The Corporate President
This week, The Washington Post reported that Barack Obama is receiving more campaign donations from the financial sector than any of the potential GOP nominees combined. The trick to this calculation is that Obama has access to funds raised by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). If we look at Obama’s own fund-raising, he comes in second behind Mitt Romney. Interestingly, three guys at Bain Capital (Romney’s former company) gave Obama enough money to outweigh the 18 others at Bain who gave to Romney.
Since campaign contributions imply some sort of quid pro quo, one has to wonder what the financial sector thinks they will get out of Obama. Perhaps in between all the moaning and groaning, they know that Obama could have been much tougher on the sector than he has been. More disturbingly, despite his public condemnation of the financial sector, perhaps Obama is currying favor with them privately and raking in the dough.
In any case, don’t expect anyone in the Obama camp to brag about their fund raising prowess with the top 1%. This won’t do much to solicit votes from the far left or the OWS crowd. The last thing we need going into 2012 is the image of Obama as just another bought and sold politician.
The Real Romney
In this week’s GOP Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Mitt Romney said something that may have been a bit too revealing.
In a heated exchange with Texas Governor and Presidential wanna-be Rick Perry, Mitt Romney tried to explain why undocumented workers were doing his lawn work. Perry claimed that Romney knew he had “illegals” working for him and did nothing about it. In a moment of candor, Romney supplied fodder for an opposition campaign ad when he said that he confronted the owners of the lawn company and told them, “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.” In other words, “If I weren’t under scrutiny, I would care less about undocumented workers on my property.” The big reveal here does not concern Romney’s convictions about illegal immigration but rather the general meme that Romney is a phony. Fortunately for Romney, the whole exchange made Perry look desperate since the illegal worker issue had already been disposed of in the 2007/2008 primary season. Besides, most of us watching the debate were on the edge of our seats wondering if Perry would coldcock Romney for reaching out and touching his shoulder.
Birth of a Nation
We Americans get rightfully excited when an oppressed people overthrow an evil dictator and embark upon forming a free democratic society. Such was our enthusiasm this week when the regime of Muammar Gaddafi met its complete demise with his death in his home town of Sirte. There is only one problem. Is this really the way a budding democracy is supposed to get started? Gaddafi, a 69 year old man was captured and (as far as we can tell) video taped badly bloodied. Other videos purport to show his dead body. While the exact circumstances will probably never be known, it appears that Gaddafi was summarily executed.
There are a couple of things that ought to give us pause before we celebrate Gaddafi’s death. First, we have had an on-again, off-again relationship with Libya. In the wake of 9/11, Gaddafi condemned terrorism (despite prior acts to the contrary) and gave up development of weapons of mass destruction. The release of the Lockerbie bomber and his welcome in Libya then soured the relationship again. The bottom line is that our attitude toward Libya over the years has been ambiguous at best.
Then there is the matter of precedent. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was captured, tried and executed. Gaddafi received no such trial. One could point to the recent murders of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki and say what’s the big deal. But neither of them was a head of state. I would think that a coup designed to establish a free society would not get its start by ignoring the standards of justice accepted by most civilized societies.
Our President stood in the Rose Garden this week and expressed his satisfaction with the murder of a fellow head of state. Personally, I don’t see the parallel between the birth of the new Libya, which in its infancy operated like a crazed mob and the birth of our own noble nation. This is not the outcome we should have hoped for when we started “leading from behind” several months ago.
Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images