President Obama, who back in December was denouncing bankers as fat cats and suicide bombers and only weeks ago was denouncing them as "selfish" and their bonuses as "obscene," now tells Democratic Senators, "We've got to make sure that our party understands that, like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning, so we can't be demonizing every bank out there," the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib notices. It's amazing what a stock market drop will do. And it only reinforces Richard Cohen's observation: "When, for instance, the call goes out to let Obama be Obama, I'm not sure what that is. For the moment, it's a tendentious populism, but the sound of it is tinny and inauthentic, a campaign tactic, nothing more." It's hard to tell which is more tinny and inauthentic, the populism or the lecture to the senators against demonizing the banks. When is Mr. Obama being authentic -- when he demonizes the banks and bankers, or when the tells the senators they shouldn't demonize the banks and bankers? Maybe Mr. Obama wants the senators to leave the demonizing of the bankers to the executive branch. There's nothing wrong with changing one's mind, but it's hard to tell if Mr. Obama has had a genuine change of heart about this, or if all along he's been acting not according to principle, but out of a search for political advantage. What does sound authentic to me is the "like it or not" part, the acknowledgement that, at core, there are probably some Democratic Senators out there who, left to their own devices, would prefer not to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning. The way Mr. Obama describes it, it's kind of a necessary evil. That, too, comes off as authentic.
Obama Reverses on Bankers