|What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.|
If you read Andrew Sullivan enough, you can convince yourself that Obama is a Jedi mind warrior, minus the goat-staring, or perhaps a pre-cog/Oracle type: he sees five moves ahead and he knows the effects of his moves 6 months down the road. Don't get me wrong, I think Obama is a smart guy, but at some point you need to Obama's "patience" on an issue is better explained by "indifference."
I don't think it is too late for Obama to do something about our crappy financial system. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that it is something he does want to do something about, and I think it reasonable to argue that, if health care had been wrapped up by this point, he'd have taken it on by now. But both for the purposes of actually reforming the system, and for the sake of Democrats in 2010, Obama needs to pursuade Congress to make this the high profile issue of 2010 (and it pains me to prioritize it over climate change). From an electoral standpoint, it is a winning issue -- people are pissed at Wall Street, and rightfully so. This would help motivate the base and bring some independents back into the fold. As usual, the place where any legislation like this would die is the Senate, but my gut says that it'll be easier to call Senators bluffs on this than on health care -- nobody wants to be seen as defending Wall Street, whereas at least now you can position yourself as defending seniors or whatnot.