From the Thursday Morning Jolt, off to the editors and from there to your e-mailbox (if you have signed up):
A Position Defending Bonuses to Bank CEOs Constitutes a Toxic Asset, Right?
Weird. I’m the one who’s barely been outdoors in the past week except to shovel and buy food, and yet President Obama and Paul Krugman are both acting stir crazy.
Obama’s first baffling moment: “President Barack Obama said he doesn’t ‘begrudge’ the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay. The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that while $17 million is ‘an extraordinary amount of money’ for Main Street, ‘there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I’m shocked by that as well.’ ‘I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,’ Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. ‘I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.’”
Well, he knows these guys, so it’s okay, I guess. Or maybe Obama’s starting to relate to their circumstances, now that he runs a few car companies.
This administration is showing all of the even-temperedness, careful consideration, and reassuring consistency we’ve come to expect from Jack Torrence in The Shining. (Yes, that was a reference to a snowbound writer, why do you ask?) After Scott Brown’s victory, President Obama suddenly leaped out to the campaign trail again, rolling up his shirtsleeves, pledging to be the most populist populist that ever lived, and shouting the word “fight!” more often than the New York Rangers fans in the blue seats after a cheap shot. A week later, and suddenly he’s shrugging at giant bonuses at bankers that would probably get Henry Paulson’s eye to twitch. This administration’s approach isn’t bipartisan, it’s bipolar.
It’s rather funny to watch Paul Krugman flipping out over Obama’s statement like a 13-year-old girl who’s just seen her favorite American Idol contestant voted off: “Oh. My. God. . . . There’s good reason to feel outraged at the growing appearance that we’re running a system of lemon socialism, in which losses are public but gains are private. And at the very least, you would think that Obama would understand the importance of acknowledging public anger over what’s happening. But no. If the Bloomberg story is to be believed, Obama thinks his key to electoral success is to trumpet ‘the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic policies.’ We’re doomed.”
Tom Maguire: “To clarify the record, A-Rod took steroids, not TARP money
. . . to see Obama flipping and flopping in the breeze like this is embarrassing. I am almost hoping the fix is in – Obama does know these guys, and they may have agreed not to embarrass him by taking ginormous bonuses if he didn’t embarrass them by bashing them about it. Or maybe Obama thinks he has them on board for some financial reform. But if not, this is a dreadful effort from Obama. Also troubling is that now he has to engage in some random lashing-out in order to try and regain a bit of street cred with his base. Good luck!”
Dennis the Peasant: “Honestly, though, I’m not surprised at this. As many of you know, last week it was reported that Wall Street wasn’t responding to Democratic fund raising efforts with much enthusiasm. Evidently the Democratic Party’s brain trust was unprepared for Wall Street bankers responding to 13 months of public vilification by keeping their checkbooks closed. Go figure. No doubt some DNC drone rushed over to the White House and informed some Administration drone that the money has stopped flowing. Enter, on cue, the Obama walk-back. The most amateurish presidency – and president – of our age.”