So the verdict is in. The House's failure to pass the bailout bill means that George W. Bush's record will not be as bad as Herbert Hoover's. It will be worse.
When Hoover entered office, he called a meeting of economists and business leaders to discuss how the country should best deal with prosperity. Then came October 1929. The stock market plummeted and never really recovered until after World War II. At least Hoover didn't trigger the collapse himself and he didn't mire the country in a trillion dollar war.
Hoover, unlike Bush, was a progressive president. But he was also an adherent of laissez-faire economics, which meant that he was intent on balancing the budget. The economy would never have recovered on his watch. Franklin Roosevelt averted the worst by establishing the New Deal. But not until World War II did the economy really begin to hum.
Today it is Barack Obama who has the potential to create a new New Deal. John McCain joined together with the House Republicans, most likely in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the party's hard right, to scuttle Bush's proposal. Now it's back to the drawing board--if Bush even has anything to draw up. Like Hoover, Bush has been extraordinarily passive, letting his Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke take the lead. They, and he, were unable to close the sale. Will there be anything left to sell in coming weeks?
The irony is that the House Republicans may well be sealing Obama's victory in November.
Should the economy continue to collapse, McCain won't simply lose the election, but be crushed.