I’ve been thinking about the Maestro President. Actually I’ve been thinking about our current situation(s), Bob Woodward, hagiographies, books, Alan Greenspan, President Obama, campaign promises, the economy, our wars abroad, and resolutions. I look at where we find ourselves in 2010 and TH*NK back to the events of recent years that have been made public. I have a grasp of where we now are and how we got there. Unfortunately my “understandings” clearly do not square with the main stream media, the party lines (the “official” stories/explanations) leaked and spread by BOTH the two major parties, and the data/information being disseminated by the Obama administration. The information frequently contradicts itself when it is issued to the public and flies in the face of what we have already been told. The tall tales would be laughable were they not so tragic.
You see Bob Woodward, formerly of the Washington Post and one of the two reporters who uncovered the reality that was Watergate, has made quite a career for himself writing biographical books. The revelations from them read almost like fiction because the details are so different from what we might expect. Still they cause the readers to TH*NK. We learn that what he has written is true in the sense that the information remains consistent over time. Truth becomes consistency. Consistency becomes the truth. He remains an excellent objective journalist, but he became so close to the subjects that the works take on the aura of hagiographies, the chronicled lives of saints. His stature and status gets him access to people who normally are tightly closed mouthed. For him, they become literally dying to tell their side of the events and the dramas. Books on public figure tend to come out after the subjects have left their offices. Not so for the earlier Woodward book “The Maestro” on Alan Greenspan and last week’s offering on President Obama – “Obama’s Wars.”
Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the FED was perhaps THE most powerful man on the planet during his tenure there. At his zenith, he was regarded as the Maestro—conducting the US (make that the world’s) economy thru some very difficult times—the dot-com boom. He was even knighted by the Queen of England. Sir Alan’s “solution” to the bubble inflated by the internet frenzy, the “irrational exuberance” of the equity markets, and the subsequent crashing of the stock markets in the days after 9-11; was to cut interest rates effectively to zero, flood the markets with liquidity (as in money), and foster the unprecedented growth of real estate construction. His solution even appeared to work for a time.
Keeping up consumption was regarded as the solution to the economic downturn. The false appreciation in the so called value of the residences made the family home a veritable cash station. The pseudo growth in “equity” was tapped again and again for more and more money. Mama worked, papa worked, and the homes produced cash. Lordy, lordy, lordy... how the “money” rolled in! There was a critical problem here --- this “money” was not real. Greenspan and his cohorts created or enhanced a “new” glut of money that was not based upon underlying value. Quite the opposite, the new money was actually debt. It was based in liabilities and not assets. The new definition of wealth became what one owed, NOT what one owned. The solution of creating an even bigger bubble became the core of our current situation. The bubble was now THE problem and there was no chance of creating a bigger one as the solution. None of the traditional “fixes” now work. Too big to fail, is now too big to bail out!
The public was hurting badly and the whole financial system (and I use the term “system” loosely) was about to implode and come crashing down upon themselves and US/us. Obama ran his campaign on "YES WE CAN..." Problem was that once he became the President and was briefed in the way things really were, he was told... "NO YOU CAN'T..." He has NOT explained this reality to the American people, AND I don't TH*NK he could, even if he wanted to do it! Greenspan as Chairman and his cronies at the FED gave us DEBT as money. Obama as President has recoiled from the campaign promises he made that brought him to the White House. His supporters are disillusioned. He learned the hard lesson... "I must follow them for I am their leader." This all-powerful status as a figurehead to the gargantuan global interests that got us to these messes has to be a blow to his intellect and his ego. Who is really calling the shots? And... should they?
Bob Woodward's books are very informative, but they are only a piece of this complex puzzle. I did a great deal of TH*NK*NG as I read "Obama's Wars" and re-read the "The Maestro." We will all eventually learn of the "REAL POLITIK" espoused by Metternich in the Nineteenth Century. A public leader has got to do what he has to do... no honesty, no morality, no ethics—these do not apply to any “successful” government. The public must be spared REAL facts which are buried under a covert web of spin, hype, and bull "output." Like the late Mayor Richard J. Daley once said: "get da garbage picked up, da schools opened on time, and da streets shoveled... and you will do ok wid da public." If only things were now that simple. The President’s ideas and plans were overridden and back burner-ed by his Generals and the vast army of bureaucratic office heads who actually run the country from their D.C. offices. It is hard to “conduct” when the various “orchestra” sections are ignoring you. They have their OWN agenda!
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
Copyright 2010 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This story was published on October 4, 2010.