“President Obama: It’s Not Just the Words!”

By Marshall Auerback, a fund manager and investment strategist who writes for New Deal 2.0.

The post-mortems following the Massachusetts Senate by-election are coming in fast and furiously, but by far the most instructive remarks come from the President himself. He clearly doesn’t get it.

A majority of Obama voters who switched to Brown said that “Democratic policies were doing more to help Wall Street than Main Street.” A full 95 percent said the economy was important or very important when it came to deciding their vote. Surprise, surprise, policies do matter.

But what was the President’s reaction? ABC News reported,

President Obama said today that he feels he lost a direct connection to the American people in his first year in office because he focused too heavily on policy-making.

“If there’s one thing that I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values,” Obama told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview at the White House.

The arrogance and presumption of the statement is remarkable. Mr. President, the American people have core values, and they don’t encompass political cronyism and tolerance of fraud and corruption. And they go beyond mere reminders that “change takes time”.

Having persuaded himself that his powers of oratory can solve any problem (even minus the teleprompter?), the President patronizingly suggests that his “change” policies were not the problem, but that he failed in the presentation of them. It’s more likely that people were profoundly upset that with the “stuff” that the President and Congress were getting done, and his failure adequately to address the immediate crises that he faced in his first year in office.

When Obama continued the Bush/Paulson moves on the bank bailouts, that was the beginning of the end of his “change” Presidency. Health care was simply the confirmation as large proportion of his base was prepared to cut him slack waiting to see what he would do with the issue. In the end, we got a terrible bill, and no amount of salesmanship or nice speeches will change the substance. It does not even deliver on the promise that got most people prepared to hold their collective noses and vote for it, that of eliminating the practice of rescinding policies on the basis of “pre-existing condition”. Read the bill. As Yves Smith has highlighted, it allows an out for fraud. Guess what? Not telling your insurer of a preexisting condition, EVEN ONE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT, is fraud! Unbeknownst to most, fraud is the means under current law that insurers deny coverage. The bill preserves the status quo here. A nursing organization with 150,000 members opposed the bill for this very reason.

We have major problems in this country: rising unemployment, a stagnating economy, overly expensive health care and a large group of uninsured, which adds to the costs of the latter. How is further enriching insurers and Big Pharma (which the bill does) going to solve the cost problem? Similarly, how has throwing ample financial subsidies at Wall Street, helped the average citizen on Main Street?

The President expended so much political capital and goodwill placating the likes of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Now that they’ve got their government checks, they can do whatever they like and continue to poison the polity. The health insurance and pharmaceutical industries have followed the playbook, and used the political process the same way.

I am sure there are some people angered by too much government spending (aka, “socialism”) and others who are genuinely peeved that Obama is not spending enough. But more than that, there remains a profound sense of anger, mixed with helplessness amongst most people. The only means by which these people can manifest this anger (without resorting to riots and burning buildings) is via the ballot box. They will likely continue to take it out on people perceived to be the “ins”, the main feeders at the trough, versus the “outs”, who have got nothing, but the promise of a lot more economic misery. Massachusetts was the first significant political manifestation of this trend, and if his immediate comments are anything to go by, I doubt Obama will interpret the election result correctly, since his faux populism and reliance on “speaking directly to the American people” merely shows how contrived his Administration has become.

President Obama is providing increasingly disturbing parallels with one of Robert Redford’s memorable characters, Bill McKay, from “The Candidate”. If you recall how that movie ended, McKay escapes the victory party and pulls Lucas into a room while throngs of journalists clamor outside. McKay then asks his political spin doctor, Marvin Lucas, who engineered the victory: “Marvin … What do we do now?” The media throng arrives to drag them out at that moment and McKay never receives an answer. Today’s electorate is waiting for an answer from the President which encapsulates something beyond a mere “change” slogan. Judging from the policies, they’ve been getting, they aren’t happy with the answers.

Update (hat tip Ed Harrison): Paul Krugman is disgusted too, albeit for different reasons.

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53 comments

  1. Harry S Truman

    Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Two words for Harry S. Truman: “Dewey Wins!”

      Yeah, how that 1948 election work out? Yeah, Obama would have beat Dewey with awesome speechifying.

  2. Robespierre

    Well he will find out soon enough how wrong he is in the midterm election and eventually he will speech himself out of office

  3. Ron C

    Maybe we should take over all the banks in the U.S. and sell them to the Chinese to pay off our debts to them. Tell the Chinese to run them responsibly or be nuked. I like this idea the best.

    1. johnd

      Not sure this is a good idea. ‘Be nuked’ could happen to both parties..China has missile shields that work…not so sure about the American ones.

    2. JasonRines

      Fortunately, you are not in any form of leadership position at the national or international level.

      You should educate yourself on whom the Order is. It includes Eastern leadership as well as Western.

      Nations are opportunists. China took advantage of our corrupt leadership. China as a culture over thousands of years takes a defensive position when it comes to military affairs and aggressive on trade (which nowadays is not such a bad thing). After the dust all settles from this global economic meltdown and/or war we should be thinking long term on what kind of world we all want.

      Your comment was immature and irresponsible. I don’t want a Chinaman dead any more than I want an American dead.

  4. charcad

    Good piece by Auerback.

    The Democrats’ major problem is this year is 2010, not 2012. Obama is not on the ballot. Just their House & Senate majorities and some governorships.

    After the earthquake in Massachussets it should be reasonably clear that this year is not the standard mid-term election year. Even Senate control is up for grabs given volatilities like the 31% shift in the Brown-Coakley polls.

  5. albrt

    I am out of answers, but I don’t think we are going to get anywhere by suggesting Obama is afraid or just doesn’t know what is going on. He doesn’t look particularly afraid to me, and he certainly isn’t stupid.

    Krugman suggests Obama lacks courage. That makes no sense, given Obama’s calm and unwavering support for bankers, insurance executives and beltway insiders in the face of growing popular outrage.

    I am as disappointed as anyone. I clearly misjudged him. Apparently he has a very strong belief in natural elites. The elites must put on their oxygen masks before assisting others.

    A lot of the top liberal thinkers share this belief, which is one of the reasons the Republicans are so successful openly positioning themselves as the party of stupid people. That doesn’t seem like it should be a viable long term strategy, but I guess it works against real ivy-league elitists.

    I don’t see any good solutions unless Obama has a profound consciousness-raising experience in the very near future. I do think that’s possible, but it’s certainly not in my control and probably not in Obama’s control.

    1. attempter

      An elitist sociopath like Obama barely recogizes the existence of the people or their concerns. The lies of his campaign were like provison you take against unusual weather, or tending an exotic animal. But it doesn’t seem “real” to him. So he doesn’t experience the people’s rage and his defiance of that rage as expenditure of courage.

      Anyway, I doubt even his information on reality is much more comprehensive than that of Bush, who boasted how he didn’t look at any news other than what was predigested for him by his staff.

      That’s not because Bush or Obama is being “manipulated”; rather, it’s the way they prefer it.

      On the other hand, what he does experience as real is the corridors of power, the glad-handing among nabobs, the earnest lectures from Summers or Dimon, the neoliberal propaganda which has stirred his soullessness since he was in school, the peculiar way trickle-down ideology plus globalization somehow convinces establishment liberals that we can have a kinder, gentler fascism.

      So that he does experience as the “real” world, and it would take great courage for him to ever question it, let alone turn against it.

      But there we see his fundamental cowardice, since there’s no way he could ever muster the courage to even question.

      Even in spite of the filter some impression of reality must still seep through. But he gives himself a “B+”. And now he says the problem is insufficient communication from the top down, and that the people are simply too ignorant. “Yes, we haven’t sufficiently communicated; but in the end the problem is that the people don’t get it. We just need to do better in helping them get it”.

      Needless to say, that’s 180 degrees adverse of the reality.

      The last element of his cowardice is that he’s the bullying kind of coward. The other day I called him a kiss-up kick-down coward. We see that in the way he’s always willing to beat up on the few “progressives” who can wend their way into his sanctorum. He’s willing to send Rahm out to insult and bully them. If Glen Beck howls he’ll dump someone like Van Jones. So in all those ways he’ll kick down. He’ll beat up on the weak.

      But he’ll never do anything but kiss up to the strong. Bow and scrape before them. Be their waterboy. Shine their shoes. That’s all he’s ever done and that’s all he’ll ever do.

      So there’s the coward aspect to his snivelling little form of corporate fascism.

      In the end he’s nothing but a gutless little punk.

  6. Bob Falfa

    Well written post.

    I did not vote for Obama, but I had hopes that he would be a populist president of the Teddy Roosevelt stripe and re-regulate banking and investing. I would not have liked CnT, Healthcare “Reform”, etc., but wouldn’t have minded those burdens if the underlying problems with finance were being addressed. Instead the governing substance has been give-aways to the upper and lower classes and continual squeeze of the middle – how about indexing AMT!

  7. cent21

    Yes, but.

    There probably wasn’t much of anything to do to prevent unemployment from going up. The scale of the insolvency problems was too big. The drag on employment from our trade imbalance w/china, too big. Where we could be praising various leaders for having averted a depression, we now, perhaps, have the luxury of blaming the group that the problem was dumped on.

    There isn’t a governor out there exempt from problems probably worse in local scale than the President’s – slashing services by half or more, raising taxes. They don’t get the blame for the macro picture, but do get the blame for failing to pull a rabbit out of their magic hats, too.

    1. Andrew Bissell

      There probably wasn’t much of anything to do to prevent unemployment from going up. The scale of the insolvency problems was too big.

      The only thing in history that has ever solved a credit bubble is a deflationary depression, including the one which had largely run its course long before FDR ever took office. It’s why when Obama was elected I said to friends that he was “walking into a buzzsaw,” and would be remembered by suffering voters as a terrible president, no matter what policies he implemented. There are simply no magical, painless solutions to the losses (once hidden, and now staring us right in the face) created by eight decades of Fed-subsidized credit expansion. The only thing Obama has the power to affect is who will bear them.

      1. aet

        As the poor have nothing, I guess only the rich have any resources to “bear the costs”, eh?

        No tax hikes? No increase in interest rates just when the boomers are looking to “live off their interest’? No income support for the poor?

  8. charcad

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_massachusetts_day_after

    “The White House already has begun pivoting to a jobs agenda, and Gibbs said of the president: “We will have him continue to focus on the economy and jobs.”

    Who is this “We” that programs Barrack Obama like a spambot? Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Lawrence Summers? His utter dependence on his teleprompter is well-known.

    There was a time when Democrats accused Ronald Reagan of being a mindless puppet manipulated by others. He wasn’t as his many handwritten Presidential papers show. Now the White House press secretary refers to his own President this way.

  9. Hamanyone

    Back to the Krugman piece on Obama. Krugman is a member of the G-30. He is told what to say and when. So when he comes out and says Obama doesn’t have courage or isn’t the guy we thought he was, what does this mean? Why does the G-30 want Krugman to fish up this stream? We need to be asking way more questions about people like Krugman who like to portray themselves as one of us. He comes across as reasonable. Respectable. Level Headed. Gosh he’s even invited to the White House for a Roast Beef dinner. A swell guy we should trust. Pure Theatre. But to what purpose? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Any ideas out there?

    1. DownSouth

      I’m beginning to agree. Krugman, if not just a partisan hack, is certainly behind the power curve–the theory here being the power resides in the people. This latest switcheroo, from the position he voiced just a few days ago, shows how hopelessly lost he is.

      I commented on it a few days ago:

      Really, you couldn’t make this shit up.

      “The best political route also happens to be the boldest rhetorical route,” a presidential adviser said.

      The president’s Madison Avenue handlers have convinced him they can sell the voters anything. With the right spin, with the right “rhetorical route,” substance means nothing. Reality means nothing.

      Paul Krugman epitomizes the problem. In his column yesterday he wrote:

      Finally, about that narrative: It’s instructive to compare Mr. Obama’s rhetorical stance on the economy with that of Ronald Reagan. It’s often forgotten now, but unemployment actually soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. Reagan, however, had a ready answer for critics: everything going wrong was the result of the failed policies of the past. In effect, Reagan spent his first few years in office continuing to run against Jimmy Carter.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/opinion/18krugman.html?em

      Reagan, like Obama, was the beneficiary of one of those sea change elections that the United States experiences periodically. But Reagan, unlike Obama, actually made some changes when he got in office. This little detail seems to escape Krugman.

      Krugman, along with all the other Madison Avenue types surrounding Obama, think that with good enough spin doctors, nothing else matters.

    2. JasonRines

      Hmmmm. Could be simply be he is distancing himself from what will be catastrophe. As a Nobel-Laureate prize winner in Economics, do you think the global citizen, especially American might want to question him on his influence in the command economy we see today? I believe many people on this site and others give far too much credit to the kingmakers.

      They are not infallible. History shows us they blow their final wads attempting to keep what they illigetimately took from the people. Until we have evolved into some other life form they still crap out the same place all people do. In the end, we are all dead.

  10. scharfy

    Obama has really made a circus of his first year.

    There’s some impressive stuff here.

    Handed a trillion or so dollars to big finance, passed the largest earmark bill in the history of the universe, expanded the war he voted against, lined his cabinet with tax cheats, siphoned money to UAW by handling the largest bankruptcy of all times on his own, and created a healthcare bill so bad…

    …that Massachutsetts went republican? REPUBLICAN? Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa…

    There must be another category of Nobel Prize for some of this stuff.

    1. Sid

      Therein lies the problem, not to mention the Christmas Eve re-rescue of Frannie, the jaw-dropping lack of transparency with regard to official and back-door bailouts, and the unwillingness to start enforcing existing Federal securities and commodities laws.

      For that matter, if Obama had really wanted to blame the Bush Admin, a serious shakeup of the SEC, OTS, CFTC and FDIC together with some high-profile securities fraud trials and a less conciliatory attitude towards Wall Street would have made a lovely start. Instead, the Obama Administration has chosen to put a smiley face on Bush polices, only bigger and more expensive.

      Both versions of the “health-care reform” bills appear to be a dog’s breakfast, approaches that combine some of the worst features of private and state-run health care together with heaping barrels of shameless pork. Senators were declaring in press conferences that their vote was for sale if enough pork could be delivered! When Senators boast that they are voting for a reform bill because of side benefits, this does not engender public confidence in the proposed reforms.

      So anyone who thinks that the MA vote was not in large part a referendum on the health care bills (and Obama and Obamunism) is indulging in wishful thinking.

      BUT: had the Administration acted differently with regard to fiscal policy and Wall Street, not to mention taken a more active role in getting Congresscritters in line, the public would be more inclined to trust the President and his agenda. There would have been the usual mewling from the usual suspects, most if not all Republicans would have voted against the final bill, but in the end it would pass.

  11. Ronald

    “The arrogance and presumption of the statement is remarkable. Mr. President, the American people have core values, and they don’t encompass political cronyism and tolerance of fraud and corruption. And they go beyond mere reminders that “change takes time”.”

    Americans are spoiled rotten! They have lived a life beyond the imagination of most people on earth! The idea that they are simple wonderful god loving intolerant of fraud and corruption is the stupidest statement every made on this blog site!
    The spoiled Americans who have supported wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by large majorities are looking for an easy way out and they thought Obama had a magic wane; but guess what we really do have a big problem in this country and neither the Republicans or Democrats have a clue since their only hope to stay in power by somehow keeping the spoiled American public believing that our life style is really sustainable.

    1. aet

      Americans are being set up for more wars. Iran, Columbia – can’t afford health care, need the tax revenues for war.

    2. JasonRines

      Ronald, I like your other comments but I have to disagree on general merit of the American population. Of course, I am biased being American but let me try to point out some things you may or may not agree with:

      1) Outsourcing a countries money supply opens up corruption (establishment of the Federal Reserve). You should research how this was done in December of 1913.

      2) Americans still believe that a portion of our leadership are Americans. They are not, a hefty percentage are globalists and consider Americans as commodities.

      3) While most Americans were taking a debt-induced nap for forty years, leadership slowly but surely was driven by our creditors. Ever own a business where investors control ever increasing equity in your venture?

      4) The electoral system is beyond broken. Do you think it is coincidence there are so many Juniors of some former Senator?

      5) Have you considered the law of the jungle? Every other person I seem to meet is some form of con-artist, thief or completely immoral.

      Keep in mind Ronald a saying and it goes like this: It is not in simply how we fall, it is what we do to pick ourselves back up again. Time will tell and we won’t have to wait too many years to find out.

      Disclosure: Long the American people. You?

  12. Cecil Magoo

    Hold on now. The article you linked to says that only 18% of those surveyed switched their votes over. In a five hundred person study, I actually don’t know how relevant that number is, but that’s not an overwhelming figure. Further, there is no information about whether they were indepents who voted for Obama, or Democrats, which is not important in the context of the study, but crucial to your point. I have a feeling that the reasons that Brown won are complex and can’t be extrapolated to a nation wide feeling about Obama.

  13. Cecil Magoo

    I think Ronald is the closest to the truth. I can’t see how turning against a Democrat one year into office, to enthusiastically support a member of the party that reigned when all of the disasters now affecting us matured, is a sign of anything but a public with limited cognitive function. It doesn’t mean anything, except that people are fickle, stupid and ill-informed. And they get excited easily.

    1. Valissa

      I do so love how some people comment simply to denigrate those they disagree with or don’t understand so they can feel superior. My husband and I have clearly been accused of “limited cognitive function” because we chose to send an FU to Obama & Co. by voting for a Republican like many MA voters did. Given that only 11% of MA voters are registered Republicans I’m assuming you have enough cognitive function to realize that we don’t love Republicans in this state.

      BTW, that was the first time either of us ever voted for a Republican for Senate. We had numerous discussions about various voting strategies but ultimately decided that voting for Scott Brown was the only way we could get Obama to listen. And guess what? It worked! No one ever listened to us when were part of MoveOn or any other liberal organizations (which we have mostly dumped as a waste of time and money). And all the thousands of dollars we donated to progressive Dems in 2004, 2006 and 2008 were a really lousy investment as we got none of our wishes met. Weirdly, the biggest political thrill I’ve had in a long time was voting for Scott Brown in order to obstruct this adminstration. Look at all the headlines the last couple of days. Our strategy worked!

  14. MIT man

    In addition to Americans being spoiled rotten, we have devolved into a nation of cry babies. It is doubtful that there was anyone in our nation who could have stepped into the disaster that was inherited in late 2008 and have fared much better than Obama. The problems are too immense, too entrenched to be summarily dealt with in a year. Yes, Obama has made some missteps and with any luck he will learn from them as he moves ahead in his term. But much larger than any mistake of our president is that we Americans are too impatient and immature to do the hard work that is required if we have any hope of restoring our nation to some semblance of solvency and sanity. Instead, too many of us keep on our blinders and take the much easier path, electing to rail on about how every politician is corrupt, every policy is doomed to fail, every initiative is imperfect and therefore not worth tackling. And so it goes with the unending refrain of the cry babies across our land and I, for one, have had enough of their wailing.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I could not disagree with you more here. Obama has overpromised and underdelivered at every step of the way. He has done absolutely nothing meaningful in the way of reforming the banking industry, even though that was a pressing need. And he clearly intended to do nothing, given the team he put in place. He had tremendous leverage when he came into office, the banks were on their knees, and instead he continued the Bush/Paulson program of massive explicit and back door bailouts, with almost nothing demanded of the banks in return.

      Obama and his team are afraid of being called socialists. Not that there is any danger of him being one. FDR was called that and worse and it did not deter him. Obama is no leader.

      President Reagan sought to change the direction of the country, and got 75%-80% of what he sought. By contrast, Obama has more modest objective, despite his bold talk (his health care reform program is an abortion) and is willing to settle for vastly less of these lesser objectives.

      1. MIT man

        Yves, if I am reading you correctly and you think that Ronald Reagan changed the country in a good way, then I cannot possibly disagree more with you. Personally, I date his election as the beginning of the extreme lowering of federal tax rates that opened the door even wider to corporatism, as well as the dismantling of the safety net, extreme bipartisanship, etc.,—all of which continue to plague our nation to this day.

        You allege that Obama has done nothing to reform the banking system but, to be fair, isn’t that the work of Congress first? Obama can propose, lobby and or agitate for it, and ultimately sign legislation, but he must allow the checks and balance system that we have do its slow slog. And Obama promised early on that he was going to tackle health insurance reform first because he saw that as central to our nation’s economic health. It is Congress that has under-delivered thus far. But I do understand that it is much easier for all of us to target our frustration at our president, a one-man show, than the Congress, 535 strong.

        And, as a self-defined democratic socialist who has lived in Sweden in the past, yes, I certainly know that Obama is no socialist.

        As always, thanks for your hard work Yves to keep us all informed—even when we, or in this case I, beg to differ sometimes.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I am no fan of Reagan, I am merely pointing to the degree of change he was able to effect.

          And I differ re Congress. Obama has been simply inept in his dealings with them. For instance, the House Democrats wanted to keep the public option in. It was Obama, who had put it in the plan in the first place, who withdrew it. He was never serious about it, it was just a bargaining chit. Let me tell you, if I were a Congressman, I’d NEVER lift a finger for him after a stunt like that.

          He may have pulled similar bait and switches, I don’t watch legislative battles closely enough to have caught earlier examples.

          1. aet

            Reagan did not affect the change.
            It was a massive and co-ordinated media play in 1981-1983, after his election, that created that impression.

            Just like the media could never say anything bad about GW Bush (after hammering at Clinton for six years: a “change of tone”, huh?) even before 9-11: they did not want to “rock the boat” for a man who had barely become Pres.

            They did not wait long to take their gloves off when treating with Obama: at the first sign of populist pressure to modify the policies inherited from GW Bush, the media began to attack. As did the “tea party” jerks, etc.

            America’s problem is that its TV information services are simply a right-wing propaganda machine. Except for news of sudden disaster or violence, all of the TV and radio news is heavily managed from the top down to mold people’s perceptions. So there is never any “solution” to the “problems”:except for what the elites have already decided to do. (and sometimes those ‘problems” don’t even exist: they are created or “played up” to give a plausible reason for doing whatever expensive or cruel thing with taxpayers monies that they want to do – btw, how’s the development of those pain beams coming? How about those blinding weapons, the “dazzlers”? Nice to see taxpayers’ money being spent so liberally on such useful research!)

      2. Mark

        Amen. I voted for Obama, and it is difficult to express the depths of my disappointment. He has toadied to the banks, and deserves all the lost public support he gets (and then some).

      3. DownSouth

        Yves said: “President Reagan sought to change the direction of the country, and got 75%-80% of what he sought.”

        Can you imagine what would have happened to Reagan if, after campaigning against Johnson’s Great Society programs, he had just continued in those same programs?

        As the veteran pollster Daniel Yankelovich explains, public opinion is not something engraved in stone, but on the contrary is something that ebbs and flows, changing with the times and circumstances. Public opinion might favor one policy response at one time and another a decade later. “There are many creative tension in American life,” Yankelovich observes. “They are formed by values Americans wish to uphold that conflict with one another.” These priority of these values change over time.

        Here’s how Yankelovich describes Reagan’s electoral success in 1980:

        The cornerstone of the Johnson programs was entitlements. The theory of entitlements holds that all citizens have a moral and legal right to enjoy a minimum level of security, health care, education, and civil liberties, with government providing both the resources and the enforcement. In the Johnson years, and well into the Nixon and Carter years, the national priority was equality, even at the expense of certain liberties. Then came the Reagan revolution. Reagan’s pet slogan, “Get the government off the backs of the people,” meant nothing less than a reversal of national priorities. Americans felt the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of equality, and voters wanted a change. Americans had come to believe that the criminal justice system favored the criminal at the expense of the victim and that a morally lax and permissive society tolerated widespread fraud in the welfare system and let students fail to pay back the loans that had permitted them to get college educations. Twice before 1980, Ronald Reagan had failed to impress the mass of voters with his major theme. But by 1980, the voters were prepared to listen and to respond.

        In the Reagan presidency, government size did not shrink. It actually grew. But the nation’s priorities were turned upside down: now liberty and individualism were top dog, with equality deemphasized.
        –Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World

        Obama, like Reagan, rode into office on a wave of discontentment, from a public seeking change from the status quo. Reagan gave them change. Obama has not.

      4. Mickey, Akron, Ohio

        FDR had to contend with “socialists/communists’ to his left – real ones – not LIBERALS! And the perceived threat to capitalism, whether real or not, made FDR’s proposals more palatable to capital as the lesser of two evils. There was growing ORGANIZED opposition to capitalism in this country and it was reflected electorally with overwhelming Democratic majorites in both houses of Congress from 1932 onwards. Add to this that The Soviet Union was looked upon favorably by many Americans disillusioned by the Great Depression… Is that the case today? The two historical periods are not comparable.

        I’m baffled by either you or Marshall’s seeming dismissal of the historical context and structural impediments to change that confront this President. If the implicit assumption is that “business” is just another faction among equals that competes with the others to secure policies favorable to it then your naivete is the problem. Does anyone really still believe this is the case?

        In a capitalist society where the means of production are privately owned, the government is fiscally dependent on the well being of the private sector for its primary source of revenue – taxation. No accumulation no revenue! It’s that simple in spite of what the FED is doing… Consequently, “the privileged position of business” in a capitalist society makes it MORE equal than other factions in the policy-making process by default. Given the past 40 years of neoliberal economic policies even more favorable to business, no politician – even the President of the United States – can afford to incur the ire of the business community without massive public support and organized opposition that can sustain the government in its camapign against business. Does this situation obtain today? The ideological climate is simply too hostile for such suicidal posturing.

        Once TARP was forced down the throat of Congress the threat of NATIONALIZATION was taken off the table – not that it was ever really considered by anyone of any political stature. It would have been easier for Bush and Paulson to nationalize the banks as Republicans than for a Democrat to do so in this ideological context. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest. If the government had done so and then “botched” the job because it didn’t have sufficient experience – institutional and/or intellectual – how would this have played out? Then the argument would have been that the government was incompetent and shouldn’t have done so. That it went too far too fast. More ammunition and “proof” that government is incompetent and that such intervention is unwarranted/misguided. But we all know this was never going to happen.

        Just how much change is possible in this environment and how much change do Americans really want? If it means paying more for health care how many of us are willing to do so? From the looks of it, as long as someone else is paying for it not a problem. But when it’s our turn to pay the piper forget it! These are honest questions to which there are no easy answers.

        Is it just possible that “the privileged position of business” has become so dominant over the course of the past 40 years – economically, politically, and ideologically – that it will take another 40 years to redress the imbalance? Is that even possible in a global economy where CAPITAL can migrate overnight to a more favorable investment environement? Is it just possible that Madison’s fear of one faction becoming so powerful as to trample all the rest has come to pass? Granted this wasn’t the faction he was worried about but the consquences would appear to be much the same. When put in this context whatever “change” Obama does manage to bring about would look like an achievement to historians 40 years hence, wouldn’t it? Maybe not… but I don’t have that much time left.

        The most I ever expected from Obama in 4 years was to slow the Right-wing Bullet Train to Auschwitz – RBTA – down, but not to stop it or even begin to derail it. Perhaps this isn’t the change we can believe in or the change we wanted but it, if any and however paltry, may be all that is possible at this point in time – to slow it down, carefully analyze its underlying assumptions, and go from there. But ultimatley it’s the American people who must do the analysis – not Obama or some other elected offical – and then enable their elected representatives to affect the changes they can believe in. That means it will take more time than some of you are willing to give it or this President.

    2. JasonRines

      Please. President B.O. could have totally gone against the Order, used a particular intelligence agency to pull a 180 and liberated America from State capture by international and domestic banking interests.

      Sure, he would have either died for it or had assination attempt as did Andrew Jackson but that is exactly what the people were hoping for, another Andrew Jackson. Why sign up to be a public servant? Obviously these days it is for the perks and the meaning of the term has become irrelevent in our political system. I would say lets work on scrapping it but it is collapsing under its own weight already.

      President B.O. is being exposed as a naked Emperor and puppet Emperor to boot.

      Many, either elite or common man do not consider the rapid rate of business in the Information Age. Secrets are near impossible to keep as well. He is just being exposed far faster than what the Order expected.

      I guess the American people are not so much pea-brained whiners that they couldn’t figure out how to use a computer and Google.

      Your style of comment suggests your the Ivory Tower type. I have dined with kingmakers and slept in dumpsters.

      The best experiential adventure one can have on this earth is collaboration with the masses in moving our species forward.

      Sleeping on a cot or in a palace doesn’t matter either way to me. Do you know what? This is a depression. Tent cities are springing up all over the country. Fortunately, America is still a good enough place starvation will be rare. You have been called out sir.

  15. Jefferson

    The moment Obama was endorsed by Volcker in February 2008 it became obvious to any thinking person Obama was simply the appointed teleprompter reader for the globalists. Only an avowed “progressive” would have sufficient political coverage to expand the ME empire building while bailing out the plutocrats. The next wave of the GFC will include a final solution offered by Volcker et. al. to hand over US national sovereignty to the gnomes in Brussels. You have to admit that the globalists have done a fantastic job of discrediting the nation state paradigm in virtually every developed country.

  16. Doc Holiday

    Obama said: “I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us”.

    I know I should wait another year before I start to freely use the word retarded or corrupt, but why not get ahead of the curve and see this illusion for what it is …….. how did bailing out the wall street crooks and then allowing them to use taxpayer money for massive bonuses help America ….. you retarded and corrupt idiot?

    1. aet

      Would not want the banks to run out of cash before they had realized upon their security.
      Got to bail out the loan sharks.

  17. DoctoRx

    Yves: Love your comments. Perhaps you ought to take up writing!

    Re your point about BO losing credibility with Congresspeople, I had a patient who was a senior House Democrat. In 1996, he told me that Bill Clinton was so disliked/hated by his own party, and Bob Dole was so well-liked, that most (or many, I can’t remember exactly) Democrats voted for Dole over Clinton.

    IMO the reason Reagan got a lot of his agenda through ties into the famous relationship he had with Tip O’Neill, wherein the two Irish-Americans would share a beer after hours in the spirit of Irish bonhomie, no matter how much they bashed each other’s policies during the work day.

    Compare that to the stilted beer at the White House that was supposed to have something to do with diversity after the Cambridge cop/Gates incident.

    P.S. The Cambridge police union endorsed Scott Brown, even though his opponent, whose name I have ALREADY forgotten, was married to a retired member of the union. Ha! Some much for idiotic diversity summits.

    1. Keenan

      The Cambridge police union endorsed Scott Brown, even though his opponent, whose name I have ALREADY forgotten..

      Her name changed from Coakley to Croakley after the election results.

  18. craazyman

    Thank you Marshall, terrific post, really well said.

    It just gets worse and worse every time this joker opens his mouth. His campaign rhetoric was a truckload of empty BS. I was skeptical then, but he’s been so much worse than I ever feared.

  19. Dave

    Division Standings * U.S. Mid-Atlantic

    *Financial Lobby 4 0
    Health Care Lobby 3 1
    Labor Lobby 2 2
    Republicans 1 3
    Obama/Democrats 0 4

    *clinched division title

  20. Mark

    The arrogance in Obama’s quote is outrageous. He did the wrong thing and people understand it, yet he is attempting to make it seem as if the problem is a cognitive failure on the part of outsiders.

    Could it be that he understands the problem, and he understands that his comments are fluff, and he understands that something needs to be done about it if he wants a decent chance at a second term? This is what Bruce Krasting suggests in an article about Scott Brown’s election victory. Hopefully, Bruce is right.

    1. JasonRines

      Interesting that Hitler blamed the German people for the failure of the 3rd Reich. I wonder how President B.O. is going to react after rejecting him on a continuous basis?

  21. Cynthia

    Our mainstream media has become nothing more than a loud-mouthed mouthpiece for our moneyed elites on Wall Street. And the Democratic party has become so embedded with so many corporate whores like Lanny Davis and Evan Bayh that it now has become nothing more than a kleptocratic hotbed for aiders and abettors of our nation’s war criminals and financial terrorists. So of course these suck-up sellouts are going to blame the Democrats’ loss of power on the Left. But it doesn’t take a political genius to figure out that the powers-that-be within the Democratic party, dating back to the Clinton years and now led by Rahm Emanuel and other corporate whores, have moved their party so damn far to the Right that it has collapsed into the Republican party, thus collapsing Washington into a single-party town.

    So I think what is happening in Massachusetts, as I’ve said before, is that its liberal voters feel so betrayed by the Democratic party that they elected to sit at home and not vote in their most recent senatorial election. I also think that swing voters in Massachusetts voted for a Republican, simply because it makes more sense to vote for a Republican who really is a Republican and is actually representative the Republican party than it is to vote for a Democrat who is so willing to cave in to Republican demands that she sold her soul to the Republican party.

    So it now has come clear to me that Obama ran on a non-partisan platform just to entice swing voters to vote for him. But once he was elected to the office of the presidency, he didn’t use his non-partisan powers to reach across the aisle in order to push for legislation that would lead to the betterment of our country as a whole. Instead, he used his non-partisan powers to cave in to Republican demands, which has ultimately led to his selling of his soul to the Republican party.

    I wish I could find a political wonk who could backup what I’m trying to say about the potential downside to using a non-partisan platform to win elections. But believe me, when I do find such a wonk, I will use him as a reference.

  22. Cecil Magoo

    Valissa, fair enough. Just what was it that you wanted Obama to listen about? Because you got him to listen, but he has absolutely no idea what you’re saying.

    1. Valissa

      If Obama is as brilliant as so many have been convinced he is then he should be smart enough to figure out what went on in MA. I’ve read plenty of MSM and blog articles that seem to get it, so not sure what you’re point is here. Besides I could really could care less what Obama thinks or believes about anything. He is a hollow man and his karma is what it is. I was smart enough to NOT vote for him because I did my homework and knew he was a bought, power seeking and crony enabling creep.

      I predicted to the few friends that would listen that he would be EXACTLY like he has been. Recently a few of them have said they wished they had listened. But I told them that I realized that the truth about Obama was not palatable because they wanted to believe, and that I didn’t want to rudely shatter their hopes (like it’s hard to tell a friend that their boyfriend/girlfriend is really not good for them), and that it really wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. The good thing about Obama getting elected is that now more people than ever realize how little difference there is between the parties.

      But as the point of this article shows, politicians these days are more concerned about their messaging than any reality. This is the group think of the political classes… that they can control/manipulate the public via their “messaging” rather than actually having to do the hard work of governance.

  23. Cecil Magoo

    I’ve read plenty of MSM and blog articles that seem to get it, so not sure what you’re point is here.

    Well, if you don’t even know what the content of the message you were sending was, how do you expect Obama to know? Are you saying that everything that’s been written about that message is accurate? I read somehwere that it was a bunch of white males threatened because of their tiny packets? Is that what this is about. You see your refusal to articulate what message you were sending makes me wonder all kinds of things.

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