President Obama has been in office for 55 days and counting. After the election and the inauguration we, the people, were dancing in the streets, as I predicted. That was the mood then. What is the mood in this country now? Not so good. It ranges from deep depression to, well, downright discomfort. We are collectively uncertain about these times.
Sleepless In The States
People are just not in a playful mood when it comes to friends and family losing jobs, homes, savings, and retirement pensions. The Madoff scandal/scam/crime spree, as bad it as it was for those swindled, has only added to the burden of this deep recession. We just didn’t need that blow to the banks and charities.Therefore, in my political opinion, these days call for some reconnoitering and perhaps a short history of a new president’s time in office.
The biggest stories have been Obama’s picks and pans. The biggest pick, and perhaps the most important one, has been the post of U.S. Secretary of Treasury, one Tim Geithner. He is a tax cheat, plain and simple. Defenders say that he does not do his own taxes; therefore, it is a mistake he did not make or catch –- and their point is? In my experience, tax preparers are often more conservative in their deductions and calculations than the client. I’m not buying his alibi. He is a tax cheat. Face facts.
At my obscure blog, The Trough, I’ve been keeping tabs on the tabloids and top writers from respected media, and have conducted my own unscientific survey of sorts. An article I wrote about Tim Geithner got the most hits. That's telling — this down Dow was keeping folks up at night. Pension funds are not immune to the skinny dipping that the stock market has indulged in.
But more than the facts of a global economy in crisis mode was also the worry about who can fix it. That confidence was not forthcoming with the Tim pick. He rambled a lot; evasive and effusive in his praise of Obama's ability to right the ship. Is Tim “F” Giethner really the man for the job? Based on online buzz and the grade from top economists — an “F” — we are sleepless in this country.
What grade does Geithner give himself? Keep in mind, if you listen to Charlie Rose's interview, that Geithner was in the administration when the SEC was looking the other way. Toward the end of the Rose interview, Charlie did go there:
Rose: But bear with me on this. You clearly did, and then at the New York Fed, you were associated with a lot of intelligent and smart people. But did you see this coming?
Rose: Yes, did you see Citibank, which was under your jurisdiction in New York, was in deep trouble? Did Bob Reuben see they were in deep trouble? Did a whole range of people who had performed well in different circumstances see what was going on?
Geithner: Charlie, most people missed this…
Geithner: – didn’t see — you know, it’s a hard thing to understand. I think that probably was, you know…
No, Tim we don’t freakin’ know. Nor do we know exactly why Obama chose you to fix the economy. We do know that when a speaker sinks into a bunch of “you knows” then you know they are being evasive as well as inarticulate.
I know what you’re thinking. And if you are thinking, "You people drank the Obama Kool-Aid and now you’re pissed," you would be wrong. Because one has only to consider the alternatives to know that we would pick up that glass again, any time.
TARP + AIG = WTF
This Week’s panelist Frank Rich said that there “was this huge populist anger.” I have dubbed the anger “The New Mood.” We both agree it is all about the flawed administration messengers in general, and Tim Geithner in particular. New concern about AIG’s huge bonuses that are on the table because, as Sumner said, "we can’t abrogate contracts." Really? Tell that to those whose contracts were shredded. One thing is certain: if Tim can fix the economy, he will at the same time fix the newly formed bad mood.
For this article, I am using the new moon as metaphor. “You see nothing on the new moon.” Can this be applied to a new administration? Should the country be seeing more “nothing” than something? Is the president overreaching? Geithner reveals that we should be satisfied in the knowledge that a trillion interventions have been put into place, and that this administration has done more in six weeks than others did in two years!
It remains to be seen how these interventions will fix the economy and the mood of the country. What mood will prevail a year from now, or at the end of the president’s first 100 days? Heloise is not happy, and she is not alone.