Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama's Running Game: Take the Hit on AIG Bonuses

Is President Barack Obama brave for saying we can blame him for the AIG bonuses, saying he accepts responsibility for a mess he didn't create? Does he have some kind of Messiah Complex? Or is he simply using a common customer service approach that moves people beyond anger and frustration toward accepting a solution?

I think it's the latter; he's using a customer service technique:
"I know a lot of you are outraged about this. I'm outraged, too," ... (Obama said today at a Town Hall meeting in a part of California that's steeped in Republicans. He's talking about the $173 millions paid to American International Group executives with federal bailout money) ... "We're going to do everything we can to fix it," he said. "So for everybody in Washington who's busy scrambling, trying to figure out how to blame somebody else, just go ahead and talk to me, because it's my job to make sure that we fix these messes, even if I don't make them." (San Francisco Chronicle)
Then he went on using an analogy about people being strapped to a bomb and trying to talk them into easing off the detonator trigger.

I wonder how much he was motivated by not only public outrage and a frenzied flock of finger-pointers in Washington, but also by hearing that AIG executives are getting death threats.

Anyway, what I noticed is he used a classic customer service tactic that calms down angry customers without ever telling the customer to "calm down." When you tell angry people to calm down, their rage usually escalates.

But has he left himself at the mercy of right-wing spin doctors on this one? Remember, Rush Limbaugh started calling the economic crisis "the Obama recession" months before Obama was even sworn in as president. I've already read at least one conservative blog seizing on Obama's acceptance of responsibility as an opportunity to dump more crap on him.

Obama is an optimist, from what I can see, so perhaps he has faith in the American people to understand what he's said and evaluate his message correctly. As for his opponents, he probably knows that there's a group in this country that he will never win over no matter how rational his argument or eloquent his plea to shut up, move on, and solve the problem.

I hope he's successful at diffusing this bomb and knows which color wire to cut. It would be a shame if he's just thrown himself on a live grenade as an ill-fated hero.

The San Francisco Chronicle has raw video from a local TV station of Obama speaking at the Town Hall meeting in California. The following video from CNN appears to be the president answering reporters' questions.

Worthwhile Links:


Suzanne said...

On BlogHer I saw that you are looking for other women who are outraged about AIG, and I sort of blogged about it, in a roundabout way, on Tuesday. I also ranted about the criminalness of a Countrywide exec starting a new firm to buy his old failed loans at discounts, modify them, and make tons of money. I am utterly galled at how vile people are.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Good morning Vérité Parlant,

Someone had to fall on the sword. That someone is the president. I'm not saying it's right; just necessary that someone accept responsibility.

The Republicans and conservative jackals are feigning dismay, anger and disgust as they utilize tactics to blame the president for the economic problems we now have in the country. They conveniently forget the politics and Republican decision-making of the past eight years. They hope the American taxpayer will as well.

The President inherited this mess; he accepts the responsibility of being the good soldier; unlike those who put their own personal selfish agenda ahead of the nation.


SjP said...

I'm ticked off about AIG, Congress, and this entire fiasco. But, having said that - I am intrigued with the POTUS and his ability to take the steam right out of an issue. He left many a mouth dropped when he said "the buck stops here". And with that statement his unheard question quickly became "now what you got to say?" And then he went on about the business of being POTUS.