Monday, January 19, 2004

Traction Against Bush on Corporate Coddling

Jonathan Alther thinks the Democratic message this year that George Bush is CEO of Corporate America first and president of the United States second might have legs:

"A central question of the 2004 campaign is whether enough voters agree ... that Bush is a fiscally reckless president devoted not to them but to wealthy special interests. If the issue is framed that way and the frame sticks, a responsible populist message could work, though it would be the first time in modern political history that it did so....

"This time the corporatist GOP runs Washington and the M.B.A. president seems to make every decision -- from the environment to prescription drugs to immigration -- according to the specifications of industry. The Teddy Roosevelt idea, accepted by both parties for a century, was that government should provide a check on big-business interests. Now, says John Edwards, the White House is 'married' to those interests. The 'creed of greed,' says John Kerry, lets the lobbyists actually write the bills. Dick Gephardt says Bush is such a sellout he 'makes me nostalgic for Ronald Reagan.' Forget mad cow. Democrats have found a new kind of red meat that their audiences devour.

"The reason this goes down so well is that -- like some of the old conservative red-meat charges against liberalism -- it's largely true. Bush's allegiance to entrenched interests (which are, not coincidentally, his biggest political contributors) is the only thread connecting everything in his domestic policy. The failure to stand up for the wider public interest against assaults on the environment is what Gore meant last week when he accused Bush of being a 'moral coward.' "

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