Pres. Obama called that meeting a week ago to scold the captains of the finance industry. The captains called the president to say that, due to fog, they couldn’t make it from New York to D.C. Monday morning. They had things to do. Simon Johnson has been telling us for more than a year about the unhealthy relationship between Wall Street and Capitol Hill. At the New Republic today, he looks back at the big middle finger the bankers gave to Obama last week.
The implication is inescapable. These three bank executives did not plan on missing the meeting but, once they learned of the fog delay, they did not rush to the train station–which is what any other business traveller with a pressing commitment would have done.
These three executives–who were, in some sense, the primary audience for the president’s remarks–did not really want to attend. They do not see the need to show deference or even respect. They won big from the crisis and that is now behind them. As they move on (and up), there is nothing–in their view–that the executive branch can do to hold them back.
Even so, it wasn’t polite to behave in this fashion; showing disrespect to the president of the United States is always objectionable. But there is a pattern of behavior here, reflecting a deeper culture on Wall Street. This arrogance will eventually prove their undoing–no self-respecting White House can let this kind of repeated insult pass unaddressed.