Monday, June 9, 2008

Where's Economic Al?

What happens to ex-Bush economic advisers, like Al Hubbard? Last fall, Al read the housing crisis handwriting and slithered out of public service. He did so with the stain of 7 million more uninsured Americans on his health care resume.

Economic expert Al didn't hide in shame in the shadows as gasoline averaged $4 a gallon in America. He didn't even slink far from the hallowed halls of government. From June 5-8, Mr. Hubbard joined the world's power brokers in Chantilly, Virginia for the annual Bilderberg meeting. Sitting near Al stood a spate of influential blue and red power brokers.

Blue: Tom Daschle, Vernon Jordan, Richard Holbrooke, James Johnson (the man charged with finding Barack Obama's VP), Kathleen Sebelius, and Harold Ford, Jr. It's rumored that Hillary Clinton and Barack himself "dropped by".

Red: Allan Hubbard, Hank Paulson, Ben Bernake, Condi Rice, Robert Zoelilick, Mark Sanford (rumored to be a McCain VP candidate), Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, neocon's Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.

The big money boys were out in full, Henry Kravis of KKR may be the most notable. Lots of CEO's and private equity underwriters (PEU's) attended the international strategic thinking event. Only a few media folks made the invite list, the CEO's of The Washington Post and French TV/radio world service, an editor with The Wall Street Journal, the publisher of an Austrian paper, a Greek journalist, the founder of a Turkish media company, and the head of a Swiss media empire. For "rapporteurs", the invite list showed two names from The Economist magazine.

How many will share the results of the meeting? If history is a guide, none will. An intrepid reporter from the nearby Fairfax Times tried to cover the event. Did he get a chance to interview Allan Hubbard? Might these have been his questions?

"It looks like over 9 million people will lose health insurance under George W. Bush's term in office? Is this personally embarrassing for you as his economic adviser for much of his second term in office?"

"The subprime credit crisis cranked up as you turned tail and yelped from office? How do you feel about the record number of home foreclosures as the faulty, even predatory credit practices occurred mostly on your shift?"

"How do you feel about the comprehensive energy policy passed by Congress and touted by the President in 2005, especially now that gasoline hit $4 a gallon?"

So far, the Fairfax Times only reported on a global dance performance. But, if I close my eyes and think hard, I can picture Al's canned response. Hubbard would respond dismissively to the obviously offensive questions, "Without my hard work and George W. Bush's stellar leadership, things would be a whole lot worse."

As Richard Clarke suggested, it's time to stop inviting people like this to polite society. And it's time for polite society to be much less secretive. I know where America's intelligence capabilities should be aimed. It's not at the local group of grandmothers pursuing peace. It needs to be aimed at our hallowed halls of government and their Faustian bargain with corporate interests, domestic and international.

The government industrial monstrosity has little capacity for self observation. It's addicted to money and power. GIM will act violently, if necessary, to ensure its needs are met. Right now, it's lathered up in greasy oil cash, baking casually in the sun by the Marriott pool. But, I think I hear its stomach rumbling. What will it feed on next? Maybe a Bilderburger? Ask Al, next time you see him...