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Obama Starting to Respond   November 24th, 2008
Was he hoping to wait to be the savior in January?       


More observations...

As I mentioned two weeks ago and then again last Friday, Obama has been noticeably missing from the economic crisis in the time since his election. I speculated last Friday that, perhaps, Obama was actually hoping to let the crisis get worse so he'd look all the more like the "savior" if he could get things to change directions in January. It turns out that even the mainstream media is now mentioning that possibility.


Some see political motives in all this foot-dragging. Obama may want to avoid being linked in any way to the policy failures of the Bush era. Harvard economist Ken Rogoff (a sometime adviser to John McCain during the campaign) says that by not "taking ownership" of the problem now, Obama can reappear dramatically as a savior on Jan. 20 like Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, thereby reclaiming the commanding heights of U.S. politics for the Democratic Party. "It's exactly the FDR model. The [market] may sink another 10 percent, but then they can win elections for another 10 years," Rogoff says. "It makes sense politically to hang Bush out to dry, but Obama has to hang the economy out to dry at the same time." Obama, in other words, may want to turn crisis into opportunity.

The possibility that Obama actually wants the crisis to get worse before he takes office was reinforced by his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122721278056345271.html

His plans for an activist government agenda are in many ways being given a boost by this crisis atmosphere and the nearly universal call for the government to do something fast to stimulate the economy.

This opportunity isn't lost on the new president and his team. "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's new chief of staff, told a Wall Street Journal conference of top corporate chief executives this week.

He elaborated: "Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before."

Comments like these really give significant justification to question whether or not Obama really wants the economy to improve before he takes office. After all, if the crisis is subsiding then it can't be "used" as an opportunity "to do things that you could not do before."

In that context I hate to be cynical but I wonder if Obama's "rolling out" of his economic response on Saturday and then rolling out his economic team today is because the crisis was getting worse and he wants to reassure the market, or rather because he was actually starting to be criticized for his lack of leadership?

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