It amazes me just how many people in the media live in a highly insulated world and see everything through the prism that President Obama is responsible for all that came before him and all that lies ahead. They seem to live in a world without context, or nuance and create their own narratives.
The latest narrative that prompted this angry rant is the idea that somehow President Obama is responsible for the entire mess on Wall Street, because he didn’t swoop in and lock up all those evil bankers and hedge fund managers. I certainly understand Republicans trying to pin the mess on him — that’s politics — but when people like Frank Rich and Matt Taibbi jump on the bandwagon, I am reminded why I must blog.
Frank Rich wrote a lengthy piece the other day that tries desperately to pin the whole Wall Street mess on President Obama, and he issues all sorts of dire warnings and predictions about Obama’s reelection. According to Rich, Obama hasn’t sufficiently investigated the mess, hasn’t made heads roll and of course, he hired people from within the mess to work for the administration. Here is a paragraph from Rich that shows symptoms of the contagious Obama Derangement Syndrome.
What haunts the Obama administration is what still haunts the country: the stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought America to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There has been no legal, moral, or financial reckoning for the most powerful wrongdoers. Nor have there been meaningful reforms that might prevent a repeat catastrophe. Time may heal most wounds, but not these. Chronic unemployment remains a constant, painful reminder of the havoc inflicted on the bust’s innocent victims.
There is a very simple answer to why President Obama didn’t make them “accountable”. IT WAS ALL LEGAL! And it was made legal by a legacy of deregulation that was created by Presidents Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton (maybe the worst of the bunch) and of course, President G.W. Bush. I’m not exactly sure what the critics would have President Obama do, declare martial law on Wall Street and start arresting people for crimes they didn’t commit? Some wanted him to even nationalize the banks? That would have went over well, I’m sure.
I know that Frank Rich and Matt Taibbi aren’t stupid, so why is it so hard for them to remember the real causes of the financial mess, and the myriad forces (and money) aligned against the President as he was trying to correct it. What they are doing is a form of “blame shifting”. We all know who is responsible for the mess, but you can’t read either Rich’s or Taibbi’s latest pieces and find much acknowledgment of that.
Here is another passage from Frank Rich’s piece that caught my eye and illustrates the tactic of “guilt by association”, one used by the critics who want to blame everything on the President and dismiss any accomplishments.
What has he done to deserve it? All anyone can point to is his December 2009 60 Minutes swipe at “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street”—an inept and anomalous Ed Schultz seizure that he retracted just weeks later by praising Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein as “very savvy businessmen.”
Really Frank? Calling two of the most successful businessmen in the country “savvy businessmen” automatically “retracts” what he said previously? Did you just declare that? I’ve read both statements in there entirety and there is no contradiction.
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This chart speaks volumes about what is happening in our country when it comes to politics. It explains what is happening with the debt ceiling debate as well as the last two and a half years of obstruction, vitriol and blatant appeals to the most conservative in the Republican Party. It may have worked out for them in 2010, without President Obama on the ticket, although you wouldn’t have known he wasn’t on the ticket if you pay attention to the media. But 2012 is going to be much different, mark my words. My fellow Michigander Nate Silver breaks it down for us, like only Nate can do…
Go read Nate’s piece that accompanies this graph, there is a lot of great information for your edification.