President Obama has spent much of his first 65 days in the White House all but inciting a riot on Main Street by torching its abundant anger at Wall Street.
Brandishing his gift for the pithy, sanctimonious soundbite, he has demonized the financial world, lamenting “greed” and “irresponsible” and “inexcusable” behavior.
President Clinton used to tell us he feels our pain. Bam excels at telling us he shares our anger.
But suddenly Obama is reversing course, trying to calm the misguided mob he had whipped into a frenzy.
You saw it yesterday morning on Page One of The Wall Street Journal:: “Obama Dials Down Wall Street Criticism.” You heard it last night in his prime-time press conference.
This Friday he is to meet with a dozen chiefs from the likes of J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, aiming to make nice.
It’s about freakin’ time—now can the Street please have its reputation back? Obama’s abrupt turnabout shows one of two things: One, that he lacks any true central ethos and drifts with the political winds when it behooves him; or two, that, at long last, the President has realized he needs the help of those evil greed-mongers on Wall Street to get us out of this morass of their own making.
Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Thus, Bam first decried Wall Street bonuses and applauded Congress for, ex post facto, slapping new compensation caps on banks only after they already had succumbed to the government’s exhortations to take TARP funds.
Yet now he says no such punitive caps should apply to any Wall Streeters who buy toxic assets under the government rescue plan unwrapped on Monday.