So Mark and I have been sniping at each other over the President. I think it’s fair to attack him when he caves on things, and when he takes actions that demoralize the base. Mark says that Obama knows what he’s doing, that he did after all get elected President, and that he has delivered on key points, so please just STFU.
But now we’ve got another test coming.
The Senate passed the financial reform bill yesterday over the Republican pro-Wall Street filibuster. That bill includes a relatively powerful consumer financial protection agency, whose chair will be appointed by Obama. The intellectual godmother of that agency is the brilliant and wonderful Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who has stood up for the middle class for year against the depradations of the finance industry. Obama has praised her in speeches.
But now via San Stein at the Huffington Post, we learn that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner opposes her, mainly because of the scrutiny she has shined on the management of TARP and related programs, and probably because Geithner is very comfortable representing the views of those on Wall Street. I wouldn’t be surprised if Larry Summers opposes her, also.
There is NO reason — none — not to give the job to Warrenm except that Wall Street doesn’t like her. She knows more than anyone about what this agency should do, how it will work, etc.
This is just the sort of thing that drives me up the wall about Obama — he simply will not do anything to get the base excited. He won’t attack Republicans consistently; he won’t provide a counter-narrative to Reaganism; he was reluctant to use recess appointments to block GOP obstructionism (although that is slowly changing); he has bought into a pointless and meaningless war in Afghanistan just to please Beltway insiders (probably his worst substantive mistake). He is the quintessentially McLuhanian “cool” politician. He clearly has to make compromises, particularly in a legislative process under unprecedented obstructionism and where many of the choke points are controlled by such as Kent “Fecal Matter” Conrad. But when it comes to executive areas, such as appointments and foreign policy, he doesn’t have that excuse.
He’s a damn good President, but he’s looking at some ugly midterms and needs to get core Democratic voters excited. Overlooking Warren will — once again — depress the base.
So what will he do? And if he depresses the base again, are we allowed to say so? Or are we just supposed to salute smartly and say, “We never have been at war with Wall Street”?
UPDATE: Not Sam Stein’s HuffPo piece: Shahien Nasiripour. I know less about him as a reporter, but given the history between Warren and Geithner, it is credible.