I have had my issues with President Obama. To me, he has caved in so many times he has miners trapped inside him. (A tip of the hat to John Fugelsang for that line.). Well, I’m currently reading a book—which I highly recommend—by Noam Scheiber titled “ The Escape Arti$ts: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the [sic] Recovery”. It’s been eye-opening.
Although it is true that Obama is a better chess player than poker player (although he strategizes long term, he tends to show his hand early) I now believe Obama has always been sincere in wanting to work with both sides of the Congressional aisle because that was his modus operandi in the US Senate. It’s also very clear where Obama made his mistakes in this administration because he made two huge ones.
First, for some reason he idolized Bill Clinton and thought his economic team walked on international water, the way the averted global financial collapse and all back in the 90’s. The fact that what Clinton’s team did led directly to the stock market and banking collapse of 2008 either got by him or by that time since he had his team in place all Obama could say was “Oops.” What bothers me is the fact that Obama, acknowledging he knew next to nothing about economic policy, looked around and he thought he saw the best financial minds in Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase (to Obama, Jamie Dimon is THE guy), and career US Treasury guys. The fact that these guys all placed the welfare of global economies, Wall Street and the banks over people (so what if a few million people lose their jobs, as long as investors are happy and their dollars are safe) EVERY time, didn’t give him pause. Well, he did pause long enough to appoint Christine Romer as his chief economist; she being the only one who didn’t consider John Maynard Keynes the economic Anti-Christ. But as it was, Romer advised a minimum $1.8 trillion stimulus but the Obama team decided $775 billion was all they could go and we all know how that turned out. Like much with the Obama administration, it could have been better.
The 2nd mistake was in figuring that since he was being noble and sincere in his outreach to the Republicans to work with him in a bi-partisan manner, they would be, too. It’s hard to believe that a politician as astute as Obama could have totally misread the Tea Party, but misread them he did. Or maybe he thought that when Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly stated that Job One would be holding Obama to a single term as president he had his fingers crossed behind his back. No, he didn’t have his fingers crossed behind his back, he had both hands in front of his body and was sticking the middle fingers on both hands up at Obama.
For me, “The Escape Artists” has rounded out the picture of the man. I’ve made the mistake of assuming the image presented of Obama was the same as the man. I believe Obama knows what he doesn’t know (but doesn’t take it to absurd lengths ala Donald Rumsfeld) but he needs to be less trusting that there’s basically only one small group of guys who do know what he doesn’t know and they know it the right way. Obama chose the wrong Robert among the ex-Clintonites when he went for Rubin instead of Reich. If Obama can be heard above the right wing noise machine, he should be able to fix his mistakes during his second term.