Confidence Men

Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind (Harper Perennial) ISBN 978-0-06-143046-6


Former Czech President Vaclav Havel once stated: Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.


This captures the challenge of the first two years of the Obama presidency as documented by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind. He shows how two major bills, one on the reform of the financial sector and the other on health care reform, are much watered down versions of what could have been had Obama seized the opportunities available at the beginning of his presidency.


Instead he seems overwhelmed and leaves much to his very experienced staff, one of whom reportedly stated: We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.


After the negative midterm polls Obama turns a corner. He starts to claim his position with confidence and reviews both his senior staff and the White House administrative structure.


The book is comprehensive and detailed. It is a riveting read that helped me to better understand the financial crisis. It exposes the vested interests and links between politics and the shady world of financial engineering. Luckily I also found glimmers of hope. Suskind’s report runs until early 2011. History will tell whether Obama’s stepping up the stairs has been successful.


Josine Overdevest 


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