Ed Driscoll

'Wall Street: Dems Can't Have It Both Ways'

During the 2008 presidential election, Wall Street abandoned Republicans, preferring Michael Bloomberg’s nanny state and Barack Obama’s arugula to the GOP’s traditional values, as Kevin D. Williamson wrote in National Review early the following year:

Wall Street isn’t politically agnostic, and there’s more to its politics than money. Culture matters, and you won’t find a lot of Pentecostal churches in Greenwich, Conn. Wall Street guys, for the most part, do not have time for social conservatives. “Of course these guys aren’t conservative,” says one longtime bond trader. “Why the [expletive deleted] would they be? We’re talking about guys who live in Manhattan, guys with manicures and eight-figure bank balances. And their wives–their wives aren’t showing up at parents’ day at Brearley with a Sarah Palin button. It’d be like showing up in flip-flops from Wal-Mart. Like showing up in a [rather lengthier expletive deleted] tracksuit.”

This cultural divide is particularly visible in New York City politics. “Ten to 15 years ago, half of the Upper East Side [officeholders] were Republican,” says John Mills, executive vice president of the Lexington Democratic Club. “There’s not one Republican there now. Abortion and gay rights are two of the biggest issues, and there are a lot of Jewish voters here not comfortable with Christian conservatives.”

Wall Street has no love for the southern, rural, and evangelical. But it’s not just the Jesus stuff–the southern and rural parts matter, too: Republican congressmen tend to represent places like Glasscock County, Texas, America’s most Republican jurisdiction, which reliably gives 90-odd percent of its votes to the GOP. Those districts are not going to feel the pain of the financial markets the way New York, New Jersey, California, and Connecticut are. The bailout is not very popular in farm country. Wall Street knew there was a gathering storm in the markets, and it didn’t want to find itself at the mercy of small-town and rural Republicans’ riding to the rescue.

A few months after Williamson’s article appeared, Sean Trende asked at Real Clear Politics, “Can the Clinton Coalition Survive Obama?”

Clinton intuited that suburban voters are, generally speaking, culturally cosmopolitan – they don’t like it when you call someone “macaca,” and aren’t crazy about the religious right. But they’re generally not particularly socially liberal either, and are fans of “law and order.” They like taxes low and appreciate economic growth, but like good schools and a clean environment. Having to balance a bunch of spending priorities with somewhat limited income in their daily lives, balanced budgets are the ultimate “good government” indicator for these voters.

Clinton delivered on all of these issues, keeping tax increases fairly small, and balancing the budget for much of his term. In so doing – and this is very important – he re-branded the Democrats as the party of fiscal responsibility, economic growth, moderate taxes, and smart government. In other words, he finally shed the “Carter” label for the Democrats. This, in turn, made it plausible for his much more liberal heirs to benefit from this presumption of competence for Democrats – one that they probably would not have enjoyed without him.

Of course, none of that would have happened without Republicans controlling both houses of Congress; Bill Clinton’s first two years in office were as disastrous as the Obama administration’s entire tenure has been, and for similar reasons. But give credit to Clinton for at least grudging tacking back towards center, even if it was only a matter of time before a President Gore, Kerry or Obama would have quickly headed back to the fever swamps of what Michael Walsh calls at NRO today “The Full Alinsky:”

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, what’s going on in Washington and across the country is the Full Alinsky, brought to you by the same malcontents who have been awaiting this moment for more than 40 years. It’s been a long time wandering in the desert for the Sixties Left, but this is their moment, this is their time, as somebody or other from Punahou once said.

And Wall Street has finally discovered how badly they’ve been played, the Politico notes:

After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a recent email urging supporters to sign a petition backing the wave of Occupy Wall Street protests, phones at the party committee started ringing.

Banking executives personally called the offices of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC Finance Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last week demanding answers, three financial services lobbyists told POLITICO.

“They were livid,” said one Democratic lobbyist with banking clients.

The execs asked the lawmakers: “What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?” said another lobbyist with financial services clients who is a former Democratic Senate aide.

Democrats’ friends on Wall Street have a message for them: you can’t have it both ways.

President Barack Obama and other top Democrats are parroting the anti-corporate rhetoric running through the Occupy Wall Street protests, trying to tap into the movement’s energy but keep the protesters at arms’ length.

But many bankers aren’t buying the distinction. And some financial services lobbyists and industry insiders say the liberal line will make swing givers think twice before opening their checkbooks this year.

“Most Wall Street guys, they feel like they’re going to be burned in effigy,” said Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, who gave to Obama in 2008 but is now fundraising for Mitt Romney. Some moderate donors, who have given to both parties, “fled from Obama in his support of the Wall Street protests,” he said.

In 2008 Obama edged out John McCain in Wall Street fundraising and Democrats overall raised about as much as Republicans. Giving patterns went back to normal in 2010 when the GOP came out back on top.

This cycle Democrats have a particularly tough sell, since they pushed through a financial regulatory reform law last year and Mitt Romney has emerged as a Republican presidential front-runner, whose deep Wall Street ties clash with Obama’s recent populist overtures. The lip service to occupiers is only hurting an already rocky relationship.

“You can’t have it both ways,” said one in-house financial services lobbyist. “It just makes it harder for people who are Democrats in New York, Boston, Chicago to on the one hand be demogagued and then be asked ‘Hey, you can get your picture with the president for $30,000.’ It doesn’t square.”

And the rhetoric strikes a nerve.

“In some ways, I think this is worse than [Dodd-Frank] because it is more symbolic,” said a Democratic financial services lobbyist. “People from Wall Street can deal with regulation, they deal with it all the time … I think it’s just the bashing that sort of drives them crazy.”

From Obama’s point of view, that’s a feature, not a bug, Michael Walsh writes:

But the key to Alinskyism is the whipsaw, a constantly shifting “moral center” that can argue both sides of an issue at the same time. Thus Alinsky’s love child, Barack Obama, can boast of being rich and siding with the “99%” simultaneously; attack him as one and he’ll say he’s “really” the other. Just look what the Obama administration is doing now, claiming to suspend the “CLASS” act of Obamacare while the president swears to defend it. Intellectually absurd — but emotionally pitch-perfect: Barry as the eternal outsider, battling dark forces inimical. For Alinsky always needs a villain, even if the villain is Alinskyism itself. But what do you expect from a political philosophy that claims up is really down, in is really out, and black is really white?

Alinskyism forces the Right to always be on defense, shadow-boxing in a hall of mirrors against a foe whose moral turpitude it refuses to credit. If Alinsky stood for anything, it was, like Lucifer, destruction; the Left’s rage is animated by its lust for demolition, and the sooner the Right stops accepting its pretensions, the quicker the real battle can finally be engaged.

Take Rochester today. Once a glorious monument to hard work and creativity, the city that gave the world Kodak, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb, Ragu spaghetti sauce, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, George Eastman, the country’s best pizza, Genny Cream, and Nick Tahou’s garbage plate is just another post-Alinsky ruin, shorn of its heritage and condemned by its weather. If you want to see the future of America under the shade of Saul Alinsky, Rochester is a good place to start.

But what’s the end game? Jeff Goldstein maps it out:

Alinsky, Cloward-Piven, the whole of the Community Organizing movement, in which flak catchers are mau-maued — these are all intellectual blue prints for bringing about the desired social upheaval that is to lead to the fall of the capitalist system as we know it, to be replaced (in theory) by the democratic socialism Obama and his left-wing academic cohert desire. Even as this very same cohort knows that liberal fascism and corporatism — a centralized command and control economy run by government in partnership with those big businesses they hold regulatory control over — is the real end point, one in which a new class system is drawn up, with the masses returned to their place as masses, and the government class taking exclusive control over wealth and power, creating a permanent relationship between citizen and government wherein the citizen is dependent exclusively upon the government for survival.

Individualism as imagined by the founders and framers is to be subsumed by collectivism and the ostensible Greater Good. And those who have determined themselves to be our betters will decide what that Greater Good is, and determine further how to bring it about.

This is the end game of progressivism. This is what the left wishes to bring about — by outward appearances, a cosmopolitan type of soft socialism of the kind that is currently crumbling in countries all across Europe, but at its heart the kind of soft tyranny that comes when a “benevolent” centralized power grants itself near complete control over the individual.

What we’ve been witnessing is the left’s attempt to put into play their plans to bring about a growth of scope and power for federal authority that is a necessary stage in the “fundamental transformation” of both a free market economy and citizenry still tethered to ideas of individual autonomy.

It’s right there to see if you bother looking.

But that requires looking beyond a “liberal” candidate’s trouser creases first, something Wall Street never bothered to do in 2008.