Friday, 7 November 2008

Change I can't quite believe in

I wanted Obama to win. I really, really, really wanted Obama to win. McCain/Palin gave me nightmares. Just about the whole world held it’s collective breath willing Obama to win on Tuesday.

Obama’s election is powerful confirmation that America remains a land of opportunity, a democracy where power is allocated at the ballot box. It reassured the world that despite the lawlessness and arrogance of the past eight years, Americans are capable of enlightened, rational self-determination. It restores hope in much of the world that America can reorient itself toward tolerance and dialogue.

For all of that, I haven’t been happy since watching Obama’s acceptance speech live Wednesday morning on the BBC.

I have a bad feeling that America has just elected its Tony Blair. The package of Change the voters ordered isn’t what is being delivered to the White House.

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff didn’t ease my mind. Like Mr Blair’s close advisors Lord Goldsmith and Baron Levy, Mr Emanuel may inflame the suspicions in the Middle East that the agenda for the region under Obama will be no different than under Bush. The credibility of the United States as an honest broker and agent for peace will be further eroded if Obama’s gatekeeper is viewed as pre-disposed to more of the same policies which have fuelled hostilities. I hope it is not anti-Semitic to make the point that objectivity and fair dealing will be suspect with a chief of staff who is the son of an militant Israeli, who served as a civilian volunteer for the Israeli Army, and who has used his public positions in American politics – except for a brief stint at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein – to promote Israel’s interests.

Those who know Mr Emanuel suggest that because his devotion to Israel is unquestionable, he will be able to push Israelis toward moderation. Perhaps the combination of a Kenyan goat herder's son with an Irgun terrorist's son will be a winning combination for crafting a durable peace. But many in Israel, the Middle East and Washington will expect that future acts of aggression by Israel against Iran or other neighbours will be defended – if not promoted – by the man at Obama’s elbow.

It is now emerging that Mr Emanuel was also a director of Freddie Mac when it stands accused of misreporting profits and ignoring red flags.

The rumours that either Larry Summers or Tim Geithner will be made Treasury Secretary made me even queasier. The appointment of either of these architects of the current global financial disaster, these arch-deregulators and serial-forbearance artists, would be a great middle-finger to America’s foreign creditors and the global investors suffering asset deflation. Both men have been instrumental in, first, the Fed’s exported inflation via massive monetary bubble-blowing and, now, the Fed/FDIC/SIPC exported deflation through Chapter 11 and margin call orchestrations ensuring more pain abroad than at home.

Summers would be particularly egregious. Not only did Summers promote the Friedmanite export of toxic debt to the rest of the world at the Clinton Treasury, at the World Bank he promoted the export of toxic pollution to underdeveloped nations to add poison to poverty. To quote from his 1991 memo, "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."

The much bandied idea that Robert Gates, former deputy director of the CIA under President G.H.W. Bush, architect and financier of Saddam’s military machine and Bin Laden’s Al Qaida, might be kept as Secretary of Defense under Obama “for continuity’s sake” after six years of failed and callous military adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan, with occasional illegal forays into Pakistan, Georgia, Syria and Iran, makes me frankly nauseous. If America is ever to restore its fiscal balance, cuts in the bloated military/security/intelligence apparatus will have to be implemented. A career insider central to the creation and export of the bloat is the wrong man for the job.

Maybe the problem in America is not a struggle between rich and poor. Overtaxed and undertaxed. Empowered and disenfranchised. Educated and illiterate. Insured and uninsured. Law abiding and lawless. Godless and God-fearing. Republican and Democrat. Red and Blue.

Maybe the problem in America is there is no struggle about the fundamental mechanisms of American oppression and aggression: debt and threat.

American policies promote debt and force as the hammer and anvil for shaping the economy and the political dialogue. What cannot be financed into penury must be crushed into submission. The bulk of the economy is designed to prosper either the bankers or the police/prison/military/intelligence industries at everyone else’s expense. Propped up on these twin pillars of debt and threat, America remains staunchly and irrevocably American whoever wins the elections.

The restoration of fiscal prudence has been swiftly repudiated post-election in favour of more debt-financed “stimulus” and “stabilisation”.

The restoration of the rule of law and holding those who committed crimes accountable – both within America and internationally – has received no post-election endorsement from Obama.

I asked the asylum Iraqis at the local kebab shop last night what they made of the American election. They follow the news, and I’ve always found them knowledgeable and articulate. The kebab chef (a former civil engineer from northern Iraq) looked glum. “It makes no difference. They are all the same.” I fear his well-informed cynicism is sound.

Our unglamorous and unelected British prime minister, Gordon Brown, called for more international cooperation “with American leadership central to its success” – as he toured the Arab Gulf with his begging bowl. He was physically following American “leadership” as he trailed Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Robert Kimmet’s pilgrimage to the Gulf last week. American leadership got us successfully into this debt crisis, and Brown appears determined to follow it even deeper.

The central banks in the UK, EU and Switzerland obliged yesterday by following the Fed toward negative real interest rates, discouraging savers and lenders alike by cutting 150bps, 50bps and 50bps respectively. Jean-Claude Trichet spoke of the cooperation of the central banks as a “brotherhood”. He made me think of the mafia or the Freemasons. Perhaps he meant to.

Obama’s election still inspires me. I still hope for change.

Obama demonstrated good judgement throughout the campaign, and good management of the people working for him. That in itself will bring major change to the White House.

Better managed American debt and threat policies under Obama will be an improvement over the horribly managed debt and threat policies under Bush. Some hope.


Sabretache said...

Thanks for another solid insightful post. I confess to a lump in the throat at the massive symbolism that 'a President of colour' represents, but fear the Blair analogy is all too likely to prove accurate.

Drake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drake said...

I quite agree, the Blair analogy is excellent. But the other option would have been too horrible to think. So much rather Blair than Palin.

And some changes are already happening. Todays New York Times has a big article about the Georgian conflict, where they more less confessed that it was Georgians who started the war and were guilty of indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets.

Funny, how they published the article two days after the election and the end of the Bush cabal.

London Banker said...

@ Sabretache
Many thanks. I was reluctant to publish this, and pulled it from RGE Monitor, but you have reassured me that I am not being unreasonable.

@ Drake
I agree that Obama is infinitely preferable to the alternatives. And he has proven himself again and again as calm, methodical, competent and intelligent in addressing complex issues and problems.

I also agree that it is a hopeful sign that the US media now feels free to speak and write more truth without the constant threat of Bush/Rove vengeance. We will likely see a great deal more truthtelling between now and January and that will shape future perceptions and events.

I should be more hopeful than I am. Maybe that is what troubles me. Instead, the past eight years have jaundiced me so that I prefer to judge by results.

Dan said...


Your analysis of the USA post election events is something I can fully agree with. The first Obama moves are not indicating any significant change in the American reality.
We will see how it goes from here.

By the way… do you know why we cannot connect to our usual Roubini blog site?

Sackerson said...

Too early to despair. I guess that some initial appointments will be dog-whistles to reassure certain sectors that the US hasn't just elected a raving revolutionary. Although a round-up-all-the-bankers and jail 'em would have a certain superficial attraction, and perhaps a carafully-slected series of Enron-type trials is in order.

Anonymous said...

A post whcih has articulated my gut feel very well. Thank you.

I'd add that I have a cynical fear that this has something to do with the corporatocracy's need to present a change after the disaster that has been the Bush administration. The message can be that "we've changed" whilst the underlying machine has not. And I'd note that either of the democrat candidates would have been ideal for such a message.


Ed said...

The only appointment Obama has actually announced has been Emmanuel as Chief of Staff, and arguably the latter could have done damage if he was left on the leadership track in the House. A Summers appointment would be particularly egregious because it would be pointless -there are plenty of other candidates who could "reassure the markets" without as many toxic items in Summers background. Unless or until this happens, I'll give the administration the benefit of the doubt.

There were five candidates in 2008 who won primaries, and of the five McCain, Clinton, and Romney represented continuity with the Bush and Clinton policies and personnel than did Obama and Huckabee. It wasn't a very wide choice, and Huckabee may have wound up being more radical than Obama on economic issues but had the least chance of the five of winning.

Knute Rife said...

Oh, LB, you're always deleting the idiot posters before we can use them for chew toys. Sigh.

Anyway, as you already know, I'm not enamored of the idea of using anyone from the Clinton administration. There is little record of success there. The economy was a rocket ride, but the White House didn't create it, just had the good sense to stay out of its way. The failures were epic, and the arrogance over NAFTA along with the ham-fistedness of the first year in office effectively created the Right Wing Noise Machine and Gingrich's Contract on America.

On top of that, I don't like the message Obama sends to the Middle East with Emanuel any more than you do. From my chair here, though, Obama's sole intent in selecting Emanuel was to send a message far closer to home, namely Capitol Hill. Emanuel is a whip from the Sam Rayburn school, and with him Obama sends a shot across the bow of the newly empowered liberal wing of the Democratic Party that he will not repeat the mistakes of 1993 and allow his administration to be derailed over divisive social issues. Given the state of the US, from civil rights to the economy, it should surprise no one that Obama is focusing on domestic issues, especially if you realize that, for political purposes, war is a domestic issue. Domestic issues have to come first.

Which brings me to your other points: economy (Treasury) and war (Defense) (As an aside, it shows the pathetic state of US foreign policy that the State Department is getting so little attention.). Summers, Geithner, and Gates are all disasters. Summers and Geithner should be selling shoes at Payless, and Gates should be cleaning toilets in a Federal penitentiary. Fortunately, there is presently not much of a chance of either Summers or Gates being appointed. I can't rule out Geithner, though.

There is some encouragement from the order of events this morning. Obama spoke to several world leaders this morning, including Merkel, Sarkozy, and Brown, and is now meeting with his economic advisers, both occurring before he makes his first press conference today. Unfortunately, Summers is in that meeting. Well, at least Volcker is too.

London Banker said...

@ Knute
Drake self-edited. I haven't had to delete any comments today (yet).

As you, Ed and Sacherson remind me, it is too early to despair and Obama evinces good instincts. I'm being unreasonable in expecting him to cure all the ills of the Bush administration before he even gets his knees under the desk.

London Banker said...

@ Knute

I posted further on the reserve rate equalisation change and doubling of the Fed's balance sheet. Check it out.

yoyomo said...

I feel all your fears will be realised in due course. There will be no break in the fundementals of policy (especially foreign policy, which voters don't connect to their own hardships) until the populace are in open revolt; you're not being overly pessimistic at all.

Anonymous said...

I can't argue with much of that, but I'd really rather be starting from this point than from a McCain and (God help us) Palin administration.

I'm Not POTUS said...

To quote a your fellow countryman....
Americans always do the right thing....after exhausting all other possibilities.

I think maybe we have a few more to go through, but hopefully not many.

l.blissett said...

"Maybe the problem in America is there is no struggle about the fundamental mechanisms of American oppression and aggression: debt and threat."

there has been LB, just underground & marginalized to the periphery:

check this --

or this --

or this --

of course, being marginalized it drifts to its extremes and loses maximum impact, but perhaps it's just a tad bit different now?

if not (meaning summers, geithner, etal), trust me, i'm ready to park my buns in front of the white house lawn with daily pithy quotes from lndn.bnkr & friends written on recycled cardboard throwin ganja seeds over the fence.

and i ain't the only one.

but until then, patience is sometimes a virtue.

curious to know your VOV (views on volker)?

besides i personally can't listen to more than 30 secs of tony and i look forward to listening to barry, even when i know he's talkin shit.

but maybe that's a cultural thang.

hazleton said...

@London Banker
Thank you for your "out of the box" thinking. It is refreshing to hear the viewpoint of people outside of the U.S. I have stopped all our newspapers and stopped watching television because I am tired of the propaganda fed to us.

You usually have a hopeful attitude but today's comments confirm my fears that the U.S. does not have a 2 party system. It seems to have monied rulers beyond the the political parties who orchestrate with an invisible hand because there rarely is positive change. This trend toward heading toward the bottom seems impossible to stop.

Lord Sidcup said...


I dont think you need to agree with all of Chomsky's ideas to see that he is right in saying that the US is ruled by "the Business party" a beast with two heads, (donkey and elephant?)

Had the same reaction as LB watching OB's acceptance speech: after wanting him to win I my heart sank.

Well America, if you liked Tony Blair, you're going to love OB.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you now believe Americans are 'capable' of rational self-determination. I'm sure it was very questionable in the past. You have to wonder how the US became such a wealthy and powerful nation without the guidance of the European elite.

In short, I prefer when you write about banking. :)

jill said...

Just as scary:

Senator Obama in his July 2 speech in Colorado Springs, Colorado...

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Anonymous said...

No change will result to the american economy until spending at the federal level is brought under control. obama has never in his short career shown the courage to brawl with anyone over tough issues. the guy has no balls in other words regardless of his appointments. cabinet officers take their directions from the president and if Obama wont fight they wont either. Ill believe "change" when I see Ford and GM going bankrupt because of their bad financial decisions rather than load their workout on the US taxpayer. If Obama lets Ford and GM pig out at the trough without preferred shares ahead of all other shareholders, no dividends, no bonuses and severe cuts in pension and pay on the UAW you will know that Obama is the same old same old. That stage play will go through its 3 acts within the next 180 days.
London Banker called it wrong when he said the press was afraid of bush/rove. He must read little in the american press as they as a general rule have been riding the bushies for 7 years as they all seem genuinely pissed when Gore lost in 2000.
By the way, McCain and Palin would have been better to take on the financial problems. Im tired of the assumption that left coast people have the answers-in general they seem to be the problem. Joe the plumber could do a better job than most all of the repubs or dems that are currently in office.

Knute Rife said...

OK, people, let's settle down and work the problem. First, ignore the election night speeches on both sides. They're as ritualized as a tea ceremony and mean nothing. Second, the appointment of Emanuel means one thing and one thing only: Obama's willing to flog Congress (both sides of the aisle) into line on issues he thinks matter.

Treasury: Unfortunately, he appears to be looking exclusively at Summers and Gleithner, for whatever reason. Of the two I have to go with Gleithner. Summers proved at Harvard that he can't handle the big chair, and I have to believe that Obama or people close to him remember that. Unless Summers is being forced on Obama, and Obama's setting him up to fail, but we don't have time for such sandbox shenanigans.

Defense: I think Obama will quickly figure out he doesn't need Gates to effect continuity. Operational command continuity is far more important than strategic at this point.

Blair: We already had our Tony, and we had him before the UK had Tony: Bill. If Blair and New Labour were pale-pink Tories, Clinton and the DLC were violet Republicans. Obama is not DLC. His primary policy is not making the world safe for Walmart. The New Deal was not FDR's first plan either, but by the time of his inauguration, he'd realized that nothing short of radical change had any hope of success.

Colorado Springs speech: One should be loathe to take a stump speech seriously, and doubly so with quotes lifted out of their context. Obama was responding to military units being deployed domestically on national security assignments, thus further stretching military resources and violating the Posse Comitatus Act. To avoid looking "soft on terror", he proposed beefing up domestic resources. He is not going to deputize the Minutemen or initiate Total Information Awareness.

Personally, I'm just glad that the odds of my being black-bagged have dropped significantly and that we will start getting judicial appointees who couldn't comfortably moonlight as concentration camp kommandants.

RGE reader of LB said...

Your ambivalence is striking - as a reader of your RGE postings it is no surprise that your
political leanings would include support for Obama. I also think your article should have been posted on RGE as the political and economic have seldom been more intertwined and understanding Obama will be critical.

I am not an American and politically would be well left of center but there was something about Obama that never sat well with me. Perhaps it's too much experience with CEOs whose character is consistent with individuals who display the tendencies of a sociopath. Perhaps too it was a certain arrogance and aloofness that I sensed.

Anyway your disdain of McCain/Palin is palpable and shared by many; sadly the media spent more time on Palin's in-laws than Obama's definition of change. Your article could perhaps be titled "An exploration of buyer’s remorse in the political arena" as you appear to be coming to terms with what I believe millions of Americans will soon discover, best described as an encounter with disillusionment.

My initial misgivings regarding Obama have evolved: I had originally placed somewhere on the spectrum between sociopath and psychopath but now realize he is neither. Obama is an ideologue and a pragmatist wrapped in a personality that can best be described as narcissistic. It was the unlikely blend of those three characteristics combined with brilliant execution that captured the imagination of a post-modern electorate and propelled him to victory. Those same characteristics will also prove to be his downfall as his narcissistic personality and pragmatic approach will trump his ideology and it is in that where his followers will begin to feel alienated and betrayed.

Your article is early and very much on the leading edge of what will be a great reversal in sentiment among his supporters. I believe Axelrod instinctively realizes this and you can see it in how Obama’s rhetoric is shifting from the Messianic messages of hope and change to a more subdued and cautionary tone where he is attempting to manage down expectations. Attempts will be made by his followers to rationalize the inconsistencies between his words and actions and the media will continue to be his apologist but in the end it will be discovered that the emperor has no clothes.

acrumb said...

Re:a Nigerian goat herder's son
Obama's dad is from kenya and got his Ph.D from harvard.
Did he become a goatherder after his Ph.D?

I expect he will be like Blair;but, different.
After all Blair wasn't a community organizer or a Porfessor who thought deeply about topics the left would like:

July 30, 2008

The Long Run
Teaching Law, Testing Ideas, Obama Stood Slightly Apart

Blair didn't have a mother like Obama's nor a grandmother.he didn't live in foreign countries and be educated there.

On the other hand he would want to get relected so I expect he will reassure all segments.

He will be innovative I think as revealed in the fantastic campaign he ran.

Blair was a hollower than Obama has already proved to be.

acrumb said...

Re:a Nigerian goat herder's son
Obama's dad is from kenya and got his Ph.D from harvard.
Did he become a goatherder after his Ph.D?

I expect he will be like Blair;but, different.
After all Blair wasn't a community organizer or a Porfessor who thought deeply about topics the left would like:

July 30, 2008

The Long Run
Teaching Law, Testing Ideas, Obama Stood Slightly Apart

Blair didn't have a mother like Obama's nor a grandmother.he didn't live in foreign countries and be educated there.

On the other hand he would want to get relected so I expect he will reassure all segments.

He will be innovative I think as revealed in the fantastic campaign he ran.

Blair was a hollower than Obama has already proved to be.

RGE reader of LB said...

@acrumb ..."He will be innovative I think as revealed in the fantastic campaign he ran."

How is that different from saying:

"My credentials for this job are that I have great interview skills that got me the job"

acrumb said...

Memories of an iriah classmate:
Memories of an outstanding and talented classmate - his name? Barack Obama

BuckarooBanzai said...

Thanks London Banker for an interesting and thoughtful post.

After a yearlong election process, we know very little about Obama... he's basically a state legislator with a few years of singularly undistinguished service in the US Senate. He certainly is intelligent and thoughtful, that much is clear.

Unfortunately, intelligence is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for good leadership. Did we learn nothing from Jimmy Carter?

We've just elected history's biggest wildcard to the office of President of the United States.

Feelin' lucky?

acrumb said...

Response to rge reader of lb.
I meant the campaign execution such as the use of the internet.

It revealed actually I think his comfort zone with grass roots organizing, which goes back to his experience as a grass roots organizer in Chicago.

He is also the only candidate who said he would address the issue of regionalism for America's metropolitan regions.

That again speaks to his experience in the local arena.

By the way LB, Governing magazine had an article on the Stuttgart Region. As you may remember, Mr. Blair tried to create regions for UK. Unfortunately he also wanted to consolidate either counties or districts.;and he wanted to take it to a vote. I was amazed that he was so clueless to attempt that. All he had to do was to look at America and France to see how resistant voters and local units are to this. Needless to say the landslide defeat was to be expected. Too bad as UK needs regions.

BuckarooBanzai said...

@London Banker

you wrote, "I also agree that it is a hopeful sign that the US media now feels free to speak and write more truth without the constant threat of Bush/Rove vengeance. We will likely see a great deal more truthtelling between now and January and that will shape future perceptions and events."

Well as an American, I can only say that I wish I shared your optimism that we'll get anything approaching "truth" from our mainstream media now that Bush is leaving office. Is it the view of the educated classes overseas that Bush & Rove are the equivalent of the all-seeing Eye of Sauron?? They are evil assclowns, but no, they aren't the reason why our media over here sucks. Our media sucks because its beholden to corporate and financial interests and many elements of it represent the propaganda arm of the CIA. Maybe things will change a little around the margins now that BushCo is out, I wouldn't hold your breath.

BuckarooBanzai said...

@RGE reader of LB:

You wrote: "I had originally placed somewhere on the spectrum between sociopath and psychopath but now realize he is neither. Obama is an ideologue and a pragmatist wrapped in a personality that can best be described as narcissistic."

Wow, it's refreshing to find someone else who thinks in these terms. After doing a little reading on the defining characteristics of sociopaths, it is natural to conclude that all politicians are at least low-grade sociopaths. Unfortunately the greatest ones are ultra-high-functioning full-on sociopaths. Clinton and George W. Bush come immediately to mind.

The question that has been eating at me: does Obama share this diagnosis? I think you are quite correct in characterizing him as an idealogue and narcissist; but I tend to view that as a baseline diagnosis. It is still quite an open question as to whether he is a full-on sociopath as his two predecessors were. We don't know much about him, but of what we do know, he definitely shows some serious risk factors.

If indeed he proves out the way I fear, it will be a terrifically devastating combination. Sociopathic idealogues are the most terrifying; combine that with the magnetic qualities of a high-functioning narcissist and you have the formula for a brutal populist dictator.

How likely an outcome is this? I don't know. Low, I pray. But George W. Bush turned out to be much worse than anyone imagined. It could certainly happen twice in a row.

RGE reader of LB said...

you wrote:
"I also agree that it is a hopeful sign that the US media now feels free to speak and write more truth without the constant threat of Bush/Rove vengeance."

That is an interesting perspective given today's Washington Post mea culpa (An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage

I would suggest that the media has been decidedly in support of Obama or as the Post (under)states "Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got".

The US media is more than an embarrassment, it in my view has become a threat to democracy. Again a quotation from today's Washington Post:

"There are a lot of things I wish we'd been able to do in covering this campaign, but we had to make choices about what we felt we were uniquely able to provide our audiences both in Washington and on the Web. I don't at all discount the importance of issues, but we had a larger purpose, to convey and explain a campaign that our own David Broder described as the most exciting he has ever covered, a narrative that unfolded until the very end. I think our staff rose to the occasion."

(for those not familiar with the Post, it is quite far left of center in its perspectives)

RGE reader of LB said...

@ BuckarooBanzai

Bush is a low functioning sociopath. The danger as you suggest with Obama, which I did not comment on is his charisma. The scenes from Berlin or this past Tuesday should give right thinking individuals cause for concern. As one pundit has characterized it, he has not been running a campaign but leading a movement. The problem is that no one really knows what this movement is about, just that it feels good if you submit to it.

With the appointment of Emanuel (nice Messianic name) Obama has revealed another aspect of his character, his passive aggressiveness. Some have suspected that the "hate tactics" used against McCain had Obama's blessing; whether or not that was true, his followers embraced that approach. The misogynistic rants against Palin and Hillary, the ageism against McCain and the race card used to silence any of his critics speaks volumes of the tone his administration will adopt.

As I said in my earlier post, his achilles heel is that the majority of his supporters (believers) have taken him at face value and when they discover that he has not been honest with them, they will turn on him with a passion greater than that of their initial support.

Anonymous said...


You're on target!

I'd like to point out to all that the selection of Emanuel isn't the first one, Biden was the first. And it was THIS pick that told me exactly where Obama was heading: the warhawk regime continues.

Don't blame me, I voted Nader... Would have voted Paul (did so at my state primary), but he wasn't on the ballot.

But I hold no illusions that the very system that is predicated on predation can alter its fundamental charter and cast off the very powers that rule it.

My greatest fear, however, is that as governments fall the power vacuum will be replaced by religious nutcases (Palin comes to mind).


Knute Rife said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
London Banker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
London Banker said...

Knute and I are taking a discussion offline via e-mail. Hopefully he'll repost his comment shortly.

rge reader of LB said...

@ Knute Rife
"OK, people, let's settle down and work the problem. First, ignore the election night speeches on both sides."

Exactly right, but I believe that you are missing a critical aspect of his ascent. The majority of his followers still believe his mother was a virgin.

rge reader of LB said...

@ Knute Rife
Second, the appointment of Emanuel means one thing and one thing only: Obama's willing to flog Congress

Correct again, but I think you are missing the underlying premise that expectations were for a new and enlightened approach e.g. “change”. Not that anyone knew or understood what “change” actually meant but I think his supporters knew what it didn’t mean e.g. reaching out and bringing people together with a cat-o-nine-tails.

Your other points speak to a dynamic that notwithstanding his oratory (he is certainly not eloquent) and intelligence, his lack of experience is beginning to show through as he looks to the past to fulfill his promise for the future. One might even go so far as to suggest a degree of insecurity, reference the cast of characters present during his first press conference.

yoyomo said...

I have to agree with Mark and disagree with Knute and RGEreader; Emanuel's pick simply reinforces Biden's selection - AIPAC will be dictating foreign policy in the Mideast. Emanuel has no pull with congressional Republicans and the thought that Obama could use him for that purpose is fantasy.

Knute Rife said...

I am getting the distinct impression we are going to have to agree to disagree. Black voters have pinned a lot of hopes to him (understandably), but I'm not seeing a Messiah movement. Those tears of joy on election night were from the simple realization that we weren't going to have a third straight stolen election, we aren't a banana republic after all, we aren't going to have four more years of the same old crap, and (at least for some of us) we aren't going to have a Supreme Court Torquemada would envy. The main thing the bulk of us fear Obama has in common with Jesus is that he'll suffer an early demise. There are too many rednecks out there who want to give him Excedrin Headache No. .308.

As for flogging Congress, it's the way it's done here. We've had two Democratic presidents in the last 40 years, and both were ineffective at handling Congress. Obama is signaling that he's going to do what is necessary to be effective. As for the phalanx behind him at the press conference, that is standard US political theater.

lknz said...


Obama isn't leading a movement. His election is the result of a 'movement' and he's being swept along for the ride.

The future will tell whether or not he's got gumption to live up to the task that voters have elected him to do.

Don't underestimate the fury of middle class Americans who're tired of economic policies that have left both their country and savings accounts empty.

The outrage has only just begun.

BuckarooBanzai said...

@RGE reader of LB,

Fair point on GWB-- it is entirely possible that he is better characterized as low-functioning.

Regarding how his followers will react as Obama fails to "take them to heaven": I think you vastly underestimate a human being's capacity to remain in denial. Feelings of betrayal can be easily displaced onto a wide variety of bogeymen. Dictators on both the right and the left have practically made a science of this. Blame it on the jews; the running dogs of capitalism; on "fifth columnists"; on a lack of solidarity amongst certain elements of the "faithful". It goes on and on.

BuckarooBanzai said...

@Knute Rife,

The advantage of being a Ron Paul supporter, such as myself, is that it lends one a sufficiently detached viewpoint from both parties. I didn't have a dog in this latest fight.

But from where I sit, the Obama phenomenon appears indistinguishable from a religious movement. 100% faith-based, except it is the worship of a man, not a god. Whenever that happens, it doesn't EVER lead anywhere good.

For what it's worth. I guess we'll both find out soon enough.

Knute Rife said...

Odd, from where I sit, it's the Paul phenomenon that "appears indistinguishable from a religious movement." I've seen very little from the Paul campaign that doesn't fit comfortably within any standard definition of "personality cult," especially the unremitting conspiracy theories.

Anonymous said...

"makes me frankly nauseous."
Not yo be niggling, but please look up nauseous before you use it like this. I have always looked up to you Brits as protectors of the English language--don't let me down now.

OuterBeltway said...


Since it is now a few days after you've made your post, and you've had time to reflect on your you feel differently now?

I did my duty, and voted the Republicans out of office. I was elated for a day, and then when the Emanuel appointment came, I immediately set to work writing my "the day after" article, which sounded a bit like yours, only not quite so well-written.

Rome was not built in a day, nor will it be un-built in a day. The Repubs were ridiculed and shamed and then defeated.

It will happen again. The ugliness of Wall Street and Washington is so obvious now, and people are watching and learning with an intensity I've not seen in my lifetime.

Don't let up, LB, except to give yourself a chance to blow off steam. Other than that, swing that sledge. Work in rhythm with your allies, and bash the wall.

Lastly, let me put the lie to the assertion that Emanuel was appointed CofStaff in order to "manage" congress. That's comical.

Recall Ronald Reagan's first term. Chief of Staff was Jim Baker - the polar stylistic opposite of Emanuel. Reagan reached over the head of Congress, and spoke directly to the people. He then promptly rolled right over Congress, and Jim Baker smoothed all the ruffled feathers. It was brilliant.

Emanuel is there to enforce two things: Wall Street stays "safe", and ME foreign policy. He is there as the AIPAC/Likud guard dog.

We are going to see a Chicago-style White House. This is not going to be particularly pretty, and it may backfire badly.

I see Emanuel's appointment as a very risky move. The choke-collar is on very tightly, and that's not going to sit well with the American people.

yoyomo said...

Great point, I wonder if you're aware of the AIPAC episode with Clinton where one member taped a high official of AIPAC bragging about negotiating with the incoming Clinton transition team over cabinet appointments, especially SecState. The AIPAC official (I think it might have been their president) was forced to resign as a result and claimed he was lying when he made those boasts.

When the taper was asked why he exposed his friend he said that he was afraid that this kind of abuse of Jewish influence behind the scenes would, when ultimately revealed, expose the Jewish community to dangerous levels of resentment and he wanted to force it out into the open where it could be debated honestly without ulterior motives.

Emanuel's appointment is part of the old pattern but with the internet (not available in 1992) the campers aren't going to stay happy too long when the truth dawns on them. We will be living in interesting times shortly.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that the media has been decidedly in support of Obama or as the Post (under)states "Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got".

Tougher scrutiny?? Let me see we are talking about a media that incessantly played Rev. Wright clips for weeks on end and tore into Obama over it (ABC News was the first to bring it out to the public at large after Sean Hannity brought it up on Fox), dug into ever crevice in Chicago for details of his connections with Rezko, blasted him over a flag pin, raked him through the coals with Bill Ayers way back in the primaries when George Stepanopolous blew the story mainstream, and radical Muslim madrassas he allegedly attended as youth.

What more could you possible want? Perhaps by not being "tough" enough, you merely meant the media didn't bring up all the smears and conspiracies you would have liked (e.g., birth certificate forgery, etc.).I'll have you know, the media simply doesn't have time to cover every unsubstantiated smear. It's funny, whenever you Republicans lose it is ALWAYS the media's fault. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

my greatest fear is that Obama is anti free trade and protectist. The isolation from closing opportunities to your people and other peoople to build mutually beneficial trades snowballs as people then isolated from trade, isolate themsselves from to religion (death to all sinners, race, to whether or they have a star on their chest. This isolation leads to war. The nazi party were "national socialists" - thinks about the policies this name infers and then listen to obama's policies.

Knute Rife said...

@ anonymous
Obama shouldn't be the focus of your concern regarding a decline in free trade. He knows he has to work internationally to fix the multitude of messes created by the current administration, including restructuring the economy so that we have some hope of backing away from the brink we find ourselves at. Contrary to what the Right Wing Noise Machine would have you believe, he is no more an idiot than he is a socialist.

You should be looking at whether the US has any leverage left to operate with, given that treasuries are tanking as shown by the spike in the core yield on TIPS, and whether free trade is possible when shippers can't get letters of credit to ship, as evidenced by the collapse of the Baltic Dry Index over the last few weeks (How do you like that, LB, I wedged both topics in.).

Was Nazis anbetrifft, habe ich ihre Reden auf Deutsch gelesen und gehoert. Obama ist kein Nazi.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if any of you have ventured out among the people of color and the poor and talked with them. EXPECTATIONS ARE ENORMOUS and of a nature that you may not be able to understand.

The powers that be in the party of power can try to temper the expectations with talk because talk is cheap. However, the underclasses want TANGIBLES.They want to taste and touch, not hear.


Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that no one here has apparently read, "Rules for Radical" by Saul Alinsky as it has been Obama's (im)moral bible, or David Freddoso's "The Case Against Barack Obama."

No one here exhibits any idea that Obama has been, and remains, part of the thuggish Chicago political machine where the FBI regularly investigates their politiccians and fines them or jails them.

That he stood in the way in Illinois (three times) to try to rescue the life of a baby who survived an abortion makes him a true abomination to anyone with a pulse and a brain.

No, America will not have any good "change" as the only economics Obama knows is the socialism of spreading the despair. As large a component of the Great Depression was the cessation of spending due to a complete lack of faith in the government. That iss what we are seeing here as Obama has ZERO qualifications to bee president and could not pass a security check to enter the WH were he an employee.

Can anyone list his accomplishments, other than running for office and saying he will "change America and then the world"? (a scary comment he repeated often) You can't. Obama is an empty suit and the stock market dropped 25% in the 12 days after his election because many have researched that he is a fraud and an incompetent. There is a lot of buyers remorse coming as Obama can't vote "present" in the Oval Office. What America did do is just voted itself a depression! Given that the majority of his 52% have nothing and either voted against Bush or voted for the money of others, they will be the ones dissapointed and harmed the most. 48% of America did not fall for the demagogue that is Obama. You in Europe WILL be greatly dissapointed as you see this astonishing orator with a teleprompter repeatedly say "uh" without it. He is a marginaal intellect with not a single paper written at the Harvard Law Review. By the time his tenure is over you will despise him more than Bush, who ha fought three wars. One against Al Queda, one aagainst the American media, and one against the democratic party thsat committed rtreason by going well beyond the party of loyaal opposition.

Obama has typified the unrepealed law of Caveat Emptor.


Anonymous said...

Wow! After cataloging the cretinous makeup of BO's administration you are still inspired?

You need help buddy.