lines forming in the financial community on the question of George Bush's effectiveness as President. FOX News host and administration cheerleader, David Asman, as usual, asked questions geared to elicit positive responses from the guests. However, he didn't always get what he wanted.

TRANSCRIPT OF SECOND SEGMENT, FORBES ON FOX, 11-05-05
Title: "Bush Rebound Rally?"

ASMAN (ebullient): President Bush, meanwhile. Is he about to see a huge rebound in the polls and could that lead to a huge rally in the stock market? Let's go "In Focus" with Jim Michaels, Rich Karlgarrd, Jim Clash - good to see Jim Clash again - along with Mark Tatge, Quentin Hardy and Lea Goldman. Rich, first to you. What do you think?

KARLGAARD: Well, you know. the mainstream media is talking about a Bush crack-up but the last two weeks have been terrific for the guy. Ben Bernancke is widely acclaimed as a ...

ASMAN: He's the new Fed Chairman.

KARLGAARD: ... as a great successor to Alan Greenspan. Replacing Miers with Sam Alito has energized the base. I think that he's got his ducks in a row. He's got his base back. His base is critical for doing all the reforms that he wants to do in 2006 - tax reform ...

ASMAN (overtalks last two words): And how does that lead to a higher stock market?

KARLGAARD: Well, because it means we're gonna get ta - the market is worried that the tax cuts of 2003 are not going to be extended. Now that he has an energized base and the Republican Party behind him, we think he's gonna get that done ...

ASMAN: Alright.

KARLGAARD: ... and you're gonna see 11,000 Dow by the end of the year.

ASMAN: 11,000 Dow, Quentin. What do you think?

KARLGAARD: 11,000.

ASMAN: Quentin, to you.

HARDY: Well, I hope so - I hope so but not because of Bush. I mean, near future to me looks like: Alito, that nomination hearing gets put off until January. Meantime, we've got Iraq. We've got home heating oil prices finally hitting people. It's gonna be bad. We've got Iraq. We've got Cheney and Rove getting resolved with the prosecutor [Patrick Fitzgerald].

HARDY & ASMAN in unison: We've got Iraq.

ASMAN: Yes, I hear ...

HARDY: Fundamentally this is gonna go on and grind this guy. He's sort of a mediocre President in a second-term lame-duck situation and the B team is in charge at the White House.

ASMAN: Jim Michaels ...

HARDY: The A team has moved on.

MICHAELS: Look, folks. The economy is rolling along beautifully. Joblessness is darn near zero for an effective basis. The job market grew last month [56,000 new jobs created]. The economy's doing nicely. The stock market starting to flex its muscles. The tax cut has worked.

ASMAN: And has Bush bottomed out, Jim?

MICHAEL: Bush has still got one problem, He has not been able to articulate his program. He has not been able to sell it. He's got to go out and tell people what we are achieving in Iraq ...

HARDY (off screen): He's had five years!

MICHAELS: ... the brilliant job our military is doing and why we're there. ,He has to do that with his economic policies, too.

ASMAN; OK. So, Lea, the economy's fine. Bush may not be. All that's so.

GOLDMAN: I disagree with the premise. First of all, there's a - there's a world out there, outside of the administration, outside of the White House. We're looking at - this country still faces a serious energy. That's not going away. We're starting to see the real and present signs of a deflated housing market. We're starting to see inflationary pressures. This is not - this doesn't bode well going into the future. And, then, then you put in the series of events: The protracted Alito battle which you can bet is gonna happens. We're also - it's no wonder the overseas markets are booming right now, because the U. S. is not a good place to put your money.

CLASH: Look, "Rocktober" is over. Bush ...

ASMAN: "Rocktober" is over?

CLASH: Rocktober

ASMAN: OK.

CLASH: Traditionally a bad month for the stock market. It's been a terrible month for Bush, but things are lookin' up for Bush. Alito, I think, will be confirmed a lot faster than people think. Everybody's forgotten about Miers now. The stock market has rallied behind this. The stock market doesn't like uncertainty. We're seeing a lot more certainty going forward. The, the Valerie Plume - Plame - thing. It was only "Scooter" Libby. It was nothing else and it wasn't for ...

ASMAN: So far.

CLASH: .. outing a CIA agent. Right. It was just for obstructing justice and lying. So I think the market - again, it's trailing about an 18 PE right now. That's pretty low. I think it's about - I think ... I think it'll be up 10 to 15 percent by the end of the year.

ASMAN (overtalks last 15 words): Alright. Mark Tatge, happy days are here again, according to Jim Clash! Go ahead, Mark.

TATGE: I think Bush has bottomed out and he's staying on the bottom. He's gonna be there with Millard FIllmore when it comes to the history ...

OFFSTAGE MALE VOICE (disapproving): Ooo.

TATGE: ... in terms of where they're gonna rank him. And I disagree. I would not buy stocks. I would buy bonds. I would buy inflation-adjusted bonds right now because I don't see the stock market improving.

ASMAN: They just, they just went through a big boost by the way last week. They just upped the interest rate on those. Rich, what do you think of Mark Tatge?

KARLGAARD: Well, I think he's full of it. You know, I was amused by Lea's litany of of, of economic holocausts yet to come, when in fact the economy in the third quarter grew at 3.8 percent GDP.

OFFSTAGE MALE VOICE: Yep. Yep.

KARLGAARD: Who would have predicted that? Katrina and Wilma were supposed to have taken it into negative territory.

CROSSTALK:

ASMAN: Yeah, Lea. Huge growth despite, despite the hurricane.

GOLDMAN: [We are now - we are not ?] knee-deep in the reconstruction effort.

KARLGAARD: There's a movie coming out - there's a movie coming out called "Chicken Little"

ASMAN: Hold on. Whoa, whoa. whoa. Go ahead, Lea.

END CROSSTALK

GOLDMAN: The jury is still out on how long that reconstruction effort is gonna take, what price tag is on it. Don't point to Wilma and Katrina and say: (wipes hand across forehead) "Whew! We made it!"

MICHAELS (exasperated expression): Of course the jury is still out.

ASMAN: Jim Clash. Jim Clash.

CLASH: Earnings - earnings are coming in for the third quarter at 15 percent above last third quarter. That's amazing. The stock market's gonna be up 10 to 15 percent by year end.

MICHAELS: You know, this convinces me more than ever that George Bush has not done a good enough job. The economy's doing terrific, yet I hear people here say: Oh, things are awful.

OFFSTAGE MALE VOICE: Jim ..

MICHAELS: I heard - they say over - Vietnam - uh - Iraq's a Vietnam. It's a mess.

GOLDMAN: Freudian slip

MICHAELS: It isn't a mess! Our army's done a brilliant job! We have every reason to be - Bush has not sold the program.

ASMAN: Quick word from Quentin. Go ahead, Quentin.

HARDY: Jim Clash just said it was just obstruction of justice and conspiracy - or perjury ...

CLASH (vehemently): Yeah!!

HARDY: I forget which. That shows you the moral tone of this country ...

ASMAN (offstage, not happy, ready to wind it up): OK.

HARDY: ... from the President who said he was gonna fix things.

CLASH: Oh.

HARDY: Five years in charge - the market's right where it was.

ASMAN: Alright.

HARDY: Why do you think he's good?

CLASH: It - Quen, it could have been have been a lot worse and yuou know it! You know it!

ASMAN: That is the last word. Could have been worse.

COMMENT

I think Mark Tatge had it right.

Bush has bottomed and is going to stay on the bottom.

As for the Millard Fillmore analogy, this is the opening paragraph of Fillmore's biography on the White House official website:

" In his rise from a log cabin to wealth and the White House, Millard Fillmore demonstrated that through methodical industry and some competence an uninspiring man could make the American dream come true."

That about sums it up, except that the current resident of the White House did not have to earn his way into wealth, having been born, to quote former Texas Governor Ann Richards, "with a silver foot in his mouth."

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