Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President Confidence Men discussion

Harper Collins & Murdoch

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message 1: by Linda (new)

Linda I'm specifically referring to the new Ron Suskind book about the Obama administration, "Confidence Men". The book has been published by Rupert Murdoch's Harper Collins division. Personally, I'm not going to place the book as a high priority on my "to read" list. I have read several reviews and the comments by David Axelrod in the LA Times. In my opinion publication of this book at this time is just another way, as is the case with FOX News, for Murdoch to have a powerful, frightening influence over political debate in this country. Yes, Suskind did win a Pulitzer some years ago for reporting on inner city students. Is he being used? Is this particular book really credible?

Mark Leonard Suskind has a great reputation. Having read some of his previous books like "The Price of Loyalty", "The One Percent Doctrine" and "The Way of the World", I seriously doubt if he is being used. His reporting in the past has been spot-on.

I am a liberal that worked for the Obama campaign, and have my loathing of Fox News. But the overall tone of this book of missed opportunities is something I share. I wouldn't pass up on this book because of Harper Collins.

message 3: by Les (new) - rated it 4 stars

Les Aucoin I agree with Mark. Suskind is an author of distinction who cannot afford to be used by anyone, and certain not Murdock. Supporters of Obama--of which I am one--or Democrats, generally, flirt with "No-nothingism" when, confronted with a dissonant narrative, they search for conspiratorial explanations.

I am a retired 9-term U.S. Congressman who stumped and spoke for Obama in battleground Ohio for the last month of the '08 campaign, and I have been deeply troubled, as I recently wrote in my blog, by my man's performance in office--the inexplicable chasm he created between the expectation of derring-do and the reality of diffidence.

The Suskind book lays bare the reasons why.

First, there were cold-eyed staff aides with ties to Wall Street (Geitner, Summers, Emmanuel), who had no patience with the idealism on which Obama rode into office and who committed what can only be called insubordination in thwarting the president's best populist instincts.

Secondly, there was the inexperience of the young man in the Oval Office, facing two wars abroad, the biggest economic collapse since the Depression (and Wall Street bankers who brought it on), the possibility of a utter breakdown of the global financial system, and health care reform. Insecure with the daunting challenges, not wanting to seem less than knowledgeable and self-certain to his top aides, the president mistakenly thinks "technocratic" approaches to the problems will work. Instead, he loses his voice, his "narrative," which are central to who he is.

This book is guilty of many sins--disorganization, denseness in walking the reader through the near criminal esoterica of dangerous Wall Street securities, and confusing references to individuals--but nailing the black hats by name and explaining how Obama missed historic opportunities is not among them. Instead, the latter virtues make this book "must reading," not only for Democrats and Obama sympathizers, but for students of the presidency.

Axelrod has one duty: to promote Obama. Suskind's duty is different: to chronicle history.

Wendy Wow! Cogent and spot-on! Thanks for validating my understanding and distinguishing my feeling. I wasn't sure the two solid days I poured myself into the book were worth it, until now. It didn't help me vote. It did help me identify more things I was willing to agree with Obama on---one of which was that a technocrat would be better being a cabinet head than a president, ideally. Being that it 'is what it is' I'm glad to see he's made improvements in 2013 with the new congress.

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