British Columnist: 'Has Barack Obama’s Presidency Already Failed?'
Imagine for a moment an American newspaper publishing a column with the following opening sentence:
Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?
Not in a million years, right?
Well, on Wednesday, one of the most respected international publications, the Financial Times of London, published such an article written by its associate editor and chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.
In it was an astonishingly frank analysis of what the Obama administration has done and not done to solve the current financial crisis (picture courtesy FT):
Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed? In normal times, this would be a ludicrous question. But these are not normal times. They are times of great danger. Today, the new US administration can disown responsibility for its inheritance; tomorrow, it will own it. Today, it can offer solutions; tomorrow it will have become the problem. Today, it is in control of events; tomorrow, events will take control of it. Doing too little is now far riskier than doing too much. If he fails to act decisively, the president risks being overwhelmed, like his predecessor. The costs to the US and the world of another failed presidency do not bear contemplating.
What is needed? The answer is: focus and ferocity. If Mr Obama does not fix this crisis, all he hopes from his presidency will be lost. If he does, he can reshape the agenda. Hoping for the best is foolish. He should expect the worst and act accordingly.
Yet hoping for the best is what one sees in the stimulus programme and – so far as I can judge from Tuesday’s sketchy announcement by Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary – also in the new plans for fixing the banking system. I commented on the former last week. I would merely add that it is extraordinary that a popular new president, confronting a once-in-80-years’ economic crisis, has let Congress shape the outcome.
The banking programme seems to be yet another child of the failed interventions of the past one and a half years: optimistic and indecisive. If this “progeny of the troubled asset relief programme” fails, Mr Obama’s credibility will be ruined. Now is the time for action that seems close to certain to resolve the problem; this, however, does not seem to be it.
Pretty shocking stuff, yes? As were Wolf's recommendations which readers are encouraged to review without children in the room to witness your startled expressions.
Frankly, this is the kind of examination that should be occurring on a daily basis in newsrooms across America.
If the economy truly is in its worst shape since the Depression -- a premise I still don't buy as today's data aren't yet as bad as the '81-'82 recession or '73-'74's -- shouldn't journalists be dissecting and analyzing every administration recommendation rather than cheerleading it?
Must Americans rely on the foreign press to do that?