Monday, September 19, 2011

What's Going On In the White House During this Economic Crisis: One (Almost) Doesn't Want to Know

NY Magazine's Adam Moss and Frank Rich weigh in on Ron Suskind's book about the Obama Adminstration's Economic Quagmire, Confidence Men:   For example: 
"Peter Orszag relays this eviscerating quote that Summers said to him about Obama during the worst of the economic distress. According to Orszag, Summers says, "You know, Peter we're really home alone. There's no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes." Later, Orszag says to Suskind, "Larry just didn't think the president knew what he was deciding. Was this [obstruction of the president's wishes] outright and willful?" In other words, asks Orszag, was Summers saying, "I know more than the president flat-out? That strikes me as ... likely." In an amazing memo, Pete Rouse, who would replace Emanuel temporarily as chief of staff, recommends firing Summers for "Larry's imperious and heavy-handed direction of the economic policy process."

": I kept flipping back and forth between fury at Obama and — I know I'm easy — sympathy. So much of the damage comes from the initial decision to hire these guys, a decision he had to make almost immediately after being elected. He was inexperienced, he needed help, they burned him, he let them — that's the story in brief."

"Suskind also nails, I think, Obama's intellectual blind spot. Indeed, Obama himself nails it, telling Suskind that he was too inclined to search for "the perfect technical answer" to the myriad of complex issues coming at him. What he'd end up with instead is, as Suskind astutely summarizes it, "clever" answers that were "respectfully acknowledging opponents' positions, even those with thin evidence behind them, that then get stitched together into some pragmatic conclusion — but hollow." That said, could someone else have done better? Not the out-of-it McCain, not Hillary (an equivocator in her own right and one who would have embraced the same Clinton administration alumni and Wall Street crowd that Obama did). I still believe Obama was our best hope, and I still hope, however quixotically and self-deludedly, that he might learn from his mistakes."

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