President Barack Obama has done some great things in the first two months of his presidency. He has promised to end the commitment of combat troops in Iraq by a date certain. He has set in motion the process to close our shameful detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama has rendered George W. Bush's signing statements inoperative, rescinded the ban on federal funding for stem cell research, signed into law important legislation barring discrimination against women in the workplace, submitted an honest and forthright--though earmark-laden--budget, and passed a stimulus bill that will translate into real jobs and real progress for the American people.
But--alas--my unstinting support of him has come to an end. To paraphrase Don Altobello in The Godfather Part III, "I have some stones in my shoe."
The biggest one has been placed there by Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman. His latest column--Behind The Curve--suggests very strongly and very convincingly that the current stimulus bill is inadequate. President Obama is surrounded by advisors who have been part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and other key economic players in the administration had front-row seats for the making of the debacle that is our current economy.
They are still protecting their own interests.
The so-called "zombie banks" and financial institutions should be treated no differently than the seventeen regional banks that have been seized and liquidated this year. No more bailout money. No more bonuses gleaned from taxpayers. No more hemming and hawing about the value of "toxic" loans on the books of financial institutions.
The longer it goes on and the more bailout money allocated to the malefactors who got us into this mess in the first place, the less incentive average Americans have to honor their own commitments. Rick Santelli notwithstanding, what debtor should be counted as an idiot for walking away from an obligation when our own government is paying The Big Players to do that very thing? With bonuses! Why not?
"Why not stiff the banks for some tens of thousands of dollars when the government is pumping billions into those institutions for the same purpose? If they can default without penalty, why can't we?"
This is the psychology that adds to the toxicity of the current economic environment.
The second stone in my shoe? The Obama administration isn't even back on its heels as far as framing the issues: It's comatose. He's getting his ass kicked. Inaction is allowing incoherence to hold sway. The Mainstream Media are always going to give the right-wing a voice. That voice will always have influence as long as it is allowed to ring unchallenged. Witness the canard that--two months into his administration--Obama "owns" the economic mess we're in. The most intellectually benighted yokels in the furthest reaches of our nation's Dogpatches can be talked down from that lofty perch if only someone would undertake to do it.
No one in the Obama administration seems up to the task.
The final stone in my shoe? It can only be written down to timidity. Barack Obama is the premiere politician of this age and could be the premiere politician of any other if he would just take hold of the reins and drive this country into the proper direction. He needs to start "throwing elbows." He needs to stop lamenting his long-lost status as a private person and begin to take on this greatest of mantles.
Maybe Michelle can strap him into a chair in the White House theater and replay the pivotal moment from the movie The American President until The Clue Train pulls in.
It don't get no better than this, President Obama. You'll never have a better chance to crush these bastards than you have right now. Our future as a nation depends on you doing just that. Their leader is Rush Limbaugh and they're too afraid--too timid--to say any different. Offer those Republicans an alternative, Mr. Obama. Invite Paul Krugman and Howard Dean and Nouriel Roubini and FDIC chair Sheila Bair in for a meeting without Hillary's DLC flunkies around. Fashion a kick-ass policy that will lift this nation out of the crisis it's in, do so in a way that ensures that it won't happen again, and marginalize the Republican Party as an effective political entity in this nation.
Come on! They've proved that they deserve it! Pull the trigger and put us all out of their misery.