That would be the Jennifer Aniston theory of Obamaism, of course.
A bit of back-story: After Frank Foer and I wrote a piece earlier this year laying out our theory of Obamaism, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson helpfully reimagined it as the Jennifer Aniston theory. As Thompson explained it in this post:
This is, in a nutshell, the theory that Obama prefers to tweak incentives for private actors rather than have the government take over. The name comes from the Aniston movie The Break-Up, where her character famously tells her live-in boyfriend that she doesn't want to do the dishes for him; nor does she want to force him to do the dishes: She wants him to want to do the dishes.
At the time, we all saw evidence of Obama's Aniston-ism in his approach to health care, climate change, and toxic bank assets. (See the original post for more.) Now, Thompson spots something similar in Obama's thoughts on Wall Street regulation. Particularly this riff from Obama's speech last Monday:
I've always been a strong believer in the power of the free market ... I certainly did not run for President to bail out banks or intervene in the capital markets ...
One of the most important ways to rebuild the system stronger than before is to rebuild trust stronger than before - and you do not have to wait for a new law to do that. You don't have to wait to use plain language in your dealings with consumers. You don't have to wait to put the 2009 bonuses of your senior executives up for a shareholder vote. You don't have to wait for a law to overhaul your pay system so that folks are rewarded for long-term performance instead of short-term gains.
As Thompson sums it up, Obama was essentially saying: "I didn't run for president to do your dishes, Wall Street. I don't want to do your dishes. I want you to want to do your dishes." What can you say? It's like they loop that movie through Air Force One or something.
Update: Here's that iconic Break-Up scene if you'd like to see it: