Morning Must Reads -- Obama's biggest problem: He may believe his own spin 

Bloomberg -- Obama Says He’s ‘Fierce’ Free-Market Advocate, Rejects Critics

All politicians tailor their remarks to different audiences, but this is ridiculous.

In an interview with Bloomberg News President Obama said he and his administration were “fierce advocates” of the free market.

It should be a caution to the president that his statement now sounds like a bad punch line. While voters once gave credence to his claims of being an unwilling implementer of a centrally-planned economy, say when he was nationalizing two failed carmakers or forcing banks to take bailouts they tried to refuse, a year later no one is buying.

The president told writers Mike Dorning and Julianna Goldman that the complaints from the Left that he was “being in the pockets of big business” and complaints from the Right that he was “anti-business” as proof of his equanimity and balanced approach. But both things can actually be true.

Obama went to pains in the interview to defend the fat bonuses of his friend and adviser Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and political bankroller Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, comparing their compensation to that of champion athletes. Obama’s embrace of some big bonuses comes after weeks of Lonesome Rhodes-style rhetoric about the “fat cats” and after Wall Street donors sent their warning shot that they would be just as happy funding Republicans.

The complaint, and it’s hardly just on the Left, isn’t that Obama is in “the pockets of big business” but that he is helpful to some and hurtful to others – that he wants to pick winners and losers.

What makes this, and the full article that will follow in BusinessWeek absolute must reading is to see how disconnected Obama really has become. While you could once say that Obama was just bluffing about these assertions, it’s pretty clear now that his much-vaunted Socratic model of management has produced a new kind of groupthink bubble. It just takes longer to be affirming.

“‘We are pro-growth,’ Obama said. ‘We are fierce advocates for a thriving, dynamic free market.’”


Wall Street Journal -- Bernanke Outlines Exit Strategy

With his confirmation secured, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is now telling Congress more about what he will do to reel in the trillion dollars the Fed conjured and pumped into the economy before some fiscal earthquake triggers an inflation tsunami.

We’ve known that the centerpiece of the plan is the TARP-granted power to set interest rates for funds parked at the fed by private banks. Rather than decreasing the monetary supply by tapering or broadly setting interest rates at a higher level, the Fed can now simply reward banks for sitting on cash. It doesn’t shrink the monetary supply as much as it puts part of the pool into a deep freeze.

What Bernanke told Congress in written testimony Wednesday was when. The New York Fed will start experimenting with the new power in the spring in advance of summertime implementation on a national level.

The other area of concern is when the Fed will start selling off al the Treasuries and other investments on which it gorged itself to prop up the bond markets.

Writer Luca Di Leo explains:

“The Fed chairman said he didn't currently anticipate the Fed would sell any of its holdings of long-term U.S. Treasurys or mortgage-backed securities ‘in the near term,’ and probably not ‘until after policy tightening has gotten under way and the economy is clearly in a sustainable recovery.’ But over time, he said, ‘the Federal Reserve anticipates that its balance sheet will shrink toward more historically normal levels and that most or all of its security holdings will be Treasury securities.’”


New York Times -- Blagojevich Wants Tapes Played in Court

Like Bob Dylan sang, “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”

Blago intends to prove that in his trial this summer, vowing to take the stand and highlight the recorded conversations between him and other politicians that provide the basis for federal prosecutors’ case.

Blago could explode the campaigns of some of his fellow Illinois Democrats by bringing crass or cynical conversations into the public record. Blago, who prides himself on crassness figures he will look honest while his fellow Illinois Dems look two-faced.

It may not work, but you can bet that the president will be rooting for only limited releases of the tapes. President Obama got out of Illinois just before his state party blew up, and would be ill-served to have any more friends or associates saying or doing unsavory things.

Writer Emma Fitzsimmons was there:

“‘Play all the tapes,’ Mr. Blagojevich told reporters after a hearing. He said that he planned to testify at his trial, and that all the tapes — not just parts — would provide the full picture and prove his innocence. ‘Play the truth, and play the whole truth,’ he said.”


Wall Street Journal -- Jobs Bill Likely to Be Delayed in Senate

The blizzard proved Harry Reid was bluffing.

The snow was so bad Wednesday that it took three writers -- Martin Vaughan, Patrick Yoest and Corey Boles – to produce a 657-word story. It was also bad enough to get Reid to admit it will be after next week’s holiday recess before the Senate does any serious business.

Reid is especially unhappy about the delay because every day brings him closer to an unhappy Election Day and he has yet to find a way to show Nevadans that his power in Washington helps them at home.

The jobs bill, though, will snowball over the next 10 days to include all manner of difficult provisions. If Dems are going to give Republicans a bunch of tax cuts, they want to get as much out of the bargain as possible.

“The Senate bill could also include a short-term patch to Medicare's physician payment formula, which must be adjusted in order to avoid steep decreases in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. If the formula remains unchanged, the payment rate would drop by roughly 21% in March.

The length of time of that extension was one of the final details under discussion Tuesday, said people close to negotiations.”


New York Times -- Climate Fight Is Heating Up in Deep Freeze

A silly story from writer John Broder.

The premise, that a brutal blizzard in the Mid-Atlantic is being used to taunt Warmists, is a good one.

Broder suggests that few long-term conclusions can be made from one winter – even poking at the availability cascade in favor of Warmisim that occurred in the mid-Aughts.

But then, Broder can’t resist saying that the cold weather really proves that warming is real, surrendering his whole piece to the current climate counter reformation.

Note the closing lines:

“The Climate Impacts report from the multiagency United States Global Change Research Program, also projected more intense drought in the Southwest and more powerful Gulf Coast hurricanes because of warming.

In other words, if the government scientists are correct, look for more snow.”


--Today's column on the end of the Era of Dinosaurs in Washington is here.

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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