THE BLOG

Henry, You're Doing a Heckuva Job

03/18/2008 09:19 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I've been reading and re-reading this quote from President Bush, above the fold of the New York Times: "I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for working over the weekend." (I was chasing my toddler all day yesterday, and all weekend, Mr. President, while trying to prop up my collapsing 401K, so I missed hearing your little gem in real-time.)
I was so incensed by this statement that I immediately went to You Tube to watch yesterday's White House pronouncements to see if perhaps the President was kidding, when he thanked his Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for the Bush-version of personal sacrifice, working over the weekend. Before I watched the actual statement, I found one clip in the lead-up to the announcement, before Bush was ready to speak, where he is yukking it up, seemingly unconcerned that our nation's currency might be better used as toilet paper within a few months time. The picture in the paper captures the overall jocularity of Bush and his economic swat-team, with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke apparently the only one with the dignity to suppress a smile. His sobriety is confirmed on the You Tube clip. Maybe he just has more class. Or maybe he's the only one who finally sees the economic mushroom cloud hanging over the country, and realizes he's the sucker who'll be stuck cleaning up the fallout.
I don't mean to pick on Henry Paulson by comparing him to that infamous Arabian horse guy, Michael Brown, formerly of FEMA, who failed, with his boss, to help save New Orleans when it drowned, or even look like they gave a crap. There are so many culprits in this economic disaster, and so few clear answers on how to fix it that targeting on any one figure for blame would be misguided.
But the suggestion that working over the weekend as the markets burn is worthy of thanks or even of note should gall any of us. Here are a few of the people I saw "sacrificing" this past weekend: Fred, my fave 70-something receipt-puncher at BJ's. The guys along the highway in 30-degree weather, wearing "going out of business" signs and foam fingers pointing to the latest merchandise fire sale. The real estate agent holding an open house that no one shows up for. My friend Amiko, 4 months pregnant, who works weekend overnights caring for the severely disabled because her Iraq war vet husband can't make enough, as a teacher, to support the family. Oh yeah, and all those men and women sacrificing their weekends in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's going to be a heckuva an economy they'll be facing when they return home, we can only hope, safe and sound.
Now, President Bush seems like the kind of guy who bops his head along to that song "Everybody's Working For the Weekend!", you know, the one they play at 5 PM on Friday in the quainter precincts of America, where classic rock still lurks. But, Mr. President, do us all a favor. Bop your head all you want at quittin' time, get all your sillies out like my toddler does, and then get to work. Or, for the love of God, at least pretend.