Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wall Street Bails on Obama

This is probably going to sound like a familiar story. Recall my post of a few months ago. Link here.

Once upon a time Wall Street's Masters of the Universe adored Barack Obama. They funded his campaign and lent him their credibility by announcing their public support. Some of them even went down to Washington to celebrate his inauguration.

They imagined that it was history in the making. That it surely was. Unfortunately, the history they expected was not the history they got.

Now, the bloom is off the rose, and Wall Street is lining up to attack Obama and is sending its campaign contributions into Republican coffers.

None of this is news. Even the fact that hedge fund honchos Daniel Loeb and Steven Cohen are working for the Republicans should not be all that newsworthy.

To me, the important question is: How did Wall Street's titans get duped by Obama in the first place? What were they thinking, what were they drinking, what addled their minds to the point where they believed that Barack Obama was qualified to be president?

Today, the inimitable Andrew Ross Sorkin reports that savvy observers think that it was all about of EGO. Link here.

In Sorkin's words: "Mr. Obama was viewed as a member of the elite, an Ivy League graduate..., president of the Harvard Law Review-- he was supposed to be just like them. President Obama was the 'intelligent' choice, the same way they felt about themselves. They say that they knew he would seek higher taxes and tighter regulation; that was OK. What they say they did not realize was that they were going to be painted as villains."

Take a few moments to unpack the minds of these Wall Street titans. Are they bankers or philosopher-kings? Whatever made them think that "intelligent," coupled with Ivy League credentials was a qualification to be President of the United States?

One would understand perfectly if Lloyd Blankfein, also a Harvard Law graduate, would want to hire a bright young Harvard Law grad as a junior associate at Goldman Sachs. But would he ever imagine hiring that person, based on those credentials, as his successor as Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs?

What were they thinking?  Were they thinking at all? Sorkin's explanation does not inspire confidence in Wall Street. If anything it suggests that these bankers deserved to see their reputations pulled down a few notches.

Justice works in strange ways.

Sorkin seems to suggest that these great bankers were not really thinking like bankers and corporate executives. They mistook themselves for philosopher-kings. And they didn't even know it.

In the land of philosopher-kings intelligence matters more than experience. Those who rule are those who see Ideas most clearly. And every good Platonist knows that too much hands-on experience can dull your vision of the great Ideas.

This is bad enough. But whatever made these Wall Street bankers believe that they were competent to judge Obama's command of ideas?

Had they exercised a minimum of judgment they would  have started by asking themselves whether he was qualified to be a corporate CEO.

Let's see: community organizer; state legislator; adjunct law school lecturer; sometime senator... does it add up to CEO? 

They could and should have known better than to trust credentials when the credentialing process has long since become corrupted by identity politics.

Of course, they could have heeded the warnings that were all over the media, especially those that implored them to look at the company Obama had kept.

When hiring for their own firms these bankers will surely downgrade a candidate who has poor table manners. They would want to know with whom the candidate associates? Who are his friends? Who does he hang around with?

When it came to Obama, they were so thoroughly smitten by the Idea of Obama that they put their heads in the sands. A quick glance at his pastor, his friends and his associates would have told them, unambiguously, that he was a man of the radical left.

Not only was he not one of them, but he was married to an ideology that defined them as the enemy.

Why did they ignore the evidence? Why did they turn a blind eye to the facts? Simply, because they wanted to count among the New York intellectual elite. They wanted to present themselves, not as great bankers, but as great thinkers.

In the end they were neither, and America is the poorer for it.


1 comment:

sss said...

Of course America is poorer for having to bail out Wall Street. And STILL Bankers are not satisfied????

What the hell MORE do they want from us - our blood?