EJ Dionne once again impresses with what he must think is his razor sharp analysis. Sharp as a marble! At any rate Dionne is hopeful that someone or something will rescue the Democrats between now and November, and he thinks it might be Obama peddling financial reform. At a fund raiser for Barbara Boxer, Obama spoke words that boosted Dionne's shaky confidence – maybe that electoral tsunami isn't right around the corner after all.
In one paragraph, Obama did what many of the dispirited in his party have long been urging him to do: He linked the economic mess to past Republican policies -- much as Ronald Reagan blamed the economic downturn of the early 1980s on Democrats and liberals -- and turned the tables on bipartisanship by asserting that it is Republicans who are blocking concord.
Dionne's faith rests on three things. First, Wall Street is solely to blame for the financial mess we're in. Second, Wall Street hangs like an albatross around Republican necks. And finally, American voters recognizes these facts which, are as plain to Dionne as the ears on Barack Obama's head. If he's wrong about any it, chances are November won't be so blissful for him and his progressive cohorts.
The bad news for Dionne is that he's wrong on all counts. Yes, Wall Street can share some blame, but the financial crisis was precipitated by foreclosures in the housing market. Foreclosures in the housing market came about when the housing market bubble reached its bursting point. The housing market bubble was the result of government directed lending standards that allowed just about anybody to buy a house with little or no money down. Do the names Fanni Mae and Freddie Mac ring a bell? Not with Dionne, they don't.
He's in denial about those "toxic assets" that were "clogging" the credit markets back in fall of 2008. Credit markets were on the verge of meltdown because of those securitized mortgages that Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac were in the business of packaging and selling. The mortgage backed assets became toxic because the underlying mortgages were going into foreclosure at a phenomenal pace. Housing prices don't have to fall very far to put your house under water when you borrow 97% of the price or better to buy it.
Yet, Obama and Dionne figure to blame the bad economy on Wall Street, and blame the state of Wall Street on Republicans. A minor fly in the ointment is the nearly $1 million in campaign contributions Obama raked in from Goldman Sachs employees. Much to Dionne's delight the undaunted Obama fell back on his usual rhetoric. He inherited this mess. It's somebody else's fault.
"In this entire year and a half of cleaning up the mess, it's been tough because the folks very responsible for a large portion of this mess decided to stand on the sidelines," Obama declared. "It was as if somebody had driven their car into the ditch and then just watched you as you had to yank it out, and asked you, 'Why didn't you do it faster -- and why do I have that scratch on the fender?' And you want to say, why don't you put your shoulder up against that car and help to push? That's what we need, is some help."
Blaming political opponents is a winning argument for sure when he's preaching to his choir as he when he was stumping for Boxer. Unfortunately for Obama and Dionne, the rest of the country is getting pretty tired of it, since the rest of the country has become a growing political opposition that has been on the receiving end of Obama's blame.
But Obama is dense enough to think we should all be saying thank you, and Dionne is dense enough to agree.