« Open Thread: Less is More... | Main | There Are No Files »

January 23, 2009


Some dude in Colordo agrees.

Some dude in Colorado, grees.

i like his willingness to act (aka, a word i hate "pro-activeness"). if his judgment keeps pace, we'll be OK.

umm... in 2002, Bush had high approval ratings. I think that has more to do with the Dems rolling over on Iraq than what year they were born. Obama wasn't in the Senate then, if he had been, maybe he would have voted yes on the war too. We saw during the campaign that he's a pragmatic guy. (Gay rights, anyone?)

It's easier to hit the ground running with forceful reversals of the previous president when said president left the office almost universally loathed and your party has the majority in Congress.

I think O’Reilly said it best…

Now that’s a keeper. I guess it’s now OK to cite FNC here! Talk about change…

I think you hit the nail on the head! Obama is one smart dude and his knowledge of the constitution, having taught it, will certainly serve us all well.

Clearly, he knew that something was wrong with Judge Robert's rendition (that dreaded word) of the oath of office, how else to explain that he just stopped repeating when Roberts flubbed it. If he did know what was wrong the pressure must have been enormous in that situation, he could have just ignored Roberts and said it correctly, I'm betting he could have. He chose to "go along" and in this case it wasn't really a big deal - no blood shed. I think he did the right thing and it shows he can think on his feet and make the right decisions based on the circumstances. I'm excited also, over his obvious potential to save not just this country, but the planet when the rpugs have nearly driven both over the cliff. knowdoubt

I think the angle tightwadfan brings up should be factored in to the overwhelming praise Obama is getting here.

Obama had a good first week. He kept some campaign promises. He issued some executive orders that were wrapped in American ideals.

But if he wants to show some real courage he could push for investigating and, if called for, prosecuting those who illegally tortured and wiretapped and subverted the U.S. Constitution during the Bush Administration.

On the domestic front, I'd like to see him push for an investigation on what happened to the first $350 billion of the TARP funds. If we don't find out, the same mistakes may only repeat themselves.

It's been overlooked during this week's Obama lovefest but I think his economic stimulus plans could be stalled until his Treasury Secretary nominee, Tim Geithner, is confirmed -- an appointment that the Obama administration uncharacteristically did not get out in front of in light of Geithner's tax problems.

I may be seeing this too logically. But I'd think the first qualification of a Treasury Secretary -- who also heads the IRS -- is he must pay his taxes on time.

The other reservation I have about Geithner is how closely he is said to have worked with Paulson and Bernake, as head of the New York Fed, on the initial $350 billion TARP plan that failed to hold the recipients of the money accountable.

I'd argue that the 2002 era mostly ended in 2005, when Pelosi became House leader and crushed Social Security Privatization with a House minority.

Where things didn't go optimally from 2005-2008, I'd chalk it up to (1) being solidly in the minority until 2007, (2) having only a Liebermajority in the Senate until recently, and (3) a willingness to give the GOP enough rope to hang themselves, which they did. We won an insane amount of stuff in those elections, particularly on the Senate side.

I agree with the point that Obama has the benefit of not being in the Senate. But i think that's not enough.

for one, he's on record opposing the war vote in Oct. 2002, I believe. second, a lot of dems continued to be wobbly well after bush's approval numbers have dropped. third, i think other dems (e.g., clinton) would not have come out in such a strong way had they been elected. clinton, who has numerous strengths, is still sort of defensive and frightened on this stuff (like her husband)

"indeed, you could argue that it actually gave birth to the liberal blogosphere"

completely agree.

that and the desire to post youtubes of muppets, make snarky comments in increasingly elaborate in-joke codes, and pretend to light progressive candles while mostly just cursing the conservative darkness.

look, i'm not blaming anybody, even myself--those were really dark times, and we were licking some pretty deep wounds. the fact that we huddled together to rail in impotent fury is just a marker of how bad things were.

but, yeah, the liberal blogosphere arose from the wildest mixture of motivations imaginable. which is part a what i love about it.

"But I'd think the first qualification of a Treasury Secretary"

I think the first quality of any Treasury Secretary is that they know what they're doing. That's my concern. If we have a Treasury Secretary with perfect personal bookkeeping, who effs up the country's economy, I'm going to be a lot more upset than if we have a SecTreasury who send the country to hell, but a perfect personal tax record.


I gather a lot of people haven't seen this videotape from 2002.

They really should.

"I think the first quality of any Treasury Secretary is that they know what they're doing."


And he didn't know what he was doing when he didn't paying his taxes.

I'm pretty sure that whatever he did or didn't pay on his taxes, it affects me and the national economy not in the slightest. And that's what I care about. I also don't care if he's a litterbug, farts a lot, doesn't pooper-scoop, cheats at cards, is an adulterer, has an unreported cable box, has a stash of unreturned library books, employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper, has shoplifted small grocery items, gotten thirty speeding tickets, has fifty unpaid parking tickets, steals Netflix disks and claims they went missing in the mail, doesn't cut his grass according to his neighborhood association's rules, is a bad tipper, or has 2 DUIs.

I care about whether or not there's another Great Depression. Y Priorities MV.

I'm also not all that concerned with Geithner's tax problems, FWIW. It's not as if he went out and committed crimes or anything, he just made a mistake, or more likely, oversight in not paying his taxes.

Normally the IRS is quite insistent about you paying back taxes and penalties, once they discover that you owe them. I kind of wonder if Geithner didn't catch the problem before the IRS did.

There are very few things in a political figure's personal life that I care about. Incest. Abuse of animals. Other assorted serious criminal offenses.

I agree with Hilzoy about the defensiveness and the link to age. Baby boomer Dem politicians came of age back during the late sixties and seventies. They saw the history of that period rewrtitten to make them the enemy and the good consequences of that period either forgotten or recast as bad. Then came the "Reagan revolution", which was a return to the politics of the robber barons, followed by media consolidation and the regression of the so-called mainstream media into the Wurlitzer for right wing noise with Bill as the target. We haven't just gone through eight years of bad government; the dark age has been longer gthan that. The Republican party has been a force of reaction and corruption for decades and the corporate media has functioned on a continuum from lazy to complict for decades as well. Given that as the background for their political lives I don't find it surprising that politicains like Kerry and Clinton were afraid to fight. Times, however, have changed.

BTW I love it that Obama told Congressional Republicans that they needed to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.

GF --

Don't you have a slight worry that a person who is willing to skate on his taxes might endorse a "those rules are for you little people, not important ones like me" theory of how society ought to operate?

Scofflaw when in a position of easy capacity of compliance, when there is no ethical or moral complication, is kind of a scary comment on any person who wants to wield power.

She has internalized what most Democrats of her generation have internalized: They suspect that the majority is not with them, and so some quotient of discretion, fear, or plain deception is required if they are to advance their objectives....

That's precisely why I supported Obama over Clinton. Triangulation is unacceptable.

Geithner's mistake was so common that the IRS actually set up a special settlement initiative for people in his position, though Geithner didn't take part in it because it appears his error was discovered on audit prior to the initiative being issued.

"Don't you have a slight worry that a person who is willing to skate on his taxes"

I don't know that to be the case, as I keep saying.

Well, Obama did say that he didn't know how he would have voted had he been in the senate, so let's not pretend that we do. Now maybe he just said this in order to support Kerry, but that in turn would prove his pragmatic nature.

Democrats have been huddled in a submissive, defensive crouch ever since the Reagan landslide. It's wonderful to see a Democrat standing tall for truth, justice, and the American way.

And he didn't know what he was doing when he didn't paying his taxes.

There are different types of knowledge in the world. You and I may both know our jobs inside out, but I bet I couldn't do your job to save my life and I'm pretty sure you can't do my job. The tax code is complicated in general and the particular area he screwed up on is very complicated. If he was a CPA and was going to run the IRS, I'd say you have a point, but his expertise is in a very different area than the tax code.

Don't you have a slight worry that a person who is willing to skate on his taxes might endorse a "those rules are for you little people, not important ones like me" theory of how society ought to operate?

You're assuming he deliberately chose to try and avoid paying taxes rather than that he just screwed up. Maybe he did. There's no evidence for that belief though. It also doesn't make much sense; he knew at the time that he might very well be appointed to high government position and that his taxes would likely be scrutinized in the future. If he needed the piddly amount of cash that his tax error left him, my hunch is he could have earned that in a few hours of on the side consulting work.

"....he knew at the time that he might very well be appointed to high government position and that his taxes would likely be scrutinized in the future."

I've followed this barely at all, but he's been president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since October, 2003; that's already a darned high government position where, I dare say, you're under close scrutiny.

I don't buy the generational analysis that understands center and center-right behavior of Democrats past as a result of a generation of progressives being scared of their own shadow in light of the success of Ronald Reagan.

There have always been convinced "centrist" Democrats, who are hawkish on foreign policy and "business-oriented" on domestic policy. There problem, post-1968 and especially post-1972, was convincing their own party to support them. For these center-right Democrats, Reagan's success was not a crisis, but an opportunity.

The DLC in captured the Democratic Party in the late 1980s and early 1990s by repackaging their centrism as an unfortunate necessity. But most of the "New Democratic" tribunes were convinced centrists, not the scared/pragmatic progressives that they sometimes played on TV when wooing their partisan base. And I'd definitely include the Clintons in this category. Hillary Clinton began her political life as a Goldwater Girl, after all.

In addition, there have been plenty of actually progressive Baby Boomer Democrats who never had any problem with standing by their principles, from Paul Wellstone to Barbara Lee, Marcy Kaptur to Dennis Kucinich, Sheila Jackson-Lee to Tammy Baldwin.

At any rate, if 2002 represented something of a high-water-mark for GOP-lite Democratic behavior, the pattern began long before 9/11 and Bush. Indeed, Bill Clinton's presidency was a product of it.

I agree that Obama has a very different (and, to me at least, more attractive) political style than that of, say, Bill and Hillary Clinton. I am yet to be convinced that he is--or will govern as--a progressive.

"Hillary Clinton began her political life as a Goldwater Girl, after all."

Respectfully, that doesn't strike me as particularly significant. Judging people because of their political views when they were 8 years old doesn't seem a strong reed to build upon.

Actually she was seventeen when she was a volunteer working on the Goldwater campaign in 1964, Gary.

But I'd agree that her unflagging support for the Iraq War is a lot more significant.

I am glad, of course, that Obama is reversing Bush's policies so quickly, but there is nothing radical about that. He's bringing back the pre-Bush status quo, when the law was generally obeyed. If Obama didn't do this quickly, then he'd be a criminal like Bush. It would be nice if Obama would do something radical, such as pardon everyone in federal prison for a drug crime and announce that he will not prosecute drug crimes. (Of course, I do not include violations of non-drug laws, such as laws against murder, assault, or weapons possession, that are committed in the course of drugs sales.)

"Actually she was seventeen when she was a volunteer working on the Goldwater campaign in 1964, Gary."

Which still left her plenty of time to become a lesbian communist anti-American revolutionary!

But, okay, thanks for the corrective reminder.

One small point about some of Obama's Executive Orders, e.g., the one repudiating Yoo's fantastical interpretations of the Constitution: they specify a start date of September 11, 2001. I take this as a forthright declaration that the distortions and perversions of our values were begun on that very day, under cover of an upsurge of a patriotism in response to the terrorist attacks.

With respect to Obama's equivocation on calling for a thorough investigation of torture and other prosecutable offenses by the Bush administration, he is, as others have stated, pragmatic. Given the clear orders he has issued already, he may just be biding his time until he has his choice for AG in place. If he comes out to say, "yes, we're going to prosecute or investigate" that will further hinder, may even cost, the confirmation of his choice for AG. As it is now, the sticking point for Cornyn is Holder's unequivocal declaration that waterboarding is torture, that the United States has tortured, and that the Justice Dept under his management will follow the rule of law.

I'll reserve judgment until the new AG is in place. Even then, President Obama may let Holder take the lead rather than upset the balance of the bipartisan model of governance that he is trying to build. President Obama (just love to write that) has already indicated that he will let the Justice Department make its own determination as to the course to be pursued.

BTW, love the whole concept of recovery.org to provide transparency relating to stimulus spending.

While all of these acts are fantastic on the merits, they also show that Obama – while pragmatic and cautious in places – lacks the fear and defensiveness of earlier prominent Democrats.

On that topic:

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the way the game is played.

The cite is from Politico, h/t Atrios. Typepad didn't seem to want to close the anchor link, so I took it out.

Regarding Geithner: everyone should pay their taxes, and folks in positions of public responsibility should take special care to dot their i's and cross their t's.

That said, depending on what you do for living, what kinds of investments you have, etc etc etc, it can be amazingly easy to run afoul of the US tax code.

My understanding is that, in the period we're talking about, Geithner worked for the IMF. The IMF doesn't withhold US federal taxes, and doesn't pay the employers' half of FICA. Among other things, Geithner neglected to pay both the employer's and employee's FICA payment.

He screwed up. Subsequently, he made good the back taxes owed.

Should he have had his ducks in a row from the beginning? Yes he should. But I'm with Gary, I do not see this as disqualifying him for the position he's been nominated for.

He was nominated for Secretary of the Treasury. He will be setting policy, not doing the accounting. I'm not trying to brush it under the rug, I just don't see it as deliberate malfeasance, and I don't see it as disqualifying him for the job.

It ain't hard to find yourself owing back taxes due to accounting screwups.

My one and only comment on Geithner is that I do see his oversight as being any reason for him not to be confirmed, but at the same time, I cannot guarantee that if he had been a Bush appointee I would have given him the same benefit of the doubt.

Obviously, that statement says a lot more about me than him, and I need to examine myself for a while.

The comments to this entry are closed.