Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Such Thing as Dirty Money

By: Annoyed With Things

According to Politico.com (article here), there will be a fund-raiser for President Obama in New York City tonight, hosted by Hamilton E. James.  Who is Mr. James?  He is the president of Blackstone, a large private equity fund.  Now, normally I would not care one bit about who was fund-raising for whom, but in this case the blatant hypocrisy is beyond the pale. 

The Obama campaign just yesterday released a scathing series of videos and campaign material attacking Mitt Romney as a “destroyer of jobs” and called Bain Capital, a private equity firm just like Mr. James’ Blackstone, “a vampire sucking the life out of us.”  So wait a minute, I thought private equity firms with their predatory practices and slash and burn restructuring of companies, were a bad thing.  And that Romney’s participation in this industry was somehting thing to hold out to the public as direct evidence that Mitt Romney is not the right man for the job.  Surely, President Obama is a man of his convictions and he thinks these kinds of companies are hurting hard working middle-class Americans.  If all of that is true, and I take the President at his word and accept that if his campaign is saying it then he must believe it, why in the word is he attending a fund-raiser thrown by one of the country’s largest private equity firms.  Oh yeah, because they have deep pockets and a lot of money.

I could understand if the President said that private equity firms are indeed part of the economic reality in America but not something he personally supports.  I would even respect him a bit more if he said he stands behind his campaign rhetoric and will refuse to attend fund-raisers thrown by rich private equity fund executives.  Oh wait; I used the word rich, never mind. 

I believe candidates from all walks of life can fundraise with whichever organizations they choose, as long as they are not publicly on record as saying the organization (or industry) are a bad thing in some way.  We cannot let these politicians have it both ways.  This is not about campaign finance reform or freedom of speech; it is about simple consistency and actually having a principled position on something.  If you think private equity firms are bad or morally wrong in some way, don’t take their money.  If you do take their money, then stop bad mouthing the practice of the industry.  But we know this won’t happen because if I do it, it is OK, if you do it, it is morally bankrupt.

Well it is early in the election season and I’m sure there will be plenty more to be annoyed about, but don’t let these little inconsistencies pass because they are a window into the very character of the person running, and it is character that counts over style or popularity.  Frankly, at this point I am beginning to get disgusted with all of them –who, politicians.

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