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Works and Days

It Was the Power, Stupid!

April 22nd, 2012 - 1:26 pm

V. Good and Bad Fat Cats

There is no difference in the way the Koch brothers or Exxon run their empires and the way that  GM, GE, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Google do. But the former are enemies of the people, while the latter are protectors who have have confessed to their bishops and agreed to mouth doctrine and thereby obtained penance to make as much money as they want and to spend it as they damn well please. Suddenly in America after 2009 there are good and bad cable networks, good and bad celebrities, good and bad CEOs, good and bad sports teams (ask Lovie Smith), good and bad states, good and bad everything—not adjudicated on the actual basis of behavior, but rather on whether some are willing to go to reeducation camp, admit their errors, and join the effort to clean the air and feed the kids.

Or do any of you believe there are not Google “corporate jet setters,” or Facebook “fat cats,” or GE executives who didn’t know when it was time not to profit, or Microsoft grandees who ignored the point at which they had made enough money? (For that matter, why could not Barack Obama have made $550,000 last year; had he not reached the point where he didn’t need any more cash?)

VI. The War on Science

We are in strange times. When the Right is in power, the press, the academy, the arts, the foundations, the liberal churches, and the zillionaire class all lecture us on greed, scandal, profit-mongering, wars against science, destroying the planet—the entire laundry list of exploitive greed. The result is that the Right is careful. Bush walked a tightrope, as his moral concerns about stem cells became killing Christopher Reeve, and No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug program were begrudged as too little big government, too late.

When the Left is in power, all of the above go silent.

There really is a war on science in the way a Steven Chu wasted billions on irrational subsidized schemes that produced no energy, while, along with Ken Salazar, neglecting proven ways to increase oil and gas production on federally controlled lands. The GM-subsidized Volt is de facto a war against science; so is high-speed rail—at least for now. The anti-deficit properties of the Buffett rule are make-believe accounting, and entirely anti-mathematical. There really are anti-constitutional scandals in which people died as in Fast and Furious. There really are Ken Lay-type con artists still around called Jon Corzine. There really are misogynists like Bill Maher that daily declare “war on women.”

VII. Fire With Fire

I have a confession to make that may upset readers. I was neutral in the Republican primaries, but especially interested in one fact: who would take off the gloves and run a “war room” campaign in the fashion of Bill Clinton in 1992 (as opposed to the McCain model of emulating Mike Dukakis in 1988)? Romney did it first and most effectively.

The result is that when we hear that Rush Limbaugh should be taken off the air for his profane misogyny, almost immediately now there are accounts of Bill Maher’s $1 million gift to Obama and his far greater and unapologetic slurs against women. When we hear all those creepy “concerns” about Romney’s great-grandfather as a polygamist in Mexico, suddenly we are reminded that Obama’s father in Kenya was, too. Putting a dog on the car roof is now not quite the same as eating a dog and then matter-of-fact reading one’s account of it on an audiotape. Trivial? Yes. Distractions from the current economic mess, and beneath us all? Perhaps. All Romney’s doing? Of course not.

But at least 2012 won’t be a default campaign. In other words, to quote Obama, Romney will get in “their faces” and “bring a gun to a knife fight.” McCain more graciously and nobly lost by putting all sorts of concerns off the table. I would expect that should Obama keep harping about Romney’s tax returns, Romney will demand Obama’s transcripts and medical records at last to be released. If Obama’s surrogates keep writing about Mormonism, we will learn of new disclosures about Trinity Church. For every Mormon bishop who said something illiberal in 1976, we will hear of a Father Pfleger or Rev. Meeks trumping that in 2007. And so on.

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