Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mr. Congeniality - Updated

We need leadership. We're getting a popularity contest. Now, I'm officially scared.

Update: Another log on the fire.

Update 2: It's now a bonfire.

How seriously can we take an Administration that didn't even know about the AIG bonuses -- and that then makes lame excuses about how its hands are tied, until being shamed into action by public outrage? How seriously can we take an Administration that trails behind ordinary citizens in its understanding of the basic political realities of the moment?

Leadership means being out in front of major problems, not scrambling to assume the right stance after the fact. Leadership means taking those problems seriously enough to be fielding a complete team, with a really strong game plan. (Many major positions at Treasury are unfilled? Say what? Would it be tolerated to send our troops into battle without a fully-staffed command operation??) Leadership means having the political skill to understand and address the public's fear and its outrage -- including a recognition of the kind of political dynamite that all these bailouts represent.

Not ready on Day One, not ready at 3 a.m., not ready, period.


july4cat said...

Maybe he's just not that into the actual governing part of the presidency. After all, his spectacular rise as a political figure represents the triumph of the so-called self-discovery culture, the notion that all the problems on this planet will go away once we allow ourselves to find our better self. Why bother fight the dirty fight when we can self-discover our way into the Obamaland? Institutional building and partisan warfare and are so pre-modern, so rusty, so uncool.

Falstaff said...

The irony of that is that he himself is so deeply defended against knowing himself. He's the high priest of self-avoidance.

David Berger said...

My favorite part of all this is that Chris Dodd inserted language specifically allowing these bonuses in the stimulus bill, and now everyone's acting shocked - SHOCKED! - that they actually are being paid. And the best anyone can come up with as a flagrantly unconstitutional retroactive Bill of Attainder. The posturing is really grotesque. The irony, of course, is that if AIG was managed into an orderly government-sponsored bankruptcy, all these contracts could've been abrogated. Now, ithe company is essentially a funnel by which taxpayer money flows to the counterparties in the derivative trades.

What a freakin' mess... and when will people recognize that both the emperor AND his advisors have no clothes. We were forced to swallow Gethner's flagrant tax cheating because he was "indispensable," but for this?

Oh, and not to needlessly tick you off, but it's not as if the State Department (reset button? DVD's for Gordon Brown?) has gotten off to a flying start, either.

I agree with july4cat - in an oddly perverse way, the more Obama talks about how "serious" he is about and looking to solve "serious problems," the more I get the uncomfortable feeling that it's all a teleprompter-enhanced bit of performance art.

Falstaff said...

Well, it may well be worse than that. It seems it wasn't Dodd, it was Geithner and Summers over-ruling Dodd: And now they're trying to blame him for it. Talk about adding insult to injury.

As to State... well, that stuff was clutzy, but not a big deal. I don't think we can really have any sense of how things are going on the foreign policy front, because there's no ongoing crisis that makes it obvious that we're either doing things well or screwing up. Unlike with the economy, where it's all too clear.