Obama Speaks The Truth, Shocking Ideologues Of Both Left and Right

It looks like once again long-time Obama-hate Paul Krugman is really the clueless one as he attacks Obama while twisting what he actually said. He dwells on a few words taken out of context from an interview while totally missing Obama’s actual point. It’s bad enough we constantly have to put up with conservatives doing this. Some Clinton backers really need to realize the primary battle was over a long time ago.

Those who have read Obama’s actual words are far less shocked than Krugman. Steve Benen writes, “Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see why the president’s comments this morning about the bonuses awarded to the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and Chase were so controversial. The wording was a little awkward, but that’s about it.”

Greg Sargent has posted the actual transcript with Obama’s remarks, noting that “the comments seem a bit more nuanced than the headlines suggest.” Here is the transcript (emphasis mine on the key parts that people such as Paul Krugman have ignored):

QUESTION: Let’s talk bonuses for a minute: Lloyd Blankfein, $9 million; Jamie Dimon, $17 million. Now, granted, those were in stock and less than what some had expected. But are those numbers okay?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, I know both those guys. They’re very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That’s part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we’ve seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance. I think that shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs.

QUESTION: Seventeen million dollars is a lot for Main Street to stomach.

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, $17 million is an extraordinary amount of money. Of course, there are some baseball players who are making more than that who don’t get to the World Series either. So I’m shocked by that as well. I guess the main principle we want to promote is a simple principle of “say on pay,” that shareholders have a chance to actually scrutinize what CEOs are getting paid. And I think that serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay.

The other thing we do think is the more that pay comes in the form of stock that requires proven performance over a certain period of time as opposed to quarterly earnings is a fairer way of measuring CEOs’ success and ultimately will make the performance of American businesses better.

Greg Sargent also points out:

It seems like there’s a bit more of an emphasis here than the initial story suggested on his support for specific measures to check the long-term trend of inflated bonuses, and the thrust of his comments seem aimed at combating the perception that such policies are anti-business.

Steve M. argues that Obama is not going to be successful in speaking in the middle on economic issues such as this:

Look, obviously Obama is trying to thread the needle here. But why bother? No one the right is going to give him credit for this — they’re all too invested in the Obama-as-socialist meme. (Without that, what would Glenn Beck have to talk about every day on radio and TV?) Here’s National Review, in response to the original Bloomberg report, accusing him of making the statement because his party is losing Wall Street donations, and calling the “praise of the free market … about as bland and uncontroversial as it gets” — then slamming him for releasing the full transcript (“the White House is already starting to walk [the remarks] back”). No love there.

Every teabagger is going to ignore the positive words about capitalism — and yet every liberal and every moderate swing voter is going to hear just what Krugman heard: a clueless president saying nice words about the enemy

Steve is correct that teabaggers will ignore the positive comments on capitalism which do not match their absurd belief that Obama is a socialist, but they were never going to vote for him. The point is not whether Obama is clueless in playing politics here but that he is not playing politics at all.

As he has done from the start, Obama is trying to talk to voters as intelligent adults. He is saying what he really believes, not what he thinks is the politically safest thing to do. Doing so he loses the support from ideologues of both the far right and left. He also retains the respect of independents such as myself who generally do support the free market system, but also agree with Obama’s remarks that CEO pay has exceeded what is deserved based upon their performance.

Update: More on the White House response.

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9 Comments

  1. 1
    Mauigirl says:

    I agree – Obama does try to talk to the voters as intelligent adults.  Problem is a lot of them aren’t all that intelligent, sadly!  I hope his more nuanced discussion points get out there but I’m sure the spin doctors on both sides won’t let them.  A

  2. 2
    Chris K says:

    “Thread the needle”?! I think you’re trying to thread the needle also. President Obama’s background is community organizing, teaching, and government. where is his background in large business? how does he know what someone should get paid? he’s like my buddies around dining room table at a poker game. so we all have an opinion, and why doesn’t he say something about baseball players? why doesn’t he say something about movie stars, and George Soros? why should Bill Gates be a billionaire? I think he’s talking out of turn and doesn’t have a basis for what he says. So the implication is this… he wants to look like he supports free markets and entrepreneurship. I am in the tea party movement, and his goal is to fiddle around with companies, with how they do business, telling them what they should do what they shouldn’t do. I do find that socialism. If it’s against the law and charge them. Don’t promote their businesses don’t play with their businesses. If businesses fail they should fail, government should keep them small enough so they don’t affect the  economy. government should not be guaranteeing businesses, as and Fannie Mae Freddie Mac and large banks. if they meet their own losses then compensation would go down for executives – because that have to live in the real world not the government controlled semi-socialist world…
    He has no constitutional mandate for any of the things he’s talking about…

  3. 3
    Chris K says:

    sorry, and a couple of bad words and their – I voice recognition software… I should have edited them sorry.
    If it’s against the law the government should charge them with a crime. President Obama is saying that making $17 million in one bonus is a crime? or just morally reprehensible? if it is morally reprehensible why doesn’t George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Barbara Streisand.. have to pony up more money in taxes?
    When Barney Frank forced companies to make loans to people that traditionally did not qualify – he was tinkering with the system and as a result there was a problem – which he denied in 2003(?). Government intervention in the economy.. government guarantees.. companies to big – by design of the government.. if Bush had something to do with it but he’s wrong too! the federal government has no constitutional mandate to bail out any company. You may feel that you do.. feeling is not a constitutional mandate. Feeling guilty is not a constitutional mandate. trying to get reelected is not a constitutional mandate. But they took my money to do it.
    if Obama can have an opinion, Sarah Palin can have an opinion. If you denigrate her and don’t denigrate Obama, then you’re playing favorites. you don’t sound like an independent to me, independents give a fair shake to both sides.
    As for my part I would support Obama if his policies were conducive to good government and good business.. I don’t believe government interference in business, in unlimited amounts of government are good things..

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Chris,

    There are so many misconceptions in your two comments that there is not time to respond to all. I’ll just hit a few:

    “President Obama’s background is community organizing, teaching, and government. where is his background in large business? how does he know what someone should get paid”

    It doesn’t take experience in banking to realize that bankers who made bad decisions which have harmed the economy might not deserve a $17 million bonus.

    “why should Bill Gates be a billionaire?”

    He earned it. Obama made a point that we do not object to people earning money.

    “I do find that socialism.”

    You need to look up what socialism means and what Obama’s actual policies are. There is nothing remotely socialist about his policies.

    “If businesses fail they should fail, government should keep them small enough so they don’t affect the economy.”

    Wait a minute. You can’t object to government getting involved in regulating business and they say that government should be able to keep businesses so small that their failure won’t affect the economy.

    “He has no constitutional mandate for any of the things he’s talking about…”

    False. Everything he is doing is allowed under the Constitution (which he knows very well, having been a professor of Constitutional law).

    “if Obama can have an opinion, Sarah Palin can have an opinion. If you denigrate her and don’t denigrate Obama, then you’re playing favorites. you don’t sound like an independent to me, independents give a fair shake to both sides.”

    Of course I play favorites. I support those who have good ideas and oppose those who have bad ideas regardless of party. Obama has excellent ideas to support a free market system, which is why I am defending him against attacks from both the left and right on this. Sarah Palin is ignorant of the basics of public policy and her statements make absolutely no sense.

  5. 5
    Rebecca (Becky) York says:

    Obama Speaks The Truth, Shocking Ideologues Of Both Left and Right http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=12185

  6. 6
    Karoli says:

    RT @rebeccay: Obama Speaks The Truth, Shocking Ideologues Of Both Left and Right http://bit.ly/bYW4PF || nice post.

  7. 7
    CosmoChick says:

    RT @Karoli: RT @rebeccay: Obama Speaks The Truth, Shocking Ideologues Of Both Left and Right http://bit.ly/bYW4PF || nice post.

  8. 8
    Esi SOGAH says:

    RT @Karoli: RT @rebeccay: Obama Speaks The Truth, Shocking Ideologues Of Both Left and Right http://bit.ly/bYW4PF || nice post.

  9. 9
    Aviva O says:

    MT.@rebeccay: Obama speaks the truth, which doesn't "compute" to ideologues on both left and right: http://is.gd/8hFhM

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