According to reports on Ron Suskinds's political blockbuster, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, Obama is no neocon but rather a neophyte who ran his economic policy team like Secretary Hillary Clinton ran her 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency—ineffectively like there was no one in charge except for the protectors of the huge-moneyed interests of Wall Street and assorted megalomaniacs.
Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel among others were manufacturing the policy and political product that only looked like it was made by imbeciles or crazy Republicans.
From Frank Rich and Adam Moss in New York Magazine:
I kept flipping back and forth between fury at Obama and — I know I'm easy — sympathy. So much of the damage comes from the initial decision to hire these guys, a decision he had to make almost immediately after being elected. He was inexperienced, he needed help, they burned him, he let them — that's the story in brief. The number of stupefyingly momentous decisions he had to make in those first few months put me in a vicarious panic. There was no obvious path, the way I read it — though in your view, I suspect, the choices were clearer. Though we'll never know for sure what other solutions might have worked, the book is a litany of missed opportunities, particularly with respect to financial reform (one banker after another wonders incredulously — and anonymously — why Obama didn't pin them when they were down). Would some other president have had more success? ...Frank Rich:
Suskind also nails, I think, Obama's intellectual blind spot. Indeed, Obama himself nails it, telling Suskind that he was too inclined to search for "the perfect technical answer" to the myriad of complex issues coming at him. What he'd end up with instead is, as Suskind astutely summarizes it, "clever" answers that were "respectfully acknowledging opponents' positions, even those with thin evidence behind them, that then get stitched together into some pragmatic conclusion — but hollow." That said, could someone else have done better? Not the out-of-it McCain, not Hillary (an equivocator in her own right and one who would have embraced the same Clinton administration alumni and Wall Street crowd that Obama did). I still believe Obama was our best hope, and I still hope, however quixotically and self-deludedly, that he might learn from his mistakes.The White House is pushing back of course very hard; as political junkies actually look forward to watching the Sunday morning news shows for once.
Mike Allen in Politico writes:
The White House launched an aggressive response to a forthcoming book that chronicles internal dissent and second-guessing of President Barack Obama by his own staff and presents Obama as a conflicted, sometimes wavering leader.The questions remain:
Administration officials assert that “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President” by Ron Suskind is infested with errors, both big (what they characterize as misquotations and distorted narratives) and small (several names, a birth date, a publication date, an employer, an unemployment rate, etc.) and gives a distorted and inaccurate picture of the White House under Obama.
- Why didn't Obama push this hard against Wall Street and the Republicans?
- And whatever happened to that hardhitting, some-change-of direction that the American people actually took dead seriously in the middle of the global economic crisis and the discovery of the secret Republican hit squad on the American middle class?
"He's not your boyfriend," Maher said repeatedly on his show as his criticisms of Obama the last several months brought muted reactions from Maher's audience and often his progressive guests.
We're all still wondering: Is President Obama our friend?
Yes, the sense of betrayal can go viral.