Democrats should be less worried less about Sarah Palin’s mangling of American history and more concerned about the Obama administration’s consistent underestimation of the recession since the financial collapse.
The president and his team has been downplaying the seriousness of the jobs and housing crises since they took office, repeatedly taking inadequate steps to address the twin fiascoes of foreclosure and unemployment, while wrongly conceding to Republicans that the political focus should be the short-term deficit.
This is not only bad for the country but bad politics for the Democrats, increasing the chances that voters will blame them for not fighting harder for programs to create jobs and straighten out the housing mess. Never mind that Republican efforts to address these issues amount to less than zero.
Nobody expects the president and his party to win every fight. But we do expect him not to wave the white flag before the fight starts.
Circumstances still offer the president opportunities to show that he finally gets it – and to signal a more aggressive approach.
First, the president can launch a fight for Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Warren is popular, articulate and sensible, and the agency was her idea in the first place. Of course the Republicans hate her, in fact they don’t want a single head of the agency. Republicans favor a committee to run the agency, the more easily for the banks to bamboozle it.
Second, he can replace his outgoing economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee with somebody more tuned in to the jobs and housing crises. How bad was Goolsbee (and the administration’s economic policies he defended)?
Here’s how economist Firedoglake blogger Scarecrow put it after listening to Goolsbee Sunday, saying it was up to the private sector to create jobs now because government could do nothing: “If I’d been asleep for the last decade and woke up to ABC This Week’s interview of Presidential economic advisor Austan Goolsbee, I would assume that Mitt Romney won the 2008 election, that he was predictably following Republican dogma about how to recover from a severe financial collapse and recession…” Scarecrow wrote.
With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?
Third, Obama can fire his Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, who has shamelessly pandered to his banker cronies while ignoring Main Street’s woes since he helped engineer the bailout as head of the New York Fed prior to the Obama administration.
Of course it will take more than gestures and a few appointments for the president to tackle the continuing severe economic challenges we face. But he can still saddle up and take a brave ride on the right side of history, if he chooses.