Bush: 'Wall Street got drunk and now it's got a hangover'

Secretly recorded, President Bush points the finger of blame for the credit crunch

Drying out is a subject on which President George Bush has personal insights. And when he used the metaphor of a drunk sobering up after a bender to describe America's economic travails, people sat up and listened.

"Wall Street got drunk," Mr Bush told a private gathering in Texas as he sought to explain why the world's biggest and most complex economy was teetering on the brink of recession.

When speaking in public, the President, a Harvard MBA, usually prefers euphemisms to refer to the millions of people who are hurting and losing their homes. "Challenges in the housing and financial markets," is a favourite one. But speaking to a closed-door Republican fund-raiser in Houston last week his explanation was much blunter.

"There's no question about it," Mr Bush said. "Wall Street got drunk, that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras. It got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments."



Discredited as President and so unpopular that even John McCain shuns him, Mr Bush still has the Midas touch when it comes to fundraising. Provided the doors are closed to the media, he is the most favoured guest of Republican politicians trying to stump up cash.

Mr Bush had asked his audience in Texas to switch off their cameras, saying he was worried about YouTube. But his comments were recorded on a mobile phone camera and passed to ABC television.

The video also contained a scoop that the Bushes will not be living full time at the President's beloved Crawford ranch, and are busy shopping for a house in Dallas. They may even settle in the wealthy suburb of South Fork, the setting for Dallas, the 1970s television hit. It should be a buyers' market, but the President complained that that was not the case. "And then we got a housing issue," he said, "not in Houston – evidently not in Dallas, because Laura's over there trying to buy a house today. I like Crawford. Unfortunately, after eight years of asking her to sacrifice, I am no longer the decision-maker. She'll be deciding." Mr Bush said he had offered his wife some guidance: "I said: 'Honey, we've been on government pay now for 14 years. Go slow.' "

But it was the comments about Wall Street's bender that caught people's attention. Tony Fratto, the deputy White House press secretary, played it straight. "The President has made this point before," he said. "What the President is referring to is the fact that the markets were using very complex financial instruments that had grown up over the years, and when confronted with the shock of this housing downturn, they did not fully understand what the consequences were going to be."

Mr Bush's own battles with the bottle are well chronicled. The revelation – just four days before the 2000 election – that he had been arrested in 1976 while driving under the influence almost lost him the presidency.

Mr Bush famously quit alcohol the day after his 40th birthday – 6 July 1986 – which he had spent getting blind drunk. He was off to Washington to work for his father and as Laura Bush recalled: "He knew he couldn't move there and work on his dad's presidential campaign and keep drinking like that."

Suggested Topics
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories