President Obama has done some amazing things since he took office in January of 2009 (many of those things have been chronicled on this blog). Much of what he has accomplished he had to do with only Democratic support, and much of his time has been spent trying to overcome the economic recovery saboteurs in the Republican Party who were trying to destroy him politically, many of whom are still trying to undermine, if not outright destroy, his remaining presidency.
But that’s no excuse for the President’s horrible record on pursuing, or, really, not pursuing, banksters—those financial folks responsible for the ongoing economic misery among working-class people in the country, people long on class but short on work. The Administration should have been, and still should be, making the banksters, for God’s sake at least some of them, pay for their crimes.
Aggressively pursuing these miscreants from the start would not only have been the right thing to do, it would have been politically popular too. It might even have helped, ever so slightly, endear him to a few folks on the right who also hate it that big-time money men and women seem to have escaped without so much as a rugburn, after the most horrific financial meltdown in 80 years.
There will be some stains on the Obama legacy, but perhaps no stain will be as dark and ugly as the President’s failure to see to it that some sense of justice was satisfied, or at least aggressively pursued, for what happened in the fall of 2008.
But having said that, I’m not one of those on the left who will write ridiculous things like Eric Zuesse wrote recently for HuffPo (“Is The Obama Administration the Most Corrupt in U.S. History?“):
The rot certainly starts at the top. I am a proud Democrat who can tell a phony one clearly, especially when it’s demonstrated by four years of remarkably consistent criminal (and profoundly conservative) decisions by him. Obama is a phony Democrat. He is, at best, Romney-light. Maybe he is, in some ways, even Bush-heavy. As regards non-prosecutions of financial fraudsters, the data show him to be Bush-heavy.
Zuesse urges Democrats to turn on Obama, mainly over his dealings with Wall Street and his proposal to possibly change the way the cost of living adjustments are made to Social Security benefits:
The rot is on both sides now. Let’s see if our side will clamp down against it – as Senator Warren obviously wishes to do. Are we with her, or are we with Obama? That question does not concern a white woman versus a black man; it concerns a nation of equality under law, versus a champion of “Too Big To Fail.” In fact, Obama has been disastrous for Blacks, and not just for the rest of “the 99%.”
The Democratic Party will have to show where it stands – and with whom, and for whom.
The Republican Party has already failed its test regarding Bush. Will the Democratic Party fail its test regarding Obama?
Come on. Sure, there is plenty to criticize the President for over his handling of the banksters. Sure, he has surrounded himself with too many people wrapped up in that Wall Street-runs-America culture. Sure, at times his actions haven’t always lived up to his campaign rhetoric.
And there are other reasons why liberals should lately be a bit upset with him, including his embracing the chained CPI scheme and the quiet, very quiet, signing of a bill last week that will undo much of a law passed in 2012 called the STOCK (“Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge”) Act, which prohibited members of Congress and their staffs from profiting from insider trading.
By signing the latest bill—a true symbol of corruption of our political system— President Obama reveals himself to be what he has always been: a politician with political motives that often involve sweetheart deals with those in power. (For an excellent telling of this sad tale, go here.)
But Eric Zuesse calling Obama a criminal and a phony Democrat and labeling him Romney-light and Bush-heavy? Please. Give me a break. And for Zuesse to say that “corruption has…been rampant during his Presidency”? Get a bleeping grip, Eric. That’s the same kind of stuff that happens when uncompromising ideologues on the right take out after one of their own whom they perceive to be philosophically disloyal. And it’s the same kind of stuff they say about the President.
Ironically, Zuesse criticizes Obama for acting too much like a conservative, which is sometimes a fair criticism, but then Zuesse acts like the worst of the conservatives himself when he blasts him and suggests he has done nothing worthy of respect, even from people on the left.
And particularly given the environment within which President Obama has had to work since 2010—a totally hostile House and a filibuster-drunk Senate, which has to figure into any realistic evaluation of his performance—Zuesse’s comments about Obama remind me of something exiting the lips of, say, a Rush Limbaugh.
Meanwhile, for some level-headed, but hard-hitting criticism of the President’s policies vis-à-vis Wall Street, see today’s piece at HuffPo by Ryan Grim and Shahien Nasiripour, which begins:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has privately criticized the Obama administration and the Department of Justice for not aggressively investigating dodgy mortgage deals that helped trigger the financial crisis, according to senators and congressional aides who met with him this month.
As this article demonstrates, there is plenty of frustration to go around regarding the Obama administration’s failure, and it is a failure, to put orange jumpsuits on otherwise well-dressed Wall Street bankers. But that frustration should not lead those of us on the left to treat President Obama the same way hysterical conservatives have always treated him: like a Kenyan-headed American stepchild.