Thursday, September 18, 2008
. . . just across the border from Zembla:
It was brief, two minutes. His brow was furrowed, and his words were careful: “The American people can be sure we will continue to act to strengthen and stabilize our financial markets and improve investor confidence.” Then, having imparted no specifics, he once again slipped out of sight.(Photo links courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.M.)
In the increasingly surreal world of the White House, the appearance was a sign that all pretense of normalcy is gone. All week long, with Wall Street engulfed by what analysts are calling the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, President Bush had mostly stayed out of sight, except when trying to maintain the façade of business as usual . . . .
On Monday, as Americans absorbed the news that the venerable investment bank Lehman Brothers had been forced into bankruptcy, Mr. Bush received John Kufuor, the president of Ghana, at the White House. The sun-dappled South Lawn was awash in color that morning, as a full military honor guard and a fife and drum band marched across the grass, entertaining the leaders before they exchanged the customary pleasantries.
“Your tenure has been full of events and challenges, some very mind-boggling and hair-raising,” Mr. Kufuor told Mr. Bush, raising more than a few eyebrows. “You are a survivor,” the Ghanaian leader told the American president. “And my hope is that history would prove kinder to you.”
That evening, after the stock market had nose-dived, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling more than 500 points, Mr. Bush, his wife Laura and more than 100 of their guests dined on Maine lobster and ginger-scented lamb during a state dinner in the African leader’s honor. Then, in their tuxedoes and ball gowns they repaired to the Rose Garden to watch actors from Disney’s musical “The Lion King” perform a medley of songs under the cool, dark Washington sky.