Apologies in advance for being unkind. But when Frank Rich is starting to get it, the whole world has to be on it.
“If the administration sticks to this trajectory, all bets are off for the political future of a president who rode into office blessed with more high hopes, good will and serious promise than any in modern memory. It’s time for him to stop deluding himself…
“Obama’s plight has been unchanged for months. Neither in action nor in message is he in front of the anger roiling a country where high unemployment remains unchecked and spiraling foreclosures are demolishing the bedrock American dream of home ownership. The president is no longer seen as a savior but as a captive of the interests who ginned up the mess and still profit, hugely, from it.
“That’s no place for any politician of any party or ideology to be…It’s a business culture where the rich and well-connected get richer while the employees, shareholders and customers get the shaft. And the conviction that the game is fixed is nonpartisan. If the tea party right and populist left agree on anything, it’s that big bailed-out banks have and will get away with murder while we pay the bill on credit cards — with ever-rising fees.
“Politically, no other issue counts. In last weekend’s Washington Post/ABC News poll, 42 percent of Americans chose the economy as the country’s most pressing concern. Only 5 percent picked terrorism, and 2 percent
“Does health care matter? Not as much as you’d think after this yearlong crusade. In the Post/ABC poll, the issue was second-tier — at 24 percent. Obama has blundered, not by positioning himself too far to the left but by landing nowhere — frittering away his political capital by being too vague, too slow and too deferential to Congress…Ask yourself this: All these months later, do you yet know what the health care plan means for your family’s bottom line, your taxes, your insurance?...
“…few find this serene Harvard-trained lawyer credible when slinging populist rhetoric at ‘fat-cat’ bankers. His two principal economic policy makers are useless, if not counterproductive, surrogates. Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, was probably fatally compromised from the moment his tax lapses surfaced; now he is stalked by the pileup of unanswered questions about the still-not-transparent machinations at the New York Fed
when he was knee-deep in the A.I.G. bailout. Lawrence Summers, the top administration economic guru, is a symbol of the Clinton-era deregulatory orgy that helped fuel the bubble. The White House clearly knows this duo is a political albatross…
“…The Obama administration is so overstocked with Goldman Sachs-Robert Rubin alumni and so tainted by its back-room health care deals with pharmaceutical and insurance companies that conservative politicians, Brown included, can masquerade shamelessly as the populist alternative.” – Frank Rich, The New York Times,
OK, OK so he's still missing Freddie, Fannie, Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer et. al.
But you gotta admit it, he's getting there.
OK, OK, so ...... maybe not the whole world.
OBAMA: Yes. And let me just sort of share with you some general reflections about this year. When I was sworn in, we didn't know if the financial system was going to collapse. We weren't sure how bad the job losses were going to be. They turned out to be much worse than anybody had anticipated. There were reports of a possible terrorist attack the day of the inauguration.
The amount of uncertainty was enormous. And walking through that door, you know, we immediately were confronted with just stacks of tough decisions that had to be made. During the course of this year we've had to make some decisions that were unpopular. We've made some mistakes. I've personally made some mistakes.
But what I can tell you is, a year later, I've never been more optimistic about the possibilities of America. I'm certainly a lot more optimistic than I was a year ago. And the reason is, is this country's shown its resilience. It took a body blow, and yet people are out there still starting businesses, they're still raising families, they're still coaching little league.
And, you know, I get letters, 10 a day from families. And a lot of them are heartbreaking stories. But a lot of them are just saying, you know with all the problems that we have and maybe I disagree with you on something, I'm still praying for you, I'm still optimistic, I still think that we can come together.
If we can get through 2009, as tough a year as it was, where a pandemic flu ranked about eighth on my To Do list and ended with a attempted terrorist attack and then a cataclysm in our neighborhood -- in Haiti. If we can come through 2009 and still not just be standing, but all kinds of good things happening out in the country, then I am very optimistic about where we can go.
What I haven't been able to do yet -- and this was what I was hired to do -- is to close the gap between the values of the American people and the values of Washington, and the values of Wall Street. The values of our big institutions.
These values -- the American people's values are sound. They're right. You know, people take responsibility for their lives, they work hard. They're doing right by their families. Our institutions aren't matching up to those values. And my job over the course of this year has been to see A, if we can just solve the immediate crisis. But now I've got to spend a lot more time just focused on how do we get those things to align.
And, you know, If there's one thing that I regret this year, is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us, that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. And that I do think is a mistake of mine. I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on the, you know this provision, or that law, or are we making a good, rational decision here --
OBAMA: That people will get it. And I think that, you know, what they've ended up seeing is this feeling of remoteness and detachment where, you know, there's these technocrats up here, these folks who are making decisions. Maybe some of them are good, maybe some aren't, but do they really get us and what we're going through? And I think that I can do a better job of that and partly because I do believe that we're in a stronger position now than we were in a year ago.
That also means, by the way, that we can spread out what we do so it's not so cram packed. It doesn't mean I back off the agenda of health care, or energy, or education, or financial regulatory reform, or dealing with our deficits. But it does mean that it doesn't have to be all on top of the other piled on. And we've got a lot more time to explain to people why we're doing what we're doing. We have a lot more time to answer critics who argue that we're not doing the right thing.
But the bottom line is this -- at the end of this year I can say honestly that not only has this been the busiest time of my life, but I also think that I've never been prouder of the country, and more optimistic about the direction that we can go in the future.