Barack Obama

2008 11 26
Cool it?


Josh Marshall tells those of us wringing our hands over some of his (potential) appointees to cool it. Appointees implement policies; they don’t set them.

Maybe Josh can forgive us for taking Obama at his word:

One of the great economic minds of our times, Larry [Summers] has the global reputation for being able to get to the heart of the most complex and novel policy challenges. With respect to both, our current financial crisis and other pressing economic issues of our time, his thinking, writing, and speaking have set the terms of the debate. I am glad he will be by my side, playing the critical role of coordinating my administration’s economic policy in the White House and I will rely heavily on his advice as to navigate the unchartered waters of this crisis.

Obama tells us that Larry Summers, who argued that regulating financial derivatives markets would “cast[ ] a shadow of regulatory uncertainty over an otherwise thriving market,” will be a guiding force. Why shouldn’t we believe that?


Howls of outrage (9)

2008 11 06
Early choices


I have been dismayed for a while now that Robert Rubin seems to be Obama’s top economics advisor. I am somewhat calmed by the fact that Jared Berstein also advises Obama, but I have no idea how much of his ear Bernstein has.  Moreover, this talk about Larry Summers getting the nod for Treasury secretary suggests that Obama is inclined to go with the Rubin camp over the Berstein camp. Of course, we can always hope that Obama is in fact going to deviate from the 1990s Rubin/Summers line, and that Rubin and Summers will now simply be his tools to get it done. But the time for Obama-inspired hope is over. We don’t need hope anymore, we need action.

I have similar reservations about Rahm Emanuel. I’ll admit that I have no idea what, if any, influence Emanuel’s ideas will have on Obama, but I think we can assume he’ll have some (maybe a lot). And this worries me. I’m worried that Emanuel’s apparent close connections with the wealthy and well-connected, as well as his penchant for conservative, pro-/ not-too-anti-war candidates in 2006, will infect what many of us hoped would be a strong will toward getting out of Iraq and moving the country in a more progressive direction. True, Emanuel “helped guide the Democrats to wins in 2006,” as Matt Yglesias reminds us. But at what cost? Many said at the time that the 2006 mid-terms were given to the feckless Dems by virtue of the populace’s hatred of Bush’s endless war policy. Yet this account of Emanuel’s role in the 2006 mid-terms describes him doing his level best to ensure that the Dems who won were of the pro-war, Blue Dog persuasion.

Look, I’m prepared to get the shaft from Obama. I really am. But for a guy who won the primary in part because of his opposition to the Iraq war, and who won the general election in part because of a financial crisis, it is really unbelievable that two architects of conditions that created the crisis are his lead advisor and potential Treasury Secretary, and that his first choice for chief of staff is a guy who ensured that Obama’s (hypothetical) progessive, anti-war agenda will be harder to get through the Dem controlled House than it had to be.

I guess what I’m sayin’–a la Rachel Maddow’s favorite teevee segment–is: Please!, talk me down!


Howls of outrage (13)