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Sunday: Who is Sheila Bair?

Sheila Bair, 2nd most powerful woman in the world
Sheila Bair, 2nd most powerful woman in the world

If you want to hear Obamaphile Extraordinaire Terry Gross squirming in her chair, skip the Gene Simmons interview.  The most entertaining interviews this year have been the ones Terry has had with Theresa Ghilarducci, a pensions and retirement specialist, and Robert Kuttner who wrote and published the book, Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.  Kuttner is being clever here.  What he’s actually doing is challenging Obama.  During the interview, one gets the distinct sense that Kuttner *knows* that Obama is not a transformative president.  It’s not in Obama’s character.  But he is trying to force grim realities upon Obama in the hopes that he will step up to the plate and deliver.

Those grim realities, and the possibility that a new president with approximately 142 days of Senatorial experience is going to be facing the most serious crisis since the Great Depression, make Terry very uncomfortable.  It’s like, “What do you *want* from him???  He just gave you the warm fuzzies?  Isn’t this enough???  Presidentin’ is really hard!”  I just love this exchange:

Kuttner:  I think the whole point is that crisis can be turned into opportunity but that Obama has to be very bold in the way he proceeds.

Gross:  But that’s the problem, isn’t it?  I mean, there are so many places that have grave financial need now.  Cities and states, uh, infrastructure, bank bailouts, homeowner bailouts, the auto industry wants money.

Kuttner:  Hmm-mmm.

Gross:  I mean, there’s a kind of crisis in every sector, so how do you decide what your priorities are?  That’s going to be a really hard one for Obama, don’t you think??

Yes, Terry, we *do* think.  And we have thought this for some time now.  That is why we did not support Obama.  We thought it would be too overwhelming for a guy with no knowledge of the executive branch or how the mechanisms of government actually worked.

Terry seems genuinely shocked that the economy is seriously smothering her pleasure in the nation’s self-actualization over the Obama victory.  My advice is to enjoy is while you can.  The $^*( hits the fan when the inauguration is over and the drum lines go home to Georgia.

Kuttner mentions several possibilities for Treasury Secretary.  Larry Summers is at the top of Obama’s list but not Kuttner’s.  Summers was too involved in deregulation in the 90’s.  He also mentions Governor of NJ, Jon Corzine, to which I reply, “Take him!  PLEASE!”  But Kuttner points out that Corzine was once the CEO of Goldman-Sachs and we already have enough incest between Treasury and Wall Street.

Then he mentions Sheila Bair, the head of the FDIC.  You may be surprised to know that this woman that probably no one has heard of is the 2nd most powerful woman in the world behind Angela Merkel.  She’s a very smart, very tough administrator who was right on top of the bank mergers of recent months. Democratic Cogresscritters like her. She’s also a Republican but one who is friendly to regulation.  Weird.  I guess such creatures aren’t mythical after all.

So, here we have a well-respected, pro-regulation, Republican administrator who is also a woman.

Will Obama go with Bair for Sec. of Treasury?  And what will it say about the transformative nature of Obama’s presidency if he defaults to Summers, a deregulator who thinks women aren’t smart enough to compete with men in math and science?

91 Responses

  1. OK, RD, hold him accountable!

  2. Sheila Blair seems to be missing a vital organ, so I’d lay 100 to 1 ones she isn’t tapped.

  3. Well, Obama’s already transformed himself into a Republican, so anything’s possible.

  4. But Blair does not seem like a typical Repub.

  5. she is female and competent. If Oby chooses her, his dick will shrivel and die. Not gona happen

  6. I am late this morning. Just want to say – I am pissed about Kennedy not allowing a new sub-committee headed by Hillary on health care reform. Hillary is on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee but she is about 5 down in ranking Dems.

    Dodd is number two behind Kennedy. If Ted kicks the bucket Dodd will be head. Dodd is no doubt just as dedicated to f”king over Hillary as Ted. F’king p*nises – I hate them.

  7. soopermouse! damn girl, you consistently hit the nail on the head! LMAO.

  8. I’m off to go worship the Jesus who didn’t need a teleprompter to give his sermons. See y’all later.

  9. Dee–I’m mad too. Hillary gets no respect from the elites. They continue to put her down everyday right under our eyes. This is what she gets for being a good sport.

  10. Too true, Angie. Without that little pee pee thing, Shiela stands no chance with Barack. Besides we all know he really doesn’t want to regulate Wall Street. They might cut off his money supply.

  11. angienc, Bye. Peace, love, joy!

  12. Great post, Riverdaughter! I’ve never heard of Sheila Bair, but she sounds better than Larry Summers. I heard Robert Kuttner on an NPR show right after his book came out. He’s a real liberal and I agree with your take on what he’s trying to do. Kuttner thinks we need a new New Deal. It’s not likely Obama will listen, unfortunately.

  13. I hope church is relaxing and inspiring, Angie.

  14. Good luck to Sheila Blair. I doubt Obama will choose her.

  15. This is hitting home. The fed employees’ union I belong to (NTEU) backed BO. I totally agree that we need greater funding to enforce the laws we have now. (Yes, the “cool” remark made me wince).
    Expanding govt enforcement in a recession will require great salesmanship and an expenditure of political capital. Will the empty suit rise to the occasion?

  16. No gonna happen. No nuts, no job.
    But I do love Kuttner’s tack. Presidentin’ is hard work, we already heard that from the first Jr. And I predict “What do you want from him?” will become the catch phrase of the times.

  17. I just realized I haven’t introduced myself to you Confluencians. I have been a regular lurker for a few months now and have privately shared your joys and sorrow about the election (what joys, indeed?). I supported Hillary in the primary, was very very angry on 5/31, left the ONC, voted for McCain/Palin and will forever be an independent…
    I’m also part of the 18-24 crowd at a very liberal college, so I’ve had nowhere to go except online to find opposition against Obama.
    Dear PUMAS, please keep up the voice of dissent.

  18. DoraExplora, so glad you’re here. Like your SN too. Keep commenting.

  19. “I’m also part of the 18-24 crowd at a very liberal college, so I’ve had nowhere to go except online to find opposition against Obama.”

    Anti-Obama and at university… It’s lonely isn’t it? You’re not alone.

  20. Welcome, DoraExplora!

  21. Sheila Bair sounds just like who McCain/Palin might have picked.

    Why can’t B0, who as Alexander Cockburn said, is a “first-rate Republican,” pick someone who exemplifies fiscal responsibility, one of the better parts of R-dom?

    Oh, that’s it. The plumbing’s wrong. Betcha our 0Change prez has as many white males in his cabinet as the Shrub.

  22. (should’ve added) Now if he’d just pick the right white males as — as opposed to DINOs, we’d be OK. Not holding my breath.

  23. wow, nothing of significance for Hillary in the senate or elsewhere? Healthcare would have been a natural choice. When is Ted Kennedy going to kick the bucket? for all her 18 million support what is she getting?(but he did get the majority of her voters, with her campaigning to turn them around and she would not have got much of his just as he told us because he had poisoned them so much against her — looking back, he knew what he was talking about and it was a threat to all her superdelegates and undecided ones). This is all very sad and depressing. I don’t think she will ever get another chance to become the president. They will muzzle her and not give her any visibility.

    Watch the GoP make Obama win an affirmative action issue in 2012 and when all those repubs who sat at home this time show up, Obama will probably need to stuff more ballots than he did this time.

  24. […] 9, 2008 · No Comments I got this future phrase of the times from Riverdaughter’s post documenting the first utterance – of many to […]

  25. Thanks purplefinn, bostonboomer, jvsp!
    jvsp–are you a student too?

  26. DoraE, I work at a liberal university, (tho I’ve long since passed that age bracket) but you do indeed have company. Welcome!

  27. jvsp: totally depends on which college within the university… believe me those of us in the colleges of business were immune to the koolaid

  28. Good morning, RD and friends. RD: Sheila Blair is smart and has already been using the FDIC to bolster economic conditions for middle class folks.

    Obama really does seem uncomfortable with dealing with women as professional colleagues. And, he wants to make everybody think he’s no economic radical (I know, I know, a moderate Republican like Blair is not a radical pick, but I think the the world is crazy-misogynistic so to the public at large picking any woman will seem to equal economic radicalism), so Summers is very safe for him.

    Nevertheless, I am with you RD. We have to keep putting our ideas out there about what we want from the President-elect, what we indeed demand from him. If we do not, we are simply rolling over.

  29. Thanks, PumaInSeattle!

  30. English, Sociology, and Political Science seemed to go for BO in my tiny poll.

  31. Oh, Barky. He’s nothing but a vibrator.

  32. My ex-roommate, whom I regarded as the expert on politics, actually supported Hilllary and refused to vote for Obama in the GE, to my great joy. She was very bothered about Obama’s lack of experience. Unfortunately everyone else drank the Kool-Aid, and some of her friends even tried to tell her that she was racist for not supporting Obama.

  33. DoraExpolra
    Happy de-lurking. And honestly, there have been some joys too, and I can see a few coming up as well.

  34. Btw, she was an IR major.

  35. Off to work now. -Catch you later.

  36. oops, I used the word r*c*st in my comment and now it’s in moderation.

  37. Think for a moment of the difference between Obama and FDR.

    FDR used the circumstance of a financial and economic crisis to justify an enormous change in our governmental programs and in our social safety net.

    Obama is now using the circumstance of a financial and economic crisis to justify doing nothing new and important.

    Nothing could better capture the difference between the two Presidents, and the difference between a genuinely transformative President and a fake one.

  38. But what is he?

  39. RD, will you please rescue my comment?

  40. At my university many of those in the trenches supported Hillary. Knew that we needed health care for all and not just for certain age groups. Sadly, many people didn’t follow the details of the primary processes, and rolled right over when b0 “won” the nomination.

    I look forward to their disillusionment.

  41. dakinikat – so you’re a b-school prof as well as a fellow Honey Ryder? cool 🙂

    DoraE, welcome! BO was my alma mater’s commencement speaker this year, so I feel your pain.

  42. betuscha–I’m so sorry.
    The students at my school actually wanted Michelle Obama as the commencement speaker. Luckily they did not get their wish!!

  43. My comment was in moderation so I’ll just repost it:

    My ex-roommate, whom I regarded as the expert on politics, actually supported Hilllary and refused to vote for Obama in the GE, to my great joy. She was very bothered about Obama’s lack of experience. Unfortunately everyone else drank the Kool-Aid, and some of her friends even tried to tell her that she was r*c*st for not supporting Obama.
    She was an IR major. Too bad many other people our age just don’t have good sense 😛

  44. 😯

  45. Sheila Bair is completely qualified for the position, which means she won’t even be contacted by the 0s ‘office of the president elect.” He doesn’t have the spine required for such a move.

  46. I’ve been watching Sheila Bair for a few months now and I’m very impressed. Her name has been included in the list for Tsy Sec. However, she has two strikes against her with the boys – no penis and she’s a graduate of a public university – UMass Amherst, where my daughter is a student – ,not an Ivy.

  47. Sorry -stepped out for a sec.

    “jvsp–are you a student too?”

    I’m a student (non-trad). …don’t know what your major is, but if in the humanities, that could be really rough. I would have liked to have written a letter to the local paper, but I have no wish to jeopardize my academic standing.

    Dakinikat “jvsp: totally depends on which college within the university… believe me those of us in the colleges of business were immune to the koolaid”

    Do you mean amongst your fellow Professors only, or also the students?

  48. Thanks DoraE – BO was a last-minute replacement for Ted Kennedy. The next alumni bulletin had his puss on the cover. I ripped it up. Actually, I’ve ripped up the covers of several magazines this year. Hubby makes it a point now to hide his Time from me.

  49. OT, but in the Obama Worship theme:

    Topeka Capital Journal (http://cjonline.com) of talk of an O national holiday.

    WTF???!!!!!! He hasn’t even taken office yet.

    Wonder what Bill and Hill think of this.

    For more information, contact Sonny Scroggins, (785) 232-3761, 845-6148 or at biasbustersofkansas@yahoo.com; Lamont Lassiter, McDonald’s general manager, 608-2739; Ava Chander-Beard, (785) 234-9138, ava.beard@sbcglobal.net; or Rhoda Carr, (785) 220-5883.

  50. It’s as big as a medicine ball

  51. Betuscha-I feel like ripping up my magazines everytime i see Obama’s face on it too. I haven’t done it yet though.
    One nice thing about this primary is that I will save a lot of money from canceling all my magazine subscriptions–except for National Geographic! I don’t have time to read them anyway.
    gail–that is the stupidest I’ve heard yet.

  52. Don’t I know it! But we dare not question this national holiday thing because if we do we’re …..r@c-st!

  53. Doubts it.

    Part of me hopes he picks Summers. Terrible I know. But I just want to be around when Rome burns.

  54. xax

    the downside to that is WE’RE IN Rome.

  55. gail, I looked on the link you gave for the story on the holiday for Obama. What section is it in?

  56. Obama is bi-racial yet he is portrayed as AA. Why?

    If Obama were the decendant of slaves with two AA parents whose life mirrored the experience of most AA’s in this country I could see a national holiday perhaps.

    The fact is Obama is as much white as he is black. He was raised by his white family in an odd but comfortable household and shares no common bond with most AA’s in this country.

    I wonder if he looked more white than black if he would be given the same treatment.

  57. How about a holiday for Thomas Jefferson, the first redheaded Prez? We’re a m@nority too….

  58. Thanks, jvsp – unbelievable. I wonder if McDonald’s will be serving kool aid, too. I simply do not get this – it boggles my mind.

  59. RD- I’ve been listening to Sheila Bair lately on CSPAN during some of the recent hearings. I was struck by the fact that she was frequently asked questions about the economy that may be construed as beyond her purview at the FDIC, but she always had insightful and complete answers- it was clear that her opinion was respected. She had a lot to say about the current problems of getting the banks to use the bail-out money to free up credit markets instead of hoarding it, as they seem to be doing.

  60. Too many other pressing issues — I’m just saying…

  61. Gosh darn it … I thought the rest of the world loved us now? Not so much:


  62. Never has one individual been feted so much for having done so little…

  63. Thank you RD for another informative post.

    I have no hope for a strong woman in any main cabinet post.

    It seems to me that BO’s pick of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff is the antithesis of all that BO said he stood for. If Hillary had picked Emanuel, the press would be attacking her for choosing such an aggressive beltway hawk.

    How long will it take Obots to accept that they have been hoodwinked big time?

    I hope in 4 years we will be rid of President BO.

    Hillary 2012!

  64. Good Morning RD, I haven’t read the entire post yet but I had to compliment you your “presidentin’ is really hard” line. I’m still cracking up. I will definitely savor that one.


  65. Thanks for sharing that britgirls.

  66. “BBC has newsgasm over Obama’s dog”-finally someone is criticising the BBC for its mush:

    So many women (one example is masslib) but there were so many everywhere, were saying that BO would give HRC healthcare/supreme court/ etc. I never believed that for a moment. Terry Gross should have been more savvy.

    Sheila Blair is a nice one, but Obama has a lot of people to pay back….

  67. I have not heard Blair mentioned anywhere in the media, not even on the long-list. I don’t think there’s any chance, not even if she dressed like a man for the next few weeks and changed all her letterhead to ‘Sean Blair’.

    I’m interested to see how long Obama drags out the naming of cabinet members. Aside from the ‘HISTORICAL MOMENT!’ meme, it’s all he’s got to keep himself in every news cycle with the speculation.

    I do picture him as with the VP pick — where he wanted to pick that other nobody/blank slate/antiabortion Kaine but his advisors made him pick Biden bc Kaine wasn’t part of the tired old guard. He’s probably trying to push all his buddies — Richardson, Ayers, into positions but his handlers are saying No! we got you elected on changey hope but now it’s all stuff sexist *sshats or no one. Or he’s too busy soaking in the slavish adoration to care and letting Rahm do all the work.

    Anyone else get a Cheney-Bush vibe from the Rahm pick?

  68. oops, I meant stuffy sexist *sshats, not stuff.

  69. HOLY SHIT.

    I was sleeping and this noise that sounded like a bomb just shook my apartment. My cats are freaking out. SO, told me to calm down it was some sort of a jet. God Barry get the hell out of Chicago. I can’t take this anymore. I am still shaking.

  70. Trecy – I don’t think it will happen. Most AA will still vote for him like they did this year. Obama is here to stay. I think the Democratic party will start grooming Jesse Jackson Jr. to take over after Obama. He didn’t bully AA superdelegates for nothing. It is time for this party to split.

  71. Dem party leaders will start grooming JJJr.

  72. 7 days and no word on granny’s funeral. Too many other pressing issues — hanging out with the family in Chicago, researching puppies, desiging new signs, etc.
    I’m just saying…

    probably been cremated already…but who knows, she might not have died the day they said, heck who knows, does anyone, when all you got to go on is the Obama family, let’s get serious, have they been forth coming with anything else?

  73. angienc — you crack me up !!!

    I read a bit about Ms. Blair in the WSJ over the months and she appears to be the only sane one around. Is anyone listening?

  74. Trecy
    Rahm is the Chicago “insider” who I believe was behind Obama from the start.
    Would someone PLEASE pull up the “heart-wrenching” video of;”James Clyburn” throwing Pres. Clinton….U.T.B.!!
    Everyone here will see off to Cyburns side Rahm ,”encouraging” him to “do it”!
    In the background was Pelosi,Reid & ? .

  75. Love that article posted by britgirls, especially this: “I really don’t see how the Obama devotees can ever in future mock the Moonies, the Scientologists or people who claim to have been abducted in flying saucers.”

    I’m going to call them “devotees” instead of “Obots” in future.

  76. afrocity — you ok !!!

  77. Cheny-Bush vibes? Started with one look at the pics of Obama and Biden!

  78. I am still a little shaken. This city looks like a war zone.

  79. New post up above.

  80. afrocity,

    What do you mean, “This city [Chicago] looks like a war zone?” Was there something beyond the loud noise?

  81. I’ve NEVER heard Gross ask any guy a hard question – if she gets anywhere near hardball, there’s a giggle.
    NPR sold out with liberal white guilt long ago.
    People listen to NPR because they’ve been trained to.
    As someone said earlier, most of the BBomers in this country have been raised on media white guilt for decades, with new horrific episodes and reruns every week.
    There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you realize no one ever does that about women. No one. Instead we have women-hating rappers and “bros before hos”.
    The AA males have the corner on suffering.
    My husband wants to begin calling Obama “a person of color”. I told him he’d better be careful.

  82. I’m late to the discussion, as usual, but I have to say that you are so right about Sheila Bair. Here we have a woman and a Republican that even lefties can love. Here’s what leftist econ writer Mike Whitney has to say about Sheila Bair.

    The FDIC’s Sheila Bair has been the one “bright light” in the present financial train-wreck. She has done a first-rate job of closing “sick” banks and renegotiating mortgages. Last week, Bair blasted Paulson for focusing all his attention on the banks and financial institutions instead of homeowners, many of who are now facing foreclosure. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, she said: “We’re attacking it (the crisis) at the institution level as opposed to the borrower level, and it’s the borrowers that are defaulting. That is what’s causing the distress at the institution level…So why not tackle the borrower problem?”

    Unlike Paulson, Bair seems to grasp that the hemorrhaging in the financial sector cannot be stopped unless the rate of foreclosures is slowed and housing prices stabilize. The FDIC chief has taken a sensible approach to the crisis by writing down the face-value of mortgages and putting homeowners in conventional 30-year fixed rate loans that make it possible for them to avoid foreclosure. According to Bloomberg, “(Bair) now has the authority to offer loan guarantees that could encourage modifications by mortgage-servicing companies in an effort to avert foreclosures. The new financial rescue plan “allows the government to set standards for mortgage changes and offer guarantees for loans that meet the standards.” This gets to the root of the larger problem which is stopping the slide in housing prices so that the mortgage-backed securities market can normalize.

    From the same article, here is more on what Whitney has to say about Henry Paulson.

    Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson’s $125 billion capital “giveaway” to nine of the country’s largest banks has helped to calm the credit markets, but it won’t last. The “real economy” is beginning to stumble and the stock market is gyrating more wildly than anytime in history. Wall Street is consumed with fear and investors are ducking out the exits as fast as their feet will carry them. According to the New York Times, the banks probably won’t even use Paulson’s money to extend loans to consumers and businesses (as intended), but will hoard it to make sure they are sufficiently capitalized when their mortgage-backed assets are downgraded. Even worse, the banks may use the money to gobble up smaller local and regional banks. On Tuesday’s Jim Lerher News Hour, New York Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin put it like this: “The other thing that some of them may do with that money is go out and make acquisitions and buy other banks, (which) means that you will not be getting this money into your pocket anytime soon….I think the larger issue is the economy and these banks, in terms of lending, are not going to start lending real money until the economy turns.”

    Paulson knows what the banks are up to; after all, these are his friends. The truth is, the $125 billion was not given to the banks to soften the effects of the recession or increase lending. It was given to make the strong banks even stronger so they could monopolize the industry. Paulson’s real plan is “more consolidation” and less competition, or as economist Michael Hudson says, “Big fish eat little fish”. The Treasury Secretary is using his authority to reward his friends rather than doing what is best for the country.


    So if Obama does choose Bair for Treasury Secretary, I wil definitely give him credit for that. But I ain’t holding my breath!

  83. Obama seems to be afraid of competent, intelligent women who know too much. He may be like other egos I’ve known, however, if Sheila Bair can appeal to his own ego and not upstage him in any way, who knows, maybe she has a chance.

    Not that I believe that….

  84. nobo48 said: “The fact is Obama is as much white as he is black. He was raised by his white family in an odd but comfortable household and shares no common bond with most AA’s in this country.

    I wonder if he looked more white than black if he would be given the same treatment.”

    He would not be given the same treatment. In fact it fairly unlikely he would have been anywhere remotely near the presidency. Obam rode his “Black card” all the way to the WH and when Gerry Ferraro pointed out what you just did, she was hounded. If BO had had the typical or even atypical Black experience in this country, he would have never been fully accepted by the mainstream.

  85. On the front page of the WSJ Weekend edition there is a picture of Obama and his economic team that stretches pretty much across the whole page. It is well worth looking at because like so many pictures it says so much more than words. There are 4 females strung through a gang of what looks like about 40 men. Most of the men are white. In the center of course, playing to this throng, is The One. What does he have to say? Really nothing. The text that goes with the picture mentions that Dems are backing away from an immediate stimulus package since they have not hear Bush 2 say yet that he wants such or will support it. (Maybe they do not know The One, Won).

    Why does Obama have to surround himself with huge “brain trusts”? Is his need for adulation and constant support unending? Never mind, I know that answer. I am for Bair. Not only is HRC still getting trashed but so is Palin. Women, we are in for a rough ride and half of us do not even get it yet.

  86. […] of course, also be an amazing choice; Riverdaughter points out pro-regulation moderate Republican Sheila Bair, the head of the FDIC, as a possibility. Of course, another excellent choice would be Hillary Clinton, but despite some […]

  87. I hate to point this out, but people keep wanting to beleive that any woman appointed to a position in BO’s cabinet is a crack in the glass ceiling. It isn’t. We have had women in cabinet positions before. We have a (wretched) woman as Speaker of the House, for crying out loud.

    It doesn’t change a thing. They have to toe the line. Mind their place. They are not allowed at the top of the heap. I have to think that Pelosi being third from the Presidency has put into play the “secret solution”. If anything happens the BO and Biden, Pelosi’s facelift pulls too tight and she implodes.

    There is nothing that BO can do that will undo what he has done. Anything that comes out of this poisenous selection process will be poisen.

    The only solution is to defang the snake in two years, try to contain it until it dies in four years, and make sure it doesn’t ever happen again.

  88. “That’s going to be a really hard one for Obama…”

    Isn’t she quoting Larry Sinclair?

  89. I am sure she is a very fine woman with good credentials, but I do not believe she is ready for prime time. I am basing that on the fact that our banks have been allowed to buy financial entities that offered the sub prime borrowers such dangerous loan programs and which has been the direct result of this fallen economy. Exactly one month before the first bank failed, I believe it was Indymac, I made a call to that office and ask them, since when are you not monitoring the assets which Banks now own and what do you allow them in the way of purchasing banks who make loans that would be considered scheduled items for the holding company. Someone in her office said, I have to go to lunch now. If the fact that she is a republican and a female enters into it, then that sets us back. She is a competent person and her physical and political stance should not be used. I think the Obama team if they nominate her will do so because they expect to control her as some of the politians, I believe, have already done.

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