As the national outrage over AIG's retention bonuses has grown ( maybe we should call them anal retention bonuses to accurately describe the people who wanted to pay them) Obama, while spending days and weeks expressing his own outrage, repeatedly said the payment of those AIG bonuses were not his or his administrations fault. Now we know they are.
At an impromptu press conference on March 18, when asked about a time line ( what did he know and when did he know it) regarding the payment of those bonuses, his answer was, after again saying how outraged he was over those bonuses , "look, rather than get into any details, I'm the President and the buck stops with me".
It turns out there was good reason to avoid the details. Because the details show that it was Obama and his administration who were responsible for the loophole in the legislation that allowed AIG to give these bonuses. As a matter of fact they were responsible for killing a senate amendment by Wyden and Snow weeks ago that would have prevented the bonuses from being paid.
Originally the legislation drafted by Chris Dodd limiting executive compensation prevented those bonuses from being paid also. Now we learn that it was Obama's decision to send the Treasury Department back to Dodd asking him to rewrite the amendment and insert the loophole so that the bonuses could be paid.
Knowing that it was his decision to allow these bonuses to be paid all along, Obama nevertheless put on this big farcical show feigning righteous indignation and outrage over the bonuses when it was his administration and his decision that allowed the bonuses to be paid in the first place. So it's no wonder that he didn't want to get into "details". He was though, "willing" to take "responsibility".
Its nice to know he was "willing" to take responsibility when in fact it was his responsibility and his order that allowed it to happen.
To be fair, there is no doubt that Obama acted on the advice of others, probably Geithner who people are now calling Jeremiah Geithner and are speculating will end up the same way. The real problem for Obama is not that he made an unpopular decision, a decision that outraged the public but one that he probably made in good faith based on the advice of people who know more about these things than he does. But, like other politically damaging episodes that popped up during both his primary and general campaign, Obama's first impulse is to lie. And so lie he did.
It remains to be seen what the press will do with this revelation. CNN, while specifically saying that Dodd inserted the loophole at the request of the Obama Administration, is spending most of its time patting itself on the back for getting the admission out of Dodd that his previous statements of having nothing to do with the loophole was inaccurate. That is small potatoes. Dodd isn't the story. Obama and the Treasury Department is.
During the primary campaign the press for the most part looked the other way when Obama was caught lying. Its hard to know what they will do now. Especially since there is a national outrage over the AIG bonuses. Certainly Arianna Huffington, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are still proudly displaying the certificates that show their ownership in the pieces of the Brooklyn Bridge Obama sold them during the primaries, so no one expects much out of them. But if Obama's approval ratings continue to slip the media is going to consider it open season because they always go where the money is. And if the money says its ok to go after Obama they will.
If the press pursues Obama over his role in the AIG bonuses it remains to be seen whether he will learn the lessons that other politicians never seem to learn -- to come out and admit the truth, admit his role ( instead of "I take responsibility" which is the politicians way of denying he had anything to do with it, hoping people will think he is just being big about it), get it over with and then get on with it. If he does we may all be better off since it might mark the end of his thinking he can lie his way out of trouble in the future which means more thought will go into the decision making process beforehand since he will know whatever decisions he makes he will be held accountable. But no one knows right now whether the press will let him off the hook, and more importantly, if they do, whether the public will buy it. Especially if the Republicans keep it alive as an issue.
But something worse and more insidious happened regarding Obama and his lie, on the House floor. A bill was introduced by the Democrats regarding the taxation of those bonuses,something everyone supports. Except for one thing. Inserted into the language of the bill is the statement that President Obama did all he could to keep the bonuses from being paid. Which is simply an out and out lie, something the Republicans were repeatedly pointing out during debate.
Many Republicans who supported the idea of getting the bonus money back by taxing it rose in opposition to the language calling it a lie and a cover up. And who can blame them? It was.
The Democrats insertion of that language which is not only completely irrelevant to the purpose of the resolution but a pathetic and dishonest attempt to try and cover for Obama and try and codify his lying about his own role, is one of the lowest, most devious and dishonest political maneuvers ever seen in the House.
In blatantly trying to provide dishonest political cover for Obama who we now know is the one, despite his "outrage" who is responsible for those bonuses being paid, the party of FDR, JFK and RFK have sunk to levels most Democrats would have thought impossible. previously seen only by Republicans like Tom Delay. So now it is the Republicans, whether for partisan gain or not, who have, after 8 years of running from the truth, decided to take a principled stand for the truth. Unfortunately years too late.And not enough of them to get the language removed.
The whole dishonest enterprise, quite frankly reeks of Pelosi. There is little doubt that it's her hand is in the insertion of the language designed to give Obama political cover either at Obama's behest or on her own.
As Speaker of the House, people don't have to be a constituent to let her know what they think of her dishonest meddling and the dishonest language in the bill and the devious way it was inserted to try and cover up for lies and politically disastrous mistakes.
If the Democrats are looking for ways to lose the next election they seem to be quickly finding them. Not only with a President publicly decrying wolves while privately feeding them, but in an entire party willing to put itself at risk in order to cover it up.
NOTE: Last night in Calfornia, at (yet another) town hall meeting, Obama sarcastically dismissed criticism of his impending appearance on Jay Leno by saying that critics seem to think he can't handle the economy and be on Leno at the same time. Given his disparaging remark on Leno regarding the Special Olympics over which he is now trying to do damage control, and the backlash over what we now know was his administration's decision to allow those AIG bonuses to be paid and then trying to cover it up, it looks like he can't handle either.
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