David Kurtz at talkingpointsmemo.com thinks the comments made by Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod are symptoms of tone deafness on the administration's part. Emanuel called the AIG scandal a "big distraction" and Axelrod added the American people "are thinking about their own jobs."
The entire Beltway has its ears clogged with ear wax on this one. The Treasury was well aware of the bonuses. They were then caught flat-footed when their existance became known and appeared impotent in their unwillingness to get the money back. If the anger was not palpable enough, they seemed to go along with AIG CEO Edward Liddy's offer of returning half of the bonuses while feigning a sob story to Congress that he feared for his employees safety. The president seems weak and Congress looks strident in passing a bill that will tax AIG bonuses at 90 percent. One congressman even flippantly added, "we figure state and local taxes would take the rest."
Axelrod is correct. Americans are worrying about their jobs, but their capacity to think is far larger than the White House believes. This scandal is unique in recent American political history. A story that sweeps across every possible demographic--an oddity--an issue every American is vociferously angered about and knowledgeable, too. But, here's the weirdest theory I've heard in a long time from the intern at Salon's War Room blog. The Obama people are setting us to wow us.
Those kinds of comments may, on their face, seem like a misstep politically. It’s worth noting, however, that nobody plays rope-a-dope as well as President Obama and his people. It would be just like them to let outrage build, allow themselves to be portrayed as feckless and ineffectual, and then roll out a plan that capitalizes on public outrage, gets their priorities through Congress and leaves the president stronger than he was at the start of this whole thing. That's no guarantee, but they've pulled it off before.The author, Gabriel Winant, is apparently tone deaf, too. Likely swilling overpriced cocktails in a trendy South of Market San Francisco bar with pierced hipsters and wide-eyed, young cub reporters. This issue is not the appropriate time to be playing Machiavellian politics and I doubt Obama's inner circle has a plan at this late stage to miraculously fix the problem or change the subject.
Americans are really angry and part of the rage may not be the relatively paltry $165 million going to undeserving financial analysts but because these sort of shenanigans were promised by Presidnet Obama to be a thing of the past.