A New Obama-Rahm Leak Policy?

Maybe it’s the addition of beltway leaker extraordinaire, Rahm Emanuel, to the team, but it appears that the Obama team may have adopted a new policy on leaks, departing from their eerily disciplined no-leak approach during the campaign.

Note this passage in NYT’s coverage of Obama’s request that Bush support a bailout for the auto industry.

The struggling auto industry was thrust into the middle of a political standoff between the White House and Democrats on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush in a meeting at the White House to support immediate emergency aid.

Mr. Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, a measure for which Mr. Bush has long fought, people familiar with the discussion said. [my emphasis]

Here’s how the WaPo reported the same detail.

Bush, speaking privately to Obama during their first Oval Office meeting, repeated his administration’s stand that he might support quick action on those bills if Democratic leaders drop their opposition to a Colombia trade agreement that Bush supports, according to people familiar with the discussions.  [my emphasis]

And here’s how Bush’s team reported Bush’s ire about these leaks to Drudge.

Just hours after President Bush and President-elect Obama met in the Oval Office of the White House, details of their confidential conversation began leaking out to the press, igniting anger from the president, sources claim.

"Senator Obama would be wise to keep close counsel," a top Bush source warned. 


Bush advisers view the leaks as an effort to undermine the president’s remaining days in office.

"Senator Obama may not be familiar with a long-standing tradition of presidents holding their private conversations, private," a senior adviser explained to the DRUDGE REPORT. [my emphasis]

Seeing as how this obviously organized leak may well have come from the latest addition to the previously leak-proof Obama team–Rahm Emanuel–the Bushies aren’t really in a position to lecture about what past Presidents have done. Rahm’s been there, and was leaking in the Clinton days as well, I’m sure. (One other candidate to be the leaker is another Clinton veteran, John Podesta, though my money’s on Rahm.)

So my question has more to do with the efficacy of the leak. Will Bush be more amenable to an auto bailout now that everyone knows he tried to hold American workers hostage to the fate of Bush’s union-busting buddy in Colombia, Alvaro Uribe? 

164 replies
  1. freepatriot says:

    assrocket says Obama should be more careful with his words

    then assrocket says georgie is a master at this

    what about “Bring Em On” ???

    guess assrocket don’t have a memory unit

    george bush better get ready, cuz KARMA is gonna use you as a prison bitch

  2. marksb says:

    Efficacy: capacity for producing a desired result or effect; effectiveness: a remedy of great efficacy.

    EW, I think you hit the nail on the head. There’s a clear message here that Bush and his gang are *still* holding up American workers and enterprises based on weird foreign policy goals. American’s come last, in Bush’s world.

    That’s at least three incidents in the last week that isolate Bush and his policies from Obama’s direction and emerging policies. Hoisted by their own petard.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    My money says this is the end of whatever cooperation might have occurred between Bush & Obama. Bush now knows that any deal he tries to strike will go public.

    He’ll rule by executive order, pardon, and court tactics for the remainder of his term, likely setting things up to give Obama terrible problems while publically trumpeting how cooperative he’s being with the transition teams.

    And I agree, it most likely came from Rahm. It fits in well with his reputation.

    Obama doesn’t have to deal with Bush. If it can’t wait, he can introduce his plan in congress over a friendly Senator’s signature and force Bush to deal with it.

    Boxturtle (The only bargaining chip Bush has left is Scorched Earth. I bet he tries to use it)

    • Redshift says:

      He’ll rule by executive order, pardon, and court tactics for the remainder of his term, likely setting things up to give Obama terrible problems while publically trumpeting how cooperative he’s being with the transition teams.

      He’s already started on that, but I like how the Obama team responded by talking publicly about executive orders they intend to overturn. That communicated to the Bush team not to be dicks and throw out a lot of executive orders on the pretense that the new administration won’t get to them for a while, but more important, communicated to outside parties like oil companies not to make any plans based on last-minute Bush rulemaking, undercutting anything they may try to do.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not so sure.

      There. is. no. way. that Obama would trade Colombia Free Trade for an auto bailout. It would be digging our economic crisis hole deeper.

      But GM may well go under without a bailout. Now, if it does, it’s Bush’s fault. I knwo the “As goes GM, so goes America” comment isn’t REALLY true anymore. But I’m not sure Bush wants that on top of the rest of his dismal historical legacy.

      • PJEvans says:

        I don’t think Bush cares about anyone else. His personal rep, yes, but other people – I’m not really sure that he understands that other people are real and have their own goals that are not shared with him.

      • drational says:

        Nor does Obama want to inherit this scenario, especially now that he is clearly perceived as having the power to “do something” even tho he is not yet in office. They are not playing chicken with GM; they are announcing the likely compromise.

        • emptywheel says:

          I see that you keep saying that. I disagree. Not least, because there’s no way that Obama could get Nancy to budge on Colombia, and there surely is no reason to do that a few weeks before you get 20 more Dems in office. Particularly because, unlike drilling, there’s no upside to the Colombia trade deal, unless you believe the first priority of this country needs to be breaking up the populist movement in Latin America.

          • drational says:

            Well, I will respectfully disagree. Nancy and the dems budged on warrantless wiretap and amnesty and a whole host of other issues more important to American interest than Colombian labor. Obama has shown no signs of being a purity troll on anything, and in contrast has explicitly trumpeted compromise and bipartisanship- he shows compromise and magnanimity to the extreme he is willing to forgive Lieberman for essentially calling him a terrorist.

            Obama toed the line on Colombia in the debate, but I think it is a bargaining chip.

            We have an economic crisis and hundreds of thousands of union workers on the verge of not having a management to fight. This is not like a strike for leverage in a profitable company. What is the benefit to Obama or any union member taking a principled stand on Colombia when the shop will potentially close forever?

            I agree there is not much of an upside to free trade; there is Iowa- Corn and ag exports- and as you note the toehold against populism.

            But other than unions, there is absolutely no constituency interested in Colombian labor, so the political downside of this compromise is benign.

            Do you really think Obama is going to hardball Colombian free trade? I see absolutely no upside to winning this point. Do you?
            Will unions love him even more? Is there some hidden benefit to dropping Bush’s approval from 20% to 14%?

            What is Bush’s impetus to compromise and drop free trade? popularity?

            • emptywheel says:

              the political downside of this compromise is benign.

              Do you really think Obama is going to hardball Colombian free trade? I see absolutely no upside to winning this point. Do you?

              Wow. I couldnt’ disagree more.

              The CHIEF worry of most voters is economic. So you’re saying Obama can just tell all those voters to fuck off, even before he takes office? And that he would want to, as a policy point?

              I think you are seriously underestimating the opposition to bad free trade in this country.

              And, at the same time, underestimating Obama’s leverage on the issue. Bush has already said there’s no quid pro quo on COlombia–therefore, goal accomplished on this leak.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Obama need not compromise. A GM bailout would pass congress, and Bush wouldn’t dare veto it. If he did, this story about him willing to trade for Columbia would REALLY take off and he’d likely get overridden.

          Besides, if Obama were to say “We’ll pass that exact bill on Jan 21, please give GM some breathing room” I think all of GM creditors would do so. It’s in their best interest to have a functioning GM to pay them back.

          I think Bush is now screwed on Columbia.

          Boxturtle (I don’t think GM is bluffing this time, they’re in real trouble)

          • freepatriot says:

            anybody who is worrying about FOOKIN COLUMBIA better pull his head out of his ass

            Americanpeople are hurting here

            if the repuglitards think they need to do favors for Columbia right now, then let’s start takin names

            the repuglitards just lost 6 senate seats, and they’re workin hard to keep three more

            wanna make that election in Georgia a slam dunk, georgie ???

            try splainin why Americans should give a fuck about Columbia

            the “America First” crowd better wake up

            Americans know what “FIRST” is

            and, as we just proved in the previous election, WE GOT LONG FUCKING MEMORIES PAL

            ninteen repuglitard senators are on the menu in two years


      • BoxTurtle says:

        There. is. no. way. that Obama would trade Colombia Free Trade for an auto bailout.

        I didn’t mean to leave that impression, I agree he wouldn’t. I think this went public for the purpose of killing the idea, not as a public warning to unions.

        GM WILL go chapter 11 without a bailout. What GM will look like when it emerges is anyones guess, but you can bet one of the first things the courts will permit GM to do is cut retiree benefits. The union and GM will then go to all out war. If the union strikes, gm will replace them. If the union doesn’t strike, the courts will likely permit GM to reopen the contracts.

        Does GM survive that? Probably not. There’s nobody to buy their hard assets, all the other automakers are trying to shed as well. Some of the brands may have value but I think most automakers would concentrate on their own product lines rather than absorb GM’s. Their credit arm is hit as badly as anything in the current crunch. It’s certainly a valuable property, but GM would take a hefty hit if they sold now.

        I think we’re simpply going to have to let a domestic automaker die, then support the survivors.

        Boxturtle (What’s domestic? The Marysville OH Hondas have the highest domestic content of any car)

        • emptywheel says:

          I disagree on the order (partly because retiree benes have already been cut–GM went the way many other corporations have, putting its retirees into Medicare, just in the last few weeks).

          First thing is to get a judge to renegotiate union contracts. A strike is not going to affect that.

          And that would be close to the end of the UAW.

          • BoxTurtle says:

            I think the UAW would fold into AFL-CIO. They’d still have members at the other automakers and they’re not solely composed of autoworkers.

            Given that it’s mutual assured destruction, it’s possible the UAW might work a compromise if GM actually filed chapt 11. Simply because if the Union decides to fight to the death, GM might well go chapter 7.

            The more I think about this, the more I think the answer lies with the unions. Not GM or the Feds.

            Boxturtle (Sell the company to the Union, maybe?)

            • emptywheel says:

              Right, but if GM gets to cut union wages, then so does Ford, Chrysler, Visteon, and Delphi. That’s the main base of your UAW unionized labor right there.

                  • bmaz says:

                    It is a curiously interesting idea; but don’t the “new owners”, i.e. the Union boys, still have the same problems as before? Because, at first blush, the problems that are thus shed are the ones that impact the new union owners personally. I dunno.

                    • timbo says:

                      United was a transportation company. GM is a manufacturing company. I think that if you put the workers in charge at GM…under good and strong leadership (always that proviso) you’d get GM building things that everyday people want and need…like comfortable buses and autos…fuel efficient…etc. Populism in factories can work…if you have good and smart leadership…without that you get…the current situation.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      One of the problems, though is you need an infusion of non-Midwestern perspective–which is IMO one of the problems with teh current management. You’re not going to get that with just the workers.

                    • timbo says:

                      Do the workers know who in management they should keep on when it comes to smart direction? I’m not a rabid socialist by any means…but I am someone who believes that there are can-do people around who can be put in positions of responsibility. Where would the outside expertise come from? Could it be garnered by putting together and executive management consulting firm and having the workers contract for that help in the medium term?

                    • CTMET says:

                      Reminds me of an old Dilbert. Consultan – Someone who cons people and insults them. Its both expensive and demeaning.

                    • timbo says:

                      Ya know, I doubt that debating with Dilberteers is going to get the problem of America’s auto industry solved.

                      As for the steel industry, all we have to do is look to American outsourcing of it’s material needs to see what and who benefitted from it. It wasn’t the poor and it certainly doesn’t seem to be the workers…

                      Again, the automobile industry is different from steel and different from an airline. Failure to understand THAT is likely to be the cause of some serious failures on the part of many people making policy…and, for instance, what have you learned from those other efforts with steel and UAL? Did it teach anyone anything or did it just drop into the playbook of “working with workers doesn’t work” when it comes to running large enterprises?

                    • CTMET says:

                      Did my internship at a Bethlehem Steel Lackawanna rolling mill back in ‘85. Other than the building I was in, the the whole place was a ghost town. Spooky. I’d hate to see a repeat of that.

                    • phred says:

                      Yep. We regularly visit family in Weirton, WV, most of whom worked at the mill — note the past tense. I agree with EW that we can ill afford to lose manufacturing in this country. However, saving it will require a great deal more than employee-ownership. FWIW, the hubby is so angry that the government stood by while steel went under that he is not kindly disposed to the bailout of the auto industry now, and even less kindly disposed to the $700b boondoggle as it stands.

                • timbo says:

                  Thanks. I was about to suggest having UAW take over GM. Nothing wrong with having the workers manage a company in competition with private enterprise. That’s thinking outside the box…unless you’re afraid of workers succeeding…

          • Leen says:

            I know many GM retirees who still have great health care through GM. Has this happened to all GM Retirees? Will make some calls

            • emptywheel says:

              White collar retirees eligible for Medicare will be cut. Blue collar fall under a UAW agreement that puts the union responsible for care–but one of hte problems with GM (and Ford) cash flow is that the payments to the union to support that healthcare is due on the horizen, and they don’t have the cash.

              • BoxTurtle says:

                Nor do the Unions have any security backing those payments. Should GM stop making them, I think the Union will be out of luck.

                This is going to be a bloodbath. Each side possesses a nice selection of WMD, but nothing smaller.

                Here’s my bet: GM will be in Chapt 11 before the end of the year. There will be a bailout passed, but it will take into account chapt 11. GM will be expected to use chapt 11 to cut costs and debts as drastically as possible and the bailout will make up the rest. No interruption of GM operations, especially through Xmas.

                Stockholders will be wiped out, with the bailout covering pension plans that are badly impacted by the stock loss. Unsecured debtholders will be wiped out as well. Secured debtholders will likely get about 70% repayment.

                Boxturtle (If I’m right, I’ll remind you in December. If I’m wrong, I’ll quietly forget I mentioned it)

              • CasualObserver says:

                Given the perilous position of the automakers, why couldn’t Obama use this as an excuse to turn away from his employer-based health care plan, and move towards a single-payer plan? He could sell it as part of the bailout of american business, which is at a competitive disadvantage. The GOP would cry socialism (some Dems too no doubt), but he could counter that they themselves voted to bailout big business anyway–that this is a more efficient way to do that, with very wide-ranging benefits.

                for that matter, why haven’t the automakers been making noise about their health-care burden, and lobbying congress about it?

                • emptywheel says:

                  I think the auto companies, as with all things, have evolved their approach to health care. A few years ago, they were yelling for universal health care. Now (I suspect because of teh infusion of a bunch of ex-Bushies into their ranks and lobbyist core) they’re using this other approach–shedding teh retiree burden through two different strategies.

                  As to why Obama doesn’t go single payer right away? I thikn he believes he can accomplish this, and not single payer.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Um, GM just closed under $3 for the first time in over 60 years. In addition to all their hard problems, they are getting panic run on; I think they are toast.

                    • BoxTurtle says:


                      For the record, I had not read that article when I posted my guess above.

                      GM stock has lost 90% on it’s value over the last year. Who are the major holders, I wonder?

                      Boxturtle (GM stock = Junk bond right now)

                    • timbo says:

                      GM has 566.16M shares outstanding…and it is insolvent. Since the value is down to about $1 now, my guess is that, yeah, bankruptcy is on the horizon. Their aboveboard debt is $45B. Their cash on hand is around 20B. I’d say that they could succeed with a bailout without going bankrupt…however, it certainly would be socialist if we bailed them out before bankruptcy…unless the “institutional” share holders are the autoworkers themselves…in their retirement pension programs! So, a bailout prior to bankruptcy might prop up the retirement program…if the retirement program is a major share investor…which I suspect it is.

                  • CasualObserver says:

                    If I was a business, small, medium or large, I can’t help but think that removing healthcare off my shoulders would be much more desirable and profitable event than tax cuts or any other goodies that govt. could conceivably pass out. I guess I don’t understand why chamber of commerce and other biz orgs haven’t been talking it up. Surely the health care industry isn’t that powerful?

                    • TheraP says:

                      Businesses and people need help accessing health care. And right now health care itself is also experiencing problems. People are beginning to postpone medical care if they have insurance. Can’t pay the co-pays. Fear being off work will lead to being let go. Hospitals are beginning to lay off staff and are suffering financially. I suspect we may end up with single payer as the govt is the only one that fork out cash! And that will stimulate jobs and help all businesses to compete or survive.

                      The power has been with the insurance companies. But now is the time to deal with them in my view. They’re hurting too.

                    • freepatriot says:

                      why don’t we just kill all the insurance agents instead of the lawyers ???

                      hey, you’re right, we COULD do both …

                • freepatriot says:

                  The GOP would cry socialism

                  fuck em

                  call me a socialist and I’m gonna fight to make the Internationali our national anthem


                  stop worrying about the repuglitards thowin hissy fits, and start giving the repuglitards reasons to throw hissy fits, it’s been workin out real good for them so far …

                  • TheraP says:

                    I hope they’re having fits over the fact that Obama had this secret team of people combing over all the executive orders and getting ready to reverse the bad ones ASAP after the inauguration.

                    I actually like your idea about them throwing stuff out there to keep the other side busy gnawing bones!

                • TheraP says:

                  I love your suggestion (about universal health care)! I think Obama can actually make the central issues work like the four tires on a vehicle – to continue with automobile imagery.

                  It seems to me that as soon as Obama won the election, certain things have been leaked, so as to allow the people to feel a sense of empowerment (that’s my guess) by discussing what’s ongoing. Obama will ultimately make his own decisions (or may have made them ahead of time), but the public will feel a sense of being consulted. And a sense if greater transparency. That will help Obama a lot, I think, in terms of getting people on board his programs. We actually saw some of this during the campaign, I’d suggest. When attacks were made against Obama and the campaign left the grassroots to defend him and attack the other side. Then the Obama people would come out with a short and sweet, but smashing ad, which was all the more powerful for having had the army of foot soldiers lead the charge first.

                  What tacticians these people are!

                  And let’s hear it for universal health care!

              • Leen says:

                One of my cousins (retired) was a managerial type for GM for 40 years. Will call and find out. I think he must be a white collar GM guy.

      • anwaya says:

        IMHO the consequence of an expedient compromise is often a deep ditch. It may be that both sides fear a deeper ditch if they lose to the other, and so the compromise is struck.

    • JimWhite says:

      You’re probably right. Bush can claim to be all “high road” and say the Obama camp “undercut” him with this leak. After all, Ben Fellater of AP tells us today how Bush is handing over the office with such grace. Of course, there is no mention in this article of how Bush f*cking stole the office in the first place!

    • drational says:

      I don’t think Bush is really mad at all. This is a Drudge-manufactured controversy.
      At 20% favorability Bush is undamageable. I think the leak is aimed at softening congressional dems to the compromise….
      Would a constituent rather have a stimulus package for solvent automakers and hundreds of thousands of union jobs, or do they want to protect Colombian union organizers?

  4. Redshift says:

    Seems like good maneuvering — they’ve put Bush in the position of either caving or being seen as hurting American workers for the sake of a questionable trade deal (which is doubly powerful because those two things are already associated in people’s minds.)

    In addition, it indicates that they know Bush only really cares about himself and his image, so they had to set up a situation where “being tough” and standing his ground would make him look bad, not just one where he might get some credit for doing the right thing, but would take a hit on what wingnuts call his “steadfastness.”

  5. drational says:

    I wonder whether this is as much a public warning to the Unions as to trying to hold Bush over a barrel.

    We got the Politico story that every interest group feels responsible for the Obama victory and will call in chits. Here Obama says he is plugging for Detroit (a lot of union jobs go away with failure of automakers.), but they leak the counter-offer in no uncertain terms- and it is a Union concession.

    Given Barack’s pledge to compromise, I think this is foreshadowing free trade in Colombia in exchange for a new pro-Detroit bailout before Obama takes office.

    Obama may just be marking the cost of protecting Colombian brother and sister laborers- my guess is that we will have a new stimulus package and and Colombian free trade agreement.

  6. BooRadley says:

    ew, could Levin and some of the other Senate Dems put the screws to TARP, as a way to pressure Bush/Paulson to help the Big 2.5?

    OT, from the really off-the-wall file: how much leverage does the Big 2.5 have to file a preemptive strike simultaneous Chapter 11’s? Would that put pressure on Bush, because of what it would do right now to the markets? My guess is that Bush wants those Chapter 11’s to hit in Obama’s term, not his.

    Could the Senate take (or threaten to take) money out of Fatherland Homeland Security’s budget to prop up the Big 2.5 until January?

    • klynn says:

      Could the Senate take (or threaten to take) money out of Fatherland Homeland Security’s budget to prop up the Big 2.5 until January?

      That is an interesting concept. It could be clearly tied to National Security too…Thus, a part of the budget in reality.

  7. archiebird says:

    BRILLANT!! I think I love Rahm Emanuel. Hows this headline, “The Decider uses the Autoworkers as a bargaining chip” Or– Well– something to that effect.

  8. BooRadley says:

    I’m interested in who speaks for health care on this? Has the AMA offered an opinion? I would think that a lot of rust belt physicians, along with Big Pharma will feel it, if GM goes under.

  9. radiofreewill says:

    It’s the Bush Way on display – the Gooper Wink-and-Nod – everybody ’dirties in’ to get what they want – at the expense of the ’suckers.’ This time Bush wanted to Fuck the Unionized American Auto Workers (in secret) to benefit his buddy, Uribe.

    Only, when he tried to pull Obama in with him – in their First Fucking Meeting as the Nation’s Top Executives – it didn’t work.

    The Message here is: No More Business As Usual, Mr. Bush – We don’t intend to Replicate Your Morally Bankrupt Style. First and Foremost, Team Obama is here to Serve the Citizens of Our Great Country.

    • MarkH says:

      It’s the Bush Way on display – the Gooper Wink-and-Nod – everybody ’dirties in’ to get what they want – at the expense of the ’suckers.’ This time Bush wanted to Fuck the Unionized American Auto Workers (in secret) to benefit his buddy, Uribe.

      Or maybe it’s just another Dem city getting screwed. Remember Enron screwed Calif., 9/11 hit NYC and DC, Katrina and Bush hit NOLA and now Detroit has lost it’s mayor and will apparently lose a major employer.

      Bush has used the federal government for political purposes from day one.

  10. Jkat says:

    yeah bushies .. let’s not leak eh .. unless it’s taggin’ a covert CIA operative ..

    fuckin’ hypocrites .. gawd .. i can’t wait ’til they’re GONE …

  11. freepatriot says:

    does anybody in the repuglitard party care about America anymore ???

    how about the repuglitard party

    if the gop is gonna turn into a suicide pact, I wish they’d hurry up …

  12. EdwardTeller says:

    I wish some imaginative thinkers and auto workers had more say in how this works out. I’ve been saying since last summer that we’ll know the economy is totally in the tank when they can’t sell every fucking Prius they make, instantly.

    Right now, the waiting list for a Prius in Alaska is 4 months, unless you want the bluetooth screen and other hot stuff. Then it is six months. I even counted more Priuses in Wasilla, while holding political signs there these past three months, than HiumVees.

    I hate seeing money going to the big 2.5, if they use it to continue to prop up insanely outmoded technology.

    • emptywheel says:

      What outmoded technology are you talking about? They’ve already shifted 2/3 of their production out of trucks and SUVs. The initial $25 billion was precisely FOR new technologies. And this request is for credit help–you can argue against their outmoded credit-driven structure (though the Japanese use a very similar one, albeit with slightly more favorable terms to the dealers and slightly more unfavorable terms to consumers). But that’s not a technology.

  13. WilliamOckham says:

    I wonder if the Obama team really leaked this or if it was the Bushies. Sure, it would be really stupid for the Bushies to leak it, but does that really argue against them having done it?

    A couple of things are obvious. The Obama team is doing some leaking now. And, as in the Gitmo case, pushing back if the message is garbled or inconsistent. It makes sense for them to have leaked this, but I don’t think the case is overwhelming.

    The current political environment is really unprecedented. It’s as if the Villagers just woke up and realized that Bush is really, really unpopular and totally incompetent (must have been those monthly statements from their stockbrokers that got their attention). Bush technically still has all the power of the presidency, but everybody else in the entire world has moved on. His whole presidency has been this weird, kinda sad, desperate search for significance and ego gratification. It’s ending on this humiliating irrelevance. If I was a better person, I wouldn’t feel so gratified by that.

    • emptywheel says:

      Good question, about the source of the leaks. Here’s how the AP reported them.

      Neither the Bushes nor the Obamas spoke to reporters. Aides who described the discussion about the auto industry did so on grounds of anonymity, citing the private nature of the meeting.

      Which leaves the question even more open than the NYT and WaPo.

  14. archiebird says:

    I think there’s a bigger picture to this Columbia thing. I think Bush wants to get at Venezuala (?). By giving Columbia a free trade agreement, what would the impact be on Hugo Chavez? Bush still has an ax to grind with that guy for nationalizing their oil fields.

    • emptywheel says:

      Without a doubt. That’s why I said,

      there’s no upside to the Colombia trade deal, unless you believe the first priority of this country needs to be breaking up the populist movement in Latin America.

      This is targeted not just at Chavez (who needs less targeting these days given the price of oil), but also Bolivia and Ecuador and generally the trend in Latin AMerica that says US-backed models of development don’t work, so there’s no reason to abide by US rules anymore.

      BushCo is trying to turn the clusterfuck of COlombia around as proof positive that old models work. It’s not even clear that a free trade pact woudl work for Colombia. BUt it would at least show people that the US is willing to payoff its thuggish client leaders in Latin America.

  15. archiebird says:

    My prediction is that Bush will not be more open to the bailout for the Autoworkers. Most people don’t know who Uribe is, nor do they know his misdeeds. Not to mention he could care less. He’s in his drug induced euphoric glass bubble surrounded by Yes Men.

    • archiebird says:

      I mean Bush could care less, that is. If he gave a rats ass, he wouldn’t have let America get like this.

  16. DeadLast says:

    Finally a president-elect who knows how to use his mandate.

    Now slightly off-topic: remember when Obama made his first post-victory speech? and made his first “gaffee”? the Nancy Reagan comment? I think that was dileberate. Obama needed an excuse to call Nancy Reagan and ask for her support. And what a better way to than to do it on bended knee. Obama probably charmed the hell out of her, and he probably asked her backing on three or four programs that President Reagan had prided himself on, but that had been perverted by the Republicrats. She saves face in light of the electorate’s repudiation of Reaganomics, and Obama gets the blessings of a reluctant political ancestor.

    Given the reasonable probability that the economic meltdown will be total and catastrophic, Obama is going to need help from every country. I think Obama knows he needs to build a unity government for america (and probably the world) to survive this thing.

    • freepatriot says:

      why is embarrassing repuglitards by TRUTHFULLY reporting their actions considered a fucking GAFF

      is somebody tryin to deny that nancy was having seances in the whitehouse ???

      nancy is as GOOFY as princess palin an her fookin witch doctor

      it ain’t our fault all the repuglitard heros are fuckin nutters

    • BlueStateRedHead says:

      I think you have got something there. I immediately thought of Nancy as cover for stem cell research. IIRC her son the buddhist spoke at the 2004 Dem Con in support of the research. What would the other issues be?

  17. Loo Hoo. says:

    OT, but what fun!

    New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources waiting to spill the Bush administration’s darkest secrets, he said in an interview last month. “You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on January 20. [They say,] ‘You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then.’”

  18. klynn says:

    Thanks for the post EW.

    I must admit, we should continue our dialogue here about how to structure a stimulus package/emergency aid. The leak is done, crowning the beginning of the “pressure is on” part of the game. Because if something is not done, and there is further collapse, it’s clearly in the GOP lap.

    Now lets put pressure on “how” to do this because Obama played the first hand successfully.

    This could be Starngebedfellows time…

  19. archiebird says:

    I don’t know, but couldn’t health care for all be a tremendous burden lifted from the auto companies? I think GM has like, 30 million retirees they’re paying for right now.

    • emptywheel says:

      GM has/is in the process of shedding its retiree health care, with white collar being left to Medicare and blue collar being paid by the union.

      But, yes, healthcare would help. But the Big Two and a Half won’t make it to healthcare without credit.

      • freepatriot says:

        so lets go TOTALLY COMMIE, and nationalize healthcare

        then that ain’t a problem anymore

        and while we’re at it, lets nationalize insurance, and tell AIG we don’t need them any more

        health care and insurance are OUT OF CONTROL

        either nueter them, or put them out of our misery

        let the repuglitards know that callin me a commie EMPOWERS my inner commie, an I’ll wear that label as a badge of honor as I destroy you

        instead of fighting these assholes, let’s just go with it, and stampede right the fuck over these assholes

  20. jerikoll says:

    Ok, maybe I am naive but:

    Bush has only his pride left and he certainly isn’t worried about bad publicity or low public polls, but he will not tolerate some upstart former Clinton aides trying to game him.

    Obama has already shown his smarts and will realize that thumbing his nose at Bush will not gain him anything. Indeed it could cost him far more.

    I think Obama will squash this just like the move to kick Joe out the caucus.

    • archiebird says:

      I disagree. Bush has a legacy he’s trying to paint as roses. Bush and his crony Repubs don’t have nearly as much power as they did Nov. 3rd 2006. Obama won’t let Bush Squash him.

  21. archiebird says:

    The money they would save from not having to foot the bill for all the retirees could easily go towards higher gas mileage/research/development/green plant development.

  22. jerikoll says:


    GM only cut their white collar workers medical. Then they added 200 to 300 to their pensions to help out.

    I couldn’t figure out if it was 200-300 per month or per year.

    Maybe you know.

    But anyway, they can’t touch the hourly wage pensioners medical yet because it is covered by contract.

    However if they go bankrupt, the whole ball of twine comes undone.

  23. JTMinIA says:

    I don’t get this.

    One of the two people in this private conversation has a history of using leaks to the media for political gain.

    The other person has a history of no leaks at all.

    The news reports do not even hint at who did the leaking.

    But you’re ready to suggest that Obama has changed his approach because Bush is having a hissy fit about leaks?

    Com’on. This is the guy who said he’d fire the person who leaked Plame. You’re buying anything he says?

    • emptywheel says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that Rahm is not a leak industry unto itself.

      And note–the Obama campaign has already broken with their no-leak approach–precisely with teh announcement of Rahm’s consideration for COS. So there is precedent, precisely as it concerns RAhm.

  24. emptywheel says:

    Any further doubts this was Rahm can probably now be set aside:

    Obama’s newly appointed chief of staff Rahm Emanuel suggested Sunday that the president elect wasn’t interested in a deal to remove White House opposition to a stimulus package in exchange for congressional approval of the trade agreement, which has been opposed by unions and some Democrats.

  25. emptywheel says:

    Ambinder on this:

    Well, surprise. The Obama team has a communications strategy. And surprise: it’s favorable to Obama and not favorable to President Bush. And surprise: the Obama economic team considers the perilous state of the auto industry to be the most pressing issue right now. And surprise: passing the trade agreement is something Bush really wants to get done before the end of his term — he spoke about it during his radio address on Saturday.

    (”What we did was hardly hardball,” an Obama aide says)

    Is the White House really angry? Or just frustrated?

    Feigning anger might have the consequence of sending a warning to the Obama campaign about negotiations: either they happen in private, where Bush can save face and protect his legacy, or we play hardball too.

  26. LabDancer says:

    BHO is not aiming to put the auto workers union at risk – quite the opposite, not least because t’s a manifestation of the better type of community organization, and that’s among, if not the highest, of his social values – and a reliable constituency of his party and its and his future re-election, the quid pro quo of meaningful, lasting change.

    Reading BHO’s passage on his episode with Bush on his attendance at the White House in 2004, it strikes me that it’s entirely possible Bush’s instincts are to like and wish to ‘bond’ with Obama. That “Obama!” was his first greeting reminds me of “Blair!”. And I wonder who there is in the White House with the ability to pull Bush away from essentially capitulating on BHO’s first 3 wishes – certainly Rove isn’t close at hand, and also apparently nor is the Dick, and in any event neither has the currency that BHO now has in Bush’s world – which is soon to be as the member of the Club. Why would Bush want to start out on a bad footing with his President and therefore the other members?

    And couldn’t one look to the leaks on Obama’s reaching out over Lieberman as sending a far more significant sign to Bush? As in –

    well look – I have this natural inclination towards mercy, and while sure – there are those in my party, and more broadly in society, who are looking forward to a chance to fricasee your wounded carcass and boil your troops down to the bone, it’s not just in my character, but I’m actually quite good at executing on direct and effective ways of getting my side to cool it and move on to the more pressing agenda of saving stuff and building things – just ask Joe. now of course it’s entirely up to you whether you do these things I want done but hey – don’t think I’m asking you to do them just be please me but because they really need to be done – so for that alone you can expect that when I go to pass out the kudos for this getting done, you’ll be near the top of the list, which can’t hurt your approval ratings [not that you would ever really care about that sort of thing] and meanwhile, entirely as a function of you’re having done the right thing here, you’ll have built up some major good will equity with me [not that you would really care about that sort of thing]. Plus you’re probably not likely to see any more of that sort of snarling, hurtful leak folks are attributing to Rahm [not that he would ever do such a thing, or that I would ever condone such a thing, or that you would ever really care about that sort of thing].

    I think this is going to get done – and entirely on BHO’s terms.

    • LabDancer says:

      I’ve written to this effect before, but contrary to his latest act of self-deprication as being just the Mutt, this guy is actually the Mule. It’s gonna be a lot of fun to watch this guy on the job. I’m looking forward to his first meet with Putin.

    • timbo says:

      More BHO to GWB on the economy thing: Of course, if you do something and it doesn’t work out then, hey, it wasn’t me who created this mess!

      Cuz, that’s the dynamic that we’re in right now…a President trying to save his legacy…and a President elect trying to get…re-elected in 4 years. Political hardball at its most interesting…in a democracy.

  27. emptywheel says:

    Listening to Obama conference call this morning–Obama’s team says there was n quid pro quo. “Whatever happened this morning as a result of reports we … cleared up.”

    • timbo says:

      Could be right on that. It could be a leak for cover by the Bushies so as to drop pushing the free-trade thing as untenable in the current situation, signaling their own allies to cool it on obstinate free-trade horsetrading?

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thank you for that linkerage, Mary.

      I had seen your comment on the other thread and was hoping for more information.

      Is it your sense that the Brit press appears to have somewhat more ‘interest’ in reporting these ‘developments’ than our own ‘librul’ fourth estate? Especially, as the Brit press has been ‘invited’ to ‘participate’.

      It would appear that the High Court definitely wants certain ‘information’ (along with its ‘implications’) made available. And, when (’twould seem there is very little ‘if’involved) such information is made available, it will be rather difficult to ‘ignore’ it on this side of the pond.

  28. CasualObserver says:

    However one looks at it, this seems to be a positive leak for Obama, negative for Bush. In fact, it rips Bush a new one. iow, it seems to have been a real competent leak.

    as for ambinder…

    Feigning anger might have the consequence of sending a warning to the Obama campaign about negotiations: either they happen in private, where Bush can save face and protect his legacy, or we play hardball too.

    Legacy? Save Face? Bush play “hardball” with Obama? I have no idea what he’s talking about.

      • CasualObserver says:

        Yep. Reminds one of the Black Knight skit in Monty Python and Holy Grail, no? Rahm just getting started, and Bush is down an arm and a leg already.

        The scary thing is that Rahm will do exactly the same thing to the dreaded democratic liberals, if he needs to.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Rahm is Obama’s “Designated a**hole”. An excellent choice for the post, Obama is going to have to have heads knocked while remaining above the fray. His first leak seems to have worked excellently.

          I’m not sure Bush can count on the votes of any GOP senator who has not already been tossed out of office if he tries to block help for GM.

          Boxturtle (I think even a bad bill would pass the current congress)

          • freepatriot says:

            Rahm is “The Turk”

            in sports, “The Turk” is the guy who knocks on your door and says “Coach wants to see you, bring your playbook …

            I’m not really sure if “Hatchet Man” is culturally acceptable, us bookies just call em “Leg Breakers” …


            • BoxTurtle says:

              Yeah, I have this vision of Rahm in a loud double breasted suit with two junior Senators in the shadows behind him holding bats.

              “Mr. Obama thinks you should consider his generous compromise carefully. The Committee is here to answer any questions you might have”

              Boxturtle (A shame Rahm doesn’t sound much like Cagney)

        • MarkH says:

          The scary thing is that Rahm will do exactly the same thing to the dreaded democratic liberals, if he needs to.

          A samurai has only one master at a time — and obeys his orders.

  29. siggi says:

    I don’t think the Obama team has anything to gain and they have much to lose from working with the Bush White House. This leak shows exactly what the price of Bush’s “cooperation” really is. In the real world it is a price that is too high to pay and will only damage O in the long run if he goes along. I doubt Bush will do anything from here to the end of his term that does not expressly benefit him. The leak was a good one, because it makes this point crystal clear to us that Bush is willing to put Colombian workers ahead of American workers. That just confirms what we already knew. I also think it lets Bush know Obama won’t play ball like that. Good for Obama and good for Rahm.

    • siggi says:

      And the other thing I wanted to say was that Obama’s team would be foolish to trust this White House. There is no reason to believe that Bush will deal fairly with Obama and I don’t think they can assume that Bush has the good of the American people at heart. Bush will leak, too — when it benefits him.

    • CasualObserver says:

      The leak was a good one, because it makes this point crystal clear to us that Bush is willing to put Colombian workers ahead of American workers. That just confirms what we already knew. I also think it lets Bush know Obama won’t play ball like that. Good for Obama and good for Rahm.

      Well, free trade doesn’t help workers at all. It’s not that he’s putting Colombian workers first. It’s that he’s ferkin workers in both countries. That’s what free trade does, imo. But I do agree, it was a good rip for Rahm. Damn, he’s cold, ain’t he.

      • freepatriot says:

        It’s not that he’s putting Colombian workers first. It’s that he’s ferkin workers in both countries.

        if you look at the bailout of the auto industry as an inoculation against a disease, including the Colombian trade pact can only be seen as administering the disease along with the cure

      • brantl says:

        It’s not putting columbian workers ahead of american workers, it’s putting columbian union busters ahead of american workers, as it has no protections of the workers as a pre-condition.

  30. klynn says:

    infusion of non-Midwestern perspective

    Is that code for, “lacks knowledge on progressive green technologies?”

  31. TheraP says:

    I look at this two ways. One psychological, the other ethical.

    First, to keep bush’s offer confidential would be “enabling” the bush regime in its efforts to control everyone, including Obama. So the Obama side not only calls the bluff but outs the deal. They bring the pathology to light and don’t “enable” (protect) bush from his deal becoming known.

    Next, Obama has excellent boundaries, whereas bush wants to make everyone into a crony – ie, the nicknames and so on. Obama makes it clear that he’s beholden to the people, not to the powerful. He won’t cross that boundary that bush holds out. He’s his own man. Not bush’s man.

    I love it!

  32. freepatriot says:

    ot, looks like Obama is using the economic crisis to help the bushies out the door all that much sooner

    450 staffers are makin plans to hit the ground running on January 20th, 2009

    hope they’re planning on treating Obama for writers’ cramp about 8:00 pm on January 20, 2009

  33. TerryC says:

    I certainly hope the Colombia FTA is dead or at least dying. Since Nixon (really Monroe but it got really nasty with Nixon) this country has been propping up the worst sorts of dictators and military practices in Latin America, sending billions in the guise of foreign aid the AID and other organizations. I would like to think that our new administration would take a step back from the predatory practices of our shameful policies in Latin America and start building real prosperity in the hope that instead of simply exploiting them for labor and resources we might engage in building a true regional economy that would raise all of us up together. Not that anyone would trust our government or corporations to do it but it sure would be a step in the right direction.

    As to the leaks – Obama must remain “above-the-fray” at all costs in the public’s perception. He must be seen to lead. That is exactly why he has Rahm and Podesta and I am sure a few more like them in the ranks. Leaking to the press, making backroom deals and twisting arms when necessary is not the job of the President or even the VP. It is the job of their staffs, aides and advisors to deftly wrangle all the pieces into place. They know it and the press knows it.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      o/t but is anyone else offended beyond belief that Cheney is showing his face on Veteran’s Day?

      Fixed it for ya.

      Boxturtle (Yes)

  34. PJEvans says:

    Yeah, it’s enrollment season where I work. I have a choice of plans, none of which are explained in English, and all of which have been in legal trouble in the last couple of years. Last year I didn’t enroll in any of them – I put ’single payer health coverage’ on my list of things I’d like to see in the next administration (along with closing Gitmo and building a better transportation system and fixing the f*cking bailout so we get voting shares in return for our money, and a bunch of other stuff).

  35. freepatriot says:

    A DeutscheBank analyst decided their stock was worthless today–doesn’t see any way they’d ever get out of debt.

    that guy just ain’t tryin hard enough

    take all the remaining money and buy lotto tickets, ya idiot …

    (I coulda been a bank manager, cept for all the math an stuff …)

  36. klynn says:

    This up from AP about 15 min ago:

    WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for ”emergency and limited financial assistance” for the battered auto industry on Tuesday, and urged the outgoing Bush administration to join lawmakers in reaching a quick compromise.

    Five days after dismal financial reports from General Motors Corp. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F), Pelosi backed legislation to make the automakers eligible for help under the $700 billion bailout measure that cleared Congress in October.

    In a written statement, the California Democrat said the aid was needed ”in order to prevent the failure of one or more of the major American automobile manufacturers, which would have a devastating impact on our economy, particularly on the men and women who work in that industry….”

    ”Congress and the Bush administration must take immediate action,” she added. Administration officials have concluded that the bailout bill that passed earlier does not permit loans to the auto industry, but lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol for a brief postelection session beginning next week.

    • PJEvans says:

      Dingell is badmouthing Waxman, implying that Waxman won’t support American industry. (As if Henry doesn’t have any manufacturing or industry in his district!)
      I’ll admit there aren’t any auto plants around here, but I’m not sure there are any left anywhere in CA – GM and Ford were closing them decades ago.
      It makes Dingell sound like he’s yelling ‘Get off my lawn!’

  37. freepatriot says:

    George bush’s last months in office are starting to resemble Zapp Brannigan’s battle orders:


    if he has too, georgie will strap the economy on his back, and carry it past the finish line

    which is January 20, 2009

    after that, can’t blame georgie any more

    trying to do slightly better than Buchannan would seem like a pathetic goal, but at least george has a goal …

  38. JohnLopresti says:

    German reportage, impartiality; Daimler has strong presence in places like Sindelfingen.

    Colombia: currently in news, Russia war games in VZ waters. I was looking at the OAS site, given CCR’s advocacy on behalf of a torcha victim Ameziane whose case the NY barristers took to the OAS’s watchdog forum for prisoner rights. There is a lot to study there, but I found some curious comments seven months since, by AG Mukasey regarding DoJ’s programs for international cooperation. I know there have been many threads on some countries already; here are Mukasey’s prepared remarks in 6pp at that time.

    Chile: Bachellet in final year of term, represents smart opposition to some Bush policies in region.

  39. Mauimom says:

    Bush’s union-busting buddy in Colombia, Alvaro Uribe?
    share this Share This spotlight Spotlight

    Is that what all that squawking about “the importance of Colombia” was about by McCain?

  40. punaise says:


    To those who are incessantly complaining about bloggers being “concern trolls” for responding to stories about various possible appointments, priorities or policies of the new administration, I can only assume that you aren’t aware of something called a “trial balloon” and its purpose.

    Here’s the definition:

    A trial balloon is information sent out in order to observe the reaction of an audience. It can be used by companies sending out press releases to judge reaction by customers, or it can be used by politicians who deliberately leak information on a policy change under consideration. In politics trial balloons often take the form of an intentional news leak to assess public opinion.

    They actually want us to “concern troll” them so thy can gauge how the activist base, the mainstream media and the political establishment will react. It’s not an act of “disloyalty” or a sign of hysteria to respond to these things any more than it is an act of disloyalty to respond to a poll or write a letter to the editor. It’s the point.

    Relax. This is a normal part of politics.

    • ThingsComeUndone says:

      I take it it is the GOP who is complaining they want us to look divided. Just like all those Dems divided Obama can’t win Women, Hispanics, Blue Collar workers stories before the election.

  41. Blub says:

    we need a more radical solution to turning around the auto industry than a bailout benefiting the likes of GM’s Wagoner…. I really would like Obama and his brain trust to come up with a solution that strips the company-killing management culture of the big 2.5 away from their manufacturing assets and human capital, and then facilitates redeployment and retraining for the latter. Otherwise, we’re going to be having this bailout discussion once a year for the next four year, with Wagoner paying giving himself 70%+ pay increases each year, just like he’s done in each of the last two years.

  42. JoeBuck says:

    I don’t know where Bush gets off complaining about this. Let’s suppose that Obama were inclined to go along with Bush’s proposal. To execute on it, he’d have to pass word on to Congressional Democrats. Did Bush seriously think that this could be done without word leaking out?

    But yes, I’m sure that the purpose of the leak was to kill the proposal, and I’m confident that Obama’s just fine with it.

  43. joel6653 says:

    My money is on Bush’s team having leaked the information. It enables them to go right to Drudge and complain that the other side isn’t being fair. This kind of stuff has happened before. With the Republicans, something they complain about most loudly is usually something which they themselves are doing at that moment. See Mark Foley, the Idaho guy, etc.

  44. brantl says:

    I want someone to make it a big deal that it’s somehow fair for the soon-to-be-ex-president and the incoming president to make secret policy deals that the american people don’t know about. The Obama camp did exactly the right thing, here, and said we’re having none of this.

Comments are closed.