Commentary Magazine


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Outraged or Satisfied?

Here’s the best part of an AP story on AIG and the president:

Against this backdrop, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs sought to explain AIG.

He told reporters that Geithner “last week engaged with the CEO of AIG to communicate what we thought were outrageous and unacceptable bonuses,” and “received a commitment to lessen some of the bonuses for senior executives….”

Asked directly Obama is satisfied that he found out about the bonuses in a timely fashion, Gibbs said: “Yes, the president is satisfied.”

Is this going to be the refrain whenever the White House finds out about the results of its incompetence? The president will be satisfied that he was promptly alerted to a debacle he could have avoided? It looks like he may be in for a very satisfying four years.

But the question remains: why is Robert Gibbs talking about lowering bonuses and about promises made last week? Over a month ago Barack Obama said of corporate bailouts, “You are not going to be able to give out these big bonuses until you’ve paid taxpayers back, you can’t get corporate jets, you can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers dime.” We know the president believes that words matter, but it sometimes helps to get them in writing, (and not just on a teleprompter screen).

Finally, if President Obama is satisfied with what he was informed of and when he was informed of it then there’s no cause for “outrage,” is there?