Friday, February 10, 2012

A Political Settlement



I’ve been reading the nearly universal condemnation of the $25 billion bank settlement. (A typical reaction here.) After listening to Rachel Maddow this morning (the podcast), I feel a little better about it. Here’s the video. For more complete coverage, watch the one that comes up after this one too.


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After listening to it -- and feeling a little better about it -- it hit me that Rachel is a political animal. Yes, she had her own show. She’s a pundit/journalist (assuming you can actually mix those two.) But deep down, she’s a political junkie. I mean, after all, she has a Doctorate of Philosophy in politics from Oxford University. You don’t get any more political than that.

So, what are the politics of this? What is the long game? The banks have been “busted” and fined (it’s a pittance), so what comes next? Well, politically, the Presidential election comes next. Put your thinking cap on.

The Obama Administration now has the Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of the bankers. First, the voters are going to ask themselves, do they want the Obama Administration to pursue the bankers or a Republican Administration? I think the general consensus is that a Republican President wouldn’t prosecute a Banker. Obama wins politically.

But wait a minute, why would the Bankers tolerate this? Won’t they do everything in their power to make sure Obama isn’t elected so that his Administration can’t prosecute them at a later date? Suppose they did throw all their money at the Republicans and Obama won anyway? That would be very, very bad for them.

It would look bad, too. Bankers are about as unpopular as you can get right now. Their “help” might wind up hurting a Republican nominee. Especially if that nominee was so rich he was a “1 percenter”. And considering the problems the Republicans are currently experiencing, it would be a bad bet. (Santorum? Really?) Obama may have just politically neutralized the four biggest banks in America.

But what do I know? I’m not a player. And I don’t have a doctorate in anything. That is what makes politics so addictive, though. Anybody could be right. You can make things so convoluted that no one will ever figure them out. Even a guy like Newt Gingrich can be right. Scary isn’t it?

Don Brown
February 10, 2012

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