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The Blame Should Be Placed Squarely Where It Belongs: The Oval Office

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The administration's response to the financial crisis has been irresponsible in two respects. One, it has taken the well-being of the biggest institutions as its principal point of reference. Two, its ramshackle approach does little if anything to resolve the structural flaws in the system and their deletorious effects on the general economy (even when banks, hedge funds and investment trusts function on their own distorted terms). The blame should be placed squarely where it belongs: in the Oval Office.

Let's summarize the record. Obama knowingly appointed as his senior officials people who were intimately connected to the old system -- professionally and intellectually. That is one. He exiled Paul Volcker because Volcker had convictions and ideas that ran against the grain of Obama's own thinking. That's two. Obama gave no support to promoters of bankruptcy law reform or a workable program to aid home debtors in risk of foreclosure. That's three. Obama has curried favor with the big boys on Wall Street while savaging the managers of GE and Chrysler. The latter were poor executives but neither dishonest nor calculated schemers at the expense of the public interest. He clearly identifies with the former socially and intellectually. That's four.

The sad conclusion is that Obama, for all the razzmatazz, is a conventional thinker, instinctively deferential to the powers that be, and uncomfortable with those who have both his level of intelligence and convictions about dedication to the commonweal that are foreign to him.