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I have had my issues with President Obama.  To me, he has caved in so many times he has miners trapped inside him.  (A tip of the hat to John Fugelsang for that line.).  Well, I’m currently reading a book—which I highly recommend—by Noam Scheiber titled “ The Escape Arti$ts: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the [sic] Recovery”.  It’s been eye-opening.

Although it is true that Obama is a better chess player than poker player (although he strategizes long term, he tends to show his hand early) I now believe Obama has always been sincere in wanting to work with both sides of the Congressional aisle because that was his modus operandi in the US Senate.  It’s also very clear where Obama made his mistakes in this administration because he made two huge ones.  

First, for some reason he idolized Bill Clinton and thought his economic team walked on international water, the way the averted global financial collapse and all back in the 90’s.  The fact that what Clinton’s team did led directly to the stock market and banking collapse of 2008 either got by him or by that time since he had his team in place all Obama could say was “Oops.”  What bothers me is the fact that Obama, acknowledging he knew next to nothing about economic policy, looked around and he thought he saw the best financial minds in Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase (to Obama, Jamie Dimon is THE guy), and career US Treasury guys.  The fact that these guys all placed the welfare of global economies, Wall Street and the banks over people (so what if a few million people lose their jobs,  as long as investors are happy and their dollars are safe) EVERY time, didn’t give him pause.  Well, he did pause long enough to appoint Christine Romer as his chief economist; she being the only one who didn’t consider John Maynard Keynes the economic  Anti-Christ.  But as it was, Romer advised a minimum $1.8 trillion stimulus but the Obama team decided $775 billion was all they could go and we all know how that turned out.  Like much with the Obama administration, it could have been better.

The 2nd mistake was in figuring that since he was being noble and sincere in his outreach to the Republicans to work with him in a bi-partisan manner, they would be, too.  It’s hard to believe that a politician as astute as Obama could have totally misread the Tea Party, but misread them he did.  Or maybe he thought that when Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly stated that Job One would be holding Obama to a single term as president he had his fingers crossed behind his back.  No, he didn’t have his fingers crossed behind his back, he had both hands in front of his body and was sticking the middle fingers on both hands up at Obama.

For me, “The Escape Artists” has rounded out the picture of the man.  I’ve made the mistake of assuming the image presented of Obama was the same as the man.  I believe Obama knows what he doesn’t know (but doesn’t take it to absurd lengths ala Donald Rumsfeld) but he needs to be less trusting that there’s basically only one small group of guys who do know what he doesn’t know and they know it the right way.  Obama chose the wrong Robert among the ex-Clintonites when he went for Rubin instead of Reich.  If Obama can be heard above the right wing noise machine, he should be able to fix his mistakes during his second term.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sweet! Damning with faint praise! Popcorn time n/t (6+ / 0-)

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:06:21 PM PDT

    •  Praising with faint damns actually (0+ / 0-)

      I gave the  diarist a rec because our new right, as opposed to the Republican lunatic right, dares not admit the slightest flaw.

      Harry Truman not only had to deal with a Republican Congress but a powerful segregationist southern wing when he integrated the armed forces.

      Even Lyndon Johnson's incredible accomplishment in putting Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court pales in comparison to that one act of courage that led to all that followed.

      Obama's stimulus was weak tea compared to what was needed and heavily diluted by the usual upper class tax cuts that have lesser stimulative effect.

      It reminds of President Ford (you know, the president who passed out WIN [Whip Inflation Now] to fight inflation).  Ford gave a tax rebate to the upper classes too to stimulate the economy.  When asked about leaving the poorer citizens out, Ford's spokesman replied that they would just buy food with rebates and we needed manufacturers to be able to sell pricier goods.

      The Republicans objected to Obama's ideas?

      - When exactly was it that they did not?

      Obama continually fed the wingers red meat.  Working folk got regrets and excuses.

      Best,  Terry

      •  Just pointing this out (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        durrati

        Johnson had a 68 seat majority in the Senate. You can't compare his domestic accomplishments to Obama's side-by-side. That said...

        Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

        by MrAnon on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 08:01:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That Was A Time The Highly Respected Senator (0+ / 0-)

          Fulbright [Arkansas] openly said voting for segregation was the price for his good deeds in the Senate.

          It was a price far too high to pay but I don't recall a single person making that argument at the time.

          Best,  Terry

  •  The President needed (14+ / 0-)

    Republican votes to overcome the filibuster. End of story.

    "Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity- people with a slovenly biography - sadists, mental freaks, traitors." - ILYA EHRENBURG

    by durrati on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:15:11 PM PDT

    •  no he didn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaEscapee

      he needed to swing the corporate Democrats to his side and he didn't.

      As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

      by jbou on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:41:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are right durrati, 60 in Dem caucus for 14 (6+ / 0-)

      weeks

      When everyone was finally sworn in there were 58 Democrats and 2 independents in the Senate Democratic caucus -- one of those was Joe Lieberman who campaigned for McCain and tried to gum things up as much as he could.  There was also a Blue Dog caucus in the Senate blocking and dragging their feet.  That's reality.  

      From Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

      About that Filibuster Proof Majority

      Well, let's at least get our history straight. Until Al Franken was sworn in on July 7, the Democratic caucus in the Senate stood at 59. After that it was technically up to 60, but Ted Kennedy hadn't cast a vote in months and was housebound due to illness. He died a few weeks later and was replaced by Paul Kirk on September 24, finally bringing the Democratic majority up to 60 in practice as well as theory. After that the Senate was in session for 11 weeks before taking its winter recess, followed by three weeks until Scott Brown won Kennedy's seat in the Massachusetts special election.

      So that means Democrats had an effective filibuster-proof majority for about 14 weeks.

      A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost. ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

      by ParkRanger on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:01:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And Don't forget (8+ / 0-)

        at the time of the Stimulus vote Specter still had a (R) behing his name, less Franken there were only 56 Dems at the time.

        "Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity- people with a slovenly biography - sadists, mental freaks, traitors." - ILYA EHRENBURG

        by durrati on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:08:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I remember. They had to get Snowe, Specter and (9+ / 0-)

          Collins to vote on the stimulus.  The R's insisted on cutting out part of the actual jobs and adding more tax cuts as part of the deal.

          The IL seat was held up while Blagovitch tried to sell the seat and then Burris was seated.  He was an excellent progressive senator. I was sorry he couldn't keep the seat but that was part of the deal -- that he wouldn't run.

          There was a lot of chaos there at the beginning.

          As I remember it Sen. Byrd was ill a lot too.  I was thinking they brought him in on a stretcher at one point for a vote.

          A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost. ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

          by ParkRanger on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:13:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Also (7+ / 0-)

            To claim that Obama should have asked for a larger stimulus is frankly ridiculous. Pelosi at one point said "the most we can get is $400 billion". Paul Krugman I think at one point even said $500 billion was sufficient. But Obama managed to get even more. That alone is a miracle.

            Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

            by MrAnon on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:17:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I haven't checked this, but I was thinking (0+ / 0-)

              he did ask for a bigger stimulus and it was part of the deal that it was cut.  I seem to remember GOPers saying it wasn't needed.  I agree with you that he did something amazing getting this together -- as well as many other things that there was so much resistance to.

              It's amazing to me how people are rewriting what happened with the stimulus.  I certainly don't read every article, but I have never seen anyone, including Krugman, say that he had to deal with Republicans to get it passed because they're weren't enough Democrats in the caucus. Everything I've read always said it should have been bigger and it's Obama's fault that it wasn't.  Reality based writing would be so much more accurate.

              A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost. ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

              by ParkRanger on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 10:20:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Fuck the fuckety fuck fuck. (11+ / 0-)

    I guess this gets credit as catharsis.
    I like Robert Rubin too.
    Look, we're not in "second-guessing, armchair quarterback, nitpicking" mode now.
    Any true liberal, progressive, lefty, cares about other humans, loves their parents, doesn't kill puppies or kittens are all in for Obama.
    Period.
    Everyone else is on the other side.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:17:01 PM PDT

    •  Let's be fair (0+ / 0-)

      Larry Summers wasn't the best choice of Obama. Nobody's (here, Firebagger Lake is different story) not voting for Obama, but there are legitimate criticisms that should be noted. Given that he has written diaries for this site, it's always possible that he will listen.

      Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

      by MrAnon on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:14:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course, of course, of course. (9+ / 0-)

        There are mistakes he made, there are criticisms that are valid.
        However, we don't just need to win the Presidency. We need to hold the Senate, and get the House back, and we also need to instill a little backbone into the chickenshits in the Dem. Senate caucus.
        We also need to win down-ballot in the states.
        So, we need to maintain our focus and our "enthusiasm" and not get dragged down into the whineys like we did in 2010.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:26:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          durrati

          We do need to work hard to get out the vote. Even a blue-dog is better than a teabagger at this point. That means we can't have people saying "I want Bob Kerry to lose" (I understand saying "I won't work to get Bob Kerry elected", but to want a Teabagger to win?).

          Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

          by MrAnon on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:32:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  his economic team and playing nice with the R's (0+ / 0-)

    Many of us would list those as our two biggest disappointments with the  President.    

    Though I'm not sure if this diary is constructive-criticism or something different.

  •  Obama made mistakes... (0+ / 0-)

    just like we all do. Now we sit and wait to see if he learned from his mistakes.

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:42:24 PM PDT

  •  Feh! n/t (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hedwig, FiredUpInCA, kalmoth, Deep Texan

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:01:50 PM PDT

  •  1. Extending the Bush Tax Rates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaEscapee

    2. Abandoning Single-Payer Health Care
    3. Expanding Drone Killings
    4. Whisleblower Retaliations

    Those are big, but a Republican would have done that and more.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:03:15 PM PDT

    •  Seriously? (6+ / 0-)

      There's legitimate criticisms, sure, but some of these are unfair.

      1. The alternative was raising taxes for millions of middle class families. On our side of the deal, we had payroll tax cuts for the poor, as well as an extension of unemployment benefits, neither of which we would have gotten otherwise. Obama has indicated, however, that he is willing to let all tax cuts expire in 2012.

      2. Do you really think Joe Lieberman (who wouldn't even vote cloture on public option) would have let his health insurance company friends be damaged? In any case, I don't think Obama ever indicated single-payer would be a main part of the reform he was seeking.

      3. Drone strikes are a debatable strategy. Many would argue that they actually minimize civilian casualties. In any case, while he did increase drone strikes initially, he has sharply reduced them since 2010.

      4 is legitimate, but the courts already out many of the weaker cases.

      Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

      by MrAnon on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:25:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmmm... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        for 6 too

        1. I can't imagine that President Obama will be campaigning on raising taxes for anyone making under $250K. He had his chance to restructure our tax codes and squandered it. It was his biggest mistake IMHO.

        2. You make a good point. ACA is better than nothing.

        3. I disagree completely. We will never end the GWOT by creating more terrorists. On top of that, I think it's immoral.

        If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

        by HairyTrueMan on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 06:28:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Meh (0+ / 0-)

          1. He doesn't need to campaign on it, he can just campaign on saying "I will not allow the Republicans to hold the middle class hostage at the benefit of the top 1%". He has said on the White House website:

          If the Committee does not succeed in meaningful balanced deficit reduction with revenue-raising tax reform on the most well-off by the end of 2012, the President can use his veto pen to raise nearly $1 trillion from the most well-off by vetoing any extension of the Bush high income tax cuts.
          Once all the tax cuts expire, Obama can ask for new tax cuts just for the middle class, and hopefully he will have a sufficient Congress to bargain for it.

          3 requires a full debate, because this issue is rather complicated (not to mention the fact that there are conflicting sources on the issue).

          Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

          by MrAnon on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 07:57:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The President (9+ / 0-)

      didn't "extend" fuckhead's tax breaks he traded them to put a floor under the unemployed...

      "Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity- people with a slovenly biography - sadists, mental freaks, traitors." - ILYA EHRENBURG

      by durrati on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:28:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Abandoning single payer? (6+ / 0-)

      Even during the primaries he laid out his plan for health care, and single payer was not on the menu. Pelosi brought up two bills in the House, both of which failed.
      California couldn't even pass it.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 03:42:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  damn, wasted time reading this bs n/t (8+ / 0-)

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:07:23 PM PDT

  •  1: being born in Kenya 2: being a socialist. /nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Texan, Catte Nappe
  •  I don't know about the idolizing Clinton stuff. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sephius1, Deep Texan

    I tend to doubt it, actually.

    But he did fuck up by giving the Repubs the benefit of the doubt.

    I think he's over that.

    "The disturbing footage depicts piglets being drop kicked and swung by their hind legs. Sows are seen being kicked and shoved as they resist leaving their piglets."

    by Bush Bites on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:52:21 PM PDT

  •  Christine Romer Was The Idiot Who Said..... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    durrati, elmo, kalmoth, Deep Texan, Catte Nappe

    unemployment would never get above 8%.  I still blame her for putting that out there.

    When did Obama say he knew next to nothing about economic policy?  

    Obama is guilty of one or two things for sure.  The main thing is that he thought Republican might, just might, put this country above their stinky, smelly politics.  They didn't.

    But despite all this, the man has gotten things accomplished that blow my mind.  I'm satisfied.  

  •  Is this really the time? I mean, we have an (7+ / 0-)

    election to win.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:03:25 PM PDT

  •  Obama myths pulverized on this thread, I love it!! (3+ / 0-)
  •  Christina Romer was one economist.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    durrati, Deep Texan, kalmoth

    Christina Romer was only one economist in the room.

    And while she (along with Paul Krugman - who wasn't in the room) was correct in the analysis of the necessary size of a stimulus, the politicians won the debate about how much they could get through Congress on short notice.  The President is a politician first and foremost.

    The $700 billion stimulus saved the economy from a near certain death.  Any future stimulus would have made the economy healthy enough to stand on it's own.  Since President Obama was going to be labeled as a 'spender', regardless of the size of the stimulus, I too he should have gone bigger.  But hindsight is always 20/20.

    As to the idea that Clinton(ites) were responsible for sowing the seeds of financial destruction - you miss read history.  The repeal of Glass-Steagall and the deregulation that followed was more a reaction to the Euro than it was a desire to create giant financial 'too big to fail' institutions.  The U.S. was losing business to European investment houses and a restructuring of our financial system was necessary to appropriately compete.  But the new law was written and passed by Republicans led by Phil Gramm.

    A Republican Congress wrote the laws of deregulation that President Clinton signed; nearly all Democrat Senators voted against the law as written.  And Alan Greenspan believed that Wall Street could regulate itself.

  •  Obama's blunder was forgetting he was a leader (0+ / 0-)

    Obama led his life as an outsider who melded with different groups in search for truth and the best way to do things. He made many friends, but rarely got too "tribal" so to speak to engender strong rooted loyalties other than the union with Michelle and the resulting family.  Very commendable. The problem was when time came to lead the country, Obama forgot that he needed to stick his neck out in support of his constituents to get loyalty in return. While I don't think the Wisconsin recall move by the WI democrats was the wisest move, Obama's people have many times failed to defend progressives, have taken delight in insulting loyal soldiers like Dean or sympathetic pundits like Krugman , have failed to take the trouble to come up with arguments which would bolster the support of progressive issues to the common man who doesnt take the time to research issues. Obama just did not make an efffort . So guess what. When time comes for Obama to get the same support he got in 2008, he is looking like a pathetic beggar looking for funds from the some of the same people he has pissed off.

    Very sad. I will still vote for Obama because the alternative is just too horrible. Ironically, the one area where Obama has done a very good job is foreign policy(very good being a relative term as he made mistakes even here, but I dont know many leaders who would have not made them either).

    Obama botched the timing of the bailout to extract concessions from bankers. He spent way too much time and poltical capital on his Health Care reform when he should have pushed it to the second term and the reform doesnt even curtail costs and so it makes no difference to the majority of Americans. He could have enacted so many other progressive bills in the time it took to fight this health care bill.

  •  Reaching out to repubs initially was good strategy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    for 6 too

    His mistake was not knowing when to quit.

  •  It always amazes me to read a diary wherein (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yorkiedoglover, durrati

    the diarist deigns to be smarter than the President of the United States, having no clue as to what being the POTUS is actually like. There is no way for any of us to know what that job is like. Also, none of us are perfect in our jobs, which I imagine are not as complicated, dangerous or as necessary that eyes, heart and brain be in many different places at once.

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 08:56:37 AM PDT

  •  Must we write "I didn't get a pony" diaries (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    durrati

    during an election year?  The stakes are too high.  Romney has vowed to overturn healthcare reform on his FIRST DAY in OFFICE.   Can't we just focus on re-electing the President, for the sake of those 28,000 Americans who DIE each year for having no health coverage?    

    (-6.25, -4.36) Just another socialist lesbian undermining the sanctity of marriage by breathing

    by Gertrude on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:46:38 AM PDT

  •  Miniature apple pies: (0+ / 0-)

    All you need is Google Translate and This.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 04:30:52 PM PDT

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