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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Where's the Beef?

That's the title of this piece from the New York Daily News regarding the rollout of the bank bailout by Secretary Geithner. It is a general consensus that Geithner's presentation yesterday was far too vague with nothing in the way of substance. Here is a revealing description about Geithner's plan from Bloomberg.

Rather than offer the kind of comprehensive solution he had promised, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner yesterday served up a plan for banks and the financial system that was long on platitudes and short on specifics.

The word "platitudes" was often used by critics of the President himself during the campaign to describe his soaring rhetoric that was constantly short on specifics. In fact, in two years of campaigning and nearly a month in office, I still haven't heard one specific from the President. At this point, I am more and more worried that this is because he has none.

Most of us can tell the difference between an expert and a wannabe. Listen to General Petraeus speak about the GWOT and compare his language to that of the average pundit. Petraeus' language is full of the sort of detail that only comes from someone with a real handle on the situation. Listen to Steve Stone talk about baseball and compare that with the average fan. It's the same thing. Stone sees the detail and nuance that only an expert will see.

That's why an administration that continues to be long on platitudes and short on detail should frighten us all. In the press conference, Jake Tapper asked the President how will we know if the stimulus is working. The President said we will see jobs being created. Duh, that's the sort of answer a high school kid could give. In fact, throughout the press conference, despite giving awfully long winded answers, anyone was hard pressed to find any specifics.

What's really troubling is that each and every major issue is full of vague platitudes and very short on detail. The President announced we would close GITMO and then said he would study the situation and report later on what we would do instead. He sent George Mitchell to the Middle East and told him to "listen". It appears in the Obama administration, we need a Presidential directive for a life long diplomat to know to use one of his six senses. On Iran, we are told that we will "reach out", "find common ground" and enter "a new era of mutual understanding". How we will do all this appears to be a secret?

In Afghanistan, we are told we will send about 30,000 more troops however we haven't been told how their mission will change.

The only thing specific is the stimulus bill itself. That's nearly 800 pages, however, President Obama had little to do with writing it. Instead, that was done by the House. Many have called that a strategic error. Maybe, we should all wonder if this was done because he simply didn't know how to write something so specific. The bank bailout is the latest in a series of major initiatives that is again long on platitudes and short on detail. We are told things will be transparent and efficient, but we aren't told how those things will be accomplished.

The time for platitudes has ended. That ended when the campaign ended. The President needs to have specifics. I wouldn't be worried about foreign policy specifics so much if those weren't part of a pattern of non specifics on everything. It seems in nearly two years of campaigning and now nearly a month of being President, the President still can't find a specific to anything. That should worry everyone. Anyone can speak in platitudes. It takes a real expert to speak in specifics and so far those are very short in this White House.

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