The New York Times has a big investigative piece (with timeline) laying out the White House's lack of interest in the increasing signs of total collapse. It wasn't just lack of oversight that fueled the bonfire - Bush roadblocked every attempt to fix things.
As early as 2006, top advisers to Mr. Bush dismissed warnings from people inside and outside the White House that housing prices were inflated and that a foreclosure crisis was looming. And when the economy deteriorated, Mr. Bush and his team misdiagnosed the reasons and scope of the downturn; as recently as February, for example, Mr. Bush was still calling it a "rough patch.
UPDATE: The White House is pissed.
The White House on Sunday issued a blistering 500-word response to a scathing 5,000-word article on the front page of Sunday's New York Times that says President Bush and his style and philosophy of governing played a direct role in the mortgage meltdown that's crippling the nation's economy.
The response accused the nation's largest Sunday paper of "gross negligence".
I'm sorry. Are they kidding? The TIMES is negligent on this one????
(crossposted on Myleftnutmeg.com)
Time and time again, Bush ignored or dismissed signs if impending doom. In one case, the guy was let go.
Among the Republican Party’s top 10 donors in 2004 was Roland Arnall. He founded Ameriquest, then the nation’s largest lender in the subprime market, which focuses on less creditworthy borrowers. In July 2005, the company agreed to set aside $325 million to settle allegations in 30 states that it had preyed on borrowers with hidden fees and ballooning payments. It was an early signal that deceptive lending practices, which would later set off a wave of foreclosures, were widespread.
Andrew H. Card Jr., Mr. Bush’s former chief of staff, said White House aides discussed Ameriquest’s troubles, though not what they might portend for the economy. Mr. Bush had just nominated Mr. Arnall as his ambassador to the Netherlands, and the White House was primarily concerned with making sure he would be confirmed.
"Maybe I was asleep at the switch," Mr. Card said in an interview.
No kidding, Andy.
And then here's another example (just one of many) ~
A soft-spoken Texan, Mr. Falcon ran the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a tiny government agency that oversaw Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two pillars of the American housing industry. In February 2003, he was finishing a blockbuster report that warned the pillars could crumble.
How do you spell 'whistleblower'?
So when Mr. Falcon refused to deep-six his report, Mr. Raines took his complaints to top Treasury officials and the White House. "I’m going to do what I need to do to defend my company and my position," Mr. Raines told Mr. Falcon.
Days later, as Mr. Falcon was in New York preparing to deliver a speech about his findings, his cellphone rang. It was the White House personnel office, he said, telling him he was about to be unemployed.
Texas chainsaw massacre - Bush style:
As for Mr. Bush’s banking regulators, they once brandished a chain saw over a 9,000-page pile of regulations as they promised to ease burdens on the industry. When states tried to use consumer protection laws to crack down on predatory lending, the comptroller of the currency blocked the effort, asserting that states had no authority over national banks.
Did somebody sent a truckload of "My Pet Goat" books to these guys?
"There is no question we did not recognize the severity of the problems," said Al Hubbard, Mr. Bush’s former chief economics adviser, who left the White House in December 2007. "Had we, we would have attacked them."
All I can think of is that scene of Bush flying over Louisiana, looking down at the carnage. He didn't even have to get his feet wet.