Noam Scheiber knows a thing or two about Barack Obama — not only did he write, The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery, but he’s also the editor of the The New Republic.
So his new colum has to be taken seriously.
Scheiber correctly points out that a lot of the people on the Street that were once enthusiastic about the President (who they found rational and intellectual) now find him ineffectual and downright populist. They feel that he hasn’t done anything to stop the American people from scapegoating the rich and blaming Wall Street for the financial crisis.
But Scheiber argues that this view is far too simplistic. Obama is by no means the most populist President of all time, yet he’s inspired a ton of anger for that very reason. The answer is something else — it’s that Wall Streeters don’t get Washington, they don’t get politics, and they don’t get the complexity of the game Obama has to play.
From Scheiber’s column:
I personally encountered this while writing my recent book. I’d talk to a financier who’d supported Obama and had recently sent the administration a perfectly compelling proposal for fixing the banks or solving the housing crisis. The person would fume that the White House refused to consider the idea because it would cost trillions of dollars and was a nonstarter in Congress. When I’d point out that these were valid concerns, the response was inevitably along the lines of: He can get it done if he just makes his case to Congress or the country.
Now, I happen to believe the president could have been bolder in his first term. But, like most people reasonably acquainted with politics, I understand that the White House has to make realistic assessments of what’s possible. I was disappointed but hardly shocked when Obama played it safe. My Wall Street sources, on the other hand, were often completely disillusioned. As if the refusal to put out a trillion-dollar housing plan unmasked Obama as a fraud.
In short, Scheiber says, Wall Streeter’s are just as naive as the first time voters who are upset with Obama for not fixing the country and making all of their dreams come true.
Perhaps the solution is that more Wall Streeters spend time in Washington. Yikes.