Former Times columnist Frank Rich makes his debut in New York magazine today with a harsh assessment of President Obama's handling of the aftermath of the economic meltdown. Obama has been way too soft on Wall Street, argues Rich, who complains of a "stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought America to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression." Worse, this timid approach is impeding Obama's own recovery plan and ability to create jobs. "One is a consequence of the other," writes Rich. "His failure to push back against the financial sector, sparing it any responsibility for the economy it tanked, empowered it to roll over his agenda with its own."
What to do? For starters, Obama has to sever ties with the "Ivy League liberals" running his financial policy. Indeed, "for all the lurid fantasies of the birthers, the dirty secret of Obama’s background is that the values of Harvard, not of Kenya or Indonesia or Bill Ayers, have most colored his governing style," writes Rich. "He falls hard for the best and the brightest white guys." It's essential that Obama finally disassociate himself with the Establishment and fight the fight he was elected to take on three years ago. "The alternative is a failure of historic proportions," writes Rich. "Those who gamed the economy to near devastation—so much so that the nation turned to an untried young leader in desperation and in hope—would once again inherit the Earth."