“Obama’s Big Sellout”… and what the Right can learn from it
posted at 12:46 pm on December 13, 2009 by Karl
Matt Tabbi has a piece in the new Rolling Stone, titled “Obama’s Big Sellout,” about the number of people with ties to Bob Rubin (of the Clinton administration, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup) or other Wall Street insiders who assumed positions of responsibility in the Obama transition and White House. Taibbi is a progressive not prone to mince words:
What’s taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.
As a result, Taibbi has taken friendly fire from people like Tim Fernholz at the American Prospect:
The piece is a factual mess, a conspiracy theorist’s dream, doesn’t even indict Obama for his real failures (which I’ll discuss in a post later today) and of course invokes the cold hands of Bob Rubin like a bogeyman at every turn. This is pernicious for a lot of journalistic reasons, but politically it’s bad for progressives beacuse conspiracy theories stand in the way of good policy analysis and good activism, replacing them with apathy and fear.
Fernholz goes on to list what he sees as problems with Taibbi’s piece. Taibbi has admitted to one factual error, but argues that the “factual” issues Fernholz raises are mostly disagreements over how the facts should be interpreted. At Reuters, Felix Salmon basically agrees with Taibbi.
However, it is the areas of agreement that should interest the Right. Fernholz, for all of his criticism, writes:
Is the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street problematic? Yes. Does the Administration take it too easy on the banks? Absolutely. Are White House advisers too centrist for progressive tastes? Sure.
Taibbi, in response, writes:
[Fernholz] argues that “the problems Taibbi tries to describe aren’t some ridiculous cabal” but instead “come from group-think and structural influences.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was exactly the point of the article. The issue with the modern Democratic party is that its leaders all share a world view that’s extremely narrow. They genuinely believe in Rubinite ideas, have grown accustomed to an incestuous relationship with Wall Street, and they probably think that the right people were put in charge.
The notable point of this Lefty consensus is that you heard nothing like this from the Left or its establishment media outlets when the Wall Street meltdown struck during the peak of the 2008 campaign. They were not remotely interested in the financial ties between Wall Street and the Democrats, or the role of Clinton HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo in plunging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the subprime markets, or the Fed’s role in dumbing down lending standards, to name just a few topics.
Moving forward, the Left — from Pres. Obama on down — should not be allowed to whine about having inherited a bad economy from the Bush administration. By their own admissions, Clinton-era Democrats were among the “very people who caused the crisis in the first place” — and they now hold high offices in the Obama administration.