Where the Beltway Mainstream Thinks Obama’s Performance Could Have Been Improved

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

The original title of this post was “Why Obama Was a Bad President,” but in the end I thought that would be preaching to the choir; good clean fun, but not much value added. (Here is a long and detailed — I won’t say exhaustive, because there’s just too much — thread on Obama’s malfeasance and bungling, suitable for retweeting.) So I decided instead to focus on where the great and the good in the Beltway felt Obama’s performance had been sub-par.

Interestingly, MoDo seems to ratified the trend toward Obama revisionism, with “Old Pol, New Tricks” on March 20. She wrote:

So now comes a delicious twist: President Biden is being hailed as a transformational, once-in-a-generation progressive champion, with comparisons to L.B.J. and F.D.R. aplenty, while Obama has become a cautionary tale about what happens when Democrats get the keys to the car but don’t put their foot on the gas.

The collective smirk [“West Wing Brain! West Wing Brain!”] was wiped off the face of Obamaworld this past week, as former aides expressed their irritation at the retrospective dissing, and while Biden’s inner circle enjoyed an unfamiliar sensation: schadenfreude. Now the friendly fire once aimed at Biden is coming toward Obama.

All month long, Democrats have been trashing Obama for the size of his itty-bitty 2009 stimulus bill — Chuck Schumer called it “small” and “measly” — and his refusal to sell it to the public.

Obama’s failure to go big and to send the tumbrels rolling down Wall Street certainly greased the runway for Donald Trump. The paradox of Obama is that Americans embraced radical change by electing him but then he held himself in check, mistakenly believing that he was all the change they could handle.

And Axios piled on, with “Biden’s New Deal: Re-engineering America, quickly,” on March 24, with this nugget:

President Biden recently held an undisclosed East Room session with historians that included discussion of how big is too big — and how fast is too fast — to jam through once-in-a-lifetime historic changes to America…. [Biden] loves the growing narrative [citing Modo, supra] that he’s bolder and bigger-thinking than President Obama.

Of course, “Biden’s New Deal” wildly oversells Biden’s accomplishments. But if the way to get him writing checks is flattery (“the growing narrative”) have at it, say I.

Now, my focus on conventional wisdom rules out a lot of topics where The Wise think Obama did just fine: topics like torture, drone strikes, health care, bank bailouts, the foreclosure crisis, and HAMP, as well as public relations debacles like the famous drink of water in Flint, and the Democrat version of babies in cages. The mainstream has no problem with any of that! However, those policy area where conventional wisdom gives Obama low marks may also be areas where a Biden administration has more degrees of freedom. I went looking for such topics, and most of my results were negative. However, I did find three: Deficit spending, climate, and the revolving door.

Deficit Spending

Deficit spending seems to have been the “key log,” the single log which, when removed, freed up the entire logjam of Obama hagiography. From the New York Times, “Democrats, Pushing Stimulus, Admit to Regrets on Obama’s 2009 Response“, March 16:

Party leaders from President Biden on down are citing Mr. Obama’s strategy on his most urgent policy initiative — an $800 billion financial rescue plan in 2009 in the midst of a crippling recession — as too cautious and too deferential to Republicans, mistakes they were determined not to repeat.

The pointed assessments of Mr. Obama’s handling of the 2009 stimulus effort are the closest Democrats have come to grappling with a highly delicate matter in the party: the shortcomings in the legacy of Mr. Obama, one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party and a powerful voice for bipartisanship in a deeply divided country.

The re-examination has irked some of the former president’s allies but thrilled the party’s progressive wing, which sees Mr. Biden’s more expansive plan as a down payment on his ambitious agenda. And it has sent an early signal that Mr. Biden’s administration does not intend to be a carbon copy of his Democratic predecessor’s. Times, all concede, have changed.


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a leading progressive voice, said the changes should be attributed partly to the growth of the left, but partly to an inadequate Democratic response to the Great Recession, which she said ‘created so much damage economically, for people, but it also created a lot of political damage for the party” by not being larger in scope.

“I came of age watching Democratic governance fail me and fail my family,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.

(Ugh, “governance.”) As did hundreds of millions. Business Insider writes today, in “Biden is splitting with Obama on the economy and the proof is in their stimulus plans“:

“The recovery from the Great Recession was long and painful. It exacerbated inequality and other forms of economic scarring,” Claudia Sahm, a former economist at the Federal Reserve, told Insider. “Those experiences are fresh in the minds of policymakers and the public.”

Congressional Democrats and Federal Reserve officials have been lining up alongside Biden. The rush to austerity in 2009 was a “big mistake” that left the country in recession for five years, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a March interview on CNN.

More recently, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told NPR that the economic recovery still takes priority over the national debt. While the country’s spending path is currently unsustainable, low rates ensure it can pay off its debt until the economic activity fully rebounds.

(I must confess to enormous schadenfreude at the sight of Deficit Hawk Larry Summers whimpering, slowly shrinking and transforming into a corncob. Who would have imagined?) More:

“If my 2010 self could see just how different we’re handling this recovery than we handled that one — when we were just pulling our hair out, because Congress was turning towards austerity when the unemployment rate was literally over 9% — it was just an outrageous approach to the recovery at that time,” Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist to Obama’s secretary of Labor, told Insider. “And so this is just incredibly different.”

“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that.” –Benjamin Franklin

The Clmate

Given that Obama underspent, the question becomes what Obama underspent on (not in terms of relief, but stimulus). Here, the consensus seems to be that Obama underspent on climate. From Foreign Policy, “Why Biden Has a Better Shot at Saving the Climate Than Obama Did,” it helps to be able to spend a lot of money:

The spokesperson said that major unions such as the AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have come out in support of the Biden climate proposals in conjunction with his “Buy American” agenda, which in total will cost trillions of dollars. He added that “if unions didn’t believe that we were going to create good jobs for their members, they wouldn’t be supporting our plan.”

This is not to say that Biden’s climate plans will work in the sense of preventing climate disaster; the concept of all these plans seems to be that the dreaded lifestyle changes will not be needed, and that manufacturing “Buy American” products will not, in itself, impact the climate. Jobs are work, and work consumes energy, of course, by definition. Nevertheless, the money — under the hand and seal of Lord Manchin of the Appalachian Regional Commission, of course — should be there for him. From Rolling Stone, “Democrats Get a Second Chance on Climate”:

One of the first big opportunities for Democrats during this Congress is the infrastructure bill they plan to push later this spring. The details are still being worked out, but what’s taking shape is effectively a domestic Marshall Plan — both for workers and the climate. In the package, Democrats hope to beef up the nation’s aging power grid; mandate utilities to rapidly transition from fossil fuels to carbon-neutral sources of electricity; expand public transit and high-speed rail; fund the infrastructure needed for an all-electric vehicle fleet; and make a massive investment in green energy and green jobs.

Democrats would welcome GOP support for their agenda, but they’ve made clear that they’re going forward one way or another. In practice, that means passing legislation through reconciliation, a provision in the Senate’s byzantine procedural code that allows some measures to pass with a simple majority — rather than the typical 60 votes needed to beat a filibuster. But even with reconciliation, Democrats would still need their full caucus on board, including Manchin. Democrats can build that support by making the benefits of climate action obvious and spread them everywhere, says Faiz Shakir, who managed Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign: “One of the most powerful ways that FDR’s New Deal operated was that it thought about projects in every congressional district in America, and I think that that’s the way we should be thinking as we do green infrastructure investments and green jobs.”

Certainly Shakir’s strategy works for the F-35, so why not learn from success? And from Peter Orszag in the pink paper, “Joe Biden’s climate bill deserves bold fiscal support“:

Yet after the $1.9tn coronavirus relief package, deficit angst is back in some circles, and the upcoming infrastructure and climate bill could cost another $2tn. President Joe Biden proposed a raft of new tax increases during his campaign that will be fiercely opposed by Republicans and business groups. In this showdown, climate investments should be prioritised — even if they are deficit financed.

Government policy alone is clearly insufficient to bend down the carbon emissions curve. Innovation and changes in business and private activity must do a lot of the work. Yet if we are to have any chance of meeting the 2050 goal of net zero emissions, we can’t afford to miss this moment on the policy front.

Climate change is irreversible; the world will never be the same. But fiscal risk is not and, if a fiscal crisis were to arise, we would still have options available. Over the next few months, the US is going to choose between these two. In this unusual moment, the priority should be protecting the globe rather than the budget.

(Sort of amazing to see Orszag blithely admit that Obama’s economic policy makers had no idea what they were doing — they were, after all, mainstream macro — but what of that?)

Money printer go brrrr!

The Revolving Door

Finally, although this is not strictly a policy area, there seems to be a general recognition that the Obama administration’s Flexians might have been just a little…. .well… unseemly in their lust to cash in before the next Democrat administration revolved into place. From ABC, “Obama-era officials return to White House worth millions,” a warning shot:

As several Obama-era officials return to the White House under President Joe Biden, their reunion comes with fuller pockets and deeper ties to corporate interests, new financial disclosure reports show.

High-ranking government officials typically divest their financial interests in specific private companies that they may regulate, as required by ethics rules, or recuse themselves from matters that could affect their personal financial interests. Some of the Biden White House officials have indicated in their disclosure reports that they will divest from their corporate interests, but the full extent of their plans to avoid conflict of interest are not yet known because ABC News has not yet obtained their ethics agreements.

I would imagine disclosure reports will become important once the infrastructure bill really gets rolling. The Axios headline is more pointed: “Top Biden aides cashed in on Wall Street after Obama service.” But the body is not:

The White House said in a statement: “These White House officials are experienced government leaders whose past private sector experience is part of a broad and diverse skill set they bring to government service.”>

Oh, diverse. More:

Although several of Biden’s closest advisers made millions through forging new ties to corporate interests after leaving Obama’s White House, their wealth pales in comparison to the net worth of many super-wealthy Trump confidantes.

True, but I don’t see why that makes any difference; a steak dinner can buy a contract at the state level, and I would imagine even six figures could have a lubricating effect at the Federal level, especially if laundered through consulting fees, board directorships, speaking fees, book deals, etc. All these little episodes of cashing in are weapons lying about for the left to use at crucial moments, should they chose to.


The Obama Alumni Association is whinging, and that makes me happy. From the Hill, “The Memo: Biden team’s Obama criticisms draw some blowback“:=

“I think they are utterly unnecessary. I mean, what point are they proving? That was then and this is now,” said Democratic pollster and strategist Paul Maslin.

One of the most prevalent tendencies in politics is to keep fighting the last war. But to Obama’s defenders, like Maslin, that kind of approach sometimes amounts to pointless carping.

“We are in an entirely different situation, entirely different circumstances. No president is perfect. Maybe [Obama] could have pushed to do more. So what? It doesn’t matter,” Maslin said. “He had to do stopgap things to save the economy, which he did.”.., “The only person more popular than [Obama] in the country is his wife — and if she’s No. 1, he’s No. 2,” said Maslin. “Don’t waste time on undeserved, unfair criticisms. Just do your job.”

When Obama didn’t, lol. “Hope and change.” Remember that one? The Biden administration, amazingly enough, has risen to the occasion. Whether that’s enough — what about health care? What about evictions? What about a third wave? — is another question entirely. In any case, Biden’s stimulus package already means he’s ahead of Obama on points, when his hundred days have not even passed.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Jobs are work and work consumes energy.” But if jobs in America consume less energy than jobs in China, then Buy American means American jobs consuming less energy versus Buy Chinese which means those same jobs in China instead consuming more energy.

    And Buy Chinese means you then have to ship the product here, which causes a whole other round of using energy to ship the product here.

    So Buy American may well mean Use Less Energy for the Same Amount of Product. Plus the energy not used by not shipping the product here because it is already made here to begin with.

    The next step is to cancel all Free Trade Agreements and abrogate all Free Trade Treaties so we can exclude product from every country which consumes more energy per unit of output than what we consume per same unit of output. No more carbon dumping by our trading enemies.

    1. Samuel Conner

      WIth the Suez canal blockage and the 2020 pandemic lock-downs, we’ve had two major unforeseen supply change interruptions within not much more than one year. I suspect that there might be some impetus for re-onshoring out of this. Doing that will not be so easy, of course. Perhaps the JB administration will embrace industrial policy.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        He may try, but it will fail. Industrial Policy is not possible without National Protection against Free Trade Agression. And Biden supports Free Trade Aggression. As do all the Catfood Depublicrats.

        We will need a different Politicultural Party Movement that will offer abolishing Free Trade as one of several things to pursue.

          1. Samuel Conner

            One could call the alternative “national resilience.” Within living memory the preservation of internal supplies of strategic materials and the health of strategic industries was a matter of Federal concern and policy.

            Maybe it will happen unintentionally. Russia was forced to pursue autarky by Western (primarily US) sanctions. Maybe the rest-of-world will develop an attitude toward US like that, and force us to rely on our own internal resources. It seems improbable, but I get the impression that US is slowly slipping down the slope toward “pariah state” status.

            1. Synoia

              Call it “Planned Union Busting” or “Worker Emasculation”. I believe the major ingredient if not the actual cause of shipping jobs out of the US was an assault on the success of Unions in the US.

              Thatched was typical British Middle class, who had no experience of worker/management or union/management situations.

              I too was fooled for years about “bolshie or lazy workers” until I graduated and went to work for Center File – Who screwed us into the ground with 80 hour weeks to meed a hard deadline, short paid overtime and never even thanked us for our efforts.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Free Trade itself is burned as a word in the public mind. So I continue to think that the words Free Trade themselves must be made to drip sewage and pus whenever and wherever seen and heard and spoken. Perhaps one could call it Forcey Free-Trade.

            And use the word in hostile oppositional sayings like:

            Free Trade is the new Slavery.
            Protectionism is the new Abolition.

    2. Jason

      How do you know that moving production jobs back to America consume less energy? Given that the production may be more machinery-intensive there’s a good chance it will be more energy-intensive. It might give the fracking industry new life. Moreover shipping the inputs to do production in the US may well be more energy intensive than producing in China and shipping the final product, because the inputs may be harder to move. If the energy accounting actually goes the other way, will you advocate Buy Chinese?

  2. drumlin woodchuckles

    If we recognize that the Joemala Administration will only be permitted so many degrees of freedom, then we can surrender our pointless resentment over the Joemala Administration not excercising degrees of freedom which we have already admitted that we understand have already been pre-forbidden ahead of time.

    That way we can focus on extorting the Joemala Administration to exploit every last degree of freedom it does have.

    And if a side effect of that is to give the Joemala Administration time to remove all the Republican and Libertarian cancer cells from out of every corner of the Administrative State, so that a better Administration has a restored-functionality Administrative State to work through, then we may be able to extort something better in the future.

  3. Glen

    How did that “hopey changey” stuff work out? Not at all.

    But, Obama DID sell out Americans and get rich. And looked good doing it.

    So he’s a success story.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Yes, yes he is.

      Which those people who speak of Obama’s “failure” still don’t understand, because they don’t wish to face up to the secret agenda which Obama really went there to achieve. And he was a success story at that real agenda.

    2. Harry

      A modern Chicken George.

      A colleagues with excellent contacts in Dem fundraising circles, tells me that there were serious concerns about the possibility of Obama being assassinated if he was too much of a reformer.

      I see team “no drama” decided that following in the steps of Malcolm or MLK was not for them. Very wise of them.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I don’t think that was ever Obama’s concern. I think Obama’s concern was burnishing his own self-image and also becoming America’s first Billionaire Ex-President.

        If Dem fundraising circle-members were worried about Obama being assassinated if he was too much of a reformer, they should ask themselves why they were worried about that. And maybe they should bring themselves to face up to what they dare not admit to knowing, that Lee Harvey Oswald had nothing to do with the Kennedy Assassination, that James Earl Ray had nothing to do with the Dr. King assassination, that Sirhan Sirhan had nothing to do with the Bobbie Kennedy assassination.

        And then begin to ask themselves . . . . well — who did? At the upper command levels?

        They might start by reading the series of related articles called ” Assassination” by Jeff Wells on the Rigorous Intuition 2.0 Blog.


    1. voteforno6

      Eh, ignore him. The baseball season is about to start, so that’ll keep him distracted.

  4. ambrit

    I’m beginning to think that events will overtake the Biden Administration, no matter how “progressive” it wishes to be. [Of which I am not convinced. One-upmanship played between Biden’s team and Obama’s team does not translate to “progressive” policy.]
    For instance, the Russians are becoming more assertive on the diplomatic front. They are taking a more hard line stance on issues related to America’s demonization of their State.
    The Pandemic is not even slowing down, yet, a false sense of triumphalism holds sway on that front.
    A stymied or ‘benignly neglected’ eviction moratorium will cascade quickly.
    Those Black Swans are still lurking.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The “black” swan is the swan we couldn’t/ didn’t expect. As such, if the EverGiven becomes the EverStuck for long enough to cause a chain of falling domino problems in shipping and trade and just in time thing-assembling, that could be the black swan , because unexpected.

        1. Robert Gray

          > … Evergreen was originally an airline …
          > I wonder if they are still partners?

          Erm … it’s not clear whether you are really positing some kind of connection between Evergreen Shipping and the CIA’s Evergreen Aviation, or if you just forgot the /sarc/ tag. Hey, there was also a punk-rock band from California in the ’90s called Evergreen; maybe they were ‘in on it’ too! :-)


    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Biden is already starting to seem more than a little like the Carter administration, which was of course supposed to clean house after the Nixon catastrophe, but instead became a presager for the institutional gridlock and grifting that has followed since….

      Mind you, I was only 11 when Jimmy Carter took office. My memory of his time was heavily colored by MAD Magazine, which was then at its apex, at least for satire, before SNL took the mantle:

      The Carterbury Tales” was a classic! Still makes me LOL….

      A dyshonyst bankerre would by incompytynt
      To balance the Budgette for the Guvyrnmynt
      So the Lance resyned undyr a suspyshus cloudde
      But his Presydent sayde, “Lance uv yew I am proudde.”

      When the Jody launchyd hys fyree attackke
      The scrybes uv Washyngton werre takyn abackke
      “You all are agaynst us!” the Jody dyd roarre:
      Now, wherre dyd we hyrre that refrayn beforre?

      Plus ca change…

      And in the same issue: “Who Killed the Country?”

      Who ignored its cry? “I,” said the Congress, “Once I got elected, Problems I neglected. I ignored its cry.”

      We were a different people then: the average American today wouldn’t know Chaucer, or Mother Goose, from a bloody hole in the ground.

    3. Geo

      Agreed. Just the other night I was talking with a friend about this subject. We reminisced about how last Spring we both had friends from the upper 1% of society (mine a Harvard Masters grad with mutuals in top positions of government and corporations around the world, his friend a very wealthy investor who runs in those circles). Both were manic last spring warning us to leave the cities because untold upheaval was about to happen. They said this was coming from their friends in government.

      That this didn’t come to pass I feel is less about these very connected people being Chicken Littles and more about how the powers that be did the absolute bare minimum to stop it from happening: stimulus, rent moratorium, etc.

      It’s all just assumptions and anecdotal but my hunch is that this “most progressive president in history” stuff is really just, “Keep tossing the riff raff crumbs so they don’t burn it all down!”

      But, just like a jalopy that you keep patching up with duct tape and dreams, sooner or later the car will break down for good. Some of those issues you mention could conceivably be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back. (Apologies for mass mixing of metaphors)

  5. Miami Mitch

    That last bit on Biden’s Stimulus success..I have to say, many on disability are very frustrated at him because they have yet to see the $1400 stimulus check yet. a lot o finger pointing but they are not getting any dates. I can tell you they are blaming him since he could have done more even is the head of the SSA is a Trump appointee. Take a look at the what someone said after Kamala applauds Biden for all the great work he has done:


    Things like that make people not want to vote for you. And there is more:


    1. John Zelnicker

      @Miami Mitch
      March 28, 2021 at 6:32 pm

      I’m also on Social Security and haven’t received my stimulus check either. From what I have read it is indeed the Trump-appointed Administrator and his deputy at SSA who are holding up the stimulus checks going to Social Security recipients. The IRS asked SSA for an updated address list two weeks before the bill passed and it wasn’t until Thursday that SSA delivered it to the IRS. They say it will take about a week to get the checks out.

      1. CarlH

        I think I remember reading that Biden was warned about Saul and it was recommended that he fire him. He didn’t. If my memories are skewed, please feel free to correct me.

  6. Carolinian

    Of course the cynical could suggest that the press are in need of somebody to trash as a gesture toward clawing back their own reputation, and not just that of the Democrats. There’s always Nixon.

    The NYT was very much on board with Obama and his foamed runways back in the late naughts. MoDo, meet Andrew Ross Sorkin. You both work at the same place.

    Of course we all do hope Biden is at least better than Obama. But unlike FDR he has hardly any mandate in the Congress with which to pull that off.

  7. km

    Moar War, in particular, to do to Syria what Obama and HRC did to Libya, and to escalate further our support of the neonazis of Ukraine.

  8. Darius

    I love any schadenfreude aimed at Obama. Is it wishful thinking to suppose that the Obama spell is broken? I think he will go down as mediocre at best and the man who paved the way for Trump.

    Some liberals will continue to make excuses for him.

    1. dave

      I work with lots of 30 and 40-something upper middle class women. Obama still has a tight grip on every last part of their lives. They still love him and Michelle and the kids.

      I don’t get it. I think it’s that there was never any actual threat to the status quo during his admin and also how good they feel about supporting a person of color.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I work with lots of 30 and 40-something upper middle class women. Obama still has a tight grip on every last part of their lives. They still love him and Michelle and the kids.

        Kamala Harris, directly into their veins.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Vast swathes of Black America still worship Obama as the First Black President and the “achiever for All of Us of Dr. King’s dream”.

      Here is an example. https://richardsolomon.com/artists/bill-sanderson/#gallery#img-719

      Here’s another: https://www.blackartdepot.com/products/great-african-american-men-by-wishum-gregory

      And another.

      get the idea?

      Jesus wept. And so did Black Agenda Report.

  9. The Rev Kev

    If Obama is being revised, it might not only be an effort to stop him from trying to shape the present administration but also a bit of payback. Biden may be typical of this faction and who remembers that quote of his – “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” There was another thing that he said at the time (you know – the thing) where he said that in other circumstances, a person like Obama would be bringing him his coffee. Don’t forget that Biden made his own Presidential bid in 2008 only to be pushed aside by an outsider like Obama. Biden was even then not popular even though I am sure that he thinks that he deserved the top prize. And I bet a lot of his buddies feel the same way. As it was, Biden had to accept second place though he turned it into a legend of him and best buddies Obama in public. And it took facing a deranged Trump with the aid of the establishment/media to get him over the line, even if he had to drag his own albatross around the neck in the form of Kamala. Must be why the Vice-Presidential home is still not ready for her to move in, in spite it being months since she took office forcing her to live out of her suitcases – as a message. We’ll see how all this plays out.

    And yes, Money printer go brrrr!-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1hCLBTD5RM (1:56 mins)

    1. skippy

      “And yes, Money printer go brrrr!-”

      Heavy sigh … you have no clue and yet you post on NC.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Not sure what you mean. Time was when money was anchored to something like grain or gold. Now money is something that can be expanded or decreased depending on what is demanded by a society as happened in WW2. My beef is not that so much money is being printed but that only a tiny fraction of it, in the US for example, is going to those who actually need it. That 2020 CARES Act should be renamed the 2020 No Billionaire Left Behind Act for example. And do we really know where all the money created in Oz since the pandemic started has been going? Scotty from Marketing was making noises last year how they will have to use austerity “to pay all that money back.”

        1. skippy

          Sovereign money has always been a matter of law aka political and circumstance to trade dynamics, thus when that takes a powder all bets are off …. its just a transactional tool, not unlike its predecessor the clay embossed token of accountancy E.g. the symbolism of the token is meaningless in the long run.

          If you have issues with how monetary operations function don’t blame the thing with no agency.

        2. skippy

          I would only add that YS would lash me with the walking gun if I was out of order … so please don’t equate human
          foible with some inanimate object E.g. its policy before in every case bar none ….

          1. The Rev Kev

            No worries, but meant to say before. Good luck with the lockdown. They say three days but if not, well…..don’t forget the dunny paper! :)

            1. skippy

              Does not effect me, have worked through the entire episodes, got 14 days without a day off ahead of me regardless.

    2. Darthbobber

      Blair House, where Harris is making do, isn’t exactly a hovel. Truman spent his presidency there, because of a White House renovation project. I find no record of him whining about it.

  10. voteforno6

    Right now, I would rate Biden as mediocre, which is quite an improvement. So far, though, my impression of Biden and Schumer has been confirmed. Left to their own devices, they will push some bad policies, but they are “persuadable.” That is, they can be pushed. We shouldn’t overlook the Democrats in Congress. As awful as they can be, they’re better than they were ten years ago. It doesn’t hurt that Schumer is up for reelection next year – I’m sure he’s very well aware of what’s been going on in the Democratic party in New York over the past few years.

    That being said, my opinion on what makes a good President may be shifting. Maybe it’s not so bad to have someone who’s not the brightest guy in the room, and knows it, and is kind of lazy.

  11. Sound of the Suburbs

    The Republicans aren’t complaining; he was a great president.
    Obama promised the US electorate “hope and change”, but bailed out Wall Street at 100c in the Dollar while doing little for Main Street.
    The electorate don’t like being double crossed and swung to the Republicans.

    The house of Representatives was lost in 2010, the Senate in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016.
    Full house for the Republicans and the populist Trump was soon in power.

  12. Darthbobber

    The press retrospective criticism of the Obama administration doesn’t seem to extend to its own role. Understandable, as its behavior has not changed. What they will say now they were unwilling to say then. Nor does the willingness to revise a subset of the ridiculous overenthusiasm of a dozen years ago imply any particular willingness to take a more rational or objective stance about present events.

    They’re the perpetual new broom, always sweeping clean. They get there by a different method, but they remind me of the centralization leaders of the old vanguard parties, forever issuing corrections for the “errors” and “deviations” of 5 or 10 years earlier, while retaining exactly the methods and system that continued to reliably produce the errors like clockwork.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      “Nor does the willingness to revise a subset of the ridiculous overenthusiasm of a dozen years ago imply any particular willingness to take a more rational or objective stance about present events.”

      Indeed. After four years of Trump, it feels like certain parts of the media is desperate to go back to being the giddy cheerleaders they often were. I guess that’s getting back to the “new” normal? But, these errors and deviations never come with any agency. They just sorta happened and no one knows how.

      Still, it’s interesting to see any revision of the Obama presidency, flawed as it is. That’s something I didn’t think I’d see in our lifetime, and I doubt Obama did either.

      1. JTMcPhee

        No damage will be done, by these puny re-thinks, to the reality that creatures like the Obamas, Bushes and Clintons (give full credit to all involved) who “stand between the pitchforks and the Owners” will continue to be well rewarded for past services.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe if Obama can become aware of being so widely hated and despised that he spends the rest of his life crying himself to sleep every night, then I might feel a little better in that at least he won’t totally enjoy his hundreds of millions of dollars of reward money for how he helped his patrons and owners while president.

        Maybe if he realizes that part of his legacy will be a public determination of . . . ” Black President? Been there, done that. Never again. Never ever.” then he might be forced to feel properly bad over that, too.

  13. Donald

    I agree that Biden has been mediocre on domestic policy, which puts him far above anyone going back decades.

    On foreign policy he has been a continuation of the Blob and on some issues fairly close to Trump. We are still making excuses for the Saudis. Israel can do whatever it wants. Trump’s sanctions on Iran are seen as leverage rather than as a brutal attack on Iranian civilians. Sanctions on Syria and Venezuela, though they might review the use of sanctions. Blinken is outraged that Bolivia might prosecute the fascist coupsters that liberals like the Nyt supported. Bellicose rhetoric towards Russia and China. The MIC needs its enemies.

    He might improve but things are not looking good so far.

  14. Bob

    IMHO President Obama wanted folks to like him and was happy to hand out goodies to gain that likeablility.
    The problem was that some folks particularly the Senate leadership couldn’t stand to work with a black man.

    The problem which our dear previous leader so successfully exploited is that the system is rigged. And we know this when bankers are allowed to skate around as they were when the Justice Dept let the statute of limitations expire since the suspect organizations were too big to fail. Of course glossing over that while the organizations were large perhaps to big there was no reason not to prosecute a criminal leadership. Somehow the criminal leadership was conflated with being too big and too important. We know this when Cabinet level leadership is allowed to destroy the Education Dept, or when the USPS is destroyed for the benefit of a few. And we know this when a large donor is allowed to buy the relocation of a US embassy to a new city in the Middle East.

    We can only hope that our present leader is somewhat less greedy and somewhat more ethical.

  15. JTMcPhee

    Footnote comment: I’d question inclusion of “high-speed rail” in the list of items needed to accomplish even the limited and mostly ineffectual goals of the Green New Deal, measured against what is really needed to decimate the carbon addiction.

    This is a liberal-cant shibboleth, as far as I can see, that would benefit only the PMC riders, promoters, developers and cagey (as opposed to sucker-class) land owners whose ownership would be affected by the creation or expansion of right-of-way. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24159571

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      As well as being energy anti-efficient by going fast enough to drastically elevate the air resistance it causes itself by going so fast.

      But spending all the train-money on High Speed Rail for the Acela Class is a way to pre-empt and prevent spending it on Normal Rail for the rest of us. So I expect the Joemala Administration to say “either you give us the money for our High Speed rail for the Acela Class, or none of you will ever get any rail ever ever again.” Which I myself would prefer if it meant no High Speed Rail for the Acela Class either, in a spirit of pure revenge.

  16. Socal Rhino

    The most prominent question to me is whether we retain sufficient institutional capacity to build something useful. We can dig holes and refill them certainly, and the opportunities for graft will expand. A lasting legacy like canals or interstate highways? It would be nice to think so.

      1. Synoia

        No, the US does not have industrial capacity.

        Where are the nuts and bolts made?

        Everything needs fasteners.

    1. JTMcPhee

      What could be real lasting legacies?

      All we seem to come up with are massive interventions into the natural realm, like high speed rail, canals and highways, stuff like that. What might be really useful would be internalizing the kind of thinking needed to produce healthy soils, undo damming and paving, encourage variation in the available niches and preservation of species, stuff like that — all of which are changes of heart and appreciation of interactions and interconnectivity and interdependence, rather than “engineering solutions” that are neither.

      There are a relatively few people thinking and acting on these kinds of frameworks, but the numbers and effects are so far pathetically small and don’t seem to be propagating. I would be happy to be wrong, but all the wealth is pretty much wagered on f__king things up even worse than they already are… I’m reminded of the silly TV serial, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” of which the IMDB short description is as follows:

      The submarine Seaview is commissioned to investigate the mysteries of the seas. Usually it finds more problems than answers…

      Even more apropos is the one-off movie offering of the same name, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyage_to_the_Bottom_of_the_Sea. Where the mission is to use nuclear warheads to stop a “scientific intervention” that has set the upper atmosphere on fire in an attempt to mitigate a climate disaster… complete with traitors in the crew…

      We already have a plethora of Ragnarok mythologies in place. Take your pick!

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Sufficient institutional capacity could be slowly and carefully regrown and rebuilt. But only if all the opponents of restoring sufficient insitutional capacity could all be ” rounder up” and “exterminated” first. That way they would no longer ” be alive” to prevent that capacity from being restored.

      We already still have the Interstate Highway System. We can delete the ” left lane” both ways and add it to the medians and use that land to build a moderately fast passenger train system going everywhere the Highway System already goes. And it can go slow enough that it doesn’t waste energy by going so fast that it creates its own air resistance which it would have to burn extra energy to fight its way through.

  17. Susan the other

    Imo. In all the meandering political trails it took to get here, over the last 50 years, opinions here-opinions there without ever any meaningful debate, the fact is: We are here. (There must be a law of physics involved, no?) And it is the perfect example of what is called “at first slowly and then suddenly” things change. Our political class, of which Biden is/was a big operator, kept believing in the wealth fairy and kept saying Well, tomorrow all the boats will float. And everyday they contradicted themselves by allowing every variance for a good social order to slip under the radar; rot the foundation. They were slowly acknowledging that we needed big changes. And now? Suddenly it’s all on the table. No one is denying much of anything. That’s because Americans are truly fed up. If it weren’t for Russia, China and Iran we’d still be pontificating about our exceptionalism – but they show us a different option. And we’ve already been lapped. Our government is fat, stupid, sweating, gasping and arrogant in its propaganda. Clearly, the propaganda must change. And maybe the concept of value will change soon too. They say the hardest thing to admit is that your business has failed. It’s over. So just think, how wrenching it is for our “government” to admit that its model has failed. The country has literally disintegrated on its watch. It’s not so much Obama – it’s that there’s nothing left to “govern.”

  18. Palaver

    I doubt that the president really makes any independent decisions. The fast food lobby just congratulated themselves for holding down the minimum wage. The insurance industry was equally enthused with Obama. So many of his disciples are out there doing the dirty work of corporate America that I prefer to remember Obama’s presidency as a Trojan horse of Ayn Rand acolytes and log cabin Republicans pouring their foundations in Democratic party.

  19. OverOverB

    I forgot about that Citigroup email, my goodness. I really do wonder how salty Biden remains over Bamz backing HRC in 2016.

    That the prog argument on deficit spending has finally permeated the mainstream is an enormous win.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I don’t think it has. I think the mainstream gatekeepers will bide their time till they feel the time is ripe for them to say deficit, debt, time to abolish Social Security which we are ” too bankrupt to afford it”, and sorry about that all you people who have pre-payed into it DOUBLE ever since the Great Reagan Rescue of 1983.

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