Saturday, October 8

FED CHAIRMAN ALAN GREENSPAN'S SUCCESSOR SELECTED BY BUSH

"Business Week" has it all wrong. The search process to find a capable successor for outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is not underway. It has been completed. This blogger is privy to information from a high-level, unnamed source deep within the Bush administration (a naturalized American citizen of Filipino descent said to be a West Wing-based liaison to Vice President Dick Cheney's offices) that the president has made his selection and the formal announcement may come as early as Monday.

T. Austin McAutry, a long-time friend of the president and Mrs. Bush, is said to be the president's pick to fill the spot Greenspan has held for 18 years and which he will officially vacate come January 31, 2006.

McAutry, who goes by the nickname "Bubba" among his close circle of friends, which includes the president, is currently an Assistant Bank Manager for the Midland, Texas-based Midland-Odessa Petroleum Bank, and looks after its boutique, retail-banking niche. McAutry first met George W. Bush when he worked the president's first-ever campaign in a failed bid for an open West Texas' congressional seat in 1978. But the friendship was cemented in early 1979 when McAutry assisted George and Laura Bush in setting up a Christmas Club account and, eventually, in handling deposits for Arbusto Energy. Later on, when George Bush became part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball franchise, T. Austin left the Midland-Odessa Petroleum Bank for a brief hiatus to assist Mr. Bush in handling his personal banking matters in Arlington, Texas, and in performing some bookkeeping work for the Rangers.

McAutry is a 1967 graduate of Midland College in Midland, Texas, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Permian Basin History and was a statistician for the cross-country team. He later took some accounting and finance extension courses through Odessa College, which helped him land a bank teller position at Midland-Odessa Petroleum Bank when the bank began its much-heralded Management Trainee Program in the Fall of 1969.

McAutry is married, has three adult sons and a Silver Agouti guinea pig named "Rubbergate." His wife, Betty Lou, is a Senior Vice President, Commercial Lending, at Midland-Odessa Petroleum Bank, and met her husband while both attended Midland College, where she ran cross country and worked part-time at a credit union.

McAutry is not widely known in the banking industry outside of West Texas, but he did co-author "Retail Banking For Dummies," ghost-wrote a turgid tome entitled, "Usury For Competitive Advantage," and is currently working on a small opus about his long-standing fascination with hypomelanistic hognose snakes.

T. Austin "Bubba" McAutry has been a registered Republican all his adult life and has a resume that the president believes will win over skeptics who are likely anticipating a successor to Alan Greespan more steeped in government finance and macro-economics, and with an Ivy League pedigree. T. Austin reached the rank of First Class, as a Boy Scout in his youth, earning merit badges in cooking, auto repair, and dove hunting, and played Pop Warner Football for two years, as a second-string offensive lineman. He's a member of the same United Methodist Church that the Bushes attended early on in their marriage and has served as an usher there the past two years. McAutry enjoys Texas-style brisket barbecue, has recently taken up trap shooting, having received a high-end Perazzi shotgun last Christmas from his White House admirer, and rates "Giant" as his favorite movie of all time.

Too, the Bushes and McAutrys share a common friend in Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, who, it is said, did some legal work for both families during their time with the Rangers' organization, and a common enemy in Cindy Sheehan, who McAutry purportedly infuriated when he saw to it through a banking colleague in Waco, Texas, that her pin number was invalidated by ATM machines in nearby Crawford, Texas. Better still, it is reported that it was McAutry who convinced Harriet Miers to cast her vote for Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The president, currently engulfed by the firestorm that ensued in the wake of his nomination of Harriet Miers to fill the Associate Justice seat being vacated by Sandra Day O'Conner on the United States Supreme Court bench, is looking to the McAutry appointment as a way of patching up his tattered conservative base and reinvigorating an economy hard-hit by back-to-back hurricanes. White House insiders say that Hugh Hewitt and William Dyer have been lined up to support the president's choice of T. Austin "Bubba" McAutry in the all-important, center-right poliblogger community of the blogosphere, which should pretty much assure that the president will have smooth sailing in filling Greenspan's singular, much-hailed role at the Fed.