Out Of Touch?

The Obama political team seems to be out of whack these days. Via Greg Sargent, Axelrod reveals some real political tone deafness:

People are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about AIG,” Axelrod said. “They are thinking about their own jobs.”

I assume Axelrod said that earlier in the week. No way he said that yesterday or today. At least, I hope not.

Speaking for me only

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    It seems (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:45:18 AM EST
    That they are still in campaign mode and think the press will just smile sweetly and buy whatever junk they are selling today.  While the press is certainly still in the "fawning" mode, some are starting to slowly awake from their slumber.  The Obama team needs to realize that mistakes can't be diverted by talking about what Hillary did, or Palin's children or clothing, or McCain's old age. People are solely focusing on him - EVERYONE - not just those who were enamored of him.

    And with every major newspaper headlining AIG, this can't be written off as a "waffle" moment that can be erased by showing him playing basketball or running down the beach.  That's what this whole Tonight Show appearance is - a diversion, that my guess is, won't work they way they want it to.  We'll still be talking about AIG tomorrow - not the brilliance of his Final Four picks.

    Like the Obama administration ... (5.00 / 8) (#2)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:50:34 AM EST
    people can actually do more than one thing at a time.

    They can think (scream) about AIG, and think (scream) about jobs at the same time.

    And "folks" can see the connection (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:37:45 AM EST
    even if Axelrove cannot do so.  People are losing jobs while others are getting massive "retention" bonuses -- including some who then left those jobs -- for contributing to the mess that caused people to lose their jobs.

    The Obama Team have to Watch Out (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by WS on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:56:11 PM EST
    because AIG can be an outlet for people's anger.  President Obama cannot be seen as the defender of Wall Street over the little guy.    

    Beltway ravings only (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:59:13 PM EST
    How many people will know what AIG is one year from now?  Heck, the majority of voters couldn't tell you who Oliver North was, what the savings and loan scandal was about, whether Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, what the Smoot-Hawley tariff was, or that there was a genocide in Armenia (much less where that country is).  

    Whether people remember AIG a year (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:16:33 PM EST
    from now could depend on whether it continues to stay in the headlines, and how the rest of the financial system is doing.

    But even if there are only a select few news-and-politics-and-economy junkies like us for whom AIG burns bright in our memories - will that mean it was never important, or that we should not have made a big deal about it?

    Everything that happens ebbs and flows in importance as time passes - some things which seemed benign and/or unimportant at one point can, in hindsight, grow in importance in the context of later events.

    So, who knows?  I don't have a crystal ball - if I did, I would be enjoying my MegaMillions winnings and using some of them to help people in need - so I don't know what AIG's importance will be in a year; what I do know is that it is a mistake to dismiss something like this now because of an assumption that it won't matter a year from now.


    What people remember (5.00 / 4) (#60)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:29:48 PM EST
    in detail can be amazing, as I find with my older students when we get to, say, Watergate.

    But more worrisome is that what most people may most remember is how they felt about what their president and pols did.  Frustration, a sense of betrayal and of being ignored and treated like nothing more than cogs in pols' careers -- all that adds up and is lasting.

    See the studies of the aftereffects to this day of the Vietnam War.  Sure, few of us remember the names of the battles there.  But the feelings on the homefront here are still part of the public psyche -- as also is evident in longitudinal studies of the impact of . . . the Depression.


    But (none / 0) (#63)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:45:30 PM EST
    We'll be quoting the Greatest Speech on Race Ever, right?  ;)

    Interesting you should bring that speech up (none / 0) (#70)
    by Amiss on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 05:17:03 PM EST
    It has been a year and how many more speeches or forums has he held on this, exactly? Heard any mention of it on his California tour? Think he will mention it on Leno tonite?

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 05:31:27 PM EST
    the article says "none" (at least major ones).

    It was enough to get him out of trouble at the time, and then he moved on.  


    And If He Were Spending Time Talking Race (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by daring grace on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 06:24:32 PM EST
    right now there would be people who criticized him for dwelling on that instead of the financial crisis and the public outrage at AIG.

    But I can't really imagine as an African American he ever actually 'moves on' from that issue. Any more than a female president would ever be able to 'move on' from the gender issue after she was elected.


    Jeez (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by cal1942 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:50:50 AM EST
    People are thinking about their jobs but they're also mightily enraged about the AIG bonuses.

    The rage will grow if they ever figure out that AIG is a pass trough to move more bailout bucks to banks that have already received bailout bucks.

    Apparently Axelrod and the gang think we're all too stupid to think of more than one thing at a time.

    We're thinking AIG... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:55:16 AM EST
    might cost us our country, which is a little more important than a f*ckin' job.  Jobs come and go...I came to this place looking for one, and I'll leave looking for a job.  The way of the world...

    My anger at the AIG's and Citi's of the world has nothing to do with fear for my livelyhood...I'm surviving one way or the other... it has to do with fear for my country and how they seem willing to flush the nation down the toilet just to squeeze out a couple more 6 and 7 figure bonuses.

    Aw, c'mon dog (none / 0) (#8)
    by NYShooter on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:09:29 AM EST
    Spring is coming; just wait until those Citi-bonus-babies unzip their pants and the crumbs start "trickling down" on all of us.

    I hope you're not allergic to chlorine, as I understand pool cleaners may be in short supply :)


    LOL.... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:37:13 AM EST
    If you sell diamonds or yachts, yeah...you might get a lil something to wet your beak:)

    heh. Not thinking (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:03:34 PM EST
    about these bonus babies when my position is cut because my university can't afford it.

    Yeah. Government money for the AIG folks, and the rest of us can what?

    Eat cake?


    The other term for Government money, (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:06:48 PM EST
    and a more accurate representation, is MY money.

    No, not cake (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by NYShooter on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:23:28 PM EST
    just cash in some of those post-dated stock option
    bundles you were handed at your last performance review.

    What?....oh, sorry; yeah eat shi_, I mean cake.


    depends on your situation (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:59:15 AM EST
    Speaking to several blue collar workers on a regular basis, some of whom have lost a job or their spouse has lost their job and some of whom fear of losing their job, I have found less than 5% of the conversations go to AIG.

    Everyone of my bluecollar friends that I speak with on a regular basis are talking only about how many resumes they have sent out, how little interest they have received and how there is a waiting list for pizza delivery jobs.

    I guess if you are out of work, have a fear of losing your job, your perspective is different.  

    How many people here have lost their job?  How many know of someone who has?

    Of those people, how many are talking about AIG to any great extent?

    I guess the people I hang with are more concerned with how to get a job before they fall behind on their mortgage than the bonuses.

    I think people who are not concerned with their own personal finances care more about AIG than those who are exerting all of their energies on finding work...

    Spent time last night with laid-off guy (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:45:54 AM EST
    from a factory here who always has been more in touch with the news than a lot of Ph.D.'s whom I know.  He is quite informed and irate about AIG, etc., and also related commentary on it all from his former coworkers.  So the anecdotal evidence is on both sides. . . .

    And as he noted, these third-shift guys who used to have to sleep during the day now have more time to keep up on the news -- while he still can afford cable for a few more weeks.  He watched all of the AIG hearing yesterday.  He had to give up his Internet connection so greatly appreciated us telling him to go ahead and get to our computer, as he said that the lines are long at the local library, where he and others have been going to keep up on the news, too.  And, of course, to look online for work.  

    From what he said, I would suggest that the Obama administration would do well to take a turn in line at those lines to go online and just listen.


    I don't know J... (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:10:15 PM EST
    I think the people desperate for work are probably angriest of all about AIG...out doing their best and can't win for trying, while the losers who can't lose for trying get rewarded.

    They might not be in tune to the specifics like many here, they may not even know AIG from the IRS...but they don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing...they know why its so hard to find a job right now...our economy has been looted.  Their energies are focused on putting food on the table, no doubt, but their anger is directed at the looters.


    Well, polls disagree with you (5.00 / 0) (#72)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 06:10:29 PM EST
    as AP reports that the "AIG flap apparently is on the minds of most Americans: A Rasmussen Reports poll shows most Americans are following the controversy, and 76 percent of Americans want the employees who received bonuses to give them back."

    It's really kind of hard to ignore (5.00 / 0) (#74)
    by nycstray on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 07:01:39 PM EST
    and not comment on. Most average Americans would be fired (or worse) for being so incompetent (fraud?). Instead, bonuses most can only dream of . . . straight to those that helped tank the economy. Yes, that economy, the one that has us talking about jobs and personal finances. nah, we wouldn't be talking about AIG . . . . or hitting the streets in protest like some of those crazy NY workin' folks . . .

    I think the polls (none / 0) (#76)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 08:16:59 AM EST
    are right and I am wrong.  I think those who are unemployed and under employed are getting hosed by bs coverage of a political hot potato.  Obama's administration is directly responsible for adding the clause in.  Therefore the people should be pissed at POTUS and his admin, are they?

    I wish we spent a fraction of energy on the importance of job creation that we are spending on bonuses.  I wish we spent a fraction of coverage on defense contractors bonuses and compensation because I promise you that a hell of a lot more than 170 million of "our" dollars is going to bs bonuses.  


    More than 70% of the nation was talking about SCott Peterson a while back........


    polls (none / 0) (#77)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 09:29:15 AM EST
    and rasmussen reports that 73% of americans think that police should check immigration status on traffic stops.

    and 79% think that US military should patrol the border.

    and 45% say you can find work if you WANT it.

    and 49% say Obama should delay healthcare reform until the economy improves.

    and 55% say the media is making the economy sound worse than it is.

    I can not think of one friend or colleague that agrees with any of the above, yet at least 50% of the nation and 2/3 of the nation according to these polls say that we should put the military on the border, can HC reform until later, people are not looking for work all that hard and the media is making too much of the economic crisis.

    So we are fat, dumb, lazy and insecure because we are not protecting our border.....


    Some excellent points (none / 0) (#12)
    by Bemused on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:22:57 AM EST
     although you might be over-generalizing from anectdotal information too, if not to near the extent of some others.

      Sometimes this place cracks me up with the obsession with providing breathless accounts of the errors of what someone said  as if most people sit around and engage in debating the merits of hot air and base their general attitudes let alone life decisions on it.

       I'm not sure if certain parties  actually engage in any life other than perusing the media and blogs looking for something to bring here and express outrage over -- and then of course regale this tiny audience  with how they know so much better.

      I won't claim I am without sin in this regard, but I do recognize this as really just a slightly more entertaining way to kill time than attacking unanswered correspondence.


    Several, eh? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:08:41 PM EST
    Well, sounds like a poll sampling. I've never understood how speaking to a couple of people can represent the thoughts of the entire population.

    AIG is a big topic, as is TARP and the stimulus and the threat of times getting much, much worse before they start getting better. Not talking about something doesn't mean they aren't paying attention or that they aren't outraged and know exactly who they believe to be responsible for it.

    Who really is so confident that they are not at risk? Those are the ones who think none of this applies to them. Wouldn't want to be them when the ball lands in their laps.


    completely unscientific (none / 0) (#50)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:26:59 PM EST
    I know. And just the circle I hang with. Doesn't mean anything other than those I know who are looking for work really don't talk about it.  just because the msm and politicians talk about it, doesn't mean people looking for work are.  I notice nearly no one who responded stated they were looking for work, nor did they reference friends who were.

    I think a lot of us on this site have no clue what the average american is thinking and I don't think my friends are any more or less average than any of yours (collectively).

    The only point I was trying to make is that those who have lost their jobs are less concerned with this issue and more concerned with food on the table issues and not falling behind on mortgage because it is quite consuming from their perspective.


    I've been looking for work for over a year (5.00 / 6) (#53)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:40:17 PM EST
    finally ended up in a job that doesn't pay enough to cover my rent and car. Utilities, food and gas get paid based on what I've managed to sell from my personal possessions. Consignment stores know my voice when I call.

    There are many others on this site in similar circumstances. Talking about it is humiliating and depressing.


    sorry (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:56:50 PM EST
    and again my friends nor I speak for the general populace and i am sorry if I worded it that way.  My friends are saying the same as you said above and reading it made my stomach turn.  

    with an anticipated 3-4 million foreclosures this year due to job loss and underemployment it befuddles me that we are talking about bailing anyone out other than the american people.  

    There are lots of good people not living in mcmansions, who didn't overspend, who have been laid off through no fault of their own.  I don't see the populist anger with the company i keep towards aig or the banks, the anger they have is with the government who did nothing to prevent it and are still doing relatively little to stimulate job creation.

    Job creation will not solve all of our problems but would go a long way in helping people make ends meet and restoring some dignity.  

    While the nonstop coverage of AIG and the banks serves a purpose it will not stop or change compensation structures.  Real talk on job creation would at least give people some hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and perhaps foreclosure or eviction can be avoided.  

    We have had record number of layoffs with no end in sight and the humiliation and indignity of it all is only going to grow.  Having aig give millions to millionaires in the middle of it all is disgusting but doesn't change the fact that our government is spending approximately 300 bn to create jobs and two trillion on the banking system.


    The Gov't is spending OUR money in these (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:33:14 PM EST
    bailouts. It's the only REAL money in the whole scenario of this economic crash.

    That $165 Million in bonuses would have gone a long way in helping some of the more energetic unemployed with seed money to get a new business off the ground. Add all the other gigantic bonuses that aren't being published from the bailouts and stimulus to it and we'd have this economy humming again in no time. I wouldn't resent my tax dollars being spent that way.

    As for jobs. I sure don't know your circumstances, but I live in Microsoft country. Bill Gates openly practiced age discrimination from the get-go and taught the other local big guys to do the same. They introduced the "hire a temp" system of keeping their shareholders fat to this area, and many others followed suit.

    I'm going to keep thinking and planning until I can figure out how to start a fantastic business where one can't be under 60 years old to work, and every single employee makes the same amount of money regardless of title. Annual bonuses will be the distribution of all profits above what is needed to keep the company afloat for the next year.


    165 million (none / 0) (#64)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:55:48 PM EST
    could create 2500 65k jobs for one year.  It could be used many different ways, but it isn't.  I notice you mention nothing about the utter lack of attention by your representative gov't about job creation.  

    Trade off.  No offense but let's see what the net out of the ranting is.  I stand by my statement and believe it to be true.  Until the general population gets pissed off about the lack of job creation, nothing will be done.  

    In the meantime, those evil greedy bastads will have to give the money back or get taxed.  How does that help the 15-20 million unemployed and under employed?

    No offense intended and please accept my apologies beforehand should it offend you.  But your gov't is doing practically nothing for good hard working americans who would pay their mortgage if they could.  

    I find that far more reprehensible than 170 million in bonuses to people whom I don't know.  Let me know how all the populist rage helps you and my friends who are not working.  Let me know if it makes you feel better that the money was returned and you still don't have a job that pays the bills.  Let me know how satisfying it is that a millionaire is a million shorter in his/her bank account yet you are still cutting coupons.  Let me know how happy you are with a gov't that farts around with political potatoes while more than 600k of its citizens lose their jobs every month. Let me know if having that bonus money back in the gov't hands makes it easier for my friends to sit in a line of 600 people for 40 food service jobs.

    The more people who are unemployed the tougher it is to get a job because thousands show up for dozens of jobs.

    yet we find it in our hearts to spend our time screaming about aig.  Who is at fault there?  Who gave them the money no strings attached?  You?  No, your elected officials.  The same officials who are doing nothing to create employment for people who need it.

    AIG may be evil, but it is a special kind of evil that gives money away while its people suffer the horrible ramifications of financial/employment disaster.  


    I agree with you on job creation (none / 0) (#65)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:05:50 PM EST
    didn't need to revisit what you had said so well.

    populist rage for job creation (none / 0) (#58)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:20:44 PM EST
    I would like to see msm coverage night and day over the loss of jobs and lack of creation. AIG rage and bank rage are serving us how?  We get back the 170 million, great.  Then what?  

    Seriously, if we get the 170 million back which is a good thing, what have we accomplished?  How does that help with someone's mortgage?  how does it help the parents who had to take their kids out of daycare because they cannot afford it and are trying to look for a job while taking care of their children?  

    Perhaps if the msm spent 23 hours a day talking about the lack of employment and the employment outlook over the next year we would have a populist movement toward a stimulus package that addresses the situation.  

    What we are getting is partisan nonsense on whose fault it is and a major distraction from the employment crisis.  Of course it isn't a crisis until it hits home so to speak and after all, only 5 million people are unemployed, right?

    It seems that the msm is dictating what problems gets covered which ultimately decides what problems get solved.  Every day we get barraged with stories about costs of the bailouts and greed, is another day ignoring the 15-20 million under-employed and unemployed populace.

    Everything in life is a trade off.  We get to scream about how the rich get richer which of course is as old as time.  Politicians scream with us and express their "outrage".  The trade-off for screaming about greed is lack of coverage and attention to job creation.  

    I for one would not be disturbed or bothered in the least with a reversal in coverage, but then again my perspective is insular and selfish.  So there we have it.....


    Actually, if the rage continues we may (none / 0) (#68)
    by hairspray on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:23:48 PM EST
    get our feckless congress to do something about a few things in our system that are causing our country to slide.  Executive compensation is closely tied to the problems of risk taking and greed.  When compensation packages are built in such a way to reward the aforementioned skills, executives and their complicit boards will run a company into the ground.  The importance of changing these dynamics is one step in getting our companies back to the fundamentals of good governance.

    Consistent attitude (5.00 / 6) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:03:07 AM EST
    of the Obama team.  They've said this kind of thing before, that the public "doesn't care about the specifics" of what they're doing with the financial system bail-outs, the stimulus, etc.

    Since they're so insistent on it (and have operated that way, not just talked that way), I assume they must have some polling that's convinced them of it.  They need new pollsters, if that's the case.

    I don't get why Democrats -- and the Obama people in particular -- don't understand that in a vacuum of information, the right wing will rush in to define things for the public.  They understood that very well during the campaign, but I don't understand why they don't seem to get that it applies to issues just as much as it does candidates.

    Although Rahm and David (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:53:26 PM EST
    tried to 'fill the vacuum' by blaming Dodd and very nearly got away with it.  Now that everyone but the MSM knows it was the Obama team of Summers and Geitner who strongarmed Dodd on the legislation, they have to make it seem irrelevant.

    What isn't irrelevant are two things:

      ...the hamhanded treatment of Dodd by the WH and
      ...other legislators now wary of WH 'leadership'

    Trust has been damaged among Democrats who must work together and that doesn't bode well in any way...not politically, not for governing.


    Yeah, I know, Pro (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by NYShooter on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:18:07 PM EST
    but when the axes are flying, anybody with "mortgage" attached to their name, fairly or unfairly, is going down.

    Dodd was on Countrywide's "VIP" list, known as "Friends of Angelo," named for  Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. That entitled him to a .5% discount, which on a ritzy Connecticut home mortgage adds up to many thousands of dollars. Dodd says he knew he was on the list but "never asked" what it meant. Since Dodd is Chairman of the Senate Banking committee, you would think he, or someone on his staff, would be charged with the responsibility of red-flagging anything to do with personal finances that may look suspicious.

    Look, I don't believe Chris Dodd is corrupt, at least by Congressional standards.

    And that's the problem; the people running the administration and Congress simply don't live in the same world as the rest of us, don't empathize with us, and don't have any of the worries the rest us live with every day.

    And that explains just about everything.

    Huge bonuses handed out "as of right?"

    "Gee, doesn't everybody get them?"

    "Who knew?"


    Working where bonuses are given (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:31:29 PM EST
    is a most eye-opening experience.

    You'd be amazed at how much time top level management, and those who get bonuses, spend setting up the criteria for what they must do to qualify. Bogus goals submitted on paper, reviewed by every management layer from bottom to top, approved and returned.

    The reverse of the process when pay-out time rolls around...of course EVERYONE met their goals, blue chips, or whatever the firm is calling them.  

    Of all the companies I've worked where bonuses are used as incentives to production, never have I met a recipient who wouldn't gladly signoff on the termination of an employee if it meant they would get an extra $5 in their bonus check. They are well aware not everyone gets one, and they will do anything to get theirs inflated.


    Depressing, if true.... (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 08:53:54 PM EST
    ....then, people are rotten.

    Go into any restaurant during lunchtime... (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Addison on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:07:00 AM EST
    ...and listen to the ambient conversation. AIG will come up at many of the tables. I think it's "understandable" how the political team could think this is an abstract issue that people aren't concerned about when faced with losing their job or not having health insurance.

    That's not an insane thing to assume. But it isn't true.

    People connect with the idea that losers get to keep their jobs AND get bonuses equal to some folks lifetime earnings after screwing up everything for everybody. And yes, I know that many of the derivatives people are no longer with AIG. Whatevz.

    Because... (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:11:45 AM EST
    ...they think the press will still push their version. They forget how quickly--and how viciously--the press can turn.

    How many people here have lost their job?  How many know of someone who has?

    Of those people, how many are talking about AIG to any great extent?

    I know plenty, including 10 people at my company and the blue-collar/skilled trade people in my neighborhood. People are intensely anxious; some of them still have jobs but their hours are being sharply reduced, and benefits like health insurance or pensions (assuming they had them to start with) are getting tossed out the window. And I've personally been laid off twice in past  years, so I'm no stranger to the soul-suckingtudiness of it.

    And are they raving about AIG or other bonuses? Absolutely. Now, most of them get their news from Fox but that doesn't mean they're missing the key details: That rich SOBs on Wall Street who caused the markets to collapse are flying to Vegas, redecorating their offices, and pocketing massive bonuses, on the taxpayer dime. They are furious. What I hear over and over is, "Where's MY f***g bailout??"

    You think people really don't make these connections? A lot of these are/were die-hard Republicans and Bush supporters but it doesn't take being a lefty to figure out that you're getting frakked.

    Where's MY f8ckin' bailout? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by lambert on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:11:22 PM EST

    You know, I think these people are failing to understand how sacrifice is truly "shared...."


    definitely out of touch (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by souvarine on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:19:18 AM EST
    From the article:
    "The first and most important job we have is to get this economy moving again," Axelrod said. "As galling as this is, it doesn't go to the main issue."

    Axelrod has the priorities right, but he doesn't understand how the AIG bonuses are the symbol of the main issue. The issue is a culture that used free market ideology to justify and mask a global rip-off through regulatory arbitrage. AIGFP was at the center of this culture which spread down into a nationwide system of mortgage fraud, AIGFP is the main issue.

    Axelrod is in tune with a particular, prosperous, well educated segment of the population that is insulated from our economic troubles and accustomed to bonuses. He doesn't know what the rest of the country is sitting around kitchen tables thinking about.

    Wishful Thinking or... (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by santarita on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:20:04 AM EST
    perhaps an attempt to push the media (and the people) into moving on?

    I think it's one part tone deaf (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:30:43 AM EST
    and another part condescending, which means the overall effect on people might be more than a little offensive.

    People are not stupid.  There is not a news outlet anywhere in this country that did not lead with the AIG news - and a lot of people in this country who came home after 10 hours of work and traffic, or who spent all day pounding the virtual pavement looking for work, who picked up their mail to see the bills and the collection notices, who helped their kids with homework and wondered how they will ever afford college, who are struggling to stretch what they have from paycheck to paycheck - if Axelrod really thinks people reacted with indifference to the news that AIG paid out million dollar bonuses to people who are (1) already very well compensated and (2) were responsible for the AIG mess in some measure, and (3) that the president lobbied for Congress to make it possible to pay those bonuses (even if he's blaming Chris Dodd) - well, he might want to be on the look out, because kdog is probably on his way to his house to get some of what he's smoking.

    Maybe it's me.  I've just never reacted well to the "there, there, don't you worry your pretty little head about this" approach to problems and situations.

    Yes. The condescension continues (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:49:18 AM EST
    despite the change in administrations, as we noted in comments yesterday, Anne.  And it's the attitude that people catch more than the words that are said.  I noticed Axelrove's big-city Chicago-style bluster or lack of social skills or whatever it is during the campaign, when it may have helped, but he ought to be quieted now.

    "Remember AIG!" (5.00 / 0) (#69)
    by huzzlewhat on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:23:58 PM EST
    At the risk of sounding condescending (!), I think the AIG fiasco may be politically dangerous because it's so easy for the public to wrap our heads around. Whether or not I understand all the ins and outs of contract law, deferred compensation, and whatnot, I still understand that a bunch of incompetent crooks are getting as additional compensation (rather than base salary) more money in one handout than I'll see in my lifetime. It's a huge symbol of everything that's wrong with the current system; it's a rallying point that people can latch on to.

    And as unfair as it seems, I think that the new Obama administration might get less leeway on their handling of things like this than the outgoing Bush administration would have. Critics of Bush constantly wondered just how many straws that damned camel could take -- it seemed like there was always room for one more, and one more after that and the camel just kept plodding along. But because Obama was elected precisely because we wanted something different, the public patience for "more of the same" -- even if only in perception -- might be much, much shorter.  


    I recall during the primaries that some (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by hairspray on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:07:19 PM EST
    in the Axelrod/Obama team had a condescending attitude towards the "little people" who supported Hillary.  They were backwoods, doncha' know.  There never was a real concern for the blue-collar working stiffs and it appears since the team is still in the campaign mode they haven't lost the 'tude they started with.  Maybe that is why they are still pitching to the white collar professional folks who were their base.

    Axelrod is safe... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:58:19 AM EST
    I don't smoke crack:)

    Why is he safe? (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:16:50 PM EST
    You won't be swiping his stash :)

    Some (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by NYShooter on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:30:56 AM EST
    gifted people have the inspiration to give birth to a new company;

    Others are gifted at managing & executing.

    Some politicians have the inspiration to run a great campaign;

    Others don't know the difference between campaigning & managing.

    People are ticked off and they are awake (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:34:16 AM EST
    and they are noticing and talking about EVERYTHING!

    I don't know, I kind of agree with Axelrod. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by tigercourse on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:41:22 AM EST
    Sure people are pissed off at the AIG bonuses, but people have been pissed off by the actions of almost every major company and industry group for the past 2 years. People are used to being pissed off by these corporations, this is the status quo. They care, but it's just one other thing in a long line of injustices.

    Out of touch, yeah. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:55:25 AM EST
    Whatever his talents, Axelrod is no good at being the empathetic face of the Administration.  

    At the end of the day (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Steve M on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:55:25 AM EST
    Doing something about the AIG bonus situation will not put food on anyone's table or give anyone a job, except maybe a few lawyers somewhere.  Obama has made plenty of statements on the matter, so it's clear the White House doesn't see it as a non-issue.  But it's encouraging to see a reminder that they know this isn't the be-all and end-all.

    Fixing the problem (none / 0) (#59)
    by MKS on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:27:29 PM EST
    The House passing a bill to tax the bonuses will help.

    Let the Republicans try to block in the Senate if they dare.

    If the problem is fixed it will go away as an issue.


    Yep, that's the thing about (none / 0) (#62)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:36:47 PM EST
    problems. Once they are fixed, they go away. :)

    I think David Axelrod (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:13:05 PM EST
    has either lost his political sense or is trying to spin what he really knows to be true.  My guess is the latter; while the financial problems are extremely difficult for even those schooled in this area to grasp entirely (in fact, Tim Geithner had to be appointed since he was among the few, if not the only one, who understood the situation), bonuses for really bad performance can be readily understood.  And, bonuses for really bad performance paid by financial Titanics  with taxpayer's bailout money is over the top and easy to see by all.  Moreover, it may seem to many that what they do understand (and do not like much) is just the tip of the dastardly iceberg.  This relatively small part is threatening the whole.

    Everybody knows things are bad. (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by SOS on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:38:49 PM EST
    It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

    We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be!

    We all know things are bad -- worse than bad -- they're crazy.

    It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

    Well, I'm not going to leave you alone.

    I want you to get mad!

    I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,

                    "I'm as mad as hell,

                    and I'm not going to take this anymore!!"

    Ironic how this movie is (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by SOS on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:40:55 PM EST
    relevant to this present day.

    Ezra Klein and Axelrod (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:43:28 PM EST
    are really on the same page.

    But given the information Geithner had available, it's hard to argue that he should have stopped the bonuses.  The AIG retention payments were one-tenth of one percent of the money we've given AIG, much less the rest of the system. Whether Geithner knew of them early or late, he probably didn't consider them a priority.

    Really?  It seems to me that allowing banks to limitlessly reward the people who got us into this mess is just a bad idea in principle.  And apparently Geithner pushed for the ability to give huge bonuses.

    This isn't really about the details of the arrangement so much as attitude...I liked this post by James Kwak a lot.

    I don't know...if $165 million isn't a priority for you and you don't mind throwing it away, obviously you're going to come off as a d-bag.  And what good reason was there to throw away the money?  Placate, placate, placate.  

    What excuse does Geithner really have?

    Yep, "Out of touch" (5.00 / 0) (#42)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:57:26 PM EST
    is the apt description.  The ones who think only in terms of the bottom line often need tempering by those who better understand the intangibles, the symbolic meanings, the public perceptions.  That fits Wall Street lately to a T, and that was the training ground for Geithner.  But I bet his firm had better PR pros.  He has needed one from day one.

    Coming in (none / 0) (#48)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:22:02 PM EST
    as the Sec of the Treasury during a serious recession...of course Geithner was going to draw a lot of serious attention.  If neither he nor Obama realized Geithner would literally be in the spotlight, they're pretty dumb.  Ezra doesn't want the SoT to worry about politics...but it's inevitable.  Or at least someone has to worry about it for Geithner - and apparently nobody did.

    Compare the pics in the NYT, esp here as covered by BAGNewsNotes.  Geithner is portrayed and captioned frequently as though he is not ready for this job.

    And then look at the one in the TNR article defending him.

    The media coverage has somewhat unconsciously led me to really get my hate on about this guy.  People are calling for his head all over.  Obama should've been able to give his guy more political cover - "looking good" and not just "planning good" is important.


    It didn't help that he didn't pay (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by hairspray on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:14:11 PM EST
    his taxes.  He had that problem and he doesn't inspire confidence. Seems he has had a few chances and has botched them.  First the taxes, then the lackluster interview on becoming secretary of the treasury, and how this.  Frankly I'd like to think there is someone else up there with more character and intelligence to take his place.  And while we are at it get rid of Summers as well.

    I don't think the way to go here (5.00 / 5) (#43)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:58:02 PM EST
    is for anyone in the Obama administration to argue that the bonuses represent such a minuscule percentage of the gazillion dollars being thrown around that we should all just reeee-lax; in the rarefied air that is breathed on trading floors and board rooms, million dollar bonuses may be just so much piffle, but in living rooms around the country, I think the decisions being made on this are looking more and more like a lot of wink-wink-nudge-nudge that just proves to them that the American people really have no one who is looking out for them.

    That's a perception that needs immediate reversal if the Obama administration has any hope of pulling this one out; when your boss gets elected in part because people bought the campaign rhetoric that Obama was on their side, it ill behooves them to appear to be taking a let-them-eat-cake attitude.


    Where's the safeguards? (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by mmc9431 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:50:48 PM EST
    I'm upset at the bonuses but I'm more upset at the fact that it's dominated the headlines so much. I'd much rather the focus was on the cause of all of this (deregulation) and what measures are going to be taken to insure that it doesn't happen again.

    Job creation (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 11:04:51 AM EST
    I am 100% in agreement with Jlvngstn that job creation should be the NUMBER ONE goal of the stimulus package -- but sadly it is not and has not been, from day one. I think Obama promised that it would create 3 million jobs? Big whoop, we are losing over half a million jobs every MONTH. We need a modern-day version of the PWA and the CCC and we need them right now.

    Bill Gates openly practiced age discrimination from the get-go and taught the other local big guys to do the same. They introduced the "hire a temp" system of keeping their shareholders fat to this area, and many others followed suit.  

    He's also a major proponent of, and lobbyist for, expanded use of H1-B visas so his company can hire foreign workers at half the salaries of American ones, and Microsoft is hostile to unions and (according to some reports) its own contract workers. Whenever people start waxing rhapsodic about Gates's great humanitarianism (which btw is a nice tax dodge and great PR) I express my urgent wish that he would turn his efforts to help--or at least stop screwing over--American workers.

    The GOP debating as if they against bonus tax (none / 0) (#24)
    by magster on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:01:59 PM EST
    on the House floor.  Talk about tone deaf...

    House needs 2/3 vote to pass because it was rushed to the floor.

    Breaking: Tax passes house by 2/3rds (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by magster on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:45:18 PM EST
    Vote count 328-93 (none / 0) (#39)
    by magster on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:49:19 PM EST
    85 GOP'ers for, 87 GOP'ers against.

    8 ? Dems voted nay.


    Nice -- GOP split down the middle (none / 0) (#41)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:54:57 PM EST
    which doesn't bode well for its plans.

    The GOP is making a big mistake. . . (none / 0) (#33)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:31:43 PM EST
    by hitting the bonus issue because I think the outcome may well be legislation they don't like at all.  I hope Obama has the political skill to make it clear, when the GOP is complaining about laws that restrict Wall Street compensation, that they're hypocrites.

    Obama is in CA appearing (none / 0) (#34)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:33:02 PM EST
    at an electric car factory.

    Not nearly as cool... (none / 0) (#35)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:40:34 PM EST
    ...as the flying car.    

    $194,000 and 40 orders. Amazing. (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:43:30 PM EST
    It would be a handy way... (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:54:06 PM EST
    ...for the AIG bonus babies to escape the pitchfork armed mobs, huh?  

    It always amazes me the amount of people with such huge reserves of discretionary cash sitting around to be able to afford stuff like this.  


    The media still *hearts* him (none / 0) (#51)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:27:43 PM EST
    Who Kidnapped Candy Crowley?

    "The president needs to make clear where his policies -- and values -- depart from those of the previous administration if he wants people to hang onto their tenuous, newfound belief that maybe this time government is part of the solution and not the problem," wrote Westen, who informally advised Obama's presidential campaign.

    In Obama's case, "blame me" is political code for "move on," said Candy Crowley, CNN's senior political correspondent.

    Obama's approval ratings have hovered around 60 percent in recent weeks, slightly higher than his predecessors' numbers near the same time.

    Given those ratings, Crowley said, Obama "is well-positioned to weather out this storm."

    "He faces some political risk in the face of the revelation that his Treasury Department pushed for and got a legislative loophole, which AIG walked through to dole out its bonuses. Still, at the moment it is difficult to see the president taking a major blow," she said, noting that most of the outcry has been directed at AIG and Geithner.