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Ed Driscoll

McGovernite Rides Mobius Loop

April 28th, 2014 - 2:51 pm

“David Bonior is a hungry entrepreneur bent on making money,” notes the Washington Post. Come again?

David Bonior ?

The former Michigan Democratic congressman, liberal pit bull, academic, antiwar* firebrand and labor-union BFF has undergone an epiphany, making him simpatico with businesses and the profit motive.

He has invested at least $1 million, by my estimate, building two family-owned Washington restaurants, the second of which, Agua 301, is near Nationals Park and only a line drive from the Anacostia River. His first eatery, Zest Bistro, opened on Capitol Hill four years ago.

“It’s the American Dream,” he said of his new career.

Over tasty Caesar salad and tacos at Agua 301, the mild-mannered, thoughtful Bonior — chastened by local regulators and fickle weather — sounds more born-again capitalist than fire-breathing lefty.

“Small-business people work very hard,” said the 68-year-old, who has spent most of his life in government. “If you are a small-business guy, you are out there and not as protected as a government employee. They struggle every day. A snow day, a government worker is off. A restaurant person takes a hit from that snow day. This winter was very, very tough on the [restaurant] industry.”

McGovernite cranks who fail to remember what happened to George McGovern after he left office are doomed to suffer through bad paraphrases of Santayana, or something like that. Or as I wrote in 2011, “There’s a Reason Why it’s called the Forgotten Man:”

What would happen, if, heaven forfend, Obama actually went into business himself? Since his far left administration is basically an extension of George McGovern’s Pyrrhic 1972 campaign, perhaps this anecdote fits as well. It’s from 1994, after McGovern retired from politics and attempted to open, Bob Newhart style, a New England inn:

George McGovern laments that after his experience in the bed-and-breakfast business he realizes that laws and regulations pertaining to small business are actually hurting the lower-wage workers whom he had tried to help during his entire political career. With his Stratford Inn in bankruptcy, McGovern now says:

In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business…. I wish that during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better Senator and a more understanding presidential contender… To create job opportunities, we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

And that was 20 years ago, shortly after George H.W. Bush raised taxes and passed the onerous Americans With Disabilities Act, and about five minutes before Boinor did everything he could to make life a living hell for a reform-minded Newt Gingrich. Followed by George W. Bush spending “more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history,” and Barack Obama furthering the regulatory nightmare that engulfs small businesses — when not openly demonizing them.

As somebody who watched his parents put in 13-hour days for a decade running their small business, I’m happy that David Boinor has had his Newtonian epiphany that “small-business people work very hard” and that on “a snow day, a government worker is off. A restaurant person takes a hit from that snow day.”

But why do politicians always wait until after they leave office to momentarily rediscover how reality works?

* Or “Baghdad Bonior,” as George Will quipped in 2002, after the then-Congressman visited Iraq to be useful idiot and mouthpiece for Saddam Hussein.

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But why do politicians always wait until after they leave office to momentarily rediscover how reality works?

Because in a culture that glorifies victims, there's no political constituency for hard-working businesspeople. They don't get paraded before Senate committees unless points can be scored for some perceived transgression; saying "offensive" words and investing in the "wrong" causes seem especially popular. Those "in government" otherwise simply take them -- and especially their taxes -- for granted.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
But why do politicians always wait until after they leave office to momentarily rediscover how reality works?

Momentarily. Ed Koch had his moment when trying to govern NYC. Then he saw what his past legislation had wrought. Momentarily.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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