President Obama offered advice to investors Wednesday, and they responded by dumping shares as fast as they could get their brokers on the line.
My former colleagues at Investor's Business Daily offered a critique of his views of the market, and, as usual, their analysis is on point.
But Obama's comments also affirmed another place I take issue with those who argue that the new president is, to borrow from Bugs Bunny, a wolf in cheap clothing -- a barely closeted socialist, a genuine radical, Bill Ayers without the bombs.
Instead, Obama (and congressional Democrats) aren't that at all. They're power-hungry, to be sure. But that's as far as it goes. They don't want to really remake the economy because I don't think they're smart or principled enough to try to pull that off. They continue to rhetorically embrace entrepreneurship and capitalism, even though they have no understanding of the processes guiding either. Instead, they want to keep the labor unions and welfare-state activists and environmentalists and cultural liberals and the other special interest groups that got them into office well fed -- so that they can build electoral majorities. If we become Eurosocialists in the process, big deal.
Take health care. If Obama were really a doctrinaire socialist, he would have either backed single payer or called for individual or employer mandates for medical insurance. He's repeately rejected all those options. Granted, his pay-or-play ideas would eventually result in a system even more dominated by government. But why bypass the middle man, as it were, when you have big majorities in a friendly Congress?
It's why Obama's bizarre comparison of the stock market to public opinion polls is so telling. If he truly believes capital markets are merely popularity contests, then he's not a socialist, by any definition I've ever seen. He's merely a very slick, extremely talented, articulate panderer. He certainly wants to concentrate political power in the White House but has very little understanding of the way the world works.
Not that I find that conclusion at all reassuring.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds considers the alternatives (socialist or pol?) and suggests
Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence, and after the Geithner/Daschle/Richardson/Killefer/Carrion/Kirk problems, incompetence is looking like the strong horse. [That's what they're expecting you to think! -- ed. Ah, it's all becoming clear now . . . .]
You make the call.
*With apologies to Jim Glassman, who I know, like and respect.