Monday, June 15, 2009


E.J. Dionne on a new anti-Obama campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Business has been on the ropes since last fall's financial collapse, but the first glimmerings of recovery are calling forth a capitalist counteroffensive.

It's one thing for President Obama to face off against Fox News, the right-wing radio empire and Republican congressional leaders whose names are unfamiliar to much of the public. It's quite another to confront organized business.

Really? It's quite another thing?

The hell it is. Whose interests does Dionne think Fox News and right-wing talk radio and the GOP represent? We're seeing what we always see on the right: politicians and bloviators stirring up the base in whatever way works, all in order to discredit the party that's (slightly) more likely to threaten big business, and to help the party that unabashedly wants to give big business whatever it wants. The only difference is that right now the principal rabble-rousing issue is not, say, abortion or gay marriage, but the treatment of big business itself.

Dionne writes:

As long as the global economy was crumbling, business held back and even welcomed the infusion of hundreds of billions of government dollars to prop up the system. Business leaders, like everyone else, were frightened to death. They welcomed Big Government's exertions to keep the banks alive and gin up consumer purchasing power.

It is an odd tribute to the short-term success of Obama's recovery effort that the business lobbies now feel free to return to the old-time religion of bashing government and singing the praises of the unfettered marketplace. You might expect the corporate guys to show a little gratitude to the government that bailed them out.

Well, you might, E.J., but not me. Maybe big business "welcomed" government largesse, but that didn't mean the fat cats believed in interventionist government in principle. They believed, as they always do, in a quid pro nothing: give us everything we want and don't you dare ask for a damn thing in return. Their attitude toward government intervention in the abstract was exactly the same as the GOP's or Limbaugh's -- they just weren't going to say anything until they got everything they could get. They unswervingly oppose "big government" -- except when they're the beneficiaries. And then, as soon as they've pocketed the boodle, they go right back to bashing "big government" again. But they're happy to see their defenders in Congress and the media bash away throughout the process.

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