Everyone is all abuzz about Frank Rich’s New York mag column: Obama’s Original Sin.  “The president’s failure to demand a reckoning from the moneyed interests who brought the economy down has cursed his first term, and could prevent a second.”

He’s quite late.  TBP readers should recall  this November 2nd, 2010 post, The Tragedy of the Obama Administration.

I am republishing it here as a reminder of how behind these ideas the MSM is:


The Tragedy of the Obama Administration

On election night six years ago, I wrote The Tragedy of the Bush Administration. In it, I despaired that:

“Once in a generation, the stars align for a political leader. There is this perfect moment – too often based on some enormous danger of long-lasting consequences for generations to come.

Once every half century, the perfect combination of leadership and threat, of challenge and response meet. The leader – imperfect, fallible, yet ready to rise to the occasion – grabs the brass ring.

Think Winston Churchill fighting the global threat of the Nazis, Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence, JFK’s dare to send a man to the Moon . . .”

The rest of that piece went on to lament how George W. Bush was granted that rare opportunity to grab the brass ring, to rise to the occasion — and failed miserably.

Here we sit, not half a century later as originally surmised, but a mere six years later. I once again find myself lamenting the opportunities wasted by a US President in response to a great cataclysm. In the case of President Obama, it was his response to the financial crisis. The opportunity for greatness presented itself, and was . . . ignored.

The President was swept into office on a wave of Anti-Bush sentiment. The stock market was in freefall, credit was frozen, the recession already 13 months old. As Rahm Emanuel said, “Never waste a good crisis.” A strong leader would have taken advantage of the moment, of the opportunity.

And what an opportunity it was: Over the prior 3 decades, the economy of the United States had been “financialized.” We became much more involved in ‘financial engineering’ than any other more productive engineering. Along with this financialization came increased revenue for the biggest banks and investment houses; greater profits, influence, and power. A wave of deregulation swept over the sector, freeing the banks from meddling oversight.

Thus, as the finance sector got larger and more important, it was paradoxically under ever less scrutiny, supervision, and regulation. With that new found freedom from oversight, the banks promptly blew themselves, and the global economy, to smithereens.

This was the environment in which the President came into office. What did he do in this scenario?

• He appointed two of the architects of the crisis to major White House economic positions: Lawrence Summers as CEA Chair, and Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.

• He made the enormous tactical error of focusing on Health Care Reform, while the banking crisis was still in full flower.

• He failed to marshall adequate resources to respond to the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

The first item damned him to a mediocre economic team, one that failed to respond strongly to the banks that created the crisis. The second error earned him the enmity of the opposing party. The third error was political, and likely cost him the House, and possibly the Senate.

The great irony is that the man who ran on the campaign slogan of Change failed to deliver it in any meaningful way — at least, where the public wanted it — in getting the reckless runaway banks under control, and in stimulating the moribund, post-credit crisis economy.

I hasten to add, that from a political perspective, the President was a wimp. Had Al Gore been President from 2000-08 (and controlled Congress), the next GOP President would have flailed him for the recession and crisis bank relentlessly. Hell, the GOP still beats Jimmy Carter like a piñata. Once Obama took office, that was pretty much the last we heard of the Bush recession. The public actually forget who authorized TARP, who bailed out Citibank, BofA, AIG, Fannie Mae, Bear Stearns, etc.

This amounted to political suicide.

Critics have debated Obama’s hands off approach to passing National Romney-Care, his giving up (?!) the winning issue of partial Bush tax cut extensions. I am perplexed as to why he would not force a full confirmation battle over the charming midwestern Elizabeth Warren as new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chair — Bnaks versus your grandma.

But as far as I am concerned, those are secondary political issues. To me, his presidency began its fatal downward spiral once he allowed Robert Rubin to determine his initial financial appointments. By passing over more pragmatic candidates not tied to banks and Wall Street, the president missed his opportunity to rise to greatness.

The opportunity existed to get the renegade banks under control — to reduce their leverage, their recklessness, and to get their hands out of the taxpayers pockets.

That opportunity was squandered, and Obama ended up as a defender of the banking status quo. It is where his presidency could have achieved lasting greatness, and instead was turned into just another elected official, who over promised and under delivered . . .

Category: Politics, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

59 Responses to “Read It Here First: Obama’s Original Sin”

  1. lalaland says:

    Geithner was an ‘architect’? C’mon. There are literally thousands of people who profited massively from the crisis – two people named Paulson come to mind – and all Geithner got was appointed Secretary of the Treasury instead of NY Fed.

  2. JasRas says:

    I agree with some of his points. There were definitely serious tactical errors, political errors, and errors of judgement.

    Politically, he seemed to forget as soon as he took office that he was POTUS. He almost immediately appeared to be a puppet to more senior Democrat politicians and staffers. That diminishes the role of POTUS. He lacked leadership and the ability to instill confidence.

    Jumping on healthcare “because that is what I promised in my campaign” was the worst decision EVER by any politician in my lifetime. You know what? THINGS CHANGE. The dynamic nature of things demanded a focus on the economy, jobs, and the financial system. If there is one error that should cost him a second term, this is it. A giant time suck was the healthcare debate. A boon for the writers of the bill (the health insurance industry)… And an utter failure in solving anything. It will guaranty a system of further mediocrity for my life and kids.

    Cronyism. THIS was something I thought he campaigned against. The same old D.C. tactics. Partisanship. Insiders winning out. Exclusion of fresh ideas and leaders from outside the beltway. THIS would be the campaign issue I would deem a failure large enough to lose a second term.

    Lack of reform in dealing with the banks. This is likely to be deemed a failure as very little has changed that really means anything. Derivatives are largely unregulated. Institutional aspects of Wall Street are left alone by D.C. while they focus on the Retail aspects that get them headlines and votes. Banks are bigger than ever, more screwed up than ever, and have the same crappy management. This stuff needs to change. My only hope is it happens at a slow measured pace, but it won’t happen at all… Why? The argument is that to seriously regulate our banks would put them at a competitive disadvantage on the Global Stage. Perhaps…but I think if you ask any hardened veteran of Wall Street, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Lehman, Bear, Solomon, etc did pretty damn well and had great reputations when they were partnerships. And the partnerships kept them from excessive risk because the well was not bottomless. Turning our investment banks into public companies could have been the single worst financial decision ever allowed. Other than demutualizing health insurance companies.

    The saving grace for Obama: The Republicans are perhaps bigger dunderheads than he.

  3. Sidfinkel says:

    Just a great post, right to the point, correct on every point and a very sad commentary.

    Even worse, it now looks like Mr. Obama is trying to morph into George W. Bush on the deficit/debt ceiling issue, and whether or not he succeeds in doing that, just the fact that his is going that way is ruinous for the country.

    If you look at the last section of this post here


    you see it relates to an article that reinforces your point, but comes eight months later. Some people catch on faster than others, you appear to be one of them.

    Thanks for reposting the message.

  4. dss says:

    We wanted a fighter, what we got was a man who obviously cannot stomach a good fight. His biggest failing is the lack of leadership skill, the ability to fight in the gutter if need be for what you believe in, and vision.

    Even if you fought hard and failed, it is better than kowtowing to those who want to destroy your presidency. People can respect a good fight that was lost, they cannot respect someone who gives up before the fight begins.

    He needs a serious primary challenger, someone willing to stand up and fight for what the American people want and deserve.

    What is even more depressing is that I think that Hillary would have done the same.

  5. wunsacon says:

    Agree with everything else said.

    >> The saving grace for Obama: The Republicans are perhaps bigger dunderheads than he.

    But, I still won’t vote for him again, even if it means a bigger dunderhead wins. Voting for Obama and the DINOs is still a waste of a vote.

  6. bobmitchell says:

    He had a fighter, he was fighting his base.

    Rahm Emmanuel, like him or not is a down in the trenches politician. He was fighting what we have left of a “left wing” the entire time he was in the White House.

  7. NoKidding says:

    Is there anything left you can accuse GWB of that you can not also charge BHO of?

    The only real difference in their legacy is what they did with (to?) the supreme court.

    There’s still a chance for BHO to win a second term. I’m on the other side, but there is _nobody_ compelling for me to vote for. I’ve voted in every election since 1992, but might sit this one out. I have no delusions that McCain (or Clinton) would have done anything meaningfully different, except in the courts.

  8. uzer says:

    either the fraud is prosecuted or the fraud becomes you. the fraud became obama.

  9. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    My doubts about Obama began when he voted, as a Senator, for retroactive immunity for the telecoms. He has held true to form, ever since.

    One of the most alarming but subtle differences is that we now equate Democrats with progressive/liberal politics, and Republicans with the opposite. Nothing could be further from the truth. Virtually all of them are corporatists. I can only roll my eyes when right wing ideologues call Obama a liberal.

    Bernie Sanders (and maybe Kucinich), stands head and shoulders, ideologically (sorry, Kucinich), above the dreck that makes up our political class.

  10. Broken says:

    Unrealistic expectations.

    No President has successfully taken on the banks. Not even FDR in the meltdown of 1932. Hoover’s bankers wrote the bank rescue plan of FDR’s “100 Days”. FDR was resigned to the fact that they were more powerful than he was. The Federal Reserve was created by the Wall Street banks and they elect the NY Fed board. How long has it been since a President has not had a Wall Street banker as key “adviser”?

  11. farfetched says:

    Bobmitchell is more or less correct.

    Obama morphed into a Republican before our very eyes.
    He thinks of himself as an attorney, one of those wheeling-dealing concessionary attorney’s, not the fight for the client type. Even at that he is an utter failure, starting negotiations by giving away the farm while his adversaries start at “take no prisoners, we’ll crash the world economy if you so much as mention our compromising a thing.” The Presidency isn’t for whimpy pussies, and we have us a humdinger of a fricking ass kissing pussy girlie boy. And I don’t mean that in the racist boy way, I mean it in the way that is a slap in the face to actual 9 year old boys who BTW, have bigger balls than Barrack Obama.
    As I discuss this with my friends they constantly remind me that past Republican Presidents were more to the left than Obama. Hell, Reagan, Bush Sr., Ford and Nixon were more moderate than Obama.
    We got change all right. The change was from a flowery speech making Black anti-Bush to Black Bush….but he can string a sentence together in order to screw us all.
    Gosh, I hope I don’t sound bitter…..

  12. The Window Washer says:

    Banks vs Grandma.
    Barry you must really have eyes for Ms. BP only.
    I was just thinking today about how Liz went from schoolmarm to hottie. She landed in D.C. with a new haircut, tailored suits and power. Hottie all the way.
    Banks vs MILF maybe but Banks vs GIlf no way.
    I still hope she runs for president someday.

    Put down the pipe and do a little reading on Timmy’s very important job as a bank supervisor. His job was to make sure TBTF type things didn’t happen.

  13. wngoju says:

    I also agree, sigh. And, I remember the org. post. He may yet make us proud, but one has to admit it’s not likely.

    OTOH, I was thinking today that he is trying like crazy to get re-elected, then maybe he’ll go bananas, recess anoint, dictate to banks, etc. He won’t have to worry about getting tossed out. But perhaps that’s wishful…

  14. Sunny129 says:

    Politician is some one who has sold his/her soul to devil, no conscience, intellectually dishonest and full of hypocrisy. His/her mission in political carrier: Elected and Re-elected. Rest is smoke and mirror show to obscure the truth.

    Those who believe in TRUTH, CONSCIENCE, INTEGRITY and HONESTY will NEVER enter politics.

    The ONE who does believe and do THE RIGHT THING is called STATESMAN, compared to millions of two bit, opportunistic ‘politicians’ out there! Statesman puts COUNTRY beyond petty politics, his party, even a hint of conflict of interest or his/her personal interest.

    Mr. Obama is NO statesman just another ‘two bit’ politician looking for Re-ELECTION. So are remainder of REPOCRATS (Dems+Reps!) They will say or promise ANY THING to get your vote. Their true masters are Corporations-Global Financial Oligarchy!

    We have NO Demoracy just Corpotacracy controlling both ‘right and the left’

  15. Robespierre says:

    Not even a Republican president would have been more republican than Obama. The question is where is the democratic party and why isn’t anyone from it challenging him in 2012.

  16. crutcher says:

    The solution to all this is right in front of us – and it’s China who’s showing us how to deal.

    The death penalty for egregious corruption. It works wonders.

  17. camchuck says:

    I respectfully disagree that tackling health care was a tactical mistake. If Obama had pressed hard for (real) financial reform, he wouldn’t have been able to achieve HCR. There just never would have been enough political capital for both. And I’m ok with his decision to prioritize HCR – millions of Americans will benefit with acess to health insurance when they otherwise would have none. And yes, I realize the ACA is very flawed and compromised, but so would the end result of a financial bill that attempted any of your proscriptions ( all of which I would endorse).
    While HCR fortified the opposition party, as you suggested, so too would have financial reform. Hell, Rick santelli’s rant that propelled the tea party movement was crying about loan mods. Attempting to Repeal Glass Steagall and CFMA would have created the same enmity on the right, just with fewer friends on the left.
    The way I see it, the critical decision – before tackling re-regulation of the banks- was whether to recapitalize the banks through TARP and other fed policies or to force organized bankruptcy, receivership and reorganization ( idiotically framed at the time as nationalizing the banks). No doubt the rubinites pushed for the former course of action which reinforced TBTF and emboldened the banks – but, damn, the latter choice would have taken some serious balls at the time. The S&P under 700, the economy tanking and fresh off the biggest financial scare of a lifetime, it would have been a huge risk.
    Anyway, bondholders and CEOs won and Obama pivoted to helping the sick and poor get coverage. Reasonable people can disagree whether or not this was more important than fixing the financial sector. But I don’t see it as a slam dunk tactical mistake.

  18. arbitrage789 says:

    Obama had only so much political capital. He used it on the $800B “stimulus” bill and on healthcare. Those two bills alone resulted in a large loss for the Dems in the House. Obama had to make choices, and overhauling the financial system was a much lower priority than the other two bills.

  19. eliz says:

    What is truly shocking is not how far the MSM and Frank Rich are behind the ball, but that Obama hasn’t demonstrated even an inkling of understanding the problem and the massive mistakes he has made — that is, if he gives a damn about Main St. One can only surmise that he is either a friggin’ financial moron or as complicit as hell.

  20. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    After Bushco, Obama had more political capital than any president in my lifetime. Healthcare was a giveaway to corporations (previously, there had never been a law that required all citizens to purchase anything from any private business — that’s about as Fascist as it gets). Again — both parties are the political arms of the Corporatocracy.

    As for Obama taking on the bankers, Bush left him several precedents by which he could have made damned sure there would have been little or no push back, including claiming Unitary Executive Privilege, extraordinary rendition, labeling them as international terrorist organizations (along with seizing and nationalizing their personal and corporate assets — and there is plenty o’ criminality, such as supporting narco-terrorism, by which he could have done so). Further, he could have cited SCOTUS’s clear ruling on Eminent Domain (it is our money they deal in, after all), as well as dusting-off our seldom used RICO statutes. As for crashing the system, he needed only to nationalize the banks, unwind their bad dealings, and run them as public utilities.

    Radical? There is only one way to loosen a Gordian Knot.

    Why didn’t he do it?


  21. eliz says:

    Petey – You’ve summed it up nicely. I couldn’t agree more.

  22. eliz says:

    I’ll know Obama has found economic/financial religion, when:

    1. Elizabeth Warren is head of the CFPB.
    2. Geithner is gone.
    3. There is a return to accurate and conservative accounting standards.
    4. Michael Hudson, William Black and David Korten become close advisors.
    5. Anyone with ties to GS or JPM is banned from his administration.
    6. The Fed is dismantled and Bernanke is investigated for illegal activities as former Fed Chairman.
    7. The TBTFs are also dismantled.
    8. There is an end to the “corporation” (as it currently stands) as a legal entity.
    9. Derivatives are essentially no more.
    10. Ever penny of the Trillions used to prop up the banks and pay out huge bonuses is clawed back.

  23. champs2011 says:

    Absolutely stunning. US CDS are now rising and markets believe that US is riskier to hold.


  24. uzer says:


    saying obama achieved HCR is akin to saying he achieved financial reform. hcr is NOTHING more than a tax, just as SS is nothing more than a tax. maybe you’ll get your money’s worth out of them but more than likely, you won’t.

    simply put, hcr is a continuation of ponzi financing.


    BR: Do you understand what a Ponzi scheme is? I suspect not . . .

  25. Jim Greeen says:

    At the EOD he’s just another politician,.,nothing more, nothing less

  26. socaljoe says:

    I’m afraid the system we have today requires funding from special interest groups to be elected. Without the funding, no candidate has a chance. By definition, the winner is beholden to the special interests. The candidates change, but the special interests remain the same… hence the same policies.


    BR: Solution: Public funding of Federal elections, full transparency of political donations

  27. lalaland says:

    I never blame the cops, the lawyers, or the judges for the actions of the criminals is all. Even those who draft the penal codes are not to blame for the actions of the criminals. Maybe they taunt the criminals with the promise of opportunities to be had, but they are still not the criminals.

    I think Obama was scared. He’s young and inexperienced and he tried to surround himself with experienced hands just like Bush did with more or less the same result. BUT!

    Obama got Osama, passed health care, ended dadt, has withdrawn many* troops from Iraq – all while dealing with a very disciplined Republican opposition (filibusters anyone?) while dealing with the biggest mess facing any president since FDR. Remember folks, the other choice wasn’t Jesus, it was John McCain and Sarah Palin. Bush had a full Republican congress and he only squeaked us out of a mild recession with 2 wars and endless hot cash!

    So yeah, I think he’s drinking too much corporate kool-aid too but there’s still time (if PK and others are correct Europe will be sunk deep in the mud around election time while we stumble, barely, upwards). And there’s plenty left in the pipe to tide me over anyway, hehe.

    *I know, still a huge force there but not combat anymore.

  28. Jojo says:

    @dss said “He needs a serious primary challenger, someone willing to stand up and fight for what the American people want and deserve.”
    Hear! Hear!

    But who might do it? I sometimes think that Robert Reich would like to try but I don’t think he could win.

    Anyways, looks like Obama is going to try and bury the jobs issue. So WHAT other issues does the WH hope that people WILL be focusing on if we throw out unemployment?

    Top Obama adviser says unemployment won’t be key in 2012
    By Ian Swanson – 07/07/11 08:25 PM ET

    President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the unemployment rate.



  29. JasRas says:

    The lament is not that he was POTUS, the lament is opportunity, and “Hope” squandered. It is a critique of words (the campaign) and action (the position). I suspect none of us truly realize (and I don’t really want to know) the pressures exuded on a person to get to be POTUS. I suspect none of us know how well character can stand up to a tsunami of internal party pressure, external corporate pressure, career staffer pressure…

    GWBush had his policy set pretty much by two staffers with 30+ years of D.C. experience; Rumsfeld and Wolfowicz… Wolfowicz dusted off his white paper on global affairs/tactics that had been shown to three other POTUS (Reagan, GHBush, Clinton) and filed away ignored. After 9/11, it was green lighted. A thirty year old paper written while he was a young staffer for Nixon that for most of his career marked him as a right wing nutter. But politicians come and go and staffers are what remain constant in D.C… and it was the right time for it.

    My point is, often action and policy we attribute to POTUS aren’t actually his. HE is as Bush said so aptly, “the decider” on whether it sees the light of day. In that, Obama and his close advisors made a critical mistake by placing all their credibility chips on Healthcare when it was obvious that priorities should have shifted. It was obvious before the oath, before his first speach, before senior Democrats ever bent his ear. And he failed to shift focus to problems before him.

    Because of this, we should be thankful that it isn’t worse than it has been.

  30. mathman says:

    Okay then, at least we all agree it’s going to be a “Republicans only” 2012 election. It may not be the end of the world or the end of civilization as we know it YET, but we’re well on the way and i don’t see any way out no matter who is elected. As long as our government is controlled by party machines, an electoral congress, gerrymandered districts, hackable (and no paper trail) electronic voting machines, and especially PACS, corporate money, and special interest groups, as long as we have an army of lawyers and post-term congresspeople posing as lobbyists without ANYONE representing the interests of the common American voter it’s only going to get worse. Our quality of life is degrading and will continue to do so; our economy has only “recovered” for the big banks, most corporations and the wealthy; health-care (it’s anything but) is still unaffordable; our foreign policy is still based on war, creating enemies and stealing resources, and arms sales; our domestic policy is to sacrifice the many for the few; and there is absolutely no leadership on climate change (which we will come to regret dearly before long – if you haven’t already noticed the direction we’re headed), pollution, energy and JOBS.

    i won’t vote in the next election if we only have the current bunch of clowns running. Give me a Bernie Sanders or someone who has a record of being a stand-up STATESMAN (as so well described above) and i’ll jump back in. From where i’m sitting we’re on our way out as an “empire”, a country, and even as a species – but i’ve been called a “doom and gloomer”, so pay no attention to my ranting: decide for yourself.

  31. HEHEHE says:

    To be honest the only reason I voted for the clown was the impression he gave during the campaign that Volcker would be involved in making economic policy. Once he named Geithner to Treasury and involved Larry Summers I knew the fix was in and I had made a mistake. Obama is either an abject moron when it comes to all things economics or he is too scared to go after the financial industry for fear of losing Wall Street’s campaign donations. In either event he’s a lousy leader and a sh*tty President.

  32. mathman says:


    entitled Does Anybody See An Alternative To Obama?

  33. Moss says:

    ‘Obama ended up as a defender of the banking status quo’

    This fact is a function of the political system we currently have. It applies not only to the banks.
    It all boils down to how politicians are selected, funded and influenced.
    Until that process is altered expect more of the same.

    He still has a better chance of getting re-elected than not, IMHO.

  34. beaufou says:

    Nevermind, the man is back on the campaign funding trail, collecting fat checks and not necessarily giving a toss about all this.
    He doesn’t have a decent adversary anyway.

  35. lburgler says:

    Petey Wheatstraw:

    I think you hit the nail right on the head. He is a corporatist. At some point, some of his handlers must have told him that he needed to fix the whole “socialist” image problem. So, like Clinton, he thought he needed to triangulate. That would make him look smart, business-like, shrewd, like a Wall Street guy.

    In this country there are two parties. Corporatist Party #1, and Corporatist Party #2. The only difference is, one party is honest about its goal of disenfranchisement, while the other party pretends that ever-growing corporate profits and the social democratic wealfare state can be friends. They can’t.

    So who is the opposition party? That’s where Obama came in.

    And don’t give me that Jimmy Carter garbage. Obama had a charm and a ballzy way about him that Jimmy Carter’s anemic personality lacked entirely.

    Obama should have stayed true to himself. Kept on with the peanut butter sandwich jokes. He should have taken the “socialist” thing and made it completely absurd.

    As it is, he got swallowed up by the machine as quickly as he could say “Yes we can.”

    Now we’re back to our one-party system.

  36. markd says:

    Barry, I agree with everything you wrote except:

    He made the enormous tactical error of focusing on Health Care Reform, while the banking crisis was still in full flower.

    The second error earned him the enmity of the opposing party

    Getting electing earned him the enmity of the opposing party

  37. d4winds says:

    The real tragedy of the Obama administration toopk place 2 weeks before he took the oath of office. Senate rules were not modified to even require so little as a real, at-the-podium filibuster rather than the current “we threaten, therefore there is” type of “filibuster” under curent Senate rules for the moronic 60-vote requirement. This enabled a minority party with a party-trumps-judgement attitude to control the actual legislative agenda and thus the PR/Oveton Window. Obama never had substantial de facto politicla clout from the outset.

  38. ancientone says:

    These comments are, in toto, the most depressing thing I have read in many years…….because they are all right on target. Damn.

  39. SStirling says:

    Is anyone else of the opinion that the Banks should be set up and restricted like the Law firms are? Private institutions with a partnership structure. We also need to revert back to a pre-GBL landscape where Citi and the like are not the financial conglomerates they are today. Final thought, anyone else think it is ridiculous that GS and MS are still bank holding companies? Should they not be forced to change back to their pre-crisis status?

    Obama could have made some great moves with proper reform, but like the rest of Washington he failed us.

  40. Julia Chestnut says:

    Could it be that by the time the MSM gets around to noticing, even in the political sphere, the trend is already overripe?

    When he announced that he was going to out-Republican the Republicans in the debt ceiling debate, I realized once and for all that Chamberlain has nothing on this guy. It is extremely easy to project onto Obama anything that you want because he’s a blank screen — there is very little of substance there, somehow.

    When he was a candidate, I had a dark feeling in the back of my head about bookish, well-educated presidents: they are always a disaster. Sometimes the other kind are also, of course, but the kind of balls-to-the-wall tactics it takes to gut out the Executive Branch in its enormous breadth, and steer this country, is not generally a strength of the Thinker.

    For 2012 I feel utter despair.

  41. mhs999 says:

    It was an interesting article until I read this line “the havoc inflicted on the bust’s innocent victims”. Everyone was guilty — the banks, the people who took loans they couldn’t afford, the government, the ratings agencies, etc. The only “victims” were people who played it straight as the world went kooky.


    BR: I’m sorry, but their is a enormous difference between making a good faith error versus engaging in rampant for profit fraud.

    Anyone who believes everyone is EQUALLY as guilty needs to improve their math skills!

  42. franklin411 says:

    Barry’s assertion that HCR turned the GOP against Obama is utterly ludicrous. Sadly, it’s reflective of a lamentably American trait–historical amnesia. Simply put, any development beyond the most recent 6 months is forgotten. Americans live in the present, so we take present-day developments and rewrite the past to suit our own biases.

    Markd has it absolutely correct. Anything Obama could or would have done would have earned him the enmity of the GOP. Nearly everything that Obama has done is “liberal Republican” in nature, not liberal Democratic. I put “liberal Republican” in quotes because that is a wing of the GOP that was once very important, but which no longer exists. Obama could have demanded the renaming of the White House to “Reagan’s Old Pad,” and the GOP would have filibustered. Obama proposed massive tax cuts, and the GOP did filibuster. Obama proposed the GOP’s own HCR plan, and the GOP filibustered.

    Obama’s mistake has been his conservative politics (Obama was never a liberal), and his failure to understand that force must be met with force. Dealing with today’s Republican Party is no different than dealing with Adolf at Munich in 1938.

    Appeasement only invites aggression. If you want peace, you must make war.

  43. DonF says:

    Someone mentioned that column to me, and I literally said, “DUDE….you NEED to start reading the Big Picture—Barry was literally on top of this in real-time three years ago when I was raging about it every day.”

    I don’t care when it happens, just as long as the MSM can generate the rage that should be there against these financial institutions that has largely been missing for reasons I just will never understand.

  44. lburgler says:

    *Franklin 411*

    “Appeasement only invites aggression. If you want peace, you must make war.”

    Bravo! I am an advocate of the kind of war you advocate. Constant concessions to an immovable force infinitely approach the point at which you become your opponent.

    Are you young, single, and cute? Let’s go out! Seriously.

  45. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    “just as long as the MSM can generate the rage that should be there against these financial institutions that has largely been missing for reasons I just will never understand.”

    Understanding it is easy — consider the ownership of the MSM.

  46. Transor Z says:

    As a lifelong democrat (who voted for Bush senior, btw) I’ve always admired Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, three very different kinds of democrats. 20th-century democrats tended to be reformers who needed monolithic socio-economic injustice to define themselves against.

    Environmentalism/Ecology, social safety net, labor — face it, they’re just not selling as platform issues and the last two have morphed into special-interest agenda items.

    Anti-Corporatism/Crony capitalism/Free Speech for People — these are agenda items that have legs.

    Definitely agree with the sentiments above that we are in great need of a Truman-type democrat right now. Truman took on war profiteering by big business and the unions.

    Above all, we need a system that can elect a homely/nondescript looking president who’s actually qualified to manage. Seeing politicians with obvious chemical peel/face lift/botox and TV makeup is insanity. The complete inability of the political selection system to sort shit from shinola is troubling.

  47. DrungoHazewood says:

    No one has mentioned what would happen to BO if he did break the corporate leash. First, the corporate “news” media would go after him hammer and tong. Instead of giving him a pass for being a cigarette smoker, any healthcare bill that was the least bit consumer friendly, would have been vilified as being sponsored by the second worst scum on the Earth. The man must be insane: he’s deliberately killing himself with the evil weed! Then there’s his drug using days. Can you imagine the weird shit that went on? If push came to shove, BO would have been destroyed. His only chance was to get out in front and risk everything, and be able to keep going as his sordid past was revealed. Hell, it wouldn’t even have to be true! Its much better yucking it up with Immelt , than having the entire force of the corporate media constantly on your ass. Besides, BO’s a politician, he first and foremost wants to get elected. Lose in ’12? The entire nation would have to implode, and even that wouldn’t work, as the corporations would use the opportunity to seize even more wealth. If you’ve got the corporate media on your side, that’s all that counts.

  48. franklin411 says:

    Hehe! I agree with you as well! But sadly, I’m single, youngish, and uggo! =P

  49. VennData says:

    “…The opportunity existed to get the renegade banks under control — to reduce their leverage, their recklessness, and to get their hands out of the taxpayers pockets…”

    You’re suggesting make unilateral rules on US banks, on capital requirement, without waiting for Basel III and the rest of the world?! You must be joking.

    And how would Obama have had the banks “…get their hands out…” in March of 09? With what? What money should they have paid us back with?


  50. lburgler says:


    You are probably right. The key word being “probably.”

    The thing is, even corporations are not monolithic. There’s the CEO and a handful of executives, who actually make enough to justifiably sell their souls. But the vast majority of the corporate corpus is made up of grunts, who are next in line to be cut out of the American covenant.

    If you can convince the grunts and the peons that they are only living the corporate dream by proxy, maybe there is some change on the horizon. Sustainable growth is good for everyone. Unsustainable concentration of wealth is bad for everyone.

    I’m not sure it would be so hard to package that message and sell it.

    Nor am I sure that I’m ready to lay down and die in the face of mere improbability. But then again, I’m still young.

  51. DeDude says:

    We elect a president, not a dictator. All laws are created and passed by congress and the president is just the administrator of these laws.

    The problem is that we currently have one party, GOP, willing to let the country fail in order to ensure that they can elect the next president. There are many things that Obama could (and should) have done differently, but none of them would have made any difference on the big outcomes. Taking on the banks would simply have been a big ugly failure and absolutely nothing would have changed. With the compromising he got small victories – and that was all he could get until the people start electing massive amounts of liberal democrats to the house and senate. Lots of people are pleased with the small things that he got passes such as extended unemployment benefits, limits on certain types of bankster robbery, and the ability to get health insurance if you are sick and out of the system.

    Going down in flames sounds so great and glorious until it is your own sorry a$$ that is burning in those flames.

  52. uzer says:

    yes, BR, i know what a ponzi SCAM is – SS is one example – which is why i do not use the word SCHEME.

  53. JasRas says:

    @DeDude–your assessment that all the power is within the legislative branch is false (my interpretation of your first sentence). The executive branch has unbelievable power as one can witness in the Fed and the Treasury departments and the vexing actions they have taken seemingly on their own…They fall under the Executive Branch. The SEC, FBI, Military, CIA, HUD, FDIC, CFIC, FDA, EPA, DEA, FERC, NRC, FTC, FAA, ….All executive branch functions. All have the job of enforcing something. And there are enough laws that are not enforced that could be, that should be, that having a crappy legislative branch is a moot point.

    The frustration I have is there are amble laws on the books to right the wrongs of the Banks, to regulate the wild institutional side of the Wall Street, to arrest and prosecute executives of banks, brokerages, mortgage companies, etc… The choice has been not to do so. And that choice of direction comes from above and flows down.

    This is basic failure of leadership. It is complacency and payback from on high. Elitism and protecting the monied to the detriment of the country.

  54. DeDude says:


    Yes there is some room within the enforcement of current law and regulations, and a some missed opportunities mostly based on the problematic leadership of Geithner and Summers. However, it is fairly limited what they can do within that framework. Although they appoint its Chair, the Fed is actually run by the banksters not by the white house; the Chair of the fed is not a CEO. The prosecution route has been taken almost as far as it makes any sense to take it. Remember that every prosecution that is not rock solid within current case law eventually will end up in front of the corporate sock puppets in the supreme court. The Robert’s court has not only ruled in favor of the corporations at every opportunity, but even created new rights and swindeling opportunities for corporations. Most recently they have not only allowed corporations to swindle shareholders by putting loses off balance sheets, but also allowed them to swindle costumers by putting lies “off the balance sheet”. It would be a huge waste of limited resources to try expanding current extremely limited and burdensome definitions of what constitute a corporate crime. Now if the idiots who think that it makes no difference if a GOPster or a democrat sits in the white house and appoints justices to the supreme court would wake up, then maybe 20 years from now we would have a supreme court that would serve justice more than the leftovers after they have served the corporations. Until then even democratic Presidents should not waste resources on losing cases in the supreme court.

  55. Transor Z says:


    Let’s get one thing straight: the Executive has incredible power. The DC Circuit just ruled last month that a federal agency (IRS) can just re-write their regs to conform to a desired outcome after a federal court rules unanimously against the agency under the prior version of the regs.

    Intermountain Insurance Service of Vail v. Commissioner, No. 10-1204 (D.C. Cir. June 21, 2011)

    Congress has been abdicating its legislative authority to the Executive for decades now. Federal agencies write the regs and in many cases provide administrative judges to interpret those regs. Litigants typically must exhaust all administrative remedies within the agency before taking matters to federal court.

  56. DeDude says:


    Passing the DC Circuit is like jumping over the bar set at 50 cm. Wake me up when the Supreme Court rule against corporations. The lower courts are the first half, not the end of the game.

  57. DeDude says:

    Now I agree that the little people have a hard time getting justice because the cost of fighting against administrators is so high. But for a big corporation with billions at stake losing against administrative remedies and lower courts is just a part of the game, and no big deal, in the end they know they will win (and so does the administrators).

  58. JasRas says:

    @DeDude–you are correct about the court system if only civil action is pursued, but if there are some more criminal actions investigated and pursued (not unlike the hand off that occurred in the 1st qtr on BP…they turned over the handling of BP to the criminal side)… THAT changes the tone tremendously. If you are not just going to court to find out what the fine is and when it needs to be paid…if you are looking at executives having criminal charges for fraud, racketeering, etc… it could have some positive affect.