Blodget and Task say Obama suffers because “taxpayer always finishes last”

The latest WSJ/NBC News poll shows that President Obama’s approval rating has now slipped under 50%. This makes his the steepest first year decline in modern history.

Why?  You know what I would say:

See what Aaron Task and Henry Blodget have to say in the video below and then click the link to see the associated article.

Obama’s Poll Numbers Whacked by Bank Bailouts and Big Govt. Spending – Tech Ticker

And Forget about Goldman!!

Remember these posts – all of them I wrote in the last month – a full year after Lehman failed for god’s sake!

I’m sorry. It’s not about Goldman or Citi. It’s about government… and not just in the U.S.: UK rejects plans for OTC standardisation

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Banana republic, Banking industry, Moral hazard, Regulations and regulators on by .

About Edward Harrison

I am a banking and finance specialist at the economic consultancy Global Macro Advisors. Previously, I worked at Deutsche Bank, Bain, the Corporate Executive Board and Yahoo. I have a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA in Finance from Columbia University. As to ideology, I would call myself a libertarian realist - believer in the primacy of markets over a statist approach. However, I am no ideologue who believes that markets can solve all problems. Having lived in a lot of different places, I tend to take a global approach to economics and politics. I started my career as a diplomat in the foreign service and speak German, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and French as well as English and can read a number of other European languages. I enjoy a good debate on these issues and I hope you enjoy my blogs. Please do sign up for the Email and RSS feeds on my blog pages. Cheers. Edward


  1. Blurtman

    Maybe he really doesn’t have sufficient experience and courage, and really is just a great orator, nothing more.

    He is losing his base. One my my Senators voted for TARP, totally ignoring her consituents. She is a Democrat and I pray that she is not re-elected.

  2. par4

    Let us not forget the retroactive immunity for telecoms.That was the first sell out I remember and it’s been one after another since then.

  3. Doc Holiday

    What pisses me off (to no F’ing end) is that Sarah Palin is F’ing failing to take advantage of Obama’s stupidity with this on-going banking bonus/fat cat thing, AKA the economic crisis and systemic failure of capitalism. Sarah Palin could easily make Obama look like an idiot here by suggesting almost anything, any comment on a 4 year old level (or that of some retarded idiot). Sarah Palin is the perfect moron to step forward and play this drama for all it’s worth (multi-Trillions)!!! Where the F is she? This is no time to play dead and be slow toots, wake thee up and get your butt on the tube dude and slap down Obama!

  4. Blurtman

    One thing that I did not understand about the recent last presidential election – if McCain came out against TARP, and campaigned against the bailout, he would have gotten elected. But both Obama and McCain matched each other on this position. Why?

    1. nowhereman

      Why? because in order to even run for president you have to be approved by TPTB. If you are not able to become a Bildeburger, if you are not acceptable to the Rothschilds you are ineligible. Palin, McCain, Obama, Clinton, they were all pre approved, and they will not go against the interests of the chosen few, else they lose their approval, and will lose financial support, or at worst end up assassinated. When the Kennedy’s tried to reign them in look what happened. I’m not conspiratorial, I’ve just lived long enough to see too many things that work out this way.

  5. Bob Morris

    It’s about revolving doors between investment banks and D.C. with no real separation between them. It’s not just about the banks or just about government. It’s both. Because clearly, they move together and in lockstep. To the detriment of the rest of us.

  6. doc holiday

    I was hoping one post would do, but I want to suggest again, in a new way, that the Republican party could do something ironic by jumping on this Obama economic thing, and thus offer some honesty and they could as a party go after the banksters and kick ass — I know the reality of that is like asking Darth Vader to blow up The Dark Star, but when opportunity knocks and there is a multi-trillion blackhole that is screaming election bait … oh never mind..

    1. LeeAnne

      didja mean to say that the Republican party could do something that would be ironic for them by offering something honest?

    2. emca

      Here’s my reply: why would you want to shot a guy in his right foot, when his doing an outstanding job shooting himself in the left?

      My take: there is no real advantage for Republicans, to attack a President (who is also sympathetic adherent in policy execution) in a direct, high profile manner; maybe nearer the election, yes.

      The other question which remains, is who do the Republicans have? Sarah Palin? She generates as much mistrusted by segments of Republicans, as animosity she generates among many Democrats. Newt Gingrich? Come on. The list goes on (though not very long), but the Party on character and fundaments, is in as big of disarray as their Democratic adversaries, despite their ability to wear the unity mask.

    3. Argel

      The Republicans can only go so far attacking Obama on the bank+AIG bailouts because they too are beholden to Wall Street.

  7. DownSouth

    I think Obama believes he’s Mr. Rogers or something. Take this for example:

    “Obama Health Care Meeting Aims to Rally Senators”

    Several people who attended the session recounted this exchange:

    “What’s happening is not any fun for me,” Mr. Lieberman said.

    Mr. Brown, who has championed the public option, turned to Mr. Lieberman and said, “You know, Joe, it’s not fun for us either.”

    At that point, Mr. Obama stepped in.

    “Why don’t we all begin to have some fun?” he said. “Let’s pass the bill.”

    I hate to break it to the president, but the White House ain’t Sesame Street.

    1. Elephant swimming

      Ahem…Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran weekdays on PBS from 1968 – 2001 to an estimated 28 million viewers a day. But Fred Rogers was not only a television mentor, he was also a minister, a Navy Seal, an accomplished musician, songwriter and a teacher who earned more than 40 honorary degrees.

      The Tao Of Mister Rogers:

      Would anyone wish to piss this guy off…really?…LOL…off camera….I bet he could verbally and physically slap down the Prez and the critters on the hill with out breaking a sweat. HAHAHA smacked down by Mr Rogers rofl!

  8. Doug T

    Obama’s sellout is so fast and total, with only the barest hint of pretense, that we must wonder if someone caught him with a goat on his lap. That would certainly explain why he’s now turned on the sheep.

  9. Hugh

    Commentators like to wax poetic about how demanding and difficult being the President is. This is profoundly untrue. With both Bush and Obama, it is their abandonment of common sense solutions that doomed their Presidencies.

    If you remember it was only a few years ago that the Republicans were talking about essentially eternal Republican majorities. Ditto with the Democrats in 2008.

    So what happened? Our elites, Democrats and Republicans, are much more interested in feathering their own nests than in fulfilling even the minimal requirements to keep the country afloat. We have always had corruption in government. But nowadays it is its chief work product. Looting is what our elites of both parties know how to do best. In fact, it about all they do know how to do anymore. This is why both do such a poor job in governance and why it doesn’t matter except at the margins which is in charge. We are screwed either way.

    1. Edward Harrison Post author

      Hugh, I couldn’t have said it better myself. If we can get business as usual after this crisis this crisis, you know none of this is going to change except via a major Depression.

    2. alex

      Hugh: “Our elites, Democrats and Republicans, are much more interested in feathering their own nests than in fulfilling even the minimal requirements to keep the country afloat.”

      While there are plenty of egregious cases of politicians, and even more political appointees and staffers, to personally profit from the revolving door, for politicians an even bigger factor is the money needed to get re-elected. Jimmy Breslin, in his plain English style of writing, unabashedly called large and bundled campaign contributions “bribes”. And that’s exactly what they are. Politicians are by nature people who want power, otherwise they wouldn’t seek positions of power. You can’t change that, and it’s not in and of itself a problem. But giving them “campaign contributions” is not much different from giving them a suitcase full of cash for their personal use. People want money because of what it can buy. Politicians want to buy power, just as other people want houses or cars. So large campaign contributions are just as corrupt as giving them houses or cars – in both cases you buy them what they want instead of giving them the money to buy what they want.

      The obvious answer is publicly financed campaigns, with a provision that says that if candidate A gets more money from whatever source, then candidate B will get matching public funds. That would eliminate problems like Obama opting out of public financing so he could collect more bribes, or Bloomberg buying himself another term as mayor of NYC. While theoretically that would open up public funds to enormous liabilities, in practice there would be little incentive for candidates to solicit additional bribes because they would automatically be matched for his competitor. There would also be public outrage because soliciting additional bribes or using his own funds would mean that a candidate is forcing the taxpayers to automatically hand over more money.

      Unfortunately there is amazing little call for such a program. For example, the liberal blogs today are ablaze with complaints about what a sellout to well-lobbied interests the Senate healthcare “reform” bill is, but nobody cuts to the cause – the lobbyists are so powerful because they control the campaign contributions. It’s not the only source of corruption, but it’s by far and away the most important.

      Nor do I think this is a left/right issue. Both honest liberals and honest conservatives (and even honest moderates) are against corruption. I presume the main objection of honest conservatives is that this increases public expenditures, and isn’t a “little government” approach. I still think though that it should appeal to conservatives who are more pragmatic than ideological. I’ve had this debate with a number of conservative friends (I lean to the left politically) and I’ve generally brought them around to my point of view. I honestly share their concern about not wanting to have my tax dollars used for campaigns, but it’s the lesser evil. You can either pay for the campaigns directly, or pay for them many times over indirectly (investment in bribes has a fantastic ROI – just ask Goldman Sachs). Call it a necessary overhead in an imperfect world, like the cost of having a police force. It’ll cost you, but not having it will cost you a lot more.

      1. dlr

        I agree that corruption and campaign donations are THE basic underlying problem we are dealing with, but public funding of campaigns would be a disaster. If you only fund the general election, then all of the corruption, and bribes would just shift to the primary. If you fund the primary, what is going to stop 100 or 1000 or 100,000 or a million people from registering as a candidate just to get on the gravy train, and get their federal funding.

        IN my opinion the only solution is to tighten up dramatically on what donations are legal. To make bundled donations illegal. To make PAC donations illegal. To make donations of more than $100 per person illegal. To make anonymous donations illegal. To make an donation by anyone other than a US citizen illegal.

        1. alex

          “If you fund the primary, what is going to stop 100 or 1000 or 100,000 or a million people from registering as a candidate just to get on the gravy train, and get their federal funding.”

          IIRC the approach they’ve taken in Arizona is to require that in order to qualify for any funds a candidate has to get X donations of $5 or more. Note that the threshold is determined by the number of donations, not the amount as long as it’s at least $5. That way a $100 or a $1000 contribution doesn’t bring a candidate any closer to public funding than a $5 contribution. I understand it works pretty well.

          Also Arizona is hardly a left wing state, so this supports my contention that this is not a left/right issue.

          “make bundled donations illegal. To make PAC donations illegal. To make donations of more than $100 per person illegal. To make anonymous donations illegal. To make an donation by anyone other than a US citizen illegal.”

          I agree with all those things, but the Supreme Court keeps getting in the way. I think their “money = speech” interpretation is bizarre. Does handing my favorite politico a suitcase full of unmarked bills qualify as speech?

      2. Rest8r

        @Alex: I don’t agree with public financing. @dlr gave good reasons why (1000’s of candidates – see the not too long ago California election for governor when maybe a hundred candidates (even a stripper) ran).

        I see two issues: one is money of course but the other is gerry mandered districts. That’s why a Barney Frank can allow a prostitution ring to be run in his home and not lose an election (not to mention the recent pot growing incident). Frankly (pun intended) he can’t lose.

        I would vastly prefer that contributions be unlimited but they must be from an individual to a candidate; no corporate, no PAC, no union, no bundling, just one to one; donor and amount must be published on the web before any money is spent; failure to do so should result in loss of office.

        With properly created districts and known candidates and contributors voters may have a fighting chance. The odds of this are sadly zero.

        1. alex

          “gerry mandered districts”

          I agree that’s a factor, but not as big as the money. It would need something like a non-partisan districting commission or something. Don’t laugh, I understand it works pretty well in Iowa. Their elections are now a lot more contested.

          “I would vastly prefer that contributions be unlimited but they must be from an individual to a candidate; no corporate, no PAC, no union, no bundling, just one to one; donor and amount must be published on the web before any money is spent; failure to do so should result in loss of office.”

          I can’t agree that would be enough. makes it pretty un-secret which interests are donating to which candidates, but they’re all so well bribed it hardly matters (no criticism of which I think is great). Would Lloyd Blankfein or Jamie Dimon even blink before writing a $1M check for Obama’s or Frank’s next campaign?

      3. andrew

        I wouldn’t hold my breath for campaign finance rules to make a difference. Until the Supreme Court decides that money is not free speech, then there is zero chance of campaign finance to succeed in breaking the influence of special interests in Washington.

        1. alex

          While I agree that the Supreme Court’s “money = speech” notion is absurd, and makes things more difficult, people have found ways around it (e.g. Arizona).

          I think the bigger problem is that there’s no popular mandate for it, and even the bloggers seem to accept that that’s just the way things are. Good thing we didn’t have that attitude in 1775. If it became accepted wisdom that that’s the source of so much of the corruption, it might be possible to get it changed.

    3. jdmckay

      We have always had corruption in government. But nowadays it is its chief work product.

      That could be apt, once sentence SOTU address… not much else to say AFAIC.

  10. diesel mcfadden

    It’s because when they see themselves as dealmakers, they find it easy to trade off the interests of people who aren’t the table. you can almost see rahm running around pushing people to agree forgetting that HE is supposed to be the representative for the people, not the disinterested agent.

  11. dlr

    Rasmussen says Obama’s approval rating is down to 46%

    28% strongly approve

    41% strongly disapprove

    46% total approve

    54% total disapprove

  12. jimma

    Carter sold out to big tobacco late in his term when he knew he was swirling round the bowl. Evidently what the Dems learned from that is to sell out right off the bat, in this case to the bankers and insurers. Volcker gave Carter’s dying presidency the coup de grace, but this time he’s out there already calling bullshit on Obama’s crooked banking reform. It seems that Volcker has also learned not to waste time. When you’ve got a dying presidency, put it out of its misery right away.

  13. FedUp

    I’m fairly certain Obama does know how to be an asshole. It’s just he’s only an asshole to those on the left. The reason for that is because Obama is a conservative/neoliberal politician. Always was. Always will be. That some chose to ignore this through much of 2007 and 2008 doesn’t make it any less true.

    And because of that we’ve missed a huge opportunity to put this country on a better track (I won’t say right track given how broken Washington as a whole is). We had people wanting real change in this country when Obama took office. He had tremendous good will and energy. Instead of using that, he’s pissed it away pursuing policies that led to the GOP’s electoral disaster. We’ve still got two wars, preventive detention (and some reports of continued torture), executive secrecy, more bank bailouts, a weak stimulus, and a healthcare “reform” bill that’s shaping up to be an insurance company bailout. Add to that virtually no help for homeowners or individual debtors, no jobs bill, no attempts to restructure the economy which grows more and more divided between the incredibly affluent and everybody else, little-to-no transparency, and no meaningful bank regulation. Given that, in all of this, he has consistently preferred the rich, elite Americans over everyone else and embraced his rights as sovereign to hold people without trial and conduct government in secrecy, perhaps he’s not a conservative so much as a royalist.

    So basically, there’s two choices here: 1) Obama is too stupid to realize that virtually all of his policies favor the rich at the expense of the other 99% of the country; or 2) Obama intends to favor the rich over the rest of us and that’s why his policies are what they are. Personally, I don’t think Obama’s stupid. So that pretty much leaves asshole.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      I thought this was an excellent comment.

      Obviously, there is a wide spectrum of intelligence capacity among humans, and many people could probably be accurately be described as “stupid.”

      At the same time, labeling your opponent in a debate “stupid” or even justifying *in your own mind* that your opinion is right because your opponent is an “idiot” is a pretty good marker that the only reason your position might possibly be correct is luck (just like a broken clock being right twice a day).

      One is likely to make a fool of oneself when one assumes that an opponent is stupid or does not know what he is doing.

      Even without all the available evidence of Obama’s intelligence and talent, it would seem unwise to assume Obama is not doing exactly what he wants to be doing.

      So I’m with Fed Up and completely discounting explanation #1. But I’m not sure explanation #2 is the only other alternative. I think Obama does not necessarily want to help the rich; it’s just he has concluded that helping the rich is the easiest way to increase his own power. It’s a calculated gamble. There is rarely one right answer to any decision about a course of action. One faces a probability matrix because of the uncertainty of the future. Obama has looked as his and decided to cast his lot with Wall Street and pander and lie to Main Street. It might work. We’ll see. Even if it turns out wrong, however, his decision was not necessarily “stupid.”

  14. i on the ball patriot

    Its nice to see so many more people realizing the depth of the corruption. But believing that change will come from within is like believing in Santa Clause. Getting beyond that energy and resource dissipating fantasy is a necessary requirement for positive change. Otherwise the well planned, and so far nicely executed, long slow march to a two tier ruler and ruled world will continue.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I believe Obama’s deceptive seduction was so intoxicating and the subsequent betrayal-hangover so excruciating that much or most of the electorate will now commit to lifelong rehab. Obama’s spectacular treachery (or gross negligence/ineptitude) set against the specter of living-dead Palin-drones, make third party prospects finally viable—maybe even inevitable—as this gathering corruption and collapse accelerates.

      Then painful reality will once again force us to become self-possessed and conscious of our true greatness, above and beyond the petty, narrow, ego-bound materialism of the pitiable scrooge banksters. Merry Christmas, everyone.

    2. DownSouth

      And if this is ever to be, how is it to be—what power is there that will bring it about? Will it be the task of your masters, do you think—will they write the charter of your liberties? Will they forge you the sword of your deliverance, will they marshal you the army and lead it to the fray? Will their wealth be spent for the purpose—will they build colleges and churches to teach you, will they print papers to herald your progress, and organize political parties to guide and carry on the struggle? Can you not see that the task is your task—yours to dream, yours to resolve, yours to execute? That if ever it is carried out, it will be in the face of every obstacle that wealth and mastership can oppose—in the face of ridicule and slander, of hatred and persecution, of the bludgeon and the jail?
      –Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

  15. jack huntington

    Mr. Rodgers was never a Navy Seal, it takes two seconds to look that up instead of continuing a silly lie that we have all heard since we were children. I suppose he was in the same team as Captain Kangaroo and Bob Ross right?

    1. Elephant swimming

      Thanks thats a good catch and should be brought to their attention pronto. I’ll personally check the register myself and if found wanting demand a public retraction. TA!

    2. jdmckay

      I suppose he was in the same team as Captain Kangaroo and Bob Ross right?

      Correct, cappy Kangaroo was Admiral of Aussie Navy.

  16. Tom

    You can’t raise more private money than anyone in order to win and then stop sucking up to private money…

  17. Fred

    Everyone wanted a black guy as president. Black people are supposed to have large penises….how did we get the one black guy on the planet with a tiny dick????

  18. Richard Kline

    I might add as accelerators to Obama’s burgeoning popular rejection are the putrescent travesty which health care ‘reform’ has become and the ‘Excuse our bombs, democracy in process’ surge in Afghanistan. The former is a ‘reform’ alright, it’s saved the insurance industry by putting them on public subsidy at prices they set for coverage they determine; beyond awful. And I can say that when the Demos force this on the public and the latter finally see what its become they’ll have a hell of a lot more to wail about then before. And the Af-Pak ‘lop a few heads and fake it’ program pleases exactly no one except Stan McChrystal, who isn’t exactly Santa Claus if you’ve followed his career (dead bodies everywhere).

    —But then these are _all things Obama promised to enact_. Everyone. He hasn’t done a switcheroo, it’s the voters who were pinning the tail on the dumbass last year, many of whom are no wincing at the stud they embedded in their tockhus.

    I have no investment in seein Obama ‘fail,’ but it’s under his own control, and he’s failed himself before his first year out. I strongly suspect his approval rating will be on par with his predecessors by the time his four-and-out are up. Because he represents 1% of the country. Now, what was that old line . . . something about no taxation without representation. Well 99% of us aren’t represented in the workings of the US Federal Governement as presently constituted. I’m not for no government, per se; I’d just like to get some of the government back we constituted for ourselves. Sold, out the back door, somewhere in the 90s while most of the citizenry was stuffing their faces and watching their IRAs tick up. . . . Suckers. *sigh*

    1. aet

      Just because others (Hello again, MSM! Any updates on what ever happened to Representative Tauzin’s ‘full investigation’ of the role the MSM TV played on GW Bush’s election night? No? Forgotten already? No lessons to be drawn, even from recent history?) carried his water for him does not mean that he did not play the role of “Bait” in the most recent performance of the old morality play “Bait & Switch”.

      The study of the history of princes and the powerful does not lead me to expect anything particularly ‘moral’ in their conduct. It seems that I may differ from the view of the US Mass Media as to this.

      But what I do expect from them is competence.
      As do others, I think, who are more able to make their displeasure at performance felt: but such are, after all, of the same class and order of men.

      Competence as to serving which interests? Ay, there’s the rub….

    2. curlydan

      That is the odd thing, isn’t it? Obama has been trying to fulfill his campaign promises to the American people up to and including his endorsement of TARP and Bush’s economic agenda–which leads me to believe that he’s simply a bad politician.

      Mr. Prez: You must adapt to survive. Sticking to your playbook has gotten you nowhere but at 46% approval and falling. The “people” apparently want some action to save themselves, not the banks and insurance companies.

    3. jdmckay

      —But then these are _all things Obama promised to enact_. Everyone. He hasn’t done a switcheroo, it’s the voters who were pinning the tail on the dumbass last year, many of whom are no wincing at the stud they embedded in their tockhus.

      Agree w/your post, but not w/that comment.

      I’ve been paying close attention for a long time now (became fiercely politiically active after 2k election embroglio, more so after rapid succession of BushCo appropriation of Fed gov for benefit of K-Street… even before 9/11. Geez, so much, and most of it already forgotten. The idea that CATO was staffing his WH sent shivers through my spine, and for 8 yrs I got constantly schooled in expanding my concept of the extent to which those guys executed their bleeding of America).

      I’m 54, fairly successful… great 15 yr. run in tech, mostly as a code monkey on very interesting projects.

      I favored Hillary (no even close to perfect dem candidates, so…) but got behind BO when it was clear he was the guy. I took 4 mos off work, did everything and anything needeed in his office here (Albuquerque): phones, mailers, pounded the streets, managed/coordinated 1/2 dozen precincts… etc etc.

      My BO trepidation, which I posted in/on a handful of (IMO) fairly intelligent blogs that I read, was expressed similar to many others: eg. that he was eloquent… had oratory & presentation skills unseen since JFK. But… he was entirely, 100% unspecific and detailed on just what he was going to do w/economy, HC… just about everything.

      Given absolute dearth of track record by which to judge, I supported him in leap of faith. I believed him when he talked “change”, but was always troubled that he could turn out to be an eloquent speaker and… nothing else.

      I was excruciatingly well versed in details of econ meltdown, I can articulate it’s execution in minute detail (just have to take my word on that). The utter rot, corruption, aided and abetted by K-street in ways that gutted US economy… all under the radar of MSM and general public…

      His task was evident to me, and I spoke often and forcefully about it in his ABQ office throughout. For the most part, when I did so eyes just glazed over.

      I participated in 4 meetings w/him including NM/dem top dog managers. Talk was mostly about logistics and organizing goals: fund raising, GOTV, voter registration and all. Myself and a few others asked about policy direction… what he would do. Always, generalized answers… mostly “change”. But there also were implicit promises: that he would “always tell you the truth”, that he would “not conceal uncomfortable mistakes”… that kind of thing.

      I was persuaded.

      Despite his utter lack of detail on economy and where he was going w/it, I took some solace from everybody… his liasons to campaign that dealt w/us, and in particular some emerging (previously under the radar) voices I trusted: Roubini, Volker and a few others, all who said he’d assembled a crack econ team that was the best. They said he was involved, engaged… really understood things.

      To an extent, I understood (at least told myself I did) he/his campaign’s utter black hole of meaningfully accessible policy info: Dean was derailed by “the scream” and (frankly) Kerry campaign shenanigans, Gore by utterly absurd media that didn’t reflect reality at all… and a well tuned GOP hit machine that turned manifested surreal into public opinion.

      So I ran w/BO… had high hopes.

      Disappointmen and warning signs were almost immediate after the election. Rahm… an “operator” w/no track record of principle. Dean… the guy most responsable for rebuilding grassroots dem organizations, utterly ignored and pushed aside. Daschle… nice guy, but a luke warm, ineffective leader.

      Then word of Geithner… geez, I went ballistic. His track record portended exactly what we’ve got. And this, BO’s Treasury guy… maybe (IMO) most critical appointment he had… a narrowly focused WS insider and abettor w/credentials entirely outside the domain of what had to be done. And… worse, Geithner was antithetical to the best of his econ advisors, not to mention ideologically aligned… in every way, against anything remotely progressive: eg. agaist everything he strongly implied to those of his supporters that were versed in these things.

      So at this stage of the game it’s really anecdotal… they why’s and how’s long past and their momentum well beyond full swing w/results we have. But I, for one, think he most certainly did a “switcheroo”, and have certainty that I got played.

      Oh well…

      After word seeped out of nominations I mentioned above, but even before his inauguration, based on those nomninations I exhorted vociferously… warning of exactly what’s happened, eg:
      a) that he had country w/him, and rare, rare opportunity to take the country where it needed to go.l
      b) that given extent of econ/financial damage, he had limited window in which to execute: that he would lose the public if he didn’t.
      c) and (IMO) most importantly, he needed to build upon a/b by explaining to a public, which didn’t understand, precisely the mechanics which led to our mess. That meant, in part, a documented full capitulation of GOP… going back to Gingrich’s rein, to utter corruption: eg. you can’t fix a problem w/out acknowledging it.

      BO did none of this… none.

      So I read people’s opinions… whatever guess they have explaining what in his makeup led to these results: ego, corrupt, dumb, whatever. Of course, like everything else, all this is subjective.

      In that vein, my opinion… 2 basic things:
      a) he’s arrogant… eg. he thinks he understands because of who he is, not because of effort to understand. No intellectual rigor, not driven to make distinctions.
      b) enamored and seduced by his own oratory. I think he’s defined himself by outstanding moments of speech, and satisfied w/only that… to the exclusion of demanding of himself subsequent action in line w/those moments. Or, he doesn’t walk his talk. Kind’a like a Zig Ziegler.

      Personally, I’m way beyond disappointment or feeling betrayed… I think I had the picture about right by February. I hardly pay attention to what he says. I’ve decoupled reliance on US institutions (product quality/safety, WS/banks, and my own economic endeavors).

      Just learning to live realistically in a scam society.

  19. rickstersherpa

    I am skeptical of my own ability to read minds and discern hidden motives. Hence, I cannot, like some of the posters, discern the secret motives of the President. In fact, he has pretty well governed consistently with the way he voted as a Senator last year (he voted for TARP and the Telecom immunity bill)) and the center-right polices he campaigned on last year. As Paul Krugman pointed out at the time, and for which he got all kind of grief, the President ran to the right of Hilary Clinton. He ran advocating an escalation of the war on Afghanistan and a health care reform that basically accepted the current private system with subsidies (and except for the mandate, that is what may be passed although Senator Ben Nelson is concerned that the current bill doesn’t screw women and the working poor enough so he is holding up the bill). Finally, as the 2000 election as forever cured me of the conceit that there is no difference between the current Democratic Party (which, I am sad to say is not the New Deal Party any more, but a conglomeration of DFHs, minority, and country club and Wall Street former Republicans, and it is this last group that calls the shots) and the radical-authoritarian-theocratic-racialist thing called the modern Republican Party. I am with Atrios here and will use clothespin to not only vote but donate and work for the election of the less worst candidates.

    FDR took power in March 1933, after perhaps the saddest winter in American history with the exception of 1860-61. The capitalist and financial classes were, perhaps for the only time in American history completely demoralized. The Depression had reached its nadir. If Roosevelt had been elected in 1930, he would himself have been more conventional, and had been influenced by that class. I strongly recommend reading Schlesginer’s “The Crisis of the Old Order” to get a sense of that time and how Roosevelt’s thinking change (and how Roosevelt had very different Congress and Senate to deal with, along with a Republican Party that was demoralized and also not the captive of a mass movement (the conglomeration of beliefs and doctrines that is called Movement Conservativism), then Obama faces today.

    Obama was elected in the equivalent of 1930. Neither he, Summers, Bernanke, Barney Frank, or Geithner have been “disenthralled from tired dogmas of the past,” in this case the belief in a Financial services led post-industrial, neo-classical capitalism as the key to prosperity. That this group think is is also in accord with the campaign donations of New York (economically consrvative, socialy liberal. As David Rosenberg astutely observes in The Big Picture (Barry Rithholz’s blog), this Minsky moment of deleveraging and credit bust is going to hang along long time based on past crashes (U.S. 1870s, 1890s, 1930s, and Japan now.

    1. Edward Harrison Post author


      you make some very important points. First, the fact is Obama is not nor ever was a progressive. He has governed in accordance with his general voting pattern and campaign pledges.

      I made the exact same point on Monday:

      What should be outrageous is the degree to which he has decided to side with the status quo. He has shown a complete lack of political acumen in doing so as it misjudges the popular mood. After all, if you are going to make “Change you can believe in” your campaign slogan you should err on the side of too much change. it is a classic case of over-promising and under-delivering just as we saw in the political calculus surrounding the stimulus in January which was predicated on 8% unemployment.

      The second point you make about Roosevelt is also important. When I wrote my “Barack Obama as Herbert Hoover” posts, my point was to warn people that Obama was not coming into office in the Depression-nadir equivalent of the spring of 1933. As you say it is more akin to 1930.

      And your thoughts on Roosevelt are also spot on. He was considered a George W. Bush intellectual lightweight who got where he was through connections. Had he come to power in 1930, he would have likely been a one-termer like Hoover instead of a four-termer. Obama fails to understand this history.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        “What should be outrageous is the degree to which he has decided to side with the status quo. He has shown a complete lack of political acumen in doing so as it misjudges the popular mood. After all, if you are going to make “Change you can believe in” your campaign slogan you should err on the side of too much change. it is a classic case of over-promising and under-delivering just as we saw in the political calculus surrounding the stimulus in January which was predicated on 8% unemployment.”

        Obama’s siding with the status quo is not at all outrageous, and he is not showing a complete lack of political acumen. In fact it shows just how politically clever he and his handlers really are. They, and he, don’t give a rat’s ass about the popular mood. His job is to turn the masses one against the other and get them in an energy and resource dissipating perpetual conflict. It is a simple divide and conquer scheme just as being used in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with the techniques modified to fit the domestic terrain. The goal here is a two tier ruler and ruled world with a simple law enforcement overseer class. Obama is doing a wonderful job. Proof of his efficacy is that the scamerican marks are still milling about wasting their resources and energy in the totally non responsive to the will of the people two party electoral scam. There is no reason for the wealthy ruling elite to consider the popular mood when the marks are such timid and easily controlled chumps. In some ways you have to recognize that the wealthy ruling elite deserve what they get. They have bought and control a really top notch scam that now shapes their marks from womb to tomb and causes otherwise seemingly bright people enmeshed in the fantasy of it all to act like totally stupid fucking nut jobs.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    2. alex


      You make some excellent points, though I hasten to add that even if Obama came into office in “1933” there’s no reason to believe he’d be another FDR (nor can I be sure he wouldn’t be).

      An important difference between then and now though is that FDR had to take unprecedented and novel actions (actually Hoover had started that, but FDR did it on a grander scale). Whereas since the Great Depression those actions have become accepted wisdom. In some cases those actions have been taken, such as fiscal stimulus (albeit meager and poorly structured) and loose monetary policy (not directly Obama’s action of course). But the more painful steps of enacting (in concert with congress) real financial reform and taking failing banks into receivership (no matter how big) he avoids not because it’s radical but because it’s against the interest of his campaign contributors. Far from being radical, such steps would be a return to policies that worked well for decades after the Great Depression.

  20. Siggy

    President Obama’s decline in the popularity polls is of itself unremarkable and entirely expected. He inherited a massive economic disaster and has allowed the creators of the disaster to continue to muck things up.

    What is becoming abundantly clear is that President Obama is not a leader and might best be characterized as a poor cheerleader. He has surrounded himself with idealogues and politcal opportunists. As this financial crisis has developed, not one consideration has been given to fairly obvious circumstances. This Great Recession is not about misallocations of inventory and related investments. This Great Recession is about the insolvency of a great many very large banks and financial insitutions. This Great Recession is about contracts entered into by fraud. The sellers wittingly executed contracts they knew they could not honor. This Great Recession is about the egregious abrogation of regulatory responsibility that has been exrecised under the guidance that markets are efficient and that the prosecution of financial fraud is unnecessary in that the market will police itself.

    While there has been, and continues, a massive failure of the government responsibilities for oversight and regulation there has also been a massive coincidence of public apathy and non involvement. As it is now becoming very clear that the ineptitude of government is going to cost the taxpayers dearly, it is only in that fact that the public is beginning to take notice of what the poltroons in the Congress, the Administration and the Federal Agencies have foisted upon them.

    I continue to believe that the Republican Party threw the Presidential election. I continue to believe that the Republican Party continues to exercise a viewpoint that is the epitome of cyncism. Their collective view being: this economy is in a dire state and it is going to get much worse before it gets better. We do not want to be the party in power as this turmoil plays out. That expression of cynicism ignores their responsibility to their constituents to offer an alternative, a solution. Obstructionism is not a solution.

    Looking back into history, in all its revisions, is not very productive. I would not dwell to long in that effort. In my memory, Ike was one of our better Presidents. His warning as to the military industrial complex was cogent and is proving to prescient. What may be inferred from his parting speech is that the principles he enumerates apply equally to other economic sectors, quite notably the financial services sector.

    There is in all of this a sort of Gresham’s Law that is in effect. We are witnessing the displacement of responsible government by ineptitude and corruption. The economic dialogue is being larded with theories and arithmetic that have little to no application in reality and in many instances are absolutely false.

    Now as much as you might dislike President Obama it is less productive writing blogs that belabor his ineptitude and missdirection than would be the effort to proffer solutions and to campaign to remove those incumbents who march to the drummers of the special interest groups. Vote them out in the coming mid-term election. Vote them out in the next Presidential election. Keep voting them out until we obtain the representation we are entitled to. If we don’t we shall have the representati0n we are entitled to, we shall have joined with our corrupt representives in the destruction of that which we once valued so highly.

    While it would still be costly, this administration and Congress might be able to get a small part of it right by creating legislation that would nationalize the still insolvent banks, restructure them and sell them to NEW owners. It would be enormously helpful if the Justice Department would go to work and begin to prosecute the massive fraud that occured and continues in the derivatives markets.

    1. DownSouth

      Another excellent comment. You guys are hitting them out of the ballpark today–must have something to do with the season.

      The one thing I might question is this: “Vote them out in the coming mid-term election. Vote them out in the next Presidential election. Keep voting them out until we obtain the representation we are entitled to.”

      Both Martin Luther King and Gandhi concluded that normal methods are not effective in bringing about change, that some sort of civil disobedience or “non-violence” is also needed.

      Society will probably never be sufficiently intelligent to bring all power under its control. The stupidity of the average man will permit the oligarch, whether economic or political, to hide his real purposes from the scrutiny of his fellows and to withdraw his activities from effective control. Since it is impossible to count on enough moral goodwill among those who possess irresponsible power to sacrifice it for the good of the whole, it must be destroyed by coercive methods and these will always run the peril of introducing new forms of injustice in place of those abolished.
      –Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man & Immoral Society

      [N]either the people in general nor the political scientists in particular have left much doubt that the parties, because of their monopoly of nomination, cannot be regarded as popular organs, but that they are, on the contrary, the very efficient instruments through which the power of the people is curtailed and controlled.
      –Hannah Arendt, On Revolution

      1. Siggy

        Interesting point of view. The body politic is too stupid to manage its representation. The resolution of that might be to limit the size of the body politic. Consider, we are now a nation of 300 million plus. Our Constitution was written when we were far less numerous. The effectiveness of our Constitution is very much dependent upon an involved and competent electorate. Today, I do not see that we are benefited by such a society. Today I see rampant fraud being fostered by an idealogue governing elite who need to be removed from the halls of government and the political economy.

        It is my view that as our nation has grown, the quality of our primary and secondary education has diminished. Our colleges and universities have engaged in grade escalation to the point where it is rare that someone is mustered out for lack of scholarship. We continue to call our form of government a democracy when as written, our political contract is nothing of the sort. Our contract is that of a constitutionally empowered federal republic. As Ben Franklin observed and as I see our situation, we are losing the fight to keep our republic. In fact, I see things as being so bad as to suggest that we may well have lost it.

        So much of our daily life has been socialised as to make the pursuit of liberty untenable. The quotes from Neibhur and Arendt have imbedded in them the concept that a less numerous society has the potential of creating the highest degree of individual liberty possible. With that concept in hand I offer the thought that we would do well to consider how we might remove say 100 million from our society. Could we induce them to migrate to somewhere else? My premise is that that the larger the universe, the lower the level of intelligence. Now, there’s no guarantee that if we did manage to help 100 million to leave that the remaining 200 million would be more intelligent. In fact, it is highly probable that the 100 million who left would be the most intelligent of the society. After all, who wants to be a part of a pogram.

        So if there is to be any form of a pogram, we need to focus on those who enjoy the offices of government. We need to stop thinking about party affliations until we are able to identify and elect individuals who will serve the nation rather than any given interest group.

        Thus, I see the offered quotes as being a warning, be careful what you wish for. What I wish for is elected officials who will do their job. The longer I observe this theater, the more dismal I see the prospects.

        Always enjoy your quotes.

  21. Amit Chokshi

    Obama is a turn coat wimp. He suckered the progressives into voting for him. McCain/Palin would have been armaggedon but that’s the problem. Obama had a real chance to do something and be a real president but he listened to timmy and larry and moron rahm.

    Healthcare has no single payer or public option, no bargaining for drug prices, protect US docs by restricting intl docs from coming here. Now we have a bill that mandates insurance w/o a public option so we can get further fleeced by insurance cos.

    Bank issues have already been covered ad nauseum.

    Obama has a perfect pitch and blew it. Perfect in the sense that he should have know as soon as he got in office, the scumbag republicans would never support him. So he could have ringfenced them and said they are irrelevant rather than give time to buffoons like Boehner and Cantor and Kyl.

    Then he could have gone hardcore after the sleeze like Nelson, Landrieu, Lincoln, etc in advance of healthcare and pilloried them into voting. But he didn’t and we also have total idiots like Reid working the Senate.

    It’s pathetic. This country is so screwed up. So we have real issues like this to deal with and then the Faux News racket cranks up with the idiots that follow that show.

    So it’s this weird divide. I can’t stand what Obama’s done because of single payer/public option, bank bailouts, Guantanamo Bay/human rights, Afghanistan, etc while the right wign hates him cause he’s half black and maybe for some other reasons too that are not tied to any thing intelligent. Palin and Limbaugh are their leaders so its a party of complete idiots clearly.

    1. alex

      “He suckered the progressives into voting for him.”

      Who else were they going to vote for? Would Hillary have been any better? If forced to categorize my politics I’d call myself a progressive, and I voted for him in the general election with a clothes pin closing off my nasal passages. If I had to go back and do it again I would. However, even though I never had great expectations, I admit that even I’m disappointed. The only thing that gets me are his apologists on the left – hey, he’s not Bush! Talk about damned by faint praise. And their talk about the “realities of politics” all come down to the reality of bribes (aka campaign contributions).

      “while the right wing hates him cause he’s half black”

      That’s neither fair nor accurate. While undoubtedly there are some people who dislike him because they’re bigots, most right wing people dislike him because of his politics and policies. They hated Clinton too, and he’s pretty white.

      1. curlydan

        Well said, Alex! The hate was there with Clinton, too. The great majority of ring-wingers are far, far more nuts than racists.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      I’ve learned my lesson: do not vote for the equal of two evils. While Obama is arguably (marginally) better than McCain, at least under McCain the necessary collapse would have occurred quickly and the party most responsible for a fatally flawed ideology would have paid a fair multigenerational price for failure. It’s high time for voters to really vote their conscience, without clothespins, and let nature take it’s course.

      1. Amit Chokshi


        That’s actually a great point. If McCain and Palin won, things would have been horrific and been so quickly done that we could have had a monster sweep of the entire party of fools

Comments are closed.