President Obama isn’t raising a lot of money from Wall Street and the bankers. They shelled out big for that first campaign but this time they’re going with the favorite son. They know President Obama has a good chance of winning but they’re hardly bothering to tithe, never mind pay anything resembling tribute.

That’s because they have his number. They’ve seen that what he says about them isn’t connected with what he does about them. They’re not afraid he’ll take material offense at their lack of respect.

This is absurd. Bankers and brokers were worried before the election. They should have been terrified following it. Instead, they’re cocky.

Everyone knows they fucked up: everyone. They know it; President Obama knows it; Secretary Geithner knows it; the former Wall Street defense attorneys running the Justice Department know it.

The banks and Wall Street are businesses over which the executive branch has absolute power. The President, and to a lesser extent other executive branch officials, can torch the market purely by accident with a word.

The President can direct his cabinet officers and agencies to take a regulatory and prosecutorial bat to Wall Street’s knees. In extremis, he can seize banks, break them up, run their officers out of town on a rail. Things were damned extreme, weren’t they? Still are for many millions of people.

There was a compact. The bankers and brokers get to make as much money as they possibly can in exchange for not wrecking the economy. If they default on the bargain, the President, any president, will shed their blood.

I worked as a Wall Street attorney during the years I was between government posts in the 1960s. Wall Street included elements of the casino and the abattoir back then. Now it’s much worse. Large bits of the Street’s business are what the young people might call vaporware, transactions that have no real use other than to keep money circulating through the counting rooms so the house can take their cut.

Take insurers such as AIG, who sold customers insurance policies promising coverage far beyond the company’s capacity to pay. The company gambled that they would never have to pay out. Customers gambled the same thing, only they didn’t know it. That’s the most comprehensible example but far from the only one.

Well. Neither here nor there, really. What happened is that they brought the temple down and now they’re making more money than ever. They had to pay fines, some of them, amounting to a few year’s worth of executive bonuses, which of course they paid themselves for having got off so lightly.

President Obama and his crew of bankers, brokers and fellow travelers stepped between them and the mob and he didn’t make them suffer for the favor. They didn’t respect him in the morning and they don’t respect him now and they won’t respect him next time, and next time is coming. We’re all the worse off for it.

Well, you’re all the worse off for it. I’m fine whichever way it goes. I know where all the bodies are buried.

  1. FakeNoamChomsky says:

    Mr. President, may I suggest if you can’t get Dr. Thompson for your chief speechwriter, you should look into recruiting that whippersnapper Taibbi at Rolling Stone. I know there’s no love lost between you and that publication, but I think you and he might be able to have a meeting of the minds.

    I’d offer myself, in all humility, but I’m a little tied up with events elsewhere.

    F. Noam C.

    • Richard Nixon says:

      I appreciate the suggestions. Of course Thompson is in every sense not the man he was during our first go round and it was never my policies he hated and mistrusted; it was me. So probably not. Taibbi, he seems like a smart young fellow. Not as much salt as Thompson. With Thompson, there was always the possibility that he might experience an ethical lapse—or mistake you for a jeep—and shoot you.

      I’m just warming up. Don’t want to scare off the old folk before I make the sale. Don’t want to go negative too soon. Let me know if you free up some time.

  2. Foole says:

    I was wondering, did you consider yourself an ideologue when you first started out in politics? Was the law too simple for a person of your intellect? Or were you interested in power? And money? did your motivations change as you went along, tying yourself to sen. McCarthy’s list of Communists in Government written in invisible ink.

    And why are you looking for your voter registration card now? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Richard Nixon says:

      McCarthy was Robert Taft’s creature and Roy Cohn’s fool. You know what his drink was? Black Russians. He used to giggle about that. Never tied myself to him—if anything, he tied himself to me. I helped bury him when he got on Eisenhower’s bad side and never regretted it. Picked up some helpful hints about demagoguery and polarization, too.

      I sincerely believed that the Soviet Union and Communism were a threat to this country. So did Bob Kennedy, like his father a McCarthy supporter, who worked for McCarthy until Cohn got under his skin. Humphrey, too. Hard to argue with the record across the years regardless what one thinks of our own country’s behavior.

      Did I use the issue for political advantage? Absolutely, yes. So did Humphrey and a lot of Democrats, the Kennedy family not least among them. No law against politicking behind something you believe in.

      I ran for office because Republicans in Whittier saw a smart, presentable Navy veteran with a law degree and a conservative outlook and asked me to run. And why wouldn’t I? I had something to prove. There were a half-million lawyers in the land but only half a thousand federal legislators. Where would you go to stand out?

      There is some understandable confusion in some quarters about whether I am that I am.

      • Foole says:

        It’s not easy being us. That said, what is the specific threat(s) that your potential presidency plans to address? Will you build your platform on the war against drugs again? War against terror? War against…

        You catch my drift. There are a lot of dead presidents. How will you stand out?

        To quote another Republican president, are you a uniter, not a divider? I think not. When you sent your bulldog Spiro after John Lennon and his ilk, he referred to those who demanded an end to the war as “Nabobs of negativity”. It all seems innocent and naive now, compared to the bile being spread now.

        It’s hard to imagine Roy Cohn giggling, but then even Dick Cheney might crack a smile now and again. Not that I’d bet on it.

        Thanks for rising from the dead. You give me food for thought.

        • Richard Nixon says:

          It was McCarthy who drank the Black Russians. Russian vodka, Mexican liqueur. I think he thought it was ironic. I suppose it was, seeing as it killed him.

          Most people don’t really want unity; they only want to be on the powerful side of whatever the divide is. Certainly appeals to me. The bad guys are the ones in this story I wrote, the ones who want to punish you for their success as they see it.

          Bill Safire wrote that “nattering nabobs” thing. He loved Ted Agnew. He could write anything and Agnew would just go out there and say it.

          Thinking is good, glad I could help, thank you for coming by. Keeps the sap rising.

          Funniest headline ever on the uniter/divider front:

          Nation on decided on Bush as uniter

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