Pop quiz time!

See if you can guess who authored these words and where


Salon Staff
December 16, 2009 8:20PM (UTC)

See if you can guess who opened his/her commentary piece today with these four paragraphs, and for which outlet:

From Fat Cats To Pussycats

Obama's Wall Street power failure reveals the root of his problems.

President Obama's much-hyped powwow with the nation's top bankers at the White House Monday proved more lay-down than showdown. It produced no meaningful, concrete concessions from Wall Street on financial reform and business lending, but it did yield a heck of a lot of clarity about who is calling the shots on the economy--the president's unconvincing chest-beating notwithstanding. More important, it illustrated in the clearest terms yet why Obama is steadily losing the public's confidence--and why his presidency will have trouble recovering if he does not change his leadership style.

That style might be described as the Reverse Roosevelt: Talk boldly and carry a toothpick. The president has created great expectations with his lofty rhetoric and ambitious agenda (much of which I support). But he has developed a troubling habit of acting small in support of his big thinking. Sometimes that means showing too much deference to the dysfunctional deans of Capitol Hill (health care, stimulus). Sometimes, as I pointed out last week, it means too much intellectual and political timidity (jobs, spending, financial reform). And sometimes it means too much hesitation to take on a fight, crack a few heads and instill some fear (take your pick).

The common element is a power failure--a failure to understand or exercise the unique and extensive powers of the presidency. To be fair, this is a common problem for new White House inhabitants. It certainly plagued Bill Clinton; he got rolled left and right by Congress in his first two years (remember the ill-fated BTU tax?). But Obama's growing record of reluctance to take policy stands befitting the economic crisis, to issue veto threats or to generally show his opponents who's boss suggests that he is suffering from something more problematic than freshman ignorance.

In that regard, Monday's box-checking photo-op with the banking bigwigs was the pièce de non-résistance. There's no political constituency in the country more despised or vulnerable at the moment than Wall Street, which is thanking taxpayers for saving their skin by slowing the recovery and blocking reform legislation in Congress. If there were ever a good time and safe space to put the bully in the bully pulpit, this was it. But one day after calling the fat cats out on national television, the president, by most accounts, treated them like pussycats behind closed doors....

So, is it?

  (a) Harold Meyerson, for the Washington Post.

  (b) Katrina van den Heuvel, for the Nation.

  (c) Matt Taibbi, for RollingStone.com.

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  (d) Dan Gerstein, for Forbes.com.

  (e) Byron York, for the Washington Examiner.

Make your best, honest guess before clicking or even rolling over the link to the actual author and outlet, which you can find here.


Salon Staff

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