Thursday, October 28, 2010

Obama stares into the abyss, and gets blasted

Yves Smith has a scathing critique of President Obama's performance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show (both segments embedded below), and I'll fully admit that this was performance art, whereby the President tries to reacquaint himself with his liberal base a scant 5 days before the elections. But this was merely a reach-around after spending the last two years seemingly ignoring the reasons they voted for him. As you know, Mr. Obama was not even my third choice for president, but here he is, and here I am about to defend him from the rebuke of his fellow Hope and Changers.

I ask, what would Ms Smith have Obama say? I have no idea if Obama lied to Stewart, but for argument's sake I'll accept Smith's math and surmise that Obama has perpetrated an untruth on the American people regarding the health of our financial and housing markets. The commenters of the blogpost have found all the requisite pithy quotations from every political novelist about prevarications of office holders and moguls, so I'll refer you back to her post for the intellectual drama.

Smith, I would assume, feels that an honorable President Obama would get on national TV and say to the court jester, "OK, I'll be frank, Jon, we're screwed. The current CDS/ derivative/ mortgage crisis is well beyond anything we've ever seen and we are barely through the second inning of this fiasco. There is not enough money in the Treasury and only half a chance that the Chinese will continue to buy our debt in order to fund two foreign wars and 150 weeks of unemployment insurance for everyone. Not until all of middle America has lost their Social Security, and their jobs, and their home values have been depleted down to 1987 levels can we even begin to put this Humpty Dumpty economy back to order." Ah yes, the truth.

Smith believes that now is the time for a heart-to-heart with the American people? I would argue, as one commenter implied, the financial markets are a confidence game and the president at this time needs to instill confidence in a system that is staggering and about to collapse. If Smith thinks the alternative of devaluing all assets in one fell swoop is the better way to go, well, I have nothing to say except that I disagree. Obama has stared into the abyss and he is trying to bring us all back from the edge, but he has seen the blackness of the hole and heard the absence of an echo when he screamed. The abyss is not where we want to go. Obama may fail, and if he fails then he will take the blame and suffer the consequences to his legacy. But if he fails, then we will all suffer even more severe consequences. The reason that this economy is not worse than it is-- and it could easily have been horrifically worse-- is because there is some semblance of confidence that we will muddle through the hardship.

Yes, Obama could still be haranguing about the previous stewards who left him this mess, but what would that accomplish? This president is the only adult we've had in the Oval for many decades. I may be the only person on the planet who respects his decision to keep Summers and Geithner on the team, but I believe it was wise, if for no other reason than to hear their accounts of how this thing got broken in the first place. If we remember, the stock market rallied after weeks of free fall, the day Geithner was announced for Treasury Secretary. This may all end in tears, but the only chance we have is to keep everyone alive until the debt can be burned off and the smoke gets cleared by the wind. And it will take a long time and it's no small task.

Sometimes Dad has to answer the question "Are we there yet?" with the little white lie of "Almost" just to buy some time until the next bathroom break. And we'll be hearing the flush on Tuesday.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 2
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

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