08 April 2010

A Pox on Both Their Houses: A Failing Presidency and a Country Adrift

An alternative title for this might be, "Of Rats and Sinking Ships."

Larry Summers is reportedly leaving later this year, and Andrew Cockburn reports that Rahm Emanuel, Obama's acutely verbal Chief of Staff is said to be looking for other employment, preferably a high paying job on Wall Street with little work and enormous perks and privileges.

This is the sort of thing that one would expect to be happening at the end of the first term of a President, five years into the job. Perhaps that event is being moved up because Obama is likely to be a one term president, in one of the most spectacular flame outs from high, and in retrospect misplaced, expectations since the Segway.

Obama was clearly the wrong man for the job. He might have been the kind of reformer for the good times, when you really do not need him, dedicated to getting the various squabbling parties to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Unfortunately, a crisis demands leadership, and Obama is all fluff in that department. Leaders lead, they do not hold other people up as the leaders, and take them to task for their failure to do the risky things when their leader hides behind a non-existent consensus. I hate to say this, but both Clinton and W were far superior leaders, unfortunately with deeply flawed visions and moral compasses.

The Democrats are most likely looking at a November massacre in the election, unless some event occurs to pull the nation together such as an externally focused crisis.

The problem of course is that if one looks at the alternatives, there are none too attractive in the Republican Party which is also deeply tarnished with the financial corruption that actually came to full flower under their stewardship with George W. And part of the reason that legislation for reform languishes is that the Republicans are openly in the camp of the corporatocracy, and obstructing any nascent reform attempts from a small core of independent minded legislators.

Is it time for a Third Party as some have suggested? Maybe, although it seems more likely to me that it will take a much greater degree of pain and collapse for America to wake up and reform its system, from the Media to Washington to Wall Street. Splinter parties at the extremes appear probable in the short term.

And then who knows what might be slouching towards Pennsylvania Avenue, its moment come round at last?

As Rahm Eyes Exit
Financial Reform Bids Collapse Into Farce

Word from the White House is that Rahm Emanuel is still fishing around for a lucrative berth in the financial industry (“money first, then the deal” he reportedly barked at a recent industry caller discussing business possibilities in the private sector) so we needn’t hold our breath too hard waiting for the administration to bring law enforcement, or even its emasculated sibling “regulation reform,” to Wall Street anytime soon. Not that the banks have ever really felt threatened, given the conntemptuous ease, which I described here last December, with which they were able to gut the reform bill spawned last in the House of Representatives.

The retiring and long since neutered Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd has his own meek version of a financial reform program currently before the Senate, but this came pre-gutted on the issue of a Consumer Finance Protection Agency dedicated to protecting us from banker loan-sharks. Dodd’s proposed legislation consigns the putative CPFA to the bowels of the Federal Reserve, with a right of veto over any unappealing consumerist initiatives granted to a “Financial Stability Oversight Council” made up of banker-friendly regulators...

Read the rest here.