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Leaders Out to Lunch

Congress, having done nothing, is on its way home. The president, doing nothing, remains in the White House. The president-elect, having appointed a secretary of health and human services but no one to lead Treasury, remains mostly out of sight in Chicago. The rest of the nation, noticing no leadership anywhere, hurtles toward the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.

I know, I know. We can only have one president at a time. The problem is, however, we have no president at this time. The one in Washington has never seemed in charge of the economic crisis. His treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, is a Goldman man, which means he likes the Big Move, the Roll of the Dice, the sort of major positions Goldman used to take before it became a commercial bank (and started giving away toasters) and lost its swagger. Paulson created a bailout package but let Lehman die. The stock market responded. It’s been in free-fall.

The sense of drift is palpable. The Bush administration clearly has no idea what to do, and the incoming Obama administration does not yet exist. We are supposed to be preoccupied with the question of whether Hillary Clinton will be secretary of state, but the truth is it doesn't much matter. Let her go to Foggy Bottom or let her remain the Senate, the outcome will not move the financial markets one way or the other. Let the markets know who will be at Treasury, and that might be a different story. Chicago, though, is mum on that one.

Oh, Obama! Oy vey, Obama! Where will you take us and what will you do? Say something. Do something. Appoint someone. I’m going broke.

By Richard Cohen  | November 21, 2008; 10:33 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Comments

OBAMA, KEEP HANK PAULSON ON AS SEC. OF THE TREASURY. REALLY. I'M A DEM. AND I THINK HE IS DOING A FANTASTIC JOB IN IMPOSSIBLE CONDITIONS-OH, I KNOW, YOU'RE GOING TO PROBABLY GO WITH THE RETREADS-RUBIN ET AL-BUT AT LEAST FOR THE NEXT YEAR, OBAMA SHOULD SERIOUSLY CONSIDER KEEPING PAULSON-BECAUSE HE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO REALLY KNOWS WHAT'S GOING ON-AND HE IS DOING HIS DAMNEST TO GET AT LEAST SOME OF THOSE BILLIONS BACK IN AMERICANS'S POCKETS.

I FOR ONE, APPRECIATE THE JOB HE IS DOING, AND I THINK WELL OF TREASURY AS A RESULT.

Posted by: Spring_Rain | November 21, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Cohen... You are 100% correct. No leadership from anyone while the american people suffer. Our elected leader Obama needs to come out and be a leader by the end of the weekend and calm these markets with a plan.

Posted by: abeisavol2 | November 21, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

What do you mean Congress didn't do anything? They gave the banking & investment industry $ 700 B of unrestricted funding didn't they?

Posted by: Henchal1 | November 21, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

It is impossible for the Democrats in the current Congress to lead us anywhere due to the Republican incoherence, obstructionism, and downright lying. Whatever the Republicans are doing is shrouded in a sea of confusion and deception.
So, as best we can make out, they are continuing to preside over the largest transfer of public wealth into private hands that the world has ever seen. Hard as it is to believe, they truly do NOT care about anyone except themselves and their own wealth.

Posted by: cms1 | November 21, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Keep Paulson? Please. This crisis has been evident for more than a year--Krugman was talking about this five years ago--where was Paulson when he could have made moves to avert this disaster? Paul Krugman, freshly recognized for his brilliance by a Noble Prize, is the man Obama should pick. With Krugman in the saddle, moves would have been made years ago, and we wouldn't be facing this now.

Posted by: hoeya | November 21, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Good article. My sentiments exactly. I understand Obabma is deliberate and wants to "get it right" but for God sakes we can't drift directionless until January. As an aside if by chance under a rock somewhere out there in our great nation there still exists some delusional person that claims that Bush is a capable leader this should dispel that notion once and for all. The guy is, and has been, an unmitigated disaster.

Posted by: jhadv | November 21, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Short of securing divine intervention, there is no appointment that will do much to calm the markets. At this point there is no certainty as to what is needed to settle things down. Now the mavens are speaking openly about another trillion being needed to stop the slide; anyone who has half a brain knew that from reading between the lines during the build-up to the bailout. The government handles economic crises just as they do wars; lie to get initial backing and then claiming more must be spent to prevent the effort from being wasted; let's throw good money after bad just as we routinely squander the lives of our soldiers in ill conceived efforts. Where will we be after we mortgage our children to three trillion of debt? No one knows. It might be a good idea to buy an assault weapon while one still can.

Posted by: csintala79 | November 21, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, Do readers really take you seriously? As pointed out by another, this problem has been years in the making, and yet you stand here now complaining in your typical WaPoEditorial way that it's really both side's fault that you're losing money now, because the new guy elected 2 weeks ago and not yet in office hasn't said the magic words that will unwind this catastrophic mess being handled so poorly (as it always has been) by the current office holder Mr. Bush. How much attention did you, on one of the most important editorial positions in the country, provide to this issue 6 months ago, a year, two years? How much compared to your writing about your dislike for tattoos, or reminding us (us! The readers of one of the leading national newspapers) that John McCain was a POW, and whether Sen. Obama is using "socialist realism language" at some moment during his campaign? These were the things I saw that bothered you then - seems like you, one of the guardians and gatekeepers we're supposed to depend on, were enough "out to lunch" yourself that your stamping-foot complaints now about your bank account are just adding to your irrelevancy. If you can't be more useful to the country, please just go away.

Posted by: jklemm | November 21, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Hoeya sez Krugman. Nice idea.

At least Krugman realizes that the government needs to step up and announce some spending plans. We are now witnessing a classic case of regenerative feedback. This is mediated through the psychological states of investors taken as a group. Once the gov't steps in and announces that it will spend whatever it takes to interrupt the cycle, it could interrupt the positive-gain feedback loop that we have identified as a "panic." Irrational exuberance has been replaced by irrational pessimism.

From the systems-theoretical point of view, because event-density has been radically increased since 1929 by the advent of instantaneous global communication (in other words, history has speeded up), it should in principle be possible to stop and reverse a panic almost instantaneously. We still would have a long slog to repay debt, retool the auto and energy industries, and so on. An analogy from signal engineering is the instantaneous suppression of audio feedback when the gain is muted on the offending microphone.

First, stop the panic. As FDR said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Then we can get back to the real business of reform.
Cohen is correct--government needs to act to stop the irrational panic.

And yes, the sun will come up tomorrow. Babies are being born and they will need somewhere to live. Real estate will not be free. And so on.

Posted by: scientist1 | November 21, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Cohen, RELAX! RELAX I'm sorry to say that he's not going to be your savior.

Posted by: mljsforgione | November 21, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

hoeya: I could not agree with you more. Krugman is the smartest man I read in the NY Times and I would trust him with my money in a heartbeat. I was thinking the same thing that Obama should tap him for Treasury and what's more is that he is honest! What a PRIZE! I would feel so much better knowing he was SoT because I know he would NOT be WORKING against us, but FOR us where with Paulson, I can't but feel he's looking after his Wall Street cronies first and foremost. He was almost cavalier in his attitude of changing his mind about toxic debt and then giving our money to the banks WITHOUT THEM HAVING ANY PLAN ON HOW THEY WOULD USE THAT MONEY [as he and congress are requiring of the Big 3]. Wall Street has thus far benefited greatly, but as a middle class citizen, I feel forgotten by him and Bernanke.

Unfortunately Obama is stuck in limbo and Bush is still our POTUS whether we like it or not [95% of us HATE it]. Mr. Cohen, do you really believe that just by announcing his SoT, Obama could keep the Dow from it continual and rapid death spiral? It's hard to imagine that anyone could have that affect, but I suppose if anyone could, it would be Obama!

Posted by: MadasHelinVA | November 21, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, George W. Bush is our President until January 20, 2009. Unfortunately, "the Decider" is not "the Leader." President-Elect Obama can't step forward and start leading our country he's sworn in. Let's hope we can wait until then.

Posted by: MNUSA | November 21, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

IT'S ONLY BEEN TWO WEEKS!!! Okay, two weeks and three days. Do you want Obama to pick the best Treasury Secretary or just a name out of a hat? Yes, there is no leadership, but if Obama tries to lead now, count on Bush/Cheney/Paulson to counter anything he does. Obama is doing exactly what he needs to do. It's the columnists and commentators who need to stop looking for things to criticize. I'm losing money too, but I know who to blame and I have a very long memory. Anyone named Bush who ever tries to run for office again better look for another line of work.

Posted by: gailjens | November 21, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for confirming what I have thought for a long time: That the columnists here are not truly interested in what is good for America, but rather, their own bottom lines. You finally just put it into print: "Do something. Appoint someone. I am going broke."

Am I supposed to think that you were objective in all your other columns in the past, or that your opinions have always been driven by your own personal greed?

What does broke mean to you? Being hungry, or losing your vacation home? Foregoing a visit to the doctor because you don't have medical insurance, or going an extra week before you get your hair trimmed?

Posted by: sandiegowryter | November 21, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

For Spring Rain -- who recommended Obama keep Paulson on as Treasury Secretary -- I have a word for you: delusional.

Paulson did not see the economic crisis coming when should have! THEN -- he goes to Congress with a 2 1/2 page memo asking for $700 BILLION with no strings attached; no accountability; no oversight; no transparency; etc.

He clucks and shreiks like Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" and "the economy is going to crash" and essentially creates the notion of a catastrophe to get BILLIONS from Congress.

So, the TARP is created, and Hank Paulson sets about the task of saving our economy... except that it doesn't work. HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS are given away to select companies, but we don't know exactly who got what, and how much and for what and for whom and so on and so on and so on...

THEN, Paulson comes back and says, well, our strategy is flawed and we are changing course, but we don't exactly know in what direction we are going, so we propose to stop the Bailout 1/2 way through and wait for Obama.

Huh? Obama doesn't take office for 2 months and Paulson is waving the white flag of surrender. He is abrogating his authority and responsiblity. He is admitting he is in over his head. He doesn't understand changing market conditions. It is just too much for him and the rest of the Bush Administration who is just sitting idly by as our economy disintigrates.

AND you have the audacity to call on Obama to keep Paulson because he is doing a great job??? That is like saying "heckuva job brownie"

Posted by: winoohno | November 21, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Out to lunch and they never came back.

Pelosi wants a plan from the Big 3 auto companies. And who in Congress is going to review it? Or for that matter what about the money, if approved, if the plan goes wrong?

Obama is off to a bad start. Selecting Korny Hillary for Sec of State. Then Holder who likes using "used scotch tape" to hobble together a flimsy deal involving national security.

I'm a big Obama supporter but I hope he gets his ducks in order real quick..like by the end of the day.

Posted by: Maddogg | November 21, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The country has 1 President at a time. It is not the fault of the next President that the current occupant is vacant above the neck. It is the country's problem, but there is little any of us can do about it.

As an aside, everyone affiliated with this administration has proven incapable of recognizing the economic problems till they were obvious; and incompetent to address them since.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | November 21, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Its people like sandiegowryter and MNUSA who are pulling this country down with negativism and booing from the unruly mob. Our country is in a time of crisis right now, as we speak a financial 9/11 is happening. Citi may not survive the weekend, The big 3 may not survive the month.

Do you understand what is happening?? I am 28 years old and I see very clearly that the entire banking system may not survive past Thanksgiving and our once proud manufacturing sector wont survive past Christmas.

Dont you get it?? He isnt worried about his beach house, he is worried that ATM's will have cash in them and we all should be worried that we will have jobs in 09.

We have NO leadership, we have NO confidence. SOMEONE needs to step up and grab us by the bootstraps and say "Hey... its going to be Okay. I have a Plan, and here it is..." We just elected a new president with much fanfare and that president is supposed to lead us, or give us HOPE. We have none of that right now, NO HOPE, NO LEADERSHIP

Mr. Obama, please stop debating whether or not that $1k donation to Hilary was unethical or not, come out of your 20th floor Chicago office highrise and tell us you have a plan. Please... we need something from you and the whole word is watching

Posted by: abeisavol2 | November 21, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you idiots get off your butt and save yourselves?

We, all of us Americans, are responsible for this disaster. We bought houses we couldn't truly afford, we put our nest eggs in investments we chose not to fully understand, we are the ones running to the broker to pull our money out of the markets and stuff it under a matress. We are the architects of our own demise, and you want Washington to come save you? Who are you to ask for what you do not deserve? Who are you to condemn ANYONE in Washington or New York City without admitting your own culpability in this mess?

You people make me sick, none of you deserve the privilege of calling yourselves Americans with this attitude.

Posted by: JamesPDBuchanan | November 21, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

This Op-Ed attempts to establish a ludicrious equivalency between an administration still in power, Democrats in Congress with insufficient votes to override any administration veto, and a Democratic President-elect who can do nothing substantive until January 20, 2009. Stay tuned.

Posted by: maxfli68 | November 21, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Many comments have been made about how many saw this disaster coming over a year ago or longer. However, even if they had gone to the WH door and demanded to be heard, it is very unlikely that our idiot president or his SoT would have even let them in, much less listened to them.

The cause of this collapse is multiple. The number of people who should be held accountable (and probably will not be) are many. None of this is going to be settled right now, and even if blame could instantly be assigned, it would not stop the rolling financial disaster.

Cohen is right. Our POTUS is just an empty suit, going through the motions more than ever before, pretending he has power and ability to make things happen. However, as long as he doesn't resign and allow Obama to immediately gain control, we will have to suffer thorough until Jan 20, '09.

And Mr. Cohen isn't the only person going broke. So am I. So are my friends. So are my children.

And like the rest of the country, I wait to see...(fill in the blanks)

Posted by: limpscomb | November 21, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I must have missed something,but my understanding when the congress voted for the bailout, one of the stipulations was they would only get the money in increments. 200 billion now 200,000 in six months and so on.

Now it seems that Paulson has all the money and no oversight.

This is typical of this administration. When there is a crises ask for the moon immediately, and then "settle" for getting only 75% of what is wanted. (which it was probably aiming for in the first place)

Posted by: rlritt | November 21, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

this is obama's mess to clean up...
this is obama's time to shine...
the only problem is, obama is awol...
he could calm the markets by assuring employers and investors...
but he chooses not to...
argentina nationalized pension funds...
imagine obama nationalizing your pension fund...
would you still go to bat for him?...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 21, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama just named Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary so you can stuff that false equivalency bullsh|t.

Posted by: ottoparts | November 21, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Cohen they just did.

Tim Geithner, the head of the New York Federal Reserve has been selected as the Treasury Secretary. Paulson is Out!

What's surprising about this news is that the market rallied on this news.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | November 21, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Within hours of this column, Obama picked Geithner, and the markets rallied 500 points on the news.

I dunno about anybody else in Washington, but it sure looks like Obama is doing his job.

Posted by: Gladiator2008 | November 21, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please stop! Don't start blaming Obama for this financial crisis before he's even taken office. Put the blame--and heavily--where it belongs: on Reagan, Bush, Cheney and the Republican philosophy of "no regulation" and "government is the problem."

Posted by: bb211 | November 21, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I just love watching Obama disappoint losers like DwightCollins here. Time to move on to the next impossible challenge for Obama to stuff in your face. What'll it take to convince blowhards like you?

Posted by: abqcleve | November 21, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The stock market acts/reacts in inverse proportion to what's good for consumers. The FedReserve drops interest rates and the Dow Jones Index drops. Unemployment goes up to the highest level since 9/11 and the Dow Jones soars (until 53,000 lay-offs are announced by Citigroup, one of its own). Then Congress turns its back on the Big 3 auto-makers, imposing "preconditions" for successful business plans that weren't attached as strings to the banks' bail-out funds; the Dow Jones Index drops below 8,000. Could the market not realize that broke companies mean more than frustrated whitecollar workers? Or is it just frightened beyond rationality?

Posted by: boesc | November 21, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

abeisavol2 wrote:

Its people like sandiegowryter and MNUSA who are pulling this country down with negativism and booing from the unruly mob.
-------------

I have watched my country be driven into the ground for eight years. A bit of introspection on the part of the press into its own role as enabler of Mr. Bush is in order at this time. In fact, it is long overdue.

I have every right to be angry. Some of us saw this coming. Our jaws dropped in disbelief when we were urged to spend our way out of the aftermath of 9/11 instead of using our national will to seek alternative energy sources to decrease our economic dependence on those who killed 3000 of our fellow Americans. We protested when we saw our sons and daughters heading off to a false war. We wondered where the regulators were when we received up to six scam mortgage offers in the mail -- each day. We bought Priuses instead of Excursions. We demanded to know how Cheney designed our energy regulations and were told that we needed a new way to read the constitution to understand his role.

And two weeks after the election, we do not think that begging Barack Obama to provide us leadership by naming his economic team is thoughtful, sincere commentary. Mr. Cohen needs to attend to his own role in this disaster.

I look forward to the inauguration in January. But until that day, our constitution says that Mr. Bush is still president. Some of us still have respect for that document. I for one am glad to see that Mr. Obama is willing to abide by it. That, to me, is more reassuring than anything he has done so far.

Posted by: sandiegowryter | November 21, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

What happened yesterday, today and until Jan 20th is 100% on chimpie's tiny, weak little shoulders.

Chimpie owns this deal; economic meltdown, his war in Iraq, $4 gas...it's all his and will be until Jan 20th, 2009.

Obama couldn't do anything to help if he wanted to.

Posted by: Heerman532 | November 21, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse


oy vey.

I guess slang in English isn't to be used in major newspapers.
But Israeli, Yiddish or whatever slang is just splendid? Rules don't apply.

At least Cohen didn't get the all Jewish
cabinet he recommended--so tellingly.

Posted by: whistling | November 21, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Sitting back and doing nothing while the economy went into the tank did well to win votes against the incumbent party. It is not going to do the trick to run the government. Bush is a sitting duck. His presidency is over. Obama is not in office yet but he is the leader of his party. He is allowing Pelosi and Reid run amuck and screw everything up. A sign of what to expect from the new administration? There is no leadership period, not in government, not in the corporate world. What we have is a bunch of know-it-alls who think they are smarter than everyone else but in fact are not. One cannot rest their laurels of where the certificate was printed. It is what you do with your education that counts. And we have too many that have done little with it.

Posted by: Verrazzano | November 21, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

If I recall the last election, there was a democrat majority. Yet they act partisan with Conservatives, GOP , and Liberatarians. Say it ain't so , but it is. If they'd actually confront Paulson about why he went outside of TARP's purpose to buy equity, then they'd be able to conduct a proper Committee Cruficixion of the treasury secretary. Instead , Democrats and prematurely the GOP decide to ignore grease monkeys but give wallstreet a considerable amount of cash with NO PLAN. THeres ' certainly lack of oversite and lack of detailed fund appropriations. Hiring Michael Alix?? Thats idiocy to resign over.
I started my point that Democrats are acting like GOP and McCain and Bush opted to take no economic option.Democrats berate executives over taking private jets but act all prim and proper when interviewing Bank and securities agents. Thats classism even if the CEO has the same salary. I wouldn't surprised if some in Congress scoff at the GM execs for even having a jet while they conduct phone interviews onto three seperate yachts of the same stock broker. Classism.
Now Congress wants to do nothing in concert with Bush. I do lend some blame to the press. Its not that the bailout will or won't work... its whether the SEc. TReasury actually intends to remain in abandone of the funds purpose.
THeres a unilateral message here that is very obvious from administration thru Congress RE: detroit auto market...... with lack of action the Government has more and more trust lost in it as to confirm that all expenditures conform to the propaghanda of pork projects. This government can do the right things so long as the free market and Private sector are also doing the right things. With politics, society, and finance culture.. America is trapped in this ridiculous saying " the lesser of two evils". The public citizens have had already too much patience. This current governments one signifigant failure is removing the up-tick regulation so when shortselling and risky security mortgages go rancid the rest of the country doesn't suffer. The Bush administration and McCain likewise , has proven its solid intent to remove trust in the federal government even if troops are forced to sacrifice their blood in a trumped up Iraq war. In the next month , President Bush is due understanding his brightest day will be sipping popularity numbers from a mudpuddle.

Posted by: lucy-fir | November 21, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Bush should resign and allow Obama to take over now. At the very least some sort of power-sharing agreement should be put in place. IN 2 mos. the game could already over. This would basically be the opposite of what Mike and Rudy agreed to in 2001. I think Bush could add to his historical reputation immensely by doing this.

Posted by: mtnlion44 | November 21, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Let us completely ignore that fact the Democratic party controlled Congress and the Senate for the past two years. Who sent the legislation for TARP through? If all the Democrats in Washington didn't see this coming why is it Pres. Bush's fault? Wasn't the President-elect a Senator? Why was he asleep at the switch? Why isn't blame laid on Ms Pelosi and Mr. Reid?
A small comfort of the next few years will be the explosion of heads by liberal hacks like Cohen when they have to actually do some work and criticize Pres. Obama.

Posted by: Barnacle-Bill | November 21, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

As if the stock market were something to be fixed by a president with a magic wand. Yessiree, his leadership will just lead those traders over the top and we'll be back in ten thousand territory in no time. Forget it. Not going to happen. The market is pricing the coming depression.

Your stock portfolio is hurting is it? You might want to think about the folks who are out of jobs, or on the street looking for housing. You can expect your portfolio to languish for a good long time, no matter what the President of the United States does.

Posted by: fzdybel | November 22, 2008 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Relax, already....a name has been floated, and on the strength of it alone, the market is UP!

There's tough sledding ahead...every republican is plotting how to vote against a massive road/bridge/highway/electricity grid as we speak... They don't admit this happened on their watch, so they sure won't admit there is a solution to a problem that happened on their watch.

As we speak you KNOW lobbiests for Big Oil are doing all they can to tamp out the moves toward energy independence.

Bush extended unemployment, that gives us 13 weeks to put together companies that make the conversion kits to natural gas for our cars, strengthen the electricity grid so we can do more wind conversion, retool factories silent today with machinery and employees to make the huge turbines for wind farms, solar panels, and pop in thermal windows that collect solar and retain it inside. Every public building and all new housing can be converted to geothermal heat.

We can take some of the 700 billion we send to the far east every year for gasoline for our gas guzzeling cars and spend it on retooling...jobs, roads, electricity grid, green factories.

YES WE CAN!

Posted by: dutchess2 | November 22, 2008 6:43 AM | Report abuse

The 'O' has heard your prayer, unworthy one. He has sent his apostle, Geithner, to calm the troubled markets and rescue your 401k from the pulchritude and corruption of the Republican party.
Blessed is the 'O', whose simple word created over a trillion dollars in the US economy, profitable be his name.

Posted by: dijetlo | November 22, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

bill, we will ignore the fact that Congress hzs been run by the Dems for two years.Actually, they haven't due to the obstinancy of repubs who use the 60-vote rules to keep things from getting passed in the Senate. Yes, Pelosi and Reid should have brought more bills to the floor and let the country see the repub obstructionism full bore. But we'll see what happens in Jan.

Posted by: mikel7 | November 22, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

So,let's get honest here,shall we now?...
How the Hell can anyone in their right mind
trust a totally corrupt phony like Messiah
Barack "The Wealth Spreader" Hussein Obama
after Bail Out Barry took over $100.000 in
Campaign Money from Frannie Mae and Freddie
Mac and named two of their top executives
to his Campaign Committee,and now is naming
every crook,has been Democrat on earth to
his Cabinet,like drunkard and sexual harasser,screw up Bill Richardson as Obama's Sec of Commerce,Obama's Campaign
Manager Sleazy David Axelrod to be a White
House Special Counsel,Chicago Thug Rahm
Emmanuel Chief of Staff,Do Nothing Janet
Napolitano as Sec of Homeland Security and
Hillary Clinton as Sec of State now then?

And how can anyone still trust Mad Madame
Speaker Nutty Nancy Pelosi who owns over
$36 Million Dollars Worth of AIG Stock,
Slimey Steny Hoyer,Barney Frank and Chris
Dodd another over $100,000 Frannie Mae and
Freddie Mac Campaign Money Recipient,and
John the Purple Heart Kid Kerry as well.
These sleazy Do Nothing Democrats need to
be replaced not re-elected so wake the Hell
up here people will you and throw them out!

Posted by: sherrykay2008 | November 24, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Whoa there all you oblivious partisans....both left/right, Dem/Repub, up/down. This whole mess is a result of THE AMERICAN way of doing things, and THE AMERICAN desire for more,more, MORE! With the exception of the destitute and the spiritually advanced, we've all had a hand in this fiasco. We have let our fear, greed, indolence, and lack of concern for the planet dictate our lives. we have listened to the Economists....humans without souls....and made them the High Priests of our so-called Western Civilization. With absolutely zero realization that everything works in cycles, we have been hallucinating that we can continue to grow, grow, GROW in one direction only....never taking the time to see that this is what a cancer does, or what an exploding baloon looks like. This is yet anothert warning call to the human race to finally mature and start to organize the world on rational, natural, and compassionate principles before another species does it for us.

Posted by: freundbd | November 24, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

This nation has been without effective leadership for eight years now. The mere fact that we had an election just a few short weeks ago is not a reason to now be pessimistic about the chances for recovery. A slow and deliberate response is exactly what is now needed so that real long-term solutions are put in place. Our Founding Fathers knew that there would be some instability in the period between transitions in our government. That, however, was a part of their innnovative thinking. This nation and the financial crisis that was created over years of failure to enforce regulatory authority can be fixed and it will be in 2009 when the new team has the authority as well as the responsibility for action. The American people understand that the solutions will not be immediate and it is time for the media to also recognize this reality.

Posted by: lavinsr | November 24, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It was my impression that Obama picked Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary? The stock market rallied 500 pnts on the news.

In any event, he's NOT the president yet. There is a limit to what he can do.

Posted by: rlritt | November 24, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

So for once Cohen is only partially right
since it's true George W Bush,Draft Dodger
Cheney and the Oil Patch Bunch were not only Out To Lunch but AWOL for 8 years.

However not to worry Liar Elect & Loser in
Chief Messiah Barack "the wealth spreader"
Hussein Obama,Big Mouth Joe Biden,all of
Obama's Clinton Has Been Cabinet,plus Mad
Madame Speaker Nutty Nancy Pelosi,Steny
the Cockroach Hoyer,Hopeless Harry Reid,
Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are far too
busy collecting all their own greedy big
corporation campaign money then to be around to deal with the failed economy and
Our Two Bloody Costly Wars in Iraq and in
Afghanistan since Obama has to find a new
puppy,hold a press conference about it,
go to the gym daily,shooting loops,reading
his magic teleprompter,playing endless
George W Bush Phony Photo Ops and Lying even more then Bush & Company..Your doing
a heck of a job here Baracky Whacky! Vote
the Socialist Democrats out in 2010 and
Impeach Obama before 2012. Dump Pelosi and
Reid and Big Mouth Biden! Fire all the
Clinton Retreads here and now!

Posted by: sherrykay08 | November 24, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Oy vey Obama? Despite all the hearings which determined that the problem is caused by
1)predatory subprime lenders
2)opaque CDS markets
3)predatory short sellers
4)greedy wall street traders
5)falling house prices
6)etc, etc, etc

No one really knows what caused the problem and hence Paulson is trying ready, shoot, aim which is most likely what Obama/Geithner team will do as well.
Essentially the herd is stampeding and we are trying to save the town. Irrationality reigns.

Posted by: bruce18 | November 25, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Relax, everyone. The market is simply going through a self correction. It really does take care of itself. Anyone who stayed in at 10 is getting what they deserve.

And stop complaining about Bush being asleep at the wheel at present. Is there anyone out there that wants him to get involved? Of course not. Let Mr. Free Market go back to his Texas ranch and clear some weeds, while Obama goes to K street and does the same.

Please President lame duck, neither lead or follow, just get the hell out of the way. Your legacy is clearly sealed.

Obama hasn't done anything? Geithner was a clear favorite and a slam dunk with Wall Street, but getting Summers on board was a stoke of genius. They have a ton of experience working together (as far back as the Asian money crisis) and will make a formidable team once again.

For the record, Clinton didn't even start naming cabinet posts until late November. Obama is clearly ahead of the game, and has built an enviable team of experienced advisors.

And for gawd sakes, will the press please stop calling every friggin' thing a CRISIS !! Show a little confidence everybody.

Posted by: kimba1 | November 25, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

So, looks like Cohen missed the fact that
the USA has had a long series of "Out To
Lunch" Pathetic Presidents starting with
George H W Bush 41,Bill Clinton,George W Bush 43 and now we get the latest OTL one
Presidential Trainee Elect Barack Obama.

Posted by: Ralphinphnx | November 26, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

True--to a degree. Bush is content to do nothing for various reasons. But it seems utterly ridiculous, not to mention grossly unfair, to criticize Obama for not seizing power before January 20, which is essentially what Mr. Cohen suggests. Does anyone see such a thing as realistic? Is it even legal? And wouldn't the Republicans have a field day with it -- Obama the socialist so eager for power that he just up and steals it early?! If Cohen wants Obama to be effective after January 20 he certainly can't give the just-thrashed Republicans a rallying cry and a new aura of moral legitimacy. If Cohen is going broke, let him criticize those at fault rather than the man who has no legal or constitutional authority to even begin trying to reverse that trend.

Posted by: bushbad1 | November 26, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

True enough, Bushbad1. BO cannot seize power, but he has shown extraordinary leadership despite his technically unemployed status (he has offically given up his seat).

Three days straight of press announcements, masterful. He takes questions from the press, and answers them in plain english. No skirting the issues. If he refuses to take on the issue, he tells you. A huge change from the Bush treatment of the press, not to mention Cheney.

Look at Wall Street's reactions the last three days. They have shown a little more confidence, now if the banks will loosen up and make some bailout money available for loans, we will be on our way.

If I were Bush, I would give Obama a West Wing transitional office, and ultimate use of the Roosevelt, or mural room as a transitional office. What the heck, maybe even the use of the Lincoln bedroom if he wanted.

Why not? Bush needs to leave office on a high note, and this could be it. It would symbolize the start of a new vision in Washington, a movement away from the party politics that has dominated Washington, and so polarized the country.

Or, am I a naive, bleeding heart Liberal?
Please don't answer that....

Posted by: kimba1 | November 26, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

So, did President Elect Trainee Barack
Hussein Obama clear setting up this fancy
New "Office of the President Elect" that
even comes with an Official "Office of the
President Elect" Podium,with Mad Madame
Speaker Nancy Pelosi first or not?

Posted by: Ralphinphnx | November 27, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

The concept of a dead-duck government is irrational. Why does America stick with it?

A newly elected president should replace the outgoing president shortly after the election result is confirmed.

A short transition period of a week can only be implemented by a change in the constitution and the introduction of a voting system that is uniform across the country instead of the current one which changes from state to state.

In my humble opinion, the Parliamentary systems are superior to the US Presidential system because power is shared by a team rather than vested in one person.

Those teams make changes to the team as time goes by and conditions and performances show that new blood is required. For instance, a new Prime Minister and a new treasurer can be appointed if their performance is not good enough.

The reality is that the American system elects an Emperor of the United States. The People and the Congress are unable to change the president if he/she proves to be unsatisfactory. That is undesireable.

I suggest that you at least contemplate those changes to the Constitution that would improve the operation of government.

Posted by: robertjames1 | November 28, 2008 2:38 AM | Report abuse

It's too bad the the government in the name of Democrats has done TOO much already.

1) The Democrats for years pressured institutions into lending money to those that could not pay it back. Years ago I had to rent before my income rose to the level where I could afford no more than 1/4 of my income toward the payment and a down payment. The Democrats railed on this practice for years and called it Red Lining for institutions to not lend to the poor. The Democrats were in charge of FNMA and encouraged, backed and defended these tenuous loans with America's money. In other words they turned FNMA into a welfare program with bad economic practices.

2)The Democrat party leadership for years has continued cutting off our domestic energy altogether...NO new refineries, NO drilling on the East Coast, West Coast, ANWR, the Gulf, NO clean burning coal and NO nuclear energy which could provide a plethora of jobs but instead has made us vulnerable, and continues to drive up the cost of everything and can be laid at the feet of the Democrats the home of the, not environmentalists but the wacko environmentalists. Yes even what was permitted was bound in litigation.
This energy crises caused businesses to downsize, people to put off buying and businesses to contract further with layoffs. And the rising prices from energy caused those with the tenuous loans to default and CREDIT COLLAPSE and the downward spiral started a negative feedback effect.

Yes big business with BAD business practices would fail by attrition before calamity if government got ought of the way. The Democrats helped greatly to created this huge problem and now the meddling government will try to solve the problems IT CREATED.
Yes, ignorant voters and a WORTHLESS media.

Posted by: ekim53 | November 28, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

What a whiner Cohen....grow some stones and use your unearned platform to demand the imprisoning of Bush/Cheney and all who've stolen our government for their personal enrichment. That was the plan well before 9/11 and will happen again as long as none are punished.

Paulson, "Milton the Monster," is worth 700 million bucks from his take from the Bush crime family. He shouldn't be free let alone running anything.

To you loser humps who are still attacking Obama, despite having your arses handed to you by the AMERICAN people....STFU!

Posted by: mot2win | November 28, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Leaders Out to Lunch

The Press Is Out to Lunch
Yes the media pimps trashed all journalistic standards and campaign finance reform and became Obama Pimps.
Here's what an ethical journalist Michael Malone said about the media pimps:

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.
The media have covered this presidential campaign with a bias and that ultimately could lead to its downfall.
The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.
But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer," because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.
You need to understand how painful this is for me. I am one of those people who truly bleeds ink when I'm cut. I am a fourth-generation newspaperman. As family history tells it, my great-grandfather was a newspaper editor in Abilene, Kan., during the last of the cowboy days, then moved to Oregon to help start the Oregon Journal (now the Oregonian).

Media Pimps + ignorant electorate = Empty Suit

Posted by: ekim53 | November 28, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

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