Last week we noted the concern expressed by two supporters of President Obama, Jim Cramer and Stewart Taylor, about the President's recent statements and actions (see "Buyer's Remorse" and ""More Buyer's Remorse"). This week brings more notes of concern from Obama supporters. On Monday on CNBC, Warren Buffett made a point similar to the one Taylor and Cramer made: in an economic emergency, the president's primary focus ought to be dealing with that emergency, not trying to enact other policy priorities. To underline the point, Taylor used the metaphor of a burning house: you put the fire out first; you don't water the lawn. Buffett used the analogy of World War II, saying that we have been hit with an "economic Pearl Harbor". From the transcript of his CNBC appearance Monday:
[I]f you're in a war, and we really are on an economic war, there's a obligation to the majority to behave in ways that don't go around inflaming the minority. If on December 8th when--maybe it's December 7th, when Roosevelt convened Congress to have a vote on the war, he didn't say, `I'm throwing in about 10 of my pet projects,' and you didn't have congress people putting on 8,000 earmarks onto the declaration of war in 1941.
[J]ob one is to win the war, job--the economic war, job two is to win the economic war, and job three. And you can't expect people to unite behind you if you're trying to jam a whole bunch of things down their throat. So I would--I would absolutely say for the--for the interim, till we get this one solved, I would not be pushing a lot of things that are--you know are contentious, and I also--I also would do no finger-pointing whatsoever. I would--you know, I would not say, you know, `George'--`the previous administration got us into this.' Forget it. I mean, you know, the Navy made a mistake at Pearl Harbor and had too many ships there. But the idea that we'd spend our time after that, you know, pointing fingers at the Navy, we needed the Navy. So I would--I would--I would--no finger-pointing, no vengeance, none of that stuff. Just look forward.
Warren Buffett may not have much else in common with the "dissident" feminist intellectual Camille Paglia, but she supported Obama as well -- and like Buffett, is concerned by some of what she has seen since he was inaugurated. In the first part1 of her Salon column Wednesday ("Obama's Clumsy, Smirky Staff is Sinking Him"), Paglia blamed the problems on Obama's staff:
Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons -- his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes, who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship.
Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama's first seven weeks in office...
First it was that chaotic pig rut of a stimulus package, which let House Democrats throw a thousand crazy kitchen sinks into what should have been a focused blueprint for economic recovery. Then it was the stunt of unnerving Wall Street by sending out a shrill duo of slick geeks (Timothy Geithner and Peter Orszag) as the administration's weirdly adolescent spokesmen on economics. Who could ever have confidence in that sorry pair?
1The second part of the column is, inexplicably, about something completely different: Paglia's recent trip to experience Carnival in Bahai, Brazil, as the guest of a popular Brazilian singer.