Barack Obama slept through his securities law class at Harvard. That’s the only explanation I can offer for his answer to Jake Tapper’s question at a press conference Thursday. Tapper asked him about the failure of his administration to prosecute a single Wall Street executive. From the transcript.
Well, first on the issue of prosecutions on Wall Street, one of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehmans and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal, it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless….
By “a lot of stuff”, the President means everything that happened, from fraudulent sales of real estate mortgage-backed securities, to Repo 105, to filing false affidavits in foreclosure proceedings. He knows this even though there have been no criminal investigations, no FBI inquiries, no Grand Jury subpoenas, and apparently no review of independent investigations. For him, this isn’t about law. He just knows that the immoral and inappropriate and reckless behavior that caused the Great Crash and the Lesser Depression wasn’t a crime.
Obama’s blanket pardon isn’t newsworthy. No one in the national media picked it up. I checked the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, and the Chicago Tribune (which published the AP report). None of them mentioned the Q&A. I checked Google News and couldn’t find any mention of it except in live blogs. Obama’s dismissive response reflects the view of the American Oligarchy, the financial elites who run the country, and the media they own and operate.
Tapper asked the question in the context of Occupy Wall Street, pointing out that one theme is the failure of his administration prosecute a single Wall Street executive. The President refused to acknowledge the pervasive fraud documented by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Senators Levin and Coburn, ProPublica, and every other independent investigation. Yves Smith lays out some of the crimes here.
That connection might have alerted him to the anger throughout the country at his failure to prosecute, but he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t see that only the American Oligarchy believes that no one should be held accountable for the frauds that led to the Great Crash. All the people he talks to share that view, and he can’t imagine that average Americans, the people he keeps asking for $3 for his re-election, want the law to be enforced and want banksters to go to jail. He has his own explanation of the anger.
What I think is that the American people understand that not everybody has been following the rules; that Wall Street is an example of that; that folks who are working hard every single day, getting up, going to the job, loyal to their companies, that that used to be the essence of the American Dream. That’s how you got ahead — the old-fashioned way. And these days, a lot of folks who are doing the right thing aren’t rewarded, and a lot of folks who aren’t doing the right thing are rewarded.
Bill Clinton said the same thing, in fewer words and with more feeling. That’s not it. Everyone knows that criminals on Wall Street lied and cheated, and are getting away with it. He can’t hear people screaming that they want Justice. He doesn’t understand that people reject a system that allows that to happen.
Obama is half-heartedly trying to co-opt the disruptive occupiers and the rest of us by claiming that we all share the same goals. That explains his bizarre claim that his support for the trivial changes in Dodd-Frank and the coming cave-in on regulation and enforcement is an adequate response. It’s only half-hearted though. You can see from the look on his face that he wants to call us a bunch of ingrates, unaware of political limitations and how hard it is to try criminal cases. He shows disdain at the refusal of the masses to let the financial elites play today’s version of the Great Game without pesky questions from those whose lives are wrecked by “immoral” but totally innocent speculators.
The good news for Obama is that if everyone on Wall Street is as pure as the driven snow, or only a little smudged by “inappropriate” behavior, or at least “not guilty”, then it’s fine for him to raise tens of millions of dollars from them to pay for his shot at re-election.