Newark, N.J., Mayor and Obama campaign surrogate Cory Booker’s assertion on NBC’s Meet the Press that attacks on Bain Capital and the private equity industry are “nauseating” caused a predictable stir on Sunday.
If there’s one thing the mainstream media can be counted on to applaud, it is intra-partisan criticism. More often than not, this involves showering praise on the likes of Gen. Colin Powell or former Gov. Jon Hunstman for denouncing “extremism.” But if Democrats look like they’re eating their own, you can expect mainstream-media hosannas. On this issue, at least, there is fairness and balance.
Booker’s assertion is absurd, for at least two reasons.
First, criticism of private equity is a perfectly legitimate issue to bring up in a presidential campaign. I’d prefer a critique of the elephantine financial services industry rather than private equity, but the point is, “Capitalism” isn’t singular or monolithic; there are varieties of capitalism. Indeed, there are conceptions of free enterprise and voluntary markets that eschew capitalism as we know it altogether. See this Reason magazine interview with Markets Not Capitalism author Gary Chartier for an example of left-libertarian synthesis in this area:
But this gives Booker too much credit. Taken as a whole — don’t forget that Booker also said the right should “stop attacking Jeremiah Wright” — the mayor’s statement was a perfectly vacuous, Thomas Friedman-esque call for both parties to roll up their sleeves and work on “real issues.” In a YouTube message meant to put out the fire he started, Booker said his hope is that the election will “ultimately be about unifying people around ideas.”
And which ideas would those be?
The need for more jobs and faster growth?
Could you be more specific?
Well, then, it sounds like we’ll need to have an election to settle this.
The chief reason elements of both parties would rather talk about Bain Capital and Jeremiah Wright is that there’s really nothing else to talk about. Democrats want Republicans to accept a net increase in federal revenues in exchange for entitlement reforms. And Republicans aren’t budging. Why would they, when they know if they capture the Senate, they can push through their preferred reforms with a simple majority via the budget reconciliation process?
No. To quote Charlie Sheen, this election is going to be about winning.