January 24, 2010

AP: Both Brown Win and Obama Anti-Bank Attacks Examples of ‘Populism’


It’s amazing how Bernard Condon and Tim Paradis of the Associated Press managed to hang the same label on totally opposite political positions in their report on the situation in the stock market late this afternoon.

According to the AP pair, Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate win in Massachusetts was due to a “wave of populism,” at the same time as President Obama is supposedly planning to use “populist attacks” to save his party’s congressional majority in the fall elections. One of those employments of “populism” has to be wrong.

Additionally, they write that it’s Scott Brown’s type of populism that caused investors to sell heavily in the middle of last week, but that it’s Barack Obama’s type of populism that caused it to plunge even further during its remainder.

Got that?

Look at the bright side: As you’ll see, the wire service at least got the headline right.

Here are the first five paragraphs of the AP pair’s schizophrenic report, followed by a few later ones (bolds are mine):

Obama share scare: Market drop shows vulnerability

It was the fat cats’ fault before. But now it’s becoming Obama’s.

With the unemployment rate stubbornly high, people were already shifting blame for their economic woes to President Barack Obama one year into his presidency. Last week, investors joined them.

For 10 months, the stock market climbed at breathtaking speed. But the Dow Jones industrial average suffered its worst week since dropping to a 12-year low in early March. It fell 552 points Wednesday through Friday, including 216 on Friday.

One big reason investors scrambled to sell: Fear over a wave of populism that swept a Republican to an upset victory in the Massachusetts Senate race on Tuesday. When Obama responded on Thursday with a broadside against big banks, the market plunged. On Friday, investors feared mounting opposition in the Senate could derail Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s reappointment. Disappointing corporate earnings and concern that China will slow its economy added to the jitters.

The question now: If the bad news continues, will Obama, who is trying to win votes in the fall elections with his populist attacks, end up losing them instead? Put another way, can Obama win over Main Street by vilifying Wall Street if people fear opening their 401(k) statements again?

Last Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the indexes hit 18-month highs in anticipation of Republican Scott Brown’s likely victory in the race to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts. Health insurance and pharmaceutical companies led the gains because a Brown victory endangers the massive health care bill favored by Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress.

But stocks began falling fast on Wednesday when China announced plans to slow its economy. They fell again the next day after Obama’s speech calling for limits on the size of banks and their risk taking.

The coup de grace for the market came Friday. In a nod to voter anger at Wall Street, a few Democrats said they wouldn’t vote to reappoint Bernanke, whose term ends Jan. 31. But many investors have faith that Bernanke has the tools, the know-how and the political backbone to reel in the unprecedented amount of money pumped into the economy during the financial crisis and avoid a crushing round of inflation.

How Condon and Paradis can alternatively blame Brown for both the market’s Tuesday rise and its fall during the remainder of the week (strongly implied in the fourth excerpted paragraph) is quite a mystery.

How the pair can call both the Brown campaign’s positions (which included a ringing denunciation of the “Bank Responsibility Fee” the president proposed the previous week) and Obama’s attacks on the banks “populist” at the same time. My suggestion: Brown reflects a genuine form of populism that wants the states and the people to have more control over their lives, and the federal government to have less, while Obama’s “we want our money back” rhetoric and his desired limits on what banks can do and how big they can be — limits that can’t be imposed on the rest of the world and would likely make U.S. banks less competitive in the world marketplace — is sheer demonization and demagoguery that has nothing to do with genuine populism.

The “blame Ben Bernanke” gambit being undertaken by some senators has little or nothing to do with “voter anger at Wall Street”; if there’s major evidence of that, I haven’t seen it. It is instead an attempt to distract the public from the truth about who is really responsible for the housing, mortgage-lending, and general financial services messes that came to a head in the summer and fall of 2008. That list of the blameworthy, not necessarily in order, would include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Timmy Geithner, Henry Paulson, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the Congressional and Senate majorities, and Democratic Party-inspired legislation going back decades such as the Community Reinvestment Act. If Big Ben even belongs on the list, he would be at or near its bottom.

Towards the end of their report, Condon and Paraidis threw out this howler:

The vote in Massachusetts scared all incumbents. It’s now every man and woman for himself or herself in Washington.

Give, me, a, break. All incumbents? Who can possibly believe that sensible, principled conservatives like Jim DeMint or Tom Coburn have been quaking in their boots during the past week because of Scott Brown’s win?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Exactly. The brand of “populism” practiced by Obama types is based more on an intense ideological hatred of business (corporations in particular) and the dreaded “bourgeoisie” than on love for the people.

    That’s why time and time again we see examples of liberals publicly exposing their love for the common man, but behind closed doors or in moments where they get caught off guard we hear them bitterly denounce the masses. The fact is, since we have a media that won’t call them on their hypocrisy, many of them are now blatant about it. Pelosi calling us brownshirts, Obama mocking Joe the Plumber, the childish “teabagger” name calling by Garafalo, Maher and others, it goes on and on.

    Comment by zf — January 25, 2010 @ 12:46 am

  2. Not only is the incompetent liberal leadership of the Dem party foolishly torpedoing the banks with all this nonsense of limiting their business options given that they are showing profits, but on top of that is this little item they are doing on the down low: restricting domestic drilling by requiring public hearings on each and every proposed oil and gas lease site before going out to auction so environmental groups can oppose them earlier in the process.

    “The flaws in the current leasing process came into sharp focus in Utah when in late 2008, the prior administration offered several highly controversial parcels for lease, some of which were in the vicinity of Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dinosaur National Monument,” he added.

    He temporarily suspended that auction of 77 parcels until a review of them was completed. Salazar on Wednesday noted the team that visited the Utah parcels recommended several changes in lease procedures, and “many of the reforms that BLM is making today are in response to the shortcomings” it identified.

    The biggest change is that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will not merely rely on general “resource management plans” to identify areas available for leasing when requested by oil companies but will conduct deeper environmental analysis of all specific parcels proposed for leasing.

    That will allow field offices to study whether drilling may adversely affect wilderness values, air quality, archaeological values, watersheds, wildlife and nearby land uses. It will use interdisciplinary teams to evaluate each parcel, allow public comment and, when necessary, visit the parcels.


    A similar article from the Trib:

    The proposed reforms, unveiled by Salazar on Wednesday, would toughen environmental review procedures and seek more public input before oil and gas companies are allowed to drill on public lands.

    Among other actions, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will also review leases approved without new environmental study under the 2005 Energy Policy Act and will issue guidance on “categorical exclusions,” which expedite oil and gas drilling by waiving detailed environmental reviews. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office blasted the BLM for its improper — and in some cases, illegal — actions on both issues.

    Together, the proposed reforms could represent a fundamental shift in federal oil and gas leasing policy and would have a profound effect in Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain region’s top gas-producing state.

    Salazar said the new regulations were needed to bring more clarity to the process, reduce costly legal challenges, and to protect the environment from what he called the Bush administration’s “anywhere, anyhow” approach towards drilling.


    That will fix’em real good!

    Now let’s consider as the rest of the world continues to improve their lot, oil and gas consumption is going to increase (some say up to 40%) thus creating further upward pressure on energy prices.


    Yes, this is all going to go swimmingly

    Comment by dscott — January 25, 2010 @ 2:15 am

  3. [...] Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com. [...]

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