The billionaire Warren Buffett wrote an opinion piece for the NYTimes Op-Ed this week, and it was a jaw-dropper. Basically, he was just thanking “Uncle Sam” for coming through on the financial crisis, which averted disaster. Now we have calmer seas in these still-troubled waters, but at least the Ship is finding its safe course, and we are not dashed on the rocks of a new Depression.
He wanted the American people to know how grateful he was to the government, which he referred to in familiar, avuncular terms. He then went on to mention a few of the prominent people who weathered the storm that began in September, 2008. Several names were mentioned, including Ben Bernanke, but he also doffed his cap to George W. Bush, who directed the recovery, and got the entire crew to work together.
So what’s wrong with that? Nothing, as far as it goes. But we are now nearing Thanksgiving, 2010! It seems that his gratitude is reserved for the leader who left the ship before the storm even hit us. He is writing from the perspective of a survivor, like the rest of us. But why doesn’t he mention our current leader, who was steering the ship through the worst of the storm? After all, Buffett is feeling a sense of relief today. If he was only thankful for the government’s role for what it did in 2008, why is he waiting until now to express it?
Perhaps the reason is that he didn’t feel confident enough about the recovery until now. But if so, it stands to reason that the current Captain is just as responsible for that feeling of confidence as the last one.
But he doesn’t even get mentioned by name. Even though Buffett has praised Obama in the past, he doesn’t even say the word “President” this time. Very strange.
Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s an oversight on Buffett’s part. He seems to be saying that Obama’s leadership was not an important factor in getting us to where we are today. Rather, it is the policies that were initiated at the end of the previous administration that are the reason for his thanks. And also, by inference, he is dismissing the policies of the current administration, as well as Obama’s leadership, as pretty much irrelevant to the recovery.
Finally, and most significantly, he is saying something about the future. If Buffett is praising the policies of the previous administration, as well as its leadership, he implies his wish for a return to those policies. And also, since Buffett is known to be very deliberate and cautious in his public statements, his omission of Obama’s name shows that he doesn’t even feel he is risking anything by offending him. After all, the guy’s not going to be around for more than two years.