Confidence Men

President George W. Bush and President-elect B...

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Confidence Men, Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind is an insider’s look at the Obama presidency so far and well worth a read. Suskind allows Barack to have the final words as follows:

“Obama, a brilliant amateur, arrived to power’s pinnacle believing he’d make his case with a show of demonstrably correct answers to complex problems, solutions he’d competently execute to launch a new ‘era of responsibility.’

It hadn’t worked quite as he’d hoped, bruising the preternatural confidence—quite real—that, more than anything, is what got him elected.

Now, firmly along in a more dynamic ‘I’ll just do it myself’ model of leadership, he reached for a compass for the course ahead.

‘Going forward as president,’ Obama said, straightening up in his chair, ‘the symbols and gestures—what people are seeing coming out of this office—are at least as important as the policies put forward.’

‘I think where the evolution has taken place,’ Barack Obama said finally, looking unto the middle distance, ‘is understanding that leadership in this office is not a matter of you being confident. Leadership in this office is a matter of helping the American people feel confident.’”

Grading Obama

Michael Mike L. Baird's report card (A) from t...

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I have been an ardent supporter of Barack Obama from the moment he gave his speech to the Democratic National Convention in July, 2004, and that was the first time I had ever seen him. However, I have been disappointed in the results of his presidency so far, and I was left wondering just what was wrong. Confidence Men by Ron Suskind answered some of my questions, prompting me to prepare this report card on the Obama presidency so far. I do expect that Barack will be re-elected because the country would be in much worse shape after a Republican presidency. I also expect that Barack is learning on the job (he is a very fast learner) and will do better in his second term. The nation needs him to do more.

When Barack was elected, we faced a whole host of difficult problems, and the GOP played the obstructionist card to the maximum. Under those circumstances, it would have been difficult for the most experienced leader to lead us out of our difficulties, and Barack was new to the job. He made some early mistakes in personnel selections. Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers have been replaced and that is a good thing. Barack needs to replace Tim Geithner, and I think that he knows that. If the Senate could be expected to approve a replacement without political theater, I believe that Geithner would be history by now.

All that said, here is my report card on the President so far:

Speech-making                     A+

Decision-making                    B-

Followup/execution               D

Organization                            C-

Bi-partisanship                         A-

Feeling our pain                        B

Solving problems                      C

Connecting to us                      B+

Please see Be bold Barack | Barack Obama | Defender of the Nation | Leviathan

Paul Volcker

Paul Volcker, former head of the Federal Reser...

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Paul Volcker quotation from Confidence Men by Ron Suskind:

“Well, I said, ‘The trouble with the United States recently is we spent several decades not producing many civil engineers and producing a huge number of financial engineers. And the result is shitty bridges and a shitty financial system!'”

Volcker was Chairman of the Federal Reserve from August, 1979 to August, 1987 and was responsible for the recession of 1981-82 that dramatically slowed inflation. I think that President Obama should replace Timothy Geithner with Paul Volcker as Secretary of the Treasury.

Please see Let them eat cake | Monopoly | Monopoly money