Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friends, Favors, & Fealty

Kevin D. Williamson had a damning indictment of the axis between Washington and Wall Street that originally appeared in the December 2819th edition of National Review. The piece, called "Repo Men," is now available at National Review Online. The entire article is a must-read. Here are a few sections that I found particularly revealing:

So, what does Wall Street want?

Here’s what Wall Street doesn’t want: It doesn’t want to hear from Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann or even Newt Gingrich, or suffer any sort of tea-party populism. It wants you rubes to shut up about Jesus and please pay your mortgages. It doesn’t want to hear from such traditional Republican constituencies as Christian conservatives, moral traditionalists, pro-lifers, or friends of the Second Amendment. It doesn’t even want to hear much from the Chamber of Commerce crowd, because those guys are used-car dealers and grocery-store owners and for the most part strictly from hick, so far as Wall Street is concerned. Wall Street wants an administration and a Congress — and a country — that believes what is good for Wall Street is good for America, whether that is true or isn’t. Wall Street doesn’t want free markets — it wants friends, favors, and fealty.

Among the many reservations that I have about nominating Mitt Romney to run for president on the Republican ticket is how Romney's ties with Wall Street will play out in the general election campaign. As Williamson notes in his piece, Romney ran an outfit whose names sounds like what a James Bond villain would call his Wall Street firm: Bain Capital.

While it's easy to dismiss the Occupy Wall Street crowd, you can't deny that there is a strong sentiment throughout the land against much of what is perceived as Wall Street and the unfair financial advantages that its denizens have realized over the last few years. Having a guy at the top of your ticket who pretty much epitomizes Wall Street is not a recipe for success in this environment.

And it doesn't matter that President Obama is every bit (if not more) as in the pocket of Wall Street than Romney is now (or will be). It's all about perception and you know how the media will shape the public's perception of Romney while shielding President Obama from the same scrutiny.

More from Williamson:

So there you have it: hedge-fund titans, i-bankers, congressional nabobs, committee chairmen, senators, swindlers, run-of-the-mill politicos, and a few outright thieves (these categories are not necessarily exclusive) all feeding at the same trough, and most of them betting that Mitt Romney won’t do anything more to stop it than Barack Obama did. If anything, the fact that Romney is having the least luck with the firm that knows him best speaks better of him than does the enthusiasm he apparently inspires in Goldman Sachs et al.

Either way, the last thing Wall Street wants is for the Corzine scandal to launch a new round of frenzied outrage out there on the fruited plains where dwell people who don’t know an IPO from a CDS, and who might suspect that something here is not entirely on the up-and-up. They’re hoping that conservatives can be buffaloed with a bit of cheap free-market rhetoric into not noticing that something is excruciatingly amiss here. They are the repo men, headpiece filled with subprime-mortgage derivatives, and they are looking to repossess the Republican party they abandoned in 2008 (see “Losing Gordon Gekko,” National Review, March 9, 2009). Free-market, limited-government conservatives should be none too eager to welcome them back, nor should we let our natural sympathy with the profit motive blind us to the fact that a great many of them do not belong in the conservative movement, and that more than a few of them belong in prison.

It's time for conservatives to completely break away from the Wall Street-Washington axis that has created so many problems for the country in the last decade. And to choose a presidential candidate who will do the same.