Pres. Obama: I didn’t Run For Office to Help Fat-Cat Bankers

[I posted this diary On Daily Kos this morning.  It’s on the Rec List and well received by some on all “sides” of this divide, although a few people also personally attacked me and rejected any attempt at reaproachment and peace.  There are some who personally hate me and seek no coalition on Daily Kos.  Rather, they seek total victory in which many people leave, especially the “evil” TomP.  I think that is harmful to all of us, just as a total victory on Daily Kos would be harmful.  The left and center need each other now.

It is not fun to lose friends, to be called a racist or to be hated.  Nonetheless, I have to what I think is right and speak the truths I see.  Others may see different truths and I should strive to respect that they do see things differently.  As a human being, no doubt I will fall short in that, but I’ll try anyway.  

I thought I should I post this diary here, where many people are more critical of President Obama.  The two updates are very important, for they are comments from strong supporters of President Obama who do seek peace and coalition.  Peace happens with people who have been “enemies” find common ground and cease hostilities.  I have to let go of past anger just as they do.  Anyway, for your comments.]…

On 60 Minutes last night, the President addressed many issues, including the economy.  One thing I found to be very important and encouraging was his strong statement regarding banks:

Obama: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street.

60 Minutes

There has been a lot of support and criticism of Barack Obama here, often much of it personal and not issue-based on all sides.

I believe the President when he says this.  I believe he really wants some change.  My hope is that he will take stronger measures to obtain change in our economy.

More, after the fold

I think this is important:

Obama: I think in some cases that was a motivation. Which I think tells me that the people on Wall Street still don’t get it. They don’t get it. They’re still puzzled. “Why is it that people are mad at the banks?” Well, let’s see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it’s gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem. And we’ve got ten percent unemployment. Why do you think people might be a little frustrated.

Kroft: Do you think that they’ve made some of these bonuses based in part on the generosity and policies of the United States government to help put the financial system back on its feet?

Obama: I think there is no doubt about it. And what’s most frustrating me right now is you’ve got these same banks who benefitted from taxpayer assistance who are fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists up on Capitol Hill fighting against financial regulatory reform.

Kroft: Why is it taking so long?

Obama: Well, everything appears to take long in Congress. We can talk about health care (LAUGHS) if you want. This is democracy in action.

60 Minutes

Too often here on all sides, we deal with a carricature of Barack Obama.  He is either the all good hero who does great things always or the betrayer of the people who sells out to Big Business or the War Machine.

Neither depiction is true; both are strawmen.

Sometimes we have the fantasy figure Super Barack Obama battling the fantasy figure critics in a few kossak’s minds (and comments).  Other times, we have the reverse: the pure progressive critics battle the “Betrayer Obama.”  Both are extreme poles of false contructs.  Of course, people fall at various ranges in between, but the entire battle has become a devisive distraction to change and what this place is about.  

I’m bored with the fantasies of Barack Obama, fantasies created by critics and supporters.

The real President Obama is dealing with a bad economy, sometimes getting it right and sometimes not.  That’s real life and the one he inhabits. And, really, I prefer a fallible President who struggles with the complexity of our problems to the super-Obama (for good or bad) of many people’s fantasies here.  

Intellectual honesty, honesty with one’s self, is so important.  We should strive to see things as they are and not through an ideologic lens.

The President’s statement is important because it suggests the policy in the future may take a more populist cast.  We need financial reform.  I’m glad to see the President fighting for it.

[Update from Kitty in the comments.  The video on You Tube]

Here’s Video of the Entire 14 Minute Interview from CBS Here

In his first extensive interview since his speech announcing his troop build-up in Afghanistan, President Obama talks about his plans for Afghanistan, the economy and more. Steve Kroft reports.

Update I: pwr2thepeople has an excellent comment I will repeat here in its entirety:

I don’t always agree with you TomP, especially (2+ / 0-)

Recommended by:TomP, Floande

when you criticize Obama.

But I must agree with you in this excellent diary.  I generally find your criticism of Obama devoid of the dramatics that others here at DKos revel in.

I am unabashedly towards the SuperObama the Magnificent end of the spectrum.  Nevertheless, I believe criticism of Obama is important if that criticism is fact based and policy driven, and not criticism that falsely starts or concludes Obama is a corporate sell-out.

To me Obama is a good person.  Indeed a very good person.  Sometimes we do not want a good person to be our political leader.  I for one sometimes want Obama — rhetorically and politically — to fuck the Republicans and stuff Joe Lie down their throats.  I would like him to tax the bonuses of the Wall Street fat cats.  I would have preferred that he not send additional troops to Afghanistan and withdraw those that are presently there.

But I do not attribute his failure to implement immediately every good progressive/left policy prescription and proscription as a failure in character or a sell-out.

He is a very good person “dealing with a bad [everything],” always trying to get it right for the common man.

One love.

The Republican Party = The American Taliban.

by pwr2thepeople on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 07:20:10 AM PST

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Update II: At my request, Maimonides has written a comemnt for this diary to be added as this update.  If Maimonides and I can find common ground, so too can may others here:

A Comment on Ideals and Goals for TomP (1+ / 0-)

Recommended by:TomP

Lately we have been spending far too much energy navel gazing. We ask interesting but ultimately unsolvable questions like “how much criticism is a good thing?” as though we have some metric for criticism, as though there were some answers that came out of drunken/stoned college sophomore late-night bull sessions.

The focus needs to turn away from criticism towards remembering our shared ideals and discussing how that leads to our shared goals. Our goals are still the same: support the working class, grow the economy sustainably, extend rights to everyone without exception.

Less time spent on worrying whether we’re all on the same side (we are) and more on worrying about how to get to these goals is more than just a good idea, it’s what we can do to save our country.

I yearn for the simpler yesterday of green balloons, ass-crack vodka and Tedd Petruna.

by Maimonides on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 07:52:16 AM PST

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I agree with Maimonides.


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    • TomP on December 14, 2009 at 18:05
  1. with an Obama wrapper.

    Funny to see them already hegemonize populism into their game plan to extend this failed ideology.

    American Exceptionalism only works if the world lets it work, them days are over.

    Sad pony tears to whoever thinks this is a left vs right, liberal vs conservative, Democrat vs Republican issue.

    It is about hegemony and control, and Obama is just the latest brand name being sold to the American people.  

    • TMC on December 14, 2009 at 18:24

    Here and there.

    [ digby} this AM.

    It’s nice that the president is going to scold these people about not being greedy bastards, but I’m fairly sure that after everything that’s already happened, the bankers will be trying hard to keep from smirking and the rest of the country will roll its collective eyes at the absurdity of appealing to their sense of gratitude and fair play. It’s just a little bit late for anyone to take finger wagging seriously, I’m afraid.

    And Greenwald

    UPDATE:  Last week, China executed a corrupt official of a securities company and, in the past, “has also executed government officials in its long-running fight against corruption” (h/t austinboy).  Last month, the German Defense Minister was forced to resign in disgrace because of false statements he made about a NATO airstrike that slaughtered numerous civilians in Afghanistan — American military officials, including Obama’s handpicked commander in Afghanistan, have repeatedly done similar things.  Earlier this year, the former Prime Minister of South Korea jumped to his death while being investigated for corrupt and illegal acts he allegedly committed while in power.  Last week, Britain imposed a one-time 50% tax on bankers’ bonuses in response to the crisis they caused and subsequent bailout they needed, and France is now doing the same.

    I wonder what it’s like to live in a country where political and financial elites are held accountable for wrongdoing.

    I think China is on the right track. //snark//

  2. This was much better than my one there the other night. 🙂 Heh.

    It would be nice to eventually find middle ground. I think you have much more of a chance at it than I do.

    • Edger on December 14, 2009 at 18:40

    installed so many wall street fat cats to be in charge of the fed, the treasury, and the economy, who turned right around and gave so many trillions of dollars to their friends on wall street who had been the major contributors to his campaign for the presidency that they have virtually bankrupted America, while he has been telling the world how “limited” government resource are when it comes to things like health care and the working class, then I might give a little more credence to the idea of his intellectual honesty.

    He could just as easily said “I didn’t Run For Office to Help Fat-Cat Bankers” and asked someone like Krugman to run the treasury, instead of one of wall street’ favorite sons.

    You know?

  3. Too often here on all sides, we deal with a carricature of Barack Obama.  He is either the all good hero who does great things always or the betrayer of the people who sells out to Big Business or the War Machine.

    Neither depiction is true; both are strawmen.

    From the banking crisis to Health Care to civil liberties to torture and on and on, Obama’s first year has been one long list of betrayals to Big Busines AND the War Machine.

    How are these strawmen?  Are you saying Obama has not done these things – and more?

    After guaranteeing trillions of taxpayer dollars to the Big Banks last year without any oversight, Obama is now claiming he’s upset with them for doing exactly what he encouraged them to do – take those trillions and go back to the derivatives casino.

    Meanwhile, the Administration has offered only weak tea mortgage help for the millions of Americans facing foreclosure and has quietly opposed real reforms like bankruptcy cramdown that would force his banker buddies to take a real haircut.  And lets’s not even get into US government run AIG paying 100% on the dollar for CDS contracts that were worth only a fraction of their value under even the most generous of terms.

    But hey, Obama can erase all the damage he’s done this year with one “I feel your pain” interview?

    Talk about grasping at straws.

  4. Ive been reading comments there but its just easier for me to converse here. Better for my blood pressure too. heh.

    ps… let me know if GOS ever adds an IGNORE FOREVER button so I can actively ignore a few of those people! well, turk’s mascot at least. lol

  5. reading, there is so much I don’t seem to know.  

    • TMC on December 14, 2009 at 19:42

    about his support Obama. It takes a good man to admit this

    I was for Obama

    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Dec 14, 2009 at 08:36:16 AM EDT

    because I foolishly believed it was a schitck, not a “nongoverning” philosophy.

    Good discussion going on looking in retrospect of what was expected and what we got.  

  6. From 1000% support for the entire 2008 year up thru his inauguration, I assumed that he would directlyadvocate, challenge, provoke, argue and sacrifice with respect to all those issues he discussed during the campaing–with a sense of urgency. I didn’t give a shit whether he had a 4 or 8 year term. It was irrelevant due to the immediate crises the country faced.

    About 2 to 3 weeks ago, I just became iceberg cold to him.

    It’s over. As far as Dkos is concerned, I never liked the format for diaries, but I probably commented well over 500 times. I went from reading and commenting there over an hour a day to 3 minutes. It’s stale, even though it’s flashier with more colors.

    I don’t get it with the idea that the Left needs to unite with common purpose bs. The whole friggin country has been Left of the Obama Administration for goodness sakes. Ironically, he helped push them there with populist rhetoric. All he had to do was SHOW THEM. Obama has failed democratic politics 101, cause if you’re not out in front, you’re behind. That’s how it works! The president is expected to take the hits while he aligns himself with the majority of the people.

    This crap about how it’s been messed up so long, and we need to do things in increments, and that real politiks require calculated maneuvering is bullshit. You help mold and create the friggin political environment.

    Shit, if I did that for many years in the 60’s, as one person, Obama can certainly do a little more than he’s done with the entire White House behind him. Well, actually, with Emanual and Geithner and Summers, and Gates and Clinton etc. maybe he can’t cause he doesn’t want to.

  7. While I agree that the most effective, productive way to move forward is to seek discussion between and about differing views in order to achieve some degree of reconciliation, I am not able to give Obama a fault free pass on what he has done.  I don’t think it serves the purpose to deny or rationalize what he has done because he is in “a difficult situation.”

    Obama is highly intellegent and extremely well educated.  Given these facts, I would say that he knew full well what he was doing when he appointed the Summers’, Geithners, Ruben Jrs and clones and other “Fat Cat Bankers” to Treasury positions rather than the Volkers, Stiglitz’s, Krugmans, or James K. Galbraith.  I believe he knew what he was getting when he made his appointments and, yet, somehow felt it would all work out.

    Now, however, seeing the disapproval, frustration and anger generated amongst “We the People,” he has found it necessary to return to statements which are more like his pre-election campaign stance.  He may say he is not on the side of the bankers, but I can’t believe this until his actions demonstrate that to be the case.  It isn’t a question of whether he is a good or bad person.  I think he simply can’t conceive of anything else to do, any other possibility.

    The President’s statement is important because it suggests the policy in the future may take a more populist cast.  We need financial reform.  I’m glad to see the President fighting for it.

    Sorry.  I can’t believe it until I see it!

  8. is that the so-called center and left need each other.

    At least not right now.  And, oh yes, we would need to work together to pass legislation — but it is worthwhile to recognize that to many people much or most of the legislation being passed is not in the left’s interest to begin with at all, instead being devil’s bargain choices between bad and worse.  And I do not say this to be bloody minded, Tom — there’s a philosophy behind my madness.

    The problem is one of the excluded left.  Even though our predictions tend to be right more often than not, leftism in this country has been successfully defined in the popular culture as not terribly successfully focused on reality, whereas the center right pandering to the far right is every day reality for most Americans.

    The extreme problem arrived at is what I would call a political culture with no particular situational awareness.

    To use just one example, let us look at military spending.  The Republicans and the far right offer that our military spending is never enough and that our military power can never be big enough.  In a vacuum, this is just as nutty as anything the “far left” is stereotyped as being, but this thought process has been mainstreamed.  Beyond that, two wars have been started at least partly to justify the thought process.

    The so-called center responds to this mainstreaming by splitting the difference: Oh, we will raise military spending just a little bit and continue the wars started by the right just a little longer, but eventually we will bring the troops home.

    The left essentially argues that our military spending is bankrupting the country (true), that the wars are illegitimate (true) and that we have to bring the troops home and cut the military budget and focus for once on our own people or face untold human suffering and disaster.

    And in our political corporate media culture this is derided as crazy talk, and the center is in no mood to split the difference between themselves and the so-called and massively derided “far left”, instead preferring to split the difference between themselves and the far right.

    This is what passes for “political pragmatism” which the center fetishizes.  The problem is while it may be in their eyes politically pragmatic it is not actually, you know, reality style pragmatic.  It is choosing between a rapid destruction of our country’s remaining resources and what I would call s “slow painful death”.

    And there is nothing in it for the left.  It is to choose between the rapid destruction of our country versus its slow destruction — but it is not making any kind of actual progress in terms of moving the country forward.  In short, it’s an awful position to be in.

    It is respectable and understandable to attempt to slow the decline and fall of America when one recognizes that is in fact what one is doing — but it is imperative to at least recognize that IS what one is doing, so that one can choose another path.  We can choose issue after issue and arrive at the same conclusion, what the American political center is doing is splitting the difference between gradual fall and corruption and wholesale mayhem.

    In that environment, one thing that must be recognized and combatted is that what passes for the left in this country, as moderate as it is in a worldwide sense, has to be empowered and resurrected and granted an actual seat at the table.  To begin demanding that compromise actually include us rather than the two players at the table being only the left and the far right who for all intents and purposes have dealt themselves out of a hand.

    And beyond everything, we need to stop the denial of where we are actually at in this country.  To do that requires a leftist narrative that is strong and that cannot easily be obfuscated with such continually repeated lines as “no one could have predicted”.

    So, while I have respect for you in that I think you get all this, many others seemingly do not.  There is room here both for people who wish to patiently work with and possibly change the center, and those who unremittingly recognize that what the center is doing is simply trying to drive the country off a cliff at 10 mph instead of 100.  And while it is true that our country’s political system was not built to allow the country to turn on a dime, we do need to begin turning or face unmitigated disaster, of which the last couple of years’ trouble might only be the beginning.

    In my mind, it is more important to raise consciousness and change the country’s outlook than it is to cooperate with the center to pass actually mendacious (but less mendacious than the far right’s) legislation.  Where it can make some modicum of progress, then, yes, let’s cooperate with and make common cause with the center.  But I do not believe that is what is happening right now, in a broad based sense.

  9. Why are you calling for a coalition with any kind of concrete changes from OFA, the DNC or the Administration. These words don’t mean much after this huge transfer of wealth to the wealthy. After he appointed his economic team. And after he repeatedly continues to sell out or bargain away the base for false solutions. I really see no point in a coalition without changes in these areas, I don’t think that any of those commenter will change or help us, they haven’t yet most have just dug out their heals, and they don’t have issues that are connected to reality either. You may think this is a straw man but really have they mentioned anything? Hardly ever do they talk like progressives and if they do, they screw up and misunderstand it. Now I am supposed to argee to work for them in the hope it will set me free with no evidence to back me up. I walk away in that case.  

    • Wom Bat on December 15, 2009 at 01:52

    I’d like to see Obama deliver that line on SNL.

    • Arctor on December 15, 2009 at 05:36

    bank bonuses? IMHO: he’s full of shite, and “words” are worth less than that even. If he wanted to do more than flap the ole mandible, he would!

  10. I have to rate Obama as a sort of local dog catcher in terms of real signifigance.  I mean these bankers, the federal reserve people, when congress asks them something they just say fuck you back.

    Alot of it lies in what you bought over the past years.

    Did I buy 19 hijackers armed with nothing but boxcutters…


    Did I buy al-quaida as the threat to democracy?


    Do I get all of my news now from alternate/CT sites, well, because mainstream is always offensive to me?


    Is it an elite fashion statement now to be looking at Cosa Rican gated survivalist communities?

    Yup, seen that too.

    • dkmich on December 16, 2009 at 12:27

    You seem to be making some progress over at dkos.  I think it’s your patience and perseverance coupled with the blatant clusterfuck that is Obama and the Democrats that are moving the Obamabots, or at least shutting them up. Two points of encouragement for you. 1.)  blackwaterdog wrote a diary full of good news and eye candy that didn’t make the wreck list yesterday.  2.) Icebergslim, one of Obama’s biggest pimps, is on the wreck list declaring him a disaster.  If she did a 180, the rest can’t be all that far behind.   Good luck on the journey, Tom P.  

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