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

Confidence Men by Ron Suskind
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Jun 27, 12

bookshelves: business, economics, finance, government, politics
Read from November 17, 2011 to June 27, 2012 — I own a copy

Having finished another book that provided a good overview of the financial crisis of 2008, I wanted to look at this era from the political side. Confidence Men uses the campaign and first two years of Barack Obama's presidency as this vehicle. The interaction of Wall Street and Washington is interesting, though, to get the most of this tale, I think you need understanding of the financial and governmental issues that drove the crisis. Confidence Men comes to similar summaries of the causes, but a book like The End of Wall Street really helps to illuminate the arcane financial instruments and associated regulations much better than does this book.

The greatest achievement of this book was the story of just how incompetent the Obama White House was during it's first two years in office. While it is easy to look at the major legislative landmarks of this administration - health care reform and financial reform - and cringe at the governmental overreach into our freedoms and economic liberties, the behind-the-scenes story told by Suskind makes you realize that we should be thankful that, as Obama and many of his advisors wanted, it could have been far worse. Tim Geithner is virtually a hero for standing in the way of socialistic measures such as nationalizing banks, a move that greatly appealed to Obama. A key reason this and other "failures" from the perspective of the left occurred was, as demonstrated aptly by Suskind across the first two years of the administration, was a complete and utter incompetence of leadership and management on the part of Barack Obama. This should not be surprising given his near total absence of executive leadership experience coming into the White House. Though the Democrats had a lock on both houses of Congress and the White House for well over a year, the left failed to capitalize on this, largely because of a blessedly dysfunctional White House where, as noted by one senior staff member, "no one was home." Granted, many rivalries and ambitious staffers played roles in these short-comings, a failure of management allowed these obstacles to be significant stumbling blocks.

Overall an interesting read about the linkages between Washington and New York during a pivotal era for our nation that also highlights, from an author that cannot be considered a "conservative writer," the numerous failings of President Barack Obama that most of us with our eyes and ears open have intuitively known to be the case.
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Reading Progress

11/18/2011 page 4
1.0%
02/03/2012 page 13
2.0% "In the first chapter, the books begins to paint a picture of an ineffective President in Barack Obama. One key point was how, after the February 2009 stimulus - a bad idea to start with - the administration did nothing about jobs for a year and a half. Remember this as the year goes on and Obama starts to engage in revisionist history on his jobs record."
02/23/2012 page 31
6.0% "Barack was just tipped about the coming financial crisis. No doubt, he was probably giddy at the destruction of the capitalist system."
04/18/2012 page 155
29.0% "LOVE this quote from the book: "For the first time in the transition, people started to wonder just how prepared the man at the helm [Obama] really was.". Well duh - he wasn't but pretty got so caught up in the American Idol campaign of 2008 they failed to vet Obama in reality. Now we're paying the price for that deification of candidate Obama."
04/23/2012 page 164
31.0% "LOVE this quote from the book: "For the first time in the transition, people started to wonder just how prepared the man at the helm [Obama] really was.". Well duh - he wasn't but pretty got so caught up in the American Idol campaign of 2008 they failed to vet Obama in reality. Now we're paying the price for that deification of candidate Obama."
06/01/2012 page 390
74.0% "As I read this, I realize that we may need to be thankful for some members of the Obama administration. Geithner, hardly a radical, comes to mind. One example I just read was how, rightly or wrongly form a process perspective, was how Larry Summers kept some of Obama's more radical agenda in check. Summers' "obstruction" coupled with Obama's lack of leadership ability, may well have saved us from climate chg leg."
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