Meet the Incredible Shrinking President

Mar 23, 09 | 8:33 AM   byMichael Wolff
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The president, having failed to seize the moment and offer a plausible solution to the economic crisis, has become part of the problem.

How do we restore confidence when what we’ve learned is that nobody has any credible basis on which to say he or she can be trusted to figure this thing out? Not Congress, not Wall Street, not the new White House—so far only marginally less clueless than the old White House.

The Congress that is now intent upon imposing regulation on executive compensation is, at least in substantial measure, the same Congress that failed to regulate before.

The guys on Wall Street, who miraculously still have their jobs, and who we are going to have to believe can do their jobs before we get confidence back, have become strange, furtive, grotesque figures—concerned only about holding onto their jobs, which surely they’re all about to lose.

The save-the-banks plan announced by the White House this morning has all the earmarks of the save-the-banks plans that have already failed.

(AP Image)

There’s no voice anywhere that clearly distinguishes itself from the others. Rather, there continues to be the sense of all these failures, these discredited people and institutions, huddled together. Nobody wants to get too far afield from everybody else, except if the press gets too bad. Then, everybody’s pointing fingers at everybody else.

The president’s brilliant opportunity was to be utterly new and apart and therefore in a position to say the unexpected and the original and offer a counter logic and counter proposal. But he got scared, or suckered, or came face-to-face with the fact that he, too, has no idea which end is up. Compounding the problem, he then went and hired the same old people who caused the problem.

The morons in Washington, along with the big swinging dicks on Wall Street, have consistently demonstrated how in-over-their-heads they are. It’s the rank distrust of everybody involved that has most of all undermined basic confidence. The Obama people, in quite an amazingly short time, have made themselves indistinguishable from everybody involved. The president has missed the point: Nothing happens if confidence isn’t restored (confidence is the belief that confidence will be restored) and confidence can only be restored by confidence. That was the president’s job. To give us some backbone, boldness, brashness, some certainty, courage, and daring—instead of becoming part of this peculiarly Washington-type effort to express confidence in the people and notions and systems in which everybody has lost confidence.

The president is sinking into this swamp. Disappearing before our eyes.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at

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