Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cool To His Supporters

Paul Rosenberg of Open Left points the way to an article in Colorado's Cherry Creek News explaining how United States Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) accumulated his wealth:

A young Bud Fox leaves Washington for Colorado, lands a job with Gordon Gekko, tycoon and corporate raider. Only in this case, young Bud is future United States Senator Michael Bennet, and Gekko, billionaire Phil Anschutz.

The job leaves Bennet wealthy, and allows him to take a giant pay cut and work for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, then the Denver Public Schools. It gives him financial experience, which in turn leads to a complicated interest rate swap that may leave Denver taxpayers in a billion dollar hole, as the fund for Denver teachers’ retirement looks in need of an AIG-style bailout.

Ironically, the details of the source of Bennet’s wealth are revealed largely in a lawsuit by Louisiana teachers, whose investment in theater chain Regal Cinemas went south after Bennet and Anshutz gained control of the company through the purchase of debt, forced other debtors and shareholder into taking losses, then sped off with $1.4 billion in cash, while jobs were lost.

A few years later, Senator Ken Salazar is appointed Interior Secretary (hell of a job, Brownie Kenny) and Governor Bill Ritter appoints Mr. Bennet to the U.S. Senate. He proceeds to vote against mortgage cramdown, a 15% cap on credit card interest rates, and "too big to fail" legislation. But he does become an activist- for natural gas, coal, and Wall Street.

Enter progressive/liberal Andrew Romanoff, a Democratic activist who eventually becomes a member, then Speaker, of the Colorado House of Representatives. He works for public education, higher education, and renewable energy. Running in the Democratic primary (currently ongoing by mail vote) against Michael Bennet, Romanoff eschews special interest money because he agreed with a young U.S. Senator from Illinois, who once declared that changing the culture of Washington includes

“recognizing that special interests – the insurance companies, the banks, the drug companies, the HMOs – have come to dictate” our agenda. And “the only way you break out of that,” this senator said, is to stop taking money from those groups “so that ordinary people’s voices are heard.”

That was Senator Obama, though you're excused from not recognizing the words of an individual who has become quite a different character now that he has reached the Oval Office. President Barack Obama has endorsed Bennet for the nomination, despite (or perhaps because) the latter has stood steadfastly against a couple of the President's signature achievements. (Bill Clinton has endorsed Romanoff, whom he met at the Kennnedy School of Government in 1992 and who supported the former President's wife for the Democratic presidential nomination.)

But that is how President Obama rolls. He worked for the re-nomination to the U.S. Senate of Blanche Lincoln, a moderate/conservative less enthusiastic about the President's agenda than was her opponent. (Lincoln won the primary despite evidence that she would be the weaker general election opponent amidst an anti-incumbent mood.) It's the same president who forced Van Jones out, left Dawn Johnsen (who would have become head of the Office of Legal Counsel) out to dry, and (at least) acquiesced in forcing the resignation of Shirley Sherrod, now offered a new job at the Department of Agriculture by a Secretary gracious enough to accept responsibility for the Administration. And a President, who faced with a scurrilous attack by Andrew Breitbart upon a government official, blames media culture rather than Breitbart or the GOP's media arm, Fox News.

It is, to be generous, a very pragmatic (but Lincoln?) President- and one apparently intimidated by the right. And that's without considering his continuation of Bush 43 civil liberties policies, attack on public education, or dalliance with BP.

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