Obama As Poker Player: He Really Does Have A ‘Tell’

The United States, obviously, has a special role to play on the international stage, regardless of who is president,” Mr. Obama said. “We are a very large, very wealthy, very powerful country. We have had outsized influence over world affairs for a century now. And you are now seeing a situation in which a whole host of other countries are doing very well and coming into their own, and naturally they are going to be more assertive in terms of their interests and ideas. And that’s a healthy thing.

Obama on getting stiffed at the G20. He lacks Clinton’s gift for often inspired parsing. Rather than embed meaning within meaning, Obama’s efforts actually draw attention. Note the past tense passive construct ‘We have had outsized influence’ stands out. No different than the WH’s correction of Axelrod’s cave on the Bush tax cuts. The WH quickly instructed him and others to claim he was misunderstood. Obama, they claim, is true to principle. Just that principle (ahem) is opposition to *permanently* extending Bush’s plutocratic wealth transfer subsidy. Don’t forget the military’s leaking that Obama’s hard deadline of 2011 Afghan draw down is now floated as December 31, 2014 (for now).

And that’s just in the last week.

Now put yourself in Beijing’s place. Or any G-20 leader sitting at the plenary session. Imagine your briefing on Obama before you arrived in Korea. You, like many leaders from Japan, Germany, China, Korea, etc. built your wealth and social stability on merchantilist predation on U.S. consumers and debt. And here comes yet another American president complaining that his country is tired of being a consumption and debt junkie. ‘Beijing has to stop manipulating its currency boosting its smack’, etc.

Next Media’s Animation on U.S.-China Currency Debate

Stronger men than Obama have gone to the pusher man. Most successfully Baker’s coup de main in 1985’s Plaza Accords. But then Baker knows how to play poker. His velvet hammer commanded respect.

Obama’s not that guy. Your briefing as a G-20 leader explains America’s too strung out now to handle the merchantilist product for much longer. The Fed QE easing/asset purchase doesn’t really threaten American inflating their way out of addicition. It’s more of an accounting measure for banks to re-configure their existing portfolios. But no American really understands that, especially CNBC reporters. So, your briefers advise, a few PR releases denouncing the move are meaningless but knock the young American off stride.

It’s all so inconvenient. You’ve been so focused on perfecting your labs and recruiting your mules like WalMart getting tastes of your junk into the American ‘tragedy of the commons’. You’re not used to thinking about responsibility, creating stable win-win international systems. Yours is the zero-sum game of wealth accumulation. Now you’ve got to think about what you need from a post-American debt junkie world.

The American junkie was convenient for everyone. Still no need to act precipitously; America is so hollowed out now all they export really is tweets. Don’t risk siding with Obama now against the Yuan, your briefers caution. The future is in flux. He can’t stand up to Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Boehner, etc. Besides, he always screws his allies and flatters his foes. The guy just admitted U.S. diminishment in Asia, after all, where ‘face’ is all. And worse, it’s clear the Americans don’t have a plan for methadone/detox other than more speeches about ‘Green jobs’ or – wait for it – more tax cuts!!

Why not kick the can down a road? Milk the junkie. And see what happens. With Obama it’s obvious the deal always gets better by waiting him out. He’ll probably even end up calling his own initial position ‘outsized’, to boot.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Poor Clyde Prestowitz. He’s realized the Chinese won’t fall for a Plaza Accords ploy.


    He’s right that the Chinese learned from the Japanese and perfected their zero-sum predation on a hapless U.S. drunk on ‘consumer welfare’. The financial engineering class here will be our hospice care and their agent, slowing increasing the painkillers to ‘ease’ that final moment.

  2. Comment says

    The NYT published the OSI Nazi report – it reads like a compendium of all the most awful people Uncle Pat was defending .

  3. Comment says

    Here’s what we’d do if we were writing SNL’s skits – we’d use banquo’s ghost in MacBeth as inspiration and have Obama be haunted by a Ghost of Dubya – a snickering goofing deciding malaproping Dubya – whenever he is speaking – But it will a ghost he can see and hear, but the audience cannot (like Banquo) – Because Obama is caught in the odd situation of being haunted by the ghost of someone who is still alive. Almost everything Obama has to deal with on a day to day basis is something that can be traced right back to something Bush did or did not do. But he can no longer get away with saying that – so picture Obama giving a press conferenc about the economy – as he is discussing jobs or taxes a snicking Dubya ghost appears before him laughing at him and snickering and giggling. But no one in the assembled press corp or TV audience can see him – But Obama can see him and he starts reacting to the ghost – but people see him talking to the air, just like MacBeth.

    We’d try that as a theme – so even when Obama is with Michelle in privacy – the snickering Bush visage appears at inopportune times

    No direct allusions to MacBeth needed – just borrow the concept and let Modo feel like a genius when she teases out the allusion.

  4. Comment says

    re SNL if the Chinese gov told Immelt they did not like the skit – that whole cast would be out of work immediately. Also – SNL continues this trend of thinking annoying is funny. Ed Schultz does this – he’ll show annoying footage of Boehner yelling “hell no” and then he will repeat this unpleasant to look at or listen to footage a number of times. The whole point seems to be that he wants to drive some dubious point home – but the result is that the viewer just ends up having annoying sounds and unpleasant pictures beamed at them. No way to win viewers – SNL had one of their cast members deliver a hideous rap song to thw G20 – It was not funny or the least bit educational – But it wasn’t a mistake either since that guy has done this bit before – He has a running theme of delivering these mock raps that are just cankers on the ears. All the inside joke about TV shows with less than a million viewers -etc – Too much.

  5. DrLeoStrauss says

    re SNL, actually caught it and agree. Usual dreck. None of them understand the issues. They therefore can’t offer any commentary. Just irrelevant theatric crudities as distractions festooned over something vaguely timely in the news cycle.

    We once wasted money on Shales’ SNL book wherein he tried to rehabilitate a show that deserved oblivion long ago (and generated how many crap movies?). SNL lucked out that Tina Fey looked like Palin.

    Compare their lassitude with Sam Kinison’s hilarious comedic savagery celebrated in a documentary earlier that night. Love or hate him, he was all about comedic focus. When he crossed lines he did it intentionally. He defied audiences not to join along and laugh. Whether mocking televangelists, faith, marriage, etc.

    Lewis Black in his prime approached that level of comedic focus. We expected more comedic fury during the Bush years. More than Tina Fey and Will Farrell. Maybe American deserves SNL. How sweet for Nixon’s Silent Majority after all.

    Oh hell, we’ll cop to it. We watched SNL for the first time since forever solely for last night’s host. But *only* because we cherish her work as a chanteuse. [ koff ]

  6. Comment says

    SNL blew what could have been a funny skit re Obama and China by being lazy dirty in an unfunny and unclever way. and getting all the granular details wrong, boosting Beck’s gold scam (aimed at low info seniors), .Just annoying – The fake Chinese fu man chu accent is not very funny and prob disrespectful.

  7. Comment says

    Then again Obama is probably being gulled into thinking that the recovery will some how be adversly affected if tax rates on the rich go up – Instead he should be thinking how letting the cuts expire can be made make Boehner look ineffective. Thats what he should be doing – The economy will recover and that small tax is nothing compared to the trillions corp america is sitting on. Dow is up NAsdaq is up and O is still letting these people dick him around. Very sad – Obama has to realize that blocking someone is not just a means to an end, but and end in itself. Boehner is dyspeptic and not so bright or nimble. He angers easily and his crybaby act over a middle class upbringing deserves serious rebuke.

  8. Comment says

    re Obama and taxes – all Obama has to do is just let the tax cuts expire (Clinton would have figured a way to blame that Boehner – since it’s obvious). The propose a tax cut of his own that excluses the rich. Then blame the GOP for voting against tax cuts. This should not be complicated – but the media has so radically shifted the way the frame what is a normal tax situation. Not sure why Obama appointed Bowles to that commission – Then agains, not sure why Bush appointed the reasonable Tom Kean.
    Prob is no one in the Dems really cares about anything economic or military related in the sense thaat they care about unpopular climate stuff or social liberalism – So you see – esp with the later – a willingness to fight that you do not see on most issues.

  9. DrLeoStrauss says

    While Sarkozy avoided castigating any country for unstable foreign-exchange markets, in the past he blamed the dollar’s dominant role as a reserve currency for helping fuel the financial crisis. French officials have been vague about what they’d suggest to replace it, partly because there aren’t any ready alternatives.

    [emphasis added]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge