Contrary to my initial inclination, the financial panic seems to be helping Obama. And that raises an interesting question: What will the Dems do now?
Will they support quick passage of the bailout, which may have the effect of improving things in the short term before the election, or will they play politics and seek to stonewall it knowing that the turmoil seems to benefit their candidate?
It's hard to say, but I think there's at least some chance that Pelosi and Reid hold a press conference at the end of this week during which they blame the president for using recent market turmoil as an excuse for demanding "dictatorial" power via the bailout bill, power which they can not in good consience give him. Under this scenario, they then state that any bailout will have to occur only after the election of a more "honest" and "reasonable" president and that, in the meantime, they are going to adjourn Congress and go campaign for reelection.
If this happens, things will likely get much worse before the election in November, and based on recent polls, that would appear to benefit Obama even though it may do catastrophic damage to the economy in the long run.
Would the Dems do such a thing? The sad truth is that either party would probably do it if they thought that they could get away with it and that the economic damage wouldn't be "too bad." In fact, if this scenario DOESN'T play out and the bailout sails through within the next week to ten days, that (more than anything else) will be an indication of just how dire things really are. Politicians just don't give up on playing politics unless they absolutely must.