Wachovia Bank just agreed to pay $144 million to settle a fraud case. (According to the newspapers it was alleged they allowed telemarketers to use Wachovia accounts to steal millions of dollars.) The bank did not plead guilty or admit guilt, which, in itself, is a commentary on our legal system. How can anyone agree to pay $144 million and maintain their innocence at the same time?
So, what does this have to do with politics?
Well, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Hillary and Obama are running against each other, George Bush or corporations. They have ads on TV attacking oil companies and drug companies. Bev Perdue and Richard Moore are each saying the other is the pawn of Wallstreet. John Edwards, Hillary, Richard Moore and Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek, have all attacked Smithfield Foods, right here in North Carolina. (When Smithfield asked to buy a ticket to the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Meeks sent the check back and issued a broadside that was on the Internet before the ink dried.)
The real new political phenomenon this election isn’t college students swooning at Obama rallies, it’s the white-hot anti-corporate sentiment among voters, especially among Democrats – but not just Democrats, last week John McCain went to New York to blast Wallstreet.
If you’re an oil company or drug company or a corporation in the crosshairs of one of the Presidential candidates my suspicion is you’re fast running out of friends in public office. The safe political move is to attack you in public and vote against you in the legislature. To do otherwise is the political equivalent of taking your life into your hands.
For their part, the corporations seem blissfully oblivious to the prospect of facing the political equivalent of Little Big Horn. They understand the subtleties of derivatives and insider trading but when it comes to politics corporate America is like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Hillary and Obama are talking to voters about greed and corruption and the corporations are acting as if this is just another election where they can mend their fences afterwards by contributing to the inaugural. What they don’t get is that Obama’s on the verge of winning the Democratic nomination because he says he won’t touch a corporate lobbyist one with a ten foot poll – and a lot of other politicians are getting the message.
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