"Obama made a good analogy about these banks and AIG. He said it's like trying to deal with someone with a bomb vest strapped on with his thumb on the trigger. You have to negotiate carefully least he hit the trigger and blow us all up."
I was able to trace this to Obama's March 18 "town hall" get-together in Costa Mesa, California. A Los Angeles Times Blog covered the occasion.
It appears to me that the LA Times blogger was having as much difficulty comprehending this reasoning on Obama's part as I was. I mean just what were we supposed to take from Obama's analogy?
Yes I can see that it is meant to point out that this banking crisis is a touchy issue and that if our leaders say the wrong things, bad things may well happen in the economy as a result. It's a powder keg for sure, that we can all agree on.
But a suicide bomber has bad intent going into it - you know, premeditated. So how does that play out in this analogy? I don't know.
I suppose there are two possibilities here. One is that Obama came up with this on the spur of the moment without giving much thought to what he was saying and he really had no intent to make an analogy between AIG and the premeditated bad intent of a suicide bomber.
The other possibility is that this wasn't the first time Obama had heard of or used this analogy. Obama has a tendency to repeat himself and seems especially prone to repeating himself in a slightly different context, using an analogy that fits well in one context but doesn't quite fit the bill in the other context. His Special Olympics comment exemplifies this tendency but there have been many other shining examples that don't come to mind right off as I write.
I've heard that whenever there is more than one possibility, the safe bet is to choose the simpler one. Some would say the simpler one here is that Obama's comment was a spur of the moment thing. I disagree. The simpler explanation is that Obama was doing what he does so often, repeating an analogy that fits better in a slightly different context.
But what would that context be?
The context would be a White House where the insiders know there is a struggle going on here between Obama's "liberal" agenda and the conservative Wall Street (and world banking) elites. In that context the suicide bomb analogy complete with premeditated malintent would fit giants like AIG perfectly. In that context, it would be easy to understand that what we are dealing with are giant corporations and powers who are telling the Obama government and more broadly the American voters that we either do it their way or they destroy our economy. A White House facing that scenario would be talking very carefully to ensure the trigger doesn't get pulled.
But hey, at that time of the morning I'm usually in a dream world. No doubt this is the same.