Blogs > HNN > The election of 2009

Mar 23, 2009 1:27 pm

The election of 2009

In 2008 the American people voted. In the coming weeks Wall Street will be voting.

Whether Obama wins this second election is anybody's guess. If he loses I shudder to think what might happen.

If the bank bailout plan v. 2.0 goes over well with the Wall Street voters Obama will be able to take a brief bow before moving on to other matters of great importance. If it doesn't? He will be consumed by economic issues for the rest of his presidency, achieving little.

A "no" vote by Wall Street will be worse than the Bay of Pigs. It will be another Cuban Missile Crisis. Only this time the president will have made wrong choices, with disastrous consequences. Instead of a mushroom cloud there will be millions unemployed walking the street with dazed looks on their faces, wondering what the hell happened to them.

Say scenario 2 occurs. How might Obama recover? That's not clear. He would of course have to fire Geithner. That would in itself be a disaster coming so soon after he had appointed Geithner. But getting rid of the treasury secretary wouldn't staunch the bleeding. It would lead to disillusionment, fear, and chaos. Supporters would wonder if Obama knows what he's doing. His political enemies would belittle him and denounce him. In place of those photoshopped Lincoln-Obama images there would be Carter-Obama ones.

To whom would the country turn for leadership? Demagogues. It wouldn't be pretty.

This morning's stock market numbers are an encouraging sign that Geithner may finally have gotten something right. Let's hope so. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

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Rick Shenkman - 3/25/2009

This happens to be one of those rare cases where a president won't be able to spin himself out of trouble. Either investors buy the plan and buy up the loans or they don't.

This is an either or situation.

Judging by the initial response it appears they are ready to buy.

That's good.

Now let's see if they follow through.

A subsequent test is whether the bank plan actually works in restoring a functioning credit system.

But that's far down the road--say by the fall.

Most of the time presidents aren't faced with such clear-cut verdicts. But this time is different.

There's very little wiggle room.

Jonathan Dresner - 3/23/2009

Just a song lyric, of course.

But I'm a little surprised by the life or death tone: economic policy is an ongoing thing, and it seems like most people are pretty clear on the idea that the base problem isn't Obama's fault and it's early in his term, so if it takes a little tinkering to get things moving again, no harm done.

How is this Wall Street referendum to be measured, anyway? By the nattering of chattering classes, most of whom were wrong about this stuff for years? By the perambulations of the DJIA, which claimed that we were rich six months ago and is mostly moved by short-game gamblers? By consumer confidence surveys, though those are long-term indices not good at short-term measurements? By Republican assent? (Don't make me laugh, please....)

What's the standard we're to judge this by, in the absence of the patience to give the policy some time to succeed or fail on its merits?