Dave Lefevre's Reviews > Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

Confidence Men by Ron Suskind
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Sep 26, 11

bookshelves: political
Read from September 21 to 26, 2011

Everything that has been said about this book in the media has been a red herring. Outlets like CNN have chosen to focus the book's sub-narrative about problems female members of the administration faced or that the book shows Obama as "weak." The problems women had in the first two years of the administration are important, but when compared to the overall story of the massive banking crisis Obama faced it's a secondary story that was meant to provide insight into how the Obama Whitehouse took on characteristics of male dominated brokerage houses in New York. Furthermore, Obama's weakness as President in his early days only describes half the story of the book.

The real antagonists in this story are the overcompensated and arrogant robber-barrons of Wall Street. The 2008 crisis was directly attributable to their actions through the previous years. Obama's most important mistake was made right as he was made president-elect. As per the normal "revolving door" structure of regulation in Washington, Obama made some of the Wall Street insiders and some of the Clinton regulators that eased the rules would of curbed the crisis his most important advisors. Because of this the Obama Whitehouse was often wrapped up in furious internal debates that never seemed to resolve. Some advisers even "slow walked" some Obama decisions that would have been inconvenient for their former professions.

In the end the book makes it clear that while Obama learned from the experiences of his first two years in office (his "education"), Wall Street learned nothing. They made free money off of the TARP program and then sent lobbyists to try to kill every reform that was proposed. The behavor that led to the 2008 collapse continues almost unabated. The book paints the stark picture of a financial industry that doesn't invest in the U.S., that while constantly championing the "free market" when it was convenient has managed to socialize every major loss, and who continues to run amok in Washington by way of lobbyists.

But you won't hear this on the TV news. Any sentiments that makes major corporations look bad no longer make the cut. Television reporters have become corporate cheerleaders first, television personalities second, and journalism has become a distant third. Because of this there continues to become no fail national dialog on fair regulations. CNN parrots John Boehner's call for "less regulation" daily without critically looking into the claims while smart people of all political beliefs have come to the conclusion that the easing of regulations during the Clinton era helped cause the Great Recession of 2008. No voices critical of corporate power make it onto television, and that's where the masses get the "unbiased" information today. Television's reaction to this book makes that reality even more apparent.
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Reading Progress

35.0% "This book makes Wall Street mentality look a lot worse than Obama. Other commentators might be stuck in CEO Worship mode. Wall Street caused the 2008 collapse and they are the ones who want to not be hindered by any regulations at all."
55.0% "Obama immediately went in the opposite direction from his campaign promises... at least in terms of Wall Street."
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message 1: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Gargiulo I have to say I like this review and im glad someone finally mentions the Clinton era deregulation of Wall Street. Although Bush did little to prevent it he was not the actually cause of the "melt down" of 2008. I enjoyed this review. keep them coming.

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