Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The failure yesterday of the bailout bill in the House of Representatives is an historical misreading of the temperament of its members and of the public. It was a shocking rebuke of the President and the Speaker of the House. The vote was flung in the face of both parties as well. No wonder the market collapsed. The financial world has entered new and uncertain territory. It is anyone's guess what will happen today.

From a PR perspective, the question arises of how the President and Speaker could have miscounted so badly. How could they have assumed that the House would go along with a bill that enraged millions of Americans? Perhaps positive support in the Senate blinded them to the reality of ill-feeling. Whatever it was, it is a legislative case study of how not to pass a law.

There is a lesson here for communicators. Know what the public thinks before attempting major moves. The administration tried to move faster than the understanding of citizens. People on the street do not see the emergency because they haven't seen the effects of a frozen credit market. It is unlikely Congress will attempt another vote today, so Americans may watch the markets melt even more. It is a scary time.


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