Judis makes a good case that the President has been inconstant in both his rhetoric and his actions, threatening yesterday to teach Wall Street a lesson and then today not only failing to follow through, but actually rewarding the fat cats he had criticized yesterday. This inconsistency is the mark of a man either unprincipled or unsure of his abilities, and the American people will quickly lose confidence in a leader who lacks confidence in himself:
Obama would periodically criticize bankers after embarrassing revelations-at various times calling the bonuses they gave themselves "shameful" and an "outrage"-but, after hearing complaints about his rhetoric from the bankers, he would back off. At a private meeting on March 28 with 13 Wall Street CEOs, the president, his spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "emphasized that Wall Street needs Main Street and Main Street needs Wall Street." And, in his Georgetown speech, Obama returned to his theme of collective responsibility. The recession, Obama said, "was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street."
Obama's policy followed the same swerving course as his rhetoric. One week, he would favor harsh restrictions on bank and insurance-company bonuses, but, the next week, he would waver; one week, he would support legislation allowing bankruptcy judges to reduce the amount that homeowners threatened with foreclosure owed the banks; the next week, he would fail to protest when bank lobbyists pressured the Senate to kill these provisions. But, more importantly, Obama-in sharp contrast to Roosevelt in his first months-failed to push Congress to immediately enact new financial regulations or even to set up a commission to investigate fraud.
There's much more in Judis' article to help one understand the failure of this President to provide effective leadership, especially in solving our economic woes. One can quibble with Judis' belief that Mr. Obama should have proposed a bigger stimulus than the $800 billion that the administration settled on, but so much else that he says has about it the ring of truth. If his essay were summed up in a single sentence it might be that Mr. Obama is simply unsuited for the position to which he has risen.
It's good that the folks at The New Republic are beginning to see what was plain to anyone who, in the summer of 2008, was thinking with his head about Mr. Obama and not with his heart.RLC