"How long do you think it will take for the press to turn on Obama?" a friend asked.
"Eight years, if he's in that long," I told him. "Doesn't matter what happens. Either they'll blame Bush or 'circumstances beyond Obama's control' while writing articles about how heroically Obama handles them." It's already started.
Take President-elect Barack Obama's campaign narrative: a) Bush/McCain deregulation created our problems; b) the policies of President Clinton brought success and shared prosperity, c) President Bush's tax cuts unfairly enriched the rich, d) Obama intends to end posthaste the Iraq war, which "never should have been authorized and never should have been waged," and e) through Gitmo/unlawful wiretaps/illegal interrogation procedures, Bush "shredded" the Constitution.
Ever heard of the Glass-Steagall Act? President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose New Deal policies Obama wants to mirror, signed it into law to prevent commercial banks from engaging in investment banking. Investment banking, the kind of work done by Wall Street titans such as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, raises money to package and sell securities such as the now-discredited "toxic" mortgage and mortgage-backed derivatives. Clinton, with the backing of many Republicans, allowed the banking/investment wall to fall by signing the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, repealing a large part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. This led to the business model of the now-troubled and recently bailed-out Citigroup, a model impossible but for the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
The Clinton administration, during its waning days, published a paper called "The Clinton Presidency: Historic Economic Growth." It listed among its achievements "Modernizing for the New Economy through Technology and Consensus Deregulation."
Clinton denies -- correctly -- that his deregulation policies caused the current financial meltdown. "I don't see that signing that bill had anything to do with the current crisis," he said. "Indeed, one of the things that has helped stabilize the current situation as much as it has is the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, which was much smoother than it would have been if I hadn't signed that bill." Blaming deregulation on the financial crisis ignores a whole chain of events, most notably the decline in housing values. But that didn't stop candidate Obama from screaming "deregulation," even though Clinton deregulated the financial sector more than did Bush.
Candidate Obama maligned the Bush tax cuts for benefiting the rich. But President-elect Obama now intends to retain all the tax cuts, keeping the lower rates on the "rich" until they expire in 2011 -- a far cry from his campaign promises.
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