Friday, March 20, 2009

This Odoriferous Administration

Two months; eight weeks of the Obama administration and his cabinet is still not filled. The reason for that is that he has found it nearly impossible to find any democrats who have paid their taxes. Some have been brought on board despite being tax delinquents, such as Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, which is the epitome of irony.

There are much deeper problems for the administration, however, than merely an inability to complete the filling of cabinet spots. The eloquently loquacious speaker that graced the people on the campaign trail has been exposed as nothing more than an accomplished reader, and even that skill has been somewhat questionable of late. The teleprompter gaffe with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is example enough of that.

The trouble goes deeper still when we get into the financial mess that is AIG and other bank bailouts. AIG in particular has become quite a tangled web, however, as Senator Chris Dodd has been at odds with the administration over bonuses being paid to AIG top executives. At question is whether the administration, or anyone in it, knew about the planned bonuses.

Obama, the first sitting president to appear on a late-night television show, told Jay Leno that he was "stunned" to learn of the pending bonus payments. The show was previously recorded, so it is unclear if the president knew of Geithner's admitted knowledge of the bailouts at the time he spoke of his being "stunned", but Geithner himself said days ago that he had "just learned" of the payouts. He lied. Did Obama lie as well on national television?

Now we find out that Obama's special envoy, Richard Holbooke, the administration's point man on Pakistan and Afghanistan, served on the board of AIG between 2001 and mid-2008. While it may be true that "Mr. Holbrooke had nothing to do with and knew nothing about the bonuses," as spokesman Tommy Vietor said, it is nonetheless incredibly peculiar coincidence.

One must wonder what made Obama reward Holbrooke with such a position. It may be that the president feels compelled to surround himself with people who have proven to be failures in a narcissistic need to appear superior, but I'm no doctor. What I do know is that Holbrooke joined AIG's board in February 2001 and resigned in July 2008, two months before the company nearly collapsed. Then, in another attempt to deflect blame at his predecessor, Obama said, "Nobody here was responsible for supervising AIG and allowing themselves to put the economy at risk by some of the outrageous behavior that they were engaged in."

Pardon me, Mr. President, but Robert Litan and AP disagree:

Boards are expected to give the company's top leaders unvarnished advice. But with AIG on life support, the quality of the guidance the company received from its board is under fire.

"The role of a board is to keep a company from going over a cliff," said Robert Litan, an expert on financial institutions at The Brookings Institution in Washington. "I wouldn't be surprised if, in a future lawsuit, a court were to find the (AIG) directors behaved negligently."

If that should happen, don't be surprised if Holbrooke finds himself looking up at the undercarriage of Obama's bus.

And don't expect the stench from Washington to suddenly dissipate.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: