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

Confidence Men by Ron Suskind
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Mar 26, 12

Read in March, 2012

Having read a couple of "financial crisis" books from the Wall Street side, I decided to try one from the political side. Suskind is a former WSJ reporter - which suggests a bit of a bias toward the conservative side. The book is a summary of Barack Obama's first two years in office, with an appropriate emphasis on his handling of the financial crisis and the passage of health care legislation. My takeaways (appropriately shaped by my own biases) are: 1. Obama would have been somewhat better off if he had gone with Paul Volcker and company for his Treasury/ economic advisors rather than Larry Summers/Tim Geithner. Summers in particular comes offf as a manipulative jerk. 2.Some of Obama's staff/Cabinet thought they knew more than he did and they either ignored or slow-walked his instructions. For this they should have been fired. He's the guy in charge. 3. Given the mess in Congress it is likely that none of this made any significant difference. 4. The health care legislation suffered from poor conceptualization and and lots of compromise, and we ended up with a mostly Republican plan that absolutely no Republican will take any credit for now, even though a comprehensive health care program that covers everyone has been the goal of pretty much every President of either party since Teddy Roosevelt. 5.Obama figured most of this out by the 2-year point and is now doing better. The writing is pretty good, although the chronology is as scattered as the events were and the story can therefore be somewhat hard to follow.
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