Sunday, December 28, 2008

Being Frank About Warren

Frank Rich has a good column on the Warren affair. He annoyingly cites the canard about Obama dissing Clinton as "likable enough", but other than that I think he pretty much nails it. He includes a good quote from the always quotable Barney Frank as well:
Much more to the point is the astute criticism leveled by the gay Democratic congressman Barney Frank, who, in dissenting from the Warren choice, said of Obama, “I think he overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences.” That’s a polite way of describing the Obama cockiness. It will take more than the force of the new president’s personality and eloquence to turn our nation into the United States of America he and we all want it to be.

Obama may not only overestimate his ability to bridge some of our fundamental differences but also underestimate how persistent some of those differences are. The exhilaration of his decisive election victory and the deserved applause that has greeted his mostly glitch-free transition can’t entirely mask the tensions underneath. Before there is profound social change, there is always high anxiety.

2 comments:

Mike said...

The always quotable Barney Frank, huh? Here's a good Barney Frank quotation, from 2003 explaining why he (in his capacity as ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee )opposed subjecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to regulation that would have determined whether they were adequately managing the risk of their expanding debt portfolios (from the NYT):

"These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

Nice job, Barney. He should take his well-deserved seat next to Bush, Cheney, Greenspan, Bernanke, Paulson, Phil Gramm, Rubin, Geithner and the other notables at the "Responsible For This Mess We're In" table.

Smitty said...

Well, Warren did write a book that spent like 2 years on the best seller list and sold over 25 million copies. Plenty of people read and appreciate his message (yours truly not included).

Ultimately, I have to say that I too think Obama dropped the ball here. Frank's argument makes sense to me: you can only bridge certain gaps, and force of will and personality are not enough to make certain hurts better, regardless of how "reaching-out" thi particular pick is.