The Donkey Is Sleeping Today

The Warren Commission

In Economics, Great Recession, Politics on July 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

The Donkey Edge was poised to make Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner the subject of its latest “Profiles In Bedwetting” series, but a funny thing happened on the way to the computer. Geithner put on his Depends, made the rounds of the Sunday morning political talk shows, and supported rolling back the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. While that has been the official administration position since Obama was a candidate, it was still welcome news.

But the biggest shock was his tacit endorsement of Elizabeth Warren to run the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Geithner praised Warren as “probably the most effective advocate for consumer protection.” After the bombshell reported by The Huffington Post last week that he was actively campaigning behind-the-scenes against her nomination, this turnaround may sound strangely fishy.

Geithner does right thing, escapes mockery

Interestingly enough, the White House seems to be closing ranks around her as of late.  Just today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that Warren was a “terrific candidate” to lead the CFPB and is “very confirmable” for the job. As Ryan Grim from The Huffington Post mentions in his article on Gibbs:

Establishing that Warren is confirmable is a crucial step toward her nomination.

So why is the White House suddenly laying the pipe for a possible Warren nomination?  Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that progressive activists and labor unions have gathered over 170,000 signatures on petitions in support of Warren’s nomination over the past week.

And it’s not hard to see why. Warren spoke at Netroots, proving why she would make an excellent choice. She has been and will be a fierce advocate for the middle class, will fight for tougher consumer regulations, and will work tirelessly to end the current cycle of boom-bust economics that 30 years of failed conservative, supply-side theory has wrought.

Putting People First

Simply put, one can learn a lot about a person by the enemies they keep, and Elizabeth Warren has some very formidable enemies. She is opposed by Republicans in both the House and the Senate, as well as by Wall Street and financial lobbyists who rightly fear tighter regulations and more accountability.

CNN’S Political Ticker has more…

Warren, a Harvard professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), is an outspoken consumer advocate who originally proposed the idea for such a bureau.

[…]

Over the last two years, Warren has been a loud critic of the financial industry and the big banks, blasting what she calls their “tricks and traps” in obscuring the details of financial products.

Whoever gets the job will have enormous power shaping the future path of the agency and what it will regulate. That’s why Republicans who say they’d like to see a more “balanced” candidate are warning against “naming an activist to this position,” as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee has said.

Trust me, if Bob Corker is against her, then she must be doing something right.

And if there was one thing we learned at the Netroots Nation conference last week, it is that our movement is growing in numbers and influence. Even the right-wing sewer, Politico, has taken notice, publishing a piece this morning about the Netroots’ growing influence in Democratic politics. Here is an excerpt from Charles Mahtesian’s article:

In five years, the annual convention of progressive bloggers known as Netroots Nation has grown to become one of the premier events on the Democratic calendar.

It’s also turned into a leading event on the Democratic candidate circuit, a showcase of political talent and a prerequisite for aspiring politicians who are looking to catch the attention of some of the most important and influential voices on the left — and hopefully tap into the vein of Internet fundraising.

The halls of the Rio Hotel here in Sin City aren’t exactly choked with pols running for office. But it’s not uncommon to find candidates from some of the top races in the nation quietly huddling with bloggers and activists over coffee, holding small fundraisers or showing up at after-hours events where they can get acquainted with online activists who stand to have a powerful effect on their races by virtue of their blogging platforms and broad, politically-inclined readerships.

But the two thousand activists who met in Las Vegas last week can’t do it alone. It takes all of us to fight the good fight. Although not a politician, Elizabeth Warren must be confirmed as the first head of CFPB because she will put her stamp on the agency, setting the tone for years to come. And we want someone in there who will fight for us for a change.

It will take enormous and sustained grassroots pressure to do it, but signing this petition from our friends at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is a good first step.

-SF

  1. “the donkey” is so smart! a tireless worker and friend to “the people”. i lay apples and carrots at “his” feet and give thanks for
    his remarkable ability to carry the load for “all of us.” ride donkey, ride!

  2. Donkey: After the bombshell reported by The Huffington Post last week that [Geithner] was actively campaigning behind-the-scenes against [Warren’s] nomination, this turnaround may sound strangely fishy.

    Look. I’m an active Progressive. But shoddy reporting is exponentially more shoddy when it’s carrying a message I might want to like.

    I’m all for Warren. But the end does not ever justify the means.

    http://www.salon.com/technology/how_the_world_works/2010/07/20/elizabeth_warren_and_obama

    Nasiripour’s story was on the severely emaciated side of thinly sourced. The accusation may well be true, but the meat of the article was attributed to a single anonymous source “familiar” with Geithner’s views and yet did not include even one quote from that source.

    Some of the same people who would be quick to scorn such reporting as highly dubious had it appeared in the New York Times or Washington Post — as likely to be a plant by Warren’s supporters looking to pick a public fight as it was a real leak from the Geithner camp — immediately treated the story as proven fact. It’s been embarrassing, really, to see how much second- and third- and fourth-day coverage has started with the presumption that Geithner is blocking Warren, on the basis of nothing more than a single Huffington Post story.

    • Thank you for your thoughts. In reading the original post, our intention was not to comment on the veracity (or lack thereof) of the article in The Huffington Post, but merely to illustrate that there was a fishy correlation between the article and Geithner’s unusually verbose and copious praise for Warren days later on the Sunday talk show circuit. Coincidence? We think not.

      Perhaps The Huffington Post’s Shahien Nasiripour lacked proper journalistic form in his reporting of the story, but even the Salon article to which you link doesn’t refute that what Nasiripour reports may indeed be true. What’s more, several reputable news agencies have reported for months on the strained relationship between Geithner and Warren.

      And in a political sense, what’s the Treasury Department supposed to do in the face of such a story, issue a confirmation that Geithner is indeed working to scuttle her potential nomination?

      Embarrassing to Mr. Leonard of Salon or not, the story (along with several other factors) did help galvanize hundreds of thousands of progressives to show support for Warren’s nomination in petitions, emails, and calls to Congress.

      In the end, our objective was not to comment on journalistic ethics but to illustrate the fishy nature of newfound administration praise and support for Warren’s nomination, welcome the sudden conversion, and then illustrate why Warren was (is) perfect for the job.

      • I may come to regret belaboring the issue, but WTH …

        1. “…there was a fishy correlation between the article and Geithner’s unusually verbose and copious praise for Warren days later on the Sunday talk show circuit. Coincidence? We think not. ”

        Viable correlation can be drawn only if all variables are accurately represented. Nasiripour’s report is the ‘fishy’ variable, though I’m aware there are peeps simply itching to find fishy-ness in Geithner places. (I’m no Giethner fan, but I don’t go digging for rope to hang him.)

        2. “Perhaps … Nasiripour lacked proper journalistic form in his reporting of the story, but even the Salon article … doesn’t refute that what Nasiripour reports may indeed be true.”

        Holy tabloid-esque double-speak. If this is the new standard to which we hold our journos accountable, then we’re in major f**king trouble. Nevertheless, evidently Geithner himself on Sunday refuted Nasiripour’s weakly supported assertions. Absent any corroboration for Nasiripour’s 3rd-party take, and given Geithner’s own first-hand take, it became a non-issue not at all worthy of the drama.

        3. “What’s more, several reputable news agencies have reported for months on the strained relationship between Geithner and Warren.”

        Seriously? These people are professionals, not partisan pols up for re-election. Professionals butt heads all the damn time.

        ‘Strained relationship’ is a euphemism for ‘this chick is too far up my already hyper-stressed ass and I really wish she’d back off so I could cut my daily Advil dosage.’ This is completely irrelevant to Geithner’s professional assessment as to whether or not Warren is qualified to head her own brainchild, CFPB.

        3. “[T]he story (along with several other factors) did help galvanize hundreds of thousands of progressives to show support for Warren’s nomination in petitions, emails, and calls to Congress.”

        Yes, well, I won’t deny that I like that end, but the crappy means taints it.

        Plus, who’s to say it wouldn’t have been the same end by other means? Warren is no shrinking violet. When it looked like Dobb’s was willing to slice CFPB out of the Reform bill for the sake of votes, she effectively rallied public forces (one of the many reasons I like her– she’ll keep this infant Bureau’s efforts and successes on the public’s radar.)

        I just don’t believe we need to climb onto questionable or otherwise unsubstantiated bandwagons (hallmark of the far right, no?) in order to effectively drive a Progressive agenda.

        • Oops. That second 3 should be a 4. I’m pretty good at spelling, but clearly I suck at counting.

        • Thanks for your comment, but we take exception with a few of your assertions.

          1. “Viable correlation can be drawn only if all variables are accurately represented.”

          This axiom may hold true in mathematical theory, but in the real world, a person’s or (in this case) the press’ actions elicit a reaction from their intended target. The Huffington Post published a bombshell of a story, which unleashed a hue and cry in the progressive community that forced the administration and Geithner into damage control, lavishing praise on Warren to blunt the anger. Action causes reaction, nothing more, nothing less. And yes, the motives were fishy, as the administration only started lavishing public praise on Warren after this story broke.

          2. “These people are professionals, not partisan pols up for re-election. Professionals butt heads all the time.”

          Indeed, they do, but again, in the real world, politics, personalities, power plays, and petty differences determine who gets hired, fired, and promoted on a daily basis. Do you really believe that Washington works purely on a meritocracy? We also think you’re putting way too much confidence in Geithner’s egalitarianism.

          3. “…I won’t deny that I like that end, but the crappy means taints it.”

          Really? The fact that Mr. Nasiripour may or may not have failed to adhere to proper journalistic form taints the fact that over 215,000 people have signed petitions and galvanized support for Warren to run this new agency? It taints the fact that more than 60 House members and 12 senators (and the list is growing) have signed a letter to the president in support of her nomination? It taints the fact that because of this support, her potential appointment and subsequent work on the CFPB could help millions of American families for decades to come?

          We simply don’t feel the crime merits such rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.

          And if you are going to quote anyone at Salon, please make sure to quote the estimable Glenn Greenwald, who wrote the following about The Huffington Post story with which you are so upset (emphasis ours).

          UPDATE III: Regarding the Geithner/Warren story, here’s an email I received from the reporter at The Huffington Post who first reported that Geithner opposes Warren’s appointment, Shahien Nasiripou:

          “I just read your post “Obama-era mysteries” in which you mention Geithner, Warren and my story on the controversy. Specifically, you write: “but his claim that Geithner opposes the appointment of Elizabeth Warren (first reported by The Huffington Post) is one which a Geithner aide now emphatically denies.” I just want to point out that Geithner’s aide, Michael Barr, never refuted the story. Not once.

          He, along with Geithner spokesman Andrew Williams and David Axelrod, simply told reporters that she was “exceptionally well-qualified” (or some variation on that) but never once did anyone refute the story. Their responses have been non-denial denials. Saying someone is qualified doesn’t mean you support his/her appointment.”

          He’s right about that. Several readers have made the same point: that the Geithner aide quoted in the above-linked post nor other Obama officials have denied the story that Geithner opposes Warren.

          That is until they were forced to do so days later under intense pressure from the progressive community. Here’s a link to the entire story:

          http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/07/16/contradictions

          And here’s Kevin Drum’s take at Mother Jones:

          But HuffPo’s Shahien Nasiripour says Warren has a problem: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner doesn’t like her… Well, maybe this source is right, maybe it isn’t. But I certainly find the whole thing plausible…

          Probably because “several reputable news agencies have reported for months on the strained relationship between the two.” Again, the link:

          http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/07/who-will-obama-choose-protect-consumers

          But perhaps in your view Greenwald and Drum are also practicing shoddy journalism, as they merely did what The Donkey Edge did – point out the incendiary nature of the story and make the correlation that it forced the administration into damage control and a public support of Warren that until that time it was unwilling to make.

          In the end, we think your beef really shouldn’t be with The Donkey Edge but with The Huffington Post itself. After all, they are the ones who stand by their original story and who are still allowing Mr. Nasiripour to report at their site.

          • I may have screwed up the reply thread, and replied to my own reply instead of to Donkey’s.

            To recap: spelling good. Counting and thread org, not so much.

  3. “But perhaps in your view Greenwald and Drum are also practicing shoddy journalism, as they merely did what The Donkey Edge did … “

    I beg to differ. Both Greenwald’s and Drum’s commentaries admitted, in so many words, that Nasiripour’s sourcing was questionably verified. They provided their readers (of which I am one) the entire context, and then offered their own take.

    You did not. Whether by intention or ignorance or otherwise, I’ve no idea and I make no presumptions.

    [B]ut in the real world, a person’s or (in this case) the press’ actions elicit a reaction …

    Indeed. And it’s for this VERY reason that our Fourth Estate has an insanely critical mandate to proffer information as fact only if it has met the strict journo standards of verification. ‘Might have, or might not have’ doesn’t cut it.

    There is a critical distinction between journalism and editorial. Today, that line gets blurred. (Too frequently, IMHO.) But when we *intentionally* blur that line, then we are forced to afford credibility to peeps like Horowitz and Breitbart. (In a word: Ick.)

    ” Really? The fact that Mr. Nasiripour may or may not have failed to adhere to proper journalistic form taints the fact …”

    Yes! In your paragraph, suppose we substituted — Mad Libs style — some right-winger issue with similar cause & effect? Damn skippy it matters.

    Look. The unfortunate thing — my main issue, really — is that it’s sub-standard journo handiwork that, in Domino fashion, prompted action. This is the hallmark of right-wing ‘journalism’ — aka propaganda — and perhaps I’m hyper-sensitive to it. (However, I can assure you that no garments nor teeth were harmed in the making of my posts.)

    As an aside …

    Obviously, I’m new in your neighborhood– for good or ill, curiosity rules me: what’s with ‘The Donkey Feels Blissfully Wedded’? sig? I don’t recall any candle-lit dinners or even a chick flick.

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