An Audacity of Impertinence: Obama’s Toxic Shame

March 22, 2009

If not for the way-pissed-off feeling I have, coupled with a sense of nothing-you-can-do despair, maybe this would be sad, or least wouldn’t appear so freakin’ obviously stupid:

Mr. Haas walked on, his pink shirt a burst of color on a slate-gray afternoon.
The words came haltingly.
“You have to understand,” he said, “there are kids involved, there have been death threats. …”
His voice trailed off.
It looked as if he was fighting back tears.
“I didn’t have anything to do with those credit problems,” said Mr. Haas, 47. “I told Mr. Liddy” — Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G., the insurance giant — “I would rescind my retention contract.”
He ended the conversation with a request: “Leave my neighbors alone.”

(Illustration found here).

Maybe the above-mentioned AIG executive Mr. “Jackpot Jimmy” Haas should himself stay far, far away from his neighbors — a lady down the block from his house told the New York Times, the current financial tank/bailout/bonus mess “makes me absolutely sick,” she said. “It’s despicable. It’s disgusting what these people have done. They should be forced to give every cent back.”

The AIG bonus episode has indeed stirred up a national hornets’ nest of outrage, and although most of the venting has been against the frightened multi-millionaire default-swappers like the clownish clod Mr. Haas, the real cusp of the situation is still the failing, swirling-downward economy, which hasn’t been helped at all by all this blubbering madness.

Beyond the US taxpayer, the big loser in all this could be President Obama.

Frank Rich writes this morning Obama’s handling of the AIG bonus bullshit might be the Katrina moment for the young president (Hurricane Katrina allowed the US peoples to finally see George Jr. Bush as the arrogant, incompetent asshole he really, really is and eventually led to his ouster) and Obama may not recover.

Does the event foreshadow the end of a national era?

The National Post noted on Friday the world is watching and apparently gasping as “the circus-like U. S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos.”
Paul Krugman summed up this whole affair: “What an awful mess.”

And all this political backlash could make matters worse, much worse.

The real pulse might be from Joe Nocera, the New York Times business writer, who always seems to have a grasp on this puzzling, financial suck hole, and it ain’t pretty:

By week’s end, I was more depressed about the financial crisis than I’ve been since last September. Back then, the issue was the disintegration of the financial system, as the Lehman bankruptcy set off a terrible chain reaction.
Now I’m worried that the political response is making the crisis worse.
The Obama administration appears to have lost its grip on Congress, while the Treasury Department always seems caught off guard by bad news.
And Congress, with its howls of rage, its chaotic, episodic reaction to the crisis, and its shameless playing to the crowds, is out of control. This week, the body politic ran off the rails.
There are times when anger is cathartic.
There are other times when anger makes a bad situation worse.
“We need to stop committing economic arson,” Bert Ely, a banking consultant, said to me this week. That is what Congress committed: economic arson.

Nocera lists the problems with the bonus flap overriding all the other real economy’s failed situation.

Read his entire post here.

This coming week will tell the tale — shame or blame?

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