Sunday, January 29, 2012

When pre-emptive poutrage proves you wrong...again

This is a cycle many of us have been noticing for a long time. Many times the poutrage engaged by President Obama's critics on the left is pre-emptive. In other words, they assume something is going to happen, gin up the Obama bashing, and then when it turns out not to be the case, either ignore it or take credit for the turnaround that happened only in their minds.

Case in point...Matt Taibbi's column on the foreclosure fraud settlement. First of all lets stipulate that no one has been more critical of Obama on the financial crisis than Taibbi. But I'll at least give him props for admitting he was wrong about the foreclosure settlement.

So there was big news yesterday on the foreclosure settlement front. We still have to wait and see what the final deal looks like, but there are reports out that the long-awaited settlement is a far, far better deal for the public than expected.

The immediate question that comes to mind is "its better than WHO expected, Matt?"

A couple of issues come into play here. First of all, as I pointed out back in November, the poutrage people were expressing about this deal was based on rumors they were hearing about what was in it. The fact of the matter is that a deal STILL hasn't been announced. But back then there was every reason to believe that anonymous leaks about what was included were coming from folks with an agenda. I'd suggest that those running with the leaks were simply getting played.

Secondly, Taibbi made the same mistake many others on the left did in thinking this one settlement was the be-all end-all of this administration's efforts to hold the banks accountable. That has NEVER been the case. As NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and others have been saying all along, this is a settlement dealing with one aspect of mortgage fraud...robo-signing during foreclosure.

If folks like Taibbi took just a moment to think about what is going on here - and what folks like him are actually saying - they might recognize why it was important to start with this one issue.

But my point was that, while a gross crime and one of the more obvious (and easily provable) parts of the criminal scheme common during the mortgage bubble years, robosigning is really an ancillary part of an even more enormous fraud that went on, and is still going on, in securitization/origination.

Aren't most of us aware by now that in a major probe such as this one its pretty standard practice to start with "the more obvious (and easily provable) parts of the criminal scheme" and then work your way up to the more complex?

But no, these poutragers want their perp walks...and then want them now! Damn the complicated legal process!

And so what is their conclusion when they see the case progressing in ways they had originally said they wanted it to? They frame it as a win for their heroes.

If these reports are true, it looks like New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California AG Kamala Harris have scored an enormous victory...

The deficiency these poutragers demonstrate over and over is a total inability to see the long game this administration is so adept at playing.

After awhile, it does get a bit tiring pointing this out all the time. But we need to keep watch on how these frames develop - if only to ensure that we don't fall into the trap ourselves.


  1. Part of the lefty media has turned to sensationalism and wingnuttia to remain relevant during the age of President Obama. What that means is (a) facts are optional; (b) so are accountability, integrity, and intellectual honesty. Why admit to being wrong about President Obama when one can simply lie and pretend that his good works can be ascribed to others?

    Indeed, I have noticed the pattern of certain lefty media people pre-emptively bashing the WH, framing stories negatively, and then crediting everyone and everything but the man in the moon for POTUS' good works. It's a way to keep a running narrative about POTUS as a disappointment or failure despite all the good which he has done and is doing. And it's why I no longer read media outfits such as Huffington Post or DailyKos, because those outfits are such big purveyors of anti-POTUS spin and mendacity.

    The pattern is more than worth pointing out, and I also agree that it is still too early to draw conclusions, positive or negative, until we can examine the details of the settlement.--GN

  2. Long ago, I learned the hard way to never get worked up about anything that was being ginned up by the poutragers. That was because if you waited a day or less for the actual facts, it would always turn out that they were overreacting. In fact, more often than not, they were reacting to a rumor of a rumor.

    I've seen it repeatedly. Overreact on health care reform. Overreact on DADT repeal. Overreact on NDAA. Overreact on the tax cut agreement. If there's a rumor out, they'll be out there screaming their heads off, and not once will you see them say "Oops! My bad."

  3. It seems that the new PL meme is that PBO is finally listening to OWS and standing up for the middle class and the poor. I can only imagine where these folks' heads have been for the past three years as PBO has stood up for income inequality over and over again, and it isn't in the clouds. As usual, it's in their posteriors!

  4. Perp walks serve only one function: to provide a photo opportunity that humiliates the accused (who is still presumed innocent at least as far as the law is concerned). That’s never struck me as very progressive. It also does nothing to guarantee that the accused will even be put on trial. Last year the former head of the IMF was perp walked for a non-financial crime… and now he’s back home in his Paris villa. The now-collapsed case against him did manage to destroy his political career though, so I guess there’s that.

    Seeing the people they blame for everything degraded may emotionally satisfy the PL but it is not a solution to the financial crisis. Premature legal cases would quickly die, none of this would help people facing foreclosure, and it would do nothing to keep any of it from ever happening again. But since half the PL never cared about these issues before, they’ll be satisfied with symbolism and only with symbolism.