Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

by Ron Suskind
3.7 34

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Confidence Men 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
Ahhh, it’s an election year and time for politics. My first dive was into Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men and it was amazing. Summarizing the early years of the Obama presidency, the book contrasts the hopes and desires of the young president with the soul-crushing realities of mismanagement and incompetence. Although, I didn’t always agree with Suskind’s premise of the self-destruction of males in powerful positions, there was plenty of research to back it up. From the way President Obama heeded to the male dominated Wall Street bankers, to his exclusion of women in some of the administration’s most serious decisions, the gender issues were presented fairly and without bias. More than anything, the book portrayed the president’s leadership style as bucking major decisions to others, mostly the alpha males in his staff. Likewise, his inability to confront those underneath him, such as Timothy Geithner and Rahm Emanuel, resulted in poor compromises and the inability for any real change. It’s no accident that the book opened with a portrayal of Elizabeth Warren, who seemed to embody the reformer that the public desired, and closed with her being denied a role at the Consumer Protection Bureau that she was instrumental in creating. Suskind presents a superb historical analysis of the challenges of this presidency and is uncompromising in pointing out its flaws. And unlike most of the garbage that passes for political analysis, which is really just partisan hackery, Suskind sticks to the facts, which are neither kind to the Democrats nor the Republicans. A must read for anyone interested in modern politics.
FinanceBuzz More than 1 year ago
Having finished another book that provided a good overview of the financial crisis of 2008, I wanted to look at this era from the political side. "Confidence Men" uses the campaign and first two years of Barack Obama's presidency as this vehicle. The interaction of Wall Street and Washington is interesting, though, to get the most of this tale, I think you need understanding of the financial and governmental issues that drove the crisis. "Confidence Men" comes to similar summaries of the causes, but a book like "The End of Wall Street" really helps to illuminate the arcane financial instruments and associated regulations much better than does this book. The greatest achievement of this book was the story of just how incompetent the Obama White House was during it's first two years in office. While it is easy to look at the major legislative landmarks of this administration - health care reform and financial reform - and cringe at the governmental overreach into our freedoms and economic liberties, the behind-the-scenes story told by Suskind makes you realize that we should be thankful that, as Obama and many of his advisors wanted, it could have been far worse. Tim Geithner is virtually a hero for standing in the way of socialistic measures such as nationalizing banks, a move that greatly appealed to Obama. A key reason this and other "failures" from the perspective of the left occurred was, as demonstrated aptly by Suskind across the first two years of the administration, was a complete and utter incompetence of leadership and management on the part of Barack Obama. This should not be surprising given his near total absence of executive leadership experience coming into the White House. Though the Democrats had a lock on both houses of Congress and the White House for well over a year, the left failed to capitalize on this, largely because of a blessedly dysfunctional White House where, as noted by one senior staff member, "no one was home." Granted, many rivalries and ambitious staffers played roles in these short-comings, a failure of management allowed these obstacles to be significant stumbling blocks. Overall an interesting read about the linkages between Washington and New York during a pivotal era for our nation that also highlights, from an author that cannot be considered a "conservative writer," the numerous failings of President Barack Obama that most of us with our eyes and ears open have intuitively known to be the case.
Jack Smith More than 1 year ago
Living in hedge fund heaven, I read every book on the financial crisis. Finally I read the book with interviews with those on the very inside. Finally, the facts reported comported with the actions taken or not taken in public since the election in '08. Finally saw the sad, depressing truth about how the White House has done little and the Treasury has protected and reinstated the state of play that led to the crisis. All one needs to do is read the summary on pages 405-407. So depressing for the future and any hope.
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DickK More than 1 year ago
An excellent writing about the people in and around government and their influence.
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I was expecting some kind of balanced view of "Inside the White House" but found just the usual liberal bias. That is, as far as I read---I quit reading it about 1/3 of the way through because I found it so boring.
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Susskind does an in-depth reporting of the current administration's policy steps and missteps. It certainly details the "inside baseball" aspects of policy-making, and the dangers of having a chief executive without executive experience. For those details, it is (barely) worth reading. However, Susskind portrays the administration's failings as largely a failure to execute on priorities in major policy sectors (health care, financial reform, stimulus). But he accepts the priorities as worthy without examination. For example, he would have increased the use of evidence-based medicine in the health care bill, but without any skepticism that such a program depends as much on implementation as concept--the idea that government can function as a major force for cost-control is left unquestioned. The lack of fact-checking is well-documented in other reviews...I can only add that I was amused by his misstatements about Enron, and the role and functions of the derivatives markets. Simplistic and ill-informed, to put it mildly. If you believe that government is about "the greatest good for the greatest number", as Susskind does, and that the major failing of this administration is to implement more spending programs and centrally planned regulatory schemes--this is the book for you. If you're skeptical of big government, believe that government exists to safeguard individual rights and provide basic infrastructure, and aware of the central role of government policy in the current fiscal and monetary crisis, you might want to keep looking.
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