Storied public servant President Obama has a lot more in common with those Wall Street-types than you might think.
Michael Lewis, the author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball and other books on Wall Street and the economy, called Obama a “wildly competitive guy” in an interview with Bloomberg Television Thursday.
Why is Lewis a trusted authority on Obama’s personality? He was granted unprecedented access to the president for about eight months to write a profile for Vanity Fair, though the White House checked his quotes before they could be published.
“If he was on a trading floor with a bunch of traders they would recognize him instantly as like them,” Lewis said in the interview. “He wants to win at everything he does … in this way, [he's] exactly like a Wall Street trader.”
Maybe Obama’s Wall Street-esque characteristics help to explain why he’s surrounded himself by so many finance industry-types during his presidency. Obama’s chief of staff, Jack Lew, had a stint at Citigroup; his predecessor, Bill Daley, worked at JPMorgan Chase.
The president has also been kinder to the financial industry than progressives might like and than those calling him a socialist might expect, Lewis argued in the interview.
"Obama has been in some ways their best friend," Lewis told Bloomberg. "He could have really thrown the institutions to the wolves and he didn't do it."
But Obama isn’t all Wall Street. He has “no interest whatsoever in money,” Lewis said.
“It’s very odd to find someone American so competitive that way and so numb to the money arena.”
Of course, Obama isn’t completely numb to Wall Street money -- he does need some of it to get re-elected after all. Campaign donations from the financial industry are set to hit an all-time high this election cycle.