In Barack Obama’s first press conference as President-Elect, he demonstrated the same urgency and bold leadership that he showed during the primaries.
Which is to say, none.
Every time he was asked for specifics of what he would be doing as President (and now) in order to address the economic crisis facing this country, he either deflected the questions or gave a standard stump speech. The reporters came away with no definite answers about who the next Treasury Secretary was going to be, whether or not the rest of the bailout would be distributed before the election, or even, what kind of dog his daughters were going to get.
“Hoom, hoom. Let’s not be hasty.”
Now, call me crazy, but didn’t Obama know he was going to win a long time ago? Didn’t he declare that he had won the nomination in February? Wasn’t he taking victory laps around Europe this summer? So, um, what was he waiting for? Where was the planning? Where is the bold new vision? Where is the, dare I ask, Change?
So far, I have seen nothing but Old Washington types being considered for Obama’s Cabinet and key staff positions. Deregulation fans Larry Summers or Robert Rubin for Treasury Secretary. John Kerry or Bill Richardson for Secretary of State. Rahm Emanuel for Chief of Staff. And these folks are all eeeevvvviiiillll Clintonites (except for John Kerry). Oh, the irony and the horror!
I have no idea what’s going on in Obama’s Ent-like head. But if I were going to be a leader who takes America in a new direction, and I realized that Reaganomics, as practiced by both Democrats and Republicans, has devastated this country’s economy in a truly terrifying way, then my Treasury Secretary would be someone who emphatically opposes Reagonomics.
I would be thinking outside the box. I would tap a liberal economist, a person with many years of experience in the field and a record of being right about the effects of deregulation and undercapitalization of derivatives. Perhaps, even a person like Joseph Stiglitz, for example, who was an integral part of the Clinton Administration, but was far more in favor of regulation than Larry Summers, and as of June 2008, was the most cited economist in the world. A female pick would, of course, also be an amazing choice; Riverdaughter points out pro-regulation moderate Republican Sheila Bair, the head of the FDIC, as a possibility. Of course, another excellent choice would be Hillary Clinton, but despite some rumors floating around to the contrary, I do not believe Hillary will be allowed to do more than serve tea and cookies during Obama’s administration. Her punishment for daring to oppose The One is not yet complete.
At this point in time, Barack Obama has the ability to do anything he wants. He is riding a massive wave of relief and good will. He has all the Party Leaders behind him in a way Bill Clinton never did. When he is inaugurated, the Legislative Branch will be heavily Democratic and can be expected to follow his lead in any direction he chooses to go.
But this wave is going to be short-lived. He has promised so much that any sign that he is failing to deliver will be deadly. In fact, right before the press conference, Katie Couric’s first question was (tellingly), “How will he lower expectations today?” What he cannot do, what he must not do, is show any hesitation or weakness in the face of this quickly-deteriorating economy. Now is the time for action, not dithering and traditional Obaman obfuscation.
If he continues to perform as poorly as he did on Friday, I shudder for the fate of this nation. Let’s hope he is a quick learner and that he rises to this incredible challenge.
Fasten your seatbelts, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.