Thursday, October 22, 2009

Representing The Left

Where do they get these guys? Where does the mainstream media find these "liberals," who, where it really counts, sound like Republicans?

Oh, yeah. In one case, it would be "a Clinton administration political appointee and an adviser to the Democratic National Committee and the Obama-Biden campaign in 2008," as Jamal Simmons' 3/30/09 article in Politico describes him. In this article, Simmons sympathetically recommends

banking executives should follow Obama’s lead by explaining the connection between the health of the banking system and the health of their employer. A Bank of America executive told me recently that the company’s leadership began creating in-house videos for associates in banking centers to explain the bank’s position and offer its perspective on the news. Put these videos on YouTube for the rest of us.

Finally, the financial sector as a whole has a lot of making up to do with its customers and its taxpaying investors, but not all executives behaved like Bernie Madoff. While avid readers of the business press may know that some bank CEOs — such as Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and John Mack of Morgan Stanley — did not take bonuses this year, the rest of America does not. Highlighting responsible actions that contrast with the current narrative may not generate the kind of cheering that occurs in a Final Four game, but at least the crowd might stop throwing eggs at all the players on the court.

(By the way, how endearing to refer to the American people as a mob "throwing eggs at all the players on the court.")

The thrust of this Obama admirer seven months ago was a plea to the financial industry to manipulate its message more effectively. At least, though, Simmons does commend the executives in the financial industry who "did not take bonuses this year."

Apparently, not anymore. The Treasury Department next week will announce a plan to limit total compensation of top executives of the seven firms which received the amount of TARP money. In a characteristically brilliant post on Wednesday, Digby presents the transcript of tht day's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, in which Simmons and Repub strategist Mary Matalin warn against provoking the altruistic banking executives into leaving their current companies to work where they can make real money. Simmons claims

The thing is, I've talked to a lot of people in New York about this and people who are on Wall Street and what they will tell you is, if they can't work someplace and get rewarded, they'll go work someplace else.

Working on Wall Street in the financial service industry is neither brain surgery nor rocket science nor, for that matter, civil engineering. Memo to Simmons and Matalin: A lot of people can do the work they so admire, probably a few in your neighborhood or development alone. They, too, could drag the international banking stystem and world economy to virtual collapse. Or maybe not.

But if Simmons is nearly the most egregious example of the kind of liberal Democrat (chummy with people of wealth and power) the media brings on the air, the practice is fairly widespread.

Take Eugene Robinson. Please. Why, just last night Mr. Robinson and Mr. Matthews were on Hardball admiring the machismo demonstrated by President Reagan when he fired a bunch of middle class workers:

MATTHEWS: But presidents tend, if they are lucky, to get opportunities to show their strength and do it.

Ronald Reagan, whatever you think of union rights and collective bargaining, scored a big one when broke the PATCO strike, because it was a government employees union that broke its contract. It was a wildcat. And he fired them all.


MATTHEWS: And, in the Soviet Union, I understood they said, this guy is different.


MATTHEWS: So, the word went out, this guy is somebody to deal with.

ROBINSON: Mm-hmm. No, that's true. It was-and it happened early in Reagan's administration, right at the beginning. And it did set a certain tone, like, we don't know what this guy is going to do.

Breaking the back of a union and tossing workers onto the unemployment line, the move started the spiral of declining wages and decline of the middle class in the U.S.A. From that point on, employers were emboldened to resist union organizing and wage hikes and encouraged to cut health and other benefits. However, that history is neglected by two of Barack Obama's greatest admirers, often identified as "liberals," who ignore the crushing burden of totalitarianism, the favorable impact of the Solidarity labor movement and of the Polish Pope John Paul II, and the policies of nine postwar presidents (including Reagan) in bringing down the Soviet Union and ending the Cold war.

We have heard this before from Eugene Robinson, who on January 30 pretended "The point isn't to revisit the merits of the strike or the wisdom of Reagan's hard-line stance" and then went on to praise it:

The point is that the controllers' union failed to realize that the dawn of the Reagan administration represented a rare fundamental shift in American politics. Under Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford or even Richard Nixon, the controllers might well have won their strike. Under Reagan, they had no chance -- not only because of his stubborn resolve but also because American voters had given him a broad mandate for change.

But posing as a Democrat, allowing the media to feign balance, goes back even further for Mr. Robinson (and Mr. Matthews). As Bob Somerby repeatedly has noted, Robinson stood by for years as Bill Clinton and Al Gore were savaged by the mainstream media, including Robinson's own Washington Post and Chris Matthews.

The list of liberals, including Thomas Frank, Robert Reich, David Sirota, and Dean Baker, who are willing and able to support progressive economic ideals is long. Resorting to pundits who have gotten too cozy with the corporate elite is damaging. But maybe that's the idea.

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