The Audacity of Cynicism



The New Republic's Noam Scheiber has a pre-State of the Union Address piece out praising "the genius of the White House" in "outmaneuver[ing]" Corporate America. Here's how it begins:

I'll admit it: I was worried when the president named Bill Daley as his second chief of staff. True, Daley was a loyal Democrat long before he was a bank executive. But I couldn't shake the feeling that the White House was giving in to months of mau-mauing from the business community. That was distressing not just because the idea of Obama as anti-business is wrong, but also because Obama had a lot more leverage over the business community than he seemed to realize.   

Not quite three weeks later and I feel confident this is not the case. Despite all the talk about Obama's political reinvention as we head into the State of the Union, it's become increasingly clear that Obama isn't caving to business. He's shrewdly co-opting it.

Scheiber's data points: Daley is a powerless sop, Obama's ballyhooed regulatory re-think is "likely to be quite trivial," and the president's appointment of GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to some council on competitiveness was another cheap way to draw businessy applause for empty symbolism. So what's the upshot for, you know, the American people? Scheiber is positively dripping with cynicism:

Repeat after me: Co-opting Corporate America does not equal good public policy, co-opting Corporate America does not equal good public policy

If nothing else, that will deprive the eventual GOP nominee of much needed campaign cash, and will defuse the energy behind the shadowy corporate front groups the GOP deployed so effectively during the midterms.

Long before then, though, the political support of the business community could pay dividends. One of the arguments the president will make in the State of the Union is about the need for investments in infrastructure and education—which provide stimulus now and boost productivity in the future—even as we rein in the long-term deficit. The early Republican response has been reflexive opposition: Budget cuts now, budget cuts later, budget cuts forever. But business leaders could help Obama advance this agenda on Capitol Hill given their pull with the GOP and their natural affinity for such investments.

Obama's other big goal for the State of the Union (and beyond) is to convince the public he's obsessively focused on job-creation—hence the "competitiveness" theme the president will use to frame his speech. The dirty little secret of macroeconomic policy is that most of the decisions that will influence job growth over the next two years have already been made. The beauty of the rapprochement with business is that it creates the appearance of a president rolling up his sleeves to solve the problem.

Remember, this is from an Obama supporter.

And not just any Obama supporter, either. Back in March 2008, this very same Noam Scheiber was trying to reassure the world not that Obama was pulling a fast one on Corporate America while staying true to left-of-center economic and regulatory policy, but something closer to the opposite:

Drink up! Happy Hour's now enforced by law.

Despite Obama's reputation for grandiose rhetoric and utopian hope-mongering, the Obamanauts aren't radicals–far from it. They're pragmatists–people who, when an existing paradigm clashes with reality, opt to tweak that paradigm rather than replace it wholesale. […]

The Obamanauts are decidedly non-ideological. They occasionally reach out to progressive think tanks like the Economic Policy Institute, but they also come from a world–academic economics–whose inhabitants generally lean right. (And economists at the University of Chicago lean righter than most.) As a result, they tend to be just as comfortable with ideological diversity as the candidate they advise.

That piece was called "The Audacity of Data: Barack Obama's surprisingly non-ideological policy shop," and it's best re-read with a laugh track.

I debated Scheiber just before the 2008 election, which you can watch at this link (where it's broken down into segments) or below:

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  1. months of mau-mauing


    1. You’re right. Going even further, Noam Scheiber must be a secret Birther say since Kenyans are famous for mau-mauing.

      1. Whatever he is…he’s drinking a Cosmo. -10,000 + one punch in the face.

  2. Oh, the pretzels the left is twisting itself into because of Obama is almost worth his awful presidency. I mean, if we’re going to get fucked, shouldn’t we at least be entertained?

    1. As the representative from Pennsylvania, I fucking love PRETZELS.

      If you’re going to get fucked shouldn’t your lover at least be some kind of contortionist? I’ll say it again, I fucking love PRETZELS.

    2. He was against re-regulating before he was against de-degulating… hmmmm. Well, uh, he was always for spending more while saying he was not going to spend as much, but not so much…

  3. He’s shrewdly co-opting it.

    I don’t think very many people (who do not work for news outlets owned by General Electric) would think J Immelt is anything but a corporatist rent-seeker.

    1. The folks at CNBC don’t think any differently either, but also don’t think of this a being a bad thing.

  4. Off topic, bu has anybody at Reason commented on the news that Bob Barr has been doing PR for fo0rmer haitian dictator Baby Doc?

      1. That’s what she says to all her clients Max.

        1. Don’t listen to this guy, you’re awesome Max!

    1. For an obsessive troll, you sure don’t pay attention to posts that are days old, Edward. Were you jerking off for 5 hours straight that day or something? Of course you were.

    2. Yes Max, there was a post about it a few days ago.

      BTW, has anyone commented on the vibrator Max has stuck up his ass? I’m worried he won’t be able to get it out…

      1. Helle, help him then, you selfish bastard.

    3. Yep, pointed out here as well as Balko’s blog.

    4. Yes, a few days back at Hit & Run, and also various (including me) on Twitter.

    5. Can anyone bring a rolled-up newspaper? There’s quite a lot of snout-rubbing to be done to the pet yorkie…

    6. Re: Max,

      Off topic, bu has anybody at Reason commented on the news that Bob Barr has been doing PR for fo0rmer haitian dictator Baby Doc?

      Like just a couple of days ago, numbnut. There’s also a comment on it in…..76219.html

      And don’t do banalities on the carpet! I just had it steamed! Bad Max, bad!

  5. LOL! Oh man, for a minute there I thought the libtards have grown up. Nope. Same old poser douchebags. Yes, Noam is right that Obama’s fake-ass triangulation is not gonna work and obviously bullshit. Why do liberals keep bitching and moaning about cynical politics of Republicans when they themselves are brash practitioners of it? They also suck at it. Cynicism to liberals is achieving some kind of intellectual nirvana; I think it’s a goal for many of the liberals just to get to that point.

    1. I disagree. Republicans are actually GOOD at it! 😀

  6. No real man would ever, and I mean ever, order the pink drink sitting in front of Scheiber in the third photo. I mean, have some self-respect for chrissakes.

    1. I think that’s a semen-tini. On the rocks.

      1. No homo

      2. Do you call yourself Spartacus because you’re rebelling against your sex master?

  7. Oh, brother. Shame on Noam for putting so little faith in the intelligence of the American people. Scheiber may believe the appearance of rolling up sleeves will fool people, but those days of Obama fooling anyone are long gone.

  8. Watching The office of The President get rolled by, at this point, everyone is getting old. I’m tired of the fluffers. He got rolled by a Dem congress and everyone talked about how he was “accomplishing something”. He got rolled by the Euros, Russians, Krgyks, and most recently the Chinese and the fluffers talked about his diplomatic skills. He’s being a complete corporatist tool and his fluffers are trying to spin it like Obama is the one who’s winning. WTF is the government getting out of this alliance? Less tax revenue?

    1. The opportunity for more totalitarian control in the future, especially when they must protect us from the mayhem they made.

  9. shadowy corporate front groups

    Now I’m scared.

    1. Scared of what? Papercuts?

    2. I live in the hood, I know what real shadowy types look like.

  10. When Obama plants the magic beans he traded the cow for, and climbs up to the castle in the sky and defeats the giant and bring the goose which lays the golden eggs home, you’ll see!

    1. I wish I trusted that he had that much of a plan. Its a lot more like one of those early 20th century comedies where the protagonist is completely behind on control room tasks and ends up flailing around and pushing buttons at random by the end.

      1. Not such a great analogy. These clowns have randomly pushed buttons as their first course of action. . .and then crowing that the bizarre results is actually what they had in mind.

    2. Poor giant… why doesn’t anyone think about the giants rights? Jack was trespassing on his property, for his own selfish gain. All the giant wanted to do was kill the thief and have a nice supper of something that clearly isn’t his kind. Hey, that’s a good metaphor for liberal economics!

  11. “That was distressing not just because the idea of Obama as anti-business is wrong…”
    “…it’s become increasingly clear that Obama isn’t caving to business. He’s shrewdly co-opting it.”

    Yes! Because coporatism is actually business friendly! Why is it so hard to understand that big government in bed with big business means free unicorns for big populace? It’s a win/win people!

    We. Are. Screwed.

    1. Barracko Obamalini anyone?

  12. Obama’s other big goal for the State of the Union (and beyond) is to convince the public he’s obsessively focused on job-creation ? hence the “competitiveness” theme the president will use to frame his speech.

    Is he going to kick-start the Autobahn project? The timing could not be more perfect…

    1. No, but they will build a train that stops right at your front door. It can’t fail!

  13. Despite all the talk about Obama’s political reinvention as we head into the State of the Union, it’s become increasingly clear that Obama isn’t caving to business. He’s shrewdly co-opting it.

    Oh Fascism we will have,
    Oh Fascism we will have!
    Heigh ho, the dairy-o, fascism we will have!

  14. Obama’s other big goal for the State of the Union (and beyond) is to convince the public he’s obsessively focused on job-creation

    I think that train has left the station. And nobody was on it.

    1. Yeah, but it’s a high speed train and will get wherever it is going real fast.

      Where is it going again, by the way?

  15. Matt, what you read as cynicism, I read as mild disappointment combined with typical TEAM BLUE partisan douchery, wrapped with a shit-eating grin of “I know it’s bullshit, they know it’s bullshit, but the rubes in public slurp it up like free beer at the Elks lodge. And the lapdogs in the major media? God bless ’em.”

    Maybe this weak tea is what passes for cynicism in partisan-dickhead land, but it offends the real cynics who know better.

  16. Drink up! Happy hour is now enforced by law!

    We’ve got a bigger problem now?

    1. ‘Don’t forget our house special – it’s called the Mama Obama Screwdriver. 1 part Jack Daniels, 2 parts purple Kool-aid, and a jigger of formaldehyde from the jar with Mao’s brain that we have in the back storeroom.’

      1. Chicago Uber Alles?

        1. At least the secret police won’t be wearing suede / denim…

  17. Cynicism? Here’s a news flash, girlfriend: We’re in it to win it. As Leo the Lip, Nick Gillespie’s favorite Cardinal, once put it, “Nice guys finish seventh.” And we’re coming in first.

    1. Do you share that secret language with another, or is it one that only you understand?

  18. No, it’s one that only you can’t understand. Too easy!

    1. I don’t understand it either.

    2. More often than not, you make as much sense as a tweeker laughing at one of his own jokes.

  19. Agreed….I read this guys article. Dripping with political hackery and a clear disingenuous approach to critical problems in America. This only proves that Obozo is the ‘Manchurian Candidate’.
    He does not respect America and wants to see it cut down in size and importance. This little butthole Schrieber is a rat.

  20. Scheiber is what? twelve? Why do I give a flying eff what this guy thinks?

    Why would I waste the time to even comment?

    Oh, shit! I just did.

  21. When folks at Reason go on teh internets like why are they so polite to folks like Noam and just attack them viciously and in an ill intended manner – I mean what does being nice to these folks get you besides an invite to do another bloggingheads and reasons not to reach fist ta cuffs when they meet at DC cocktail parties – hinestly – imagine the ratings bloggingheads would get if Matt Welch went after Noam with insults and attacked his family – now that would be repeat viewing…it’s not like your basically attacking him as a pointless hack on HnR – why not right to his face – politics ain’t too far from Maury Povitch anyhoo…

  22. So what Matt is saying, without wanting to really go there and actually admit to doing so in public, is that Palin was right about these swine all along.

    We’re fucked. Peron did this shit to Argentina. Only Michelle doesn’t really count as Evita.

  23. Honestly, Matt, the night of the State of the Union Speech and you waste your time dismantling…some guy I’ve never heard of and certainly no one with a lick of power in Washington cares about?

    Still not re-subscribing to REASON.

  24. If the federal government really wants to help business, how about an across-the-board exemption from all federal regulations for the real innovators and job creators – small business? Because federal regulations are designed for (and all too often by) big companies, “one-size-fits-all” national regulations impose far higher compliance costs per employee on small businesses than on big business, which can afford to absorb the costs of large internal staffs and armies of lawyers to comply with massively complex federal regulations. Let the states regulate small businesses so the federal government can focus on the big corporate malefactors. Following the original meaning of the interstate commerce clause and freeing small business from federal regulation will do far, far more to unleash the job-generating power of small business than a dozen of Mr. Obama’s token regulatory reviews. See

  25. In the last year around this time, the new design of Nike was released, its name is Nike Air Max 2012. The difference is these shoes payed their attention to the Chinese market, and the two main color is white and red color-up. What is more, there are some Chinese specific color on their laces, this add some special characteristics for this New Air Max 2012 shoes on some extent.All of these make you take it easy to buy this shoes, and also improve the selling qualities of Nike Air Max 2012 shoes. They are famous as the latest shoes and have become more and more popular smong the young people. As far as their opinion, Nike is the king of sports shoes, because they are the fans of NBA.

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