If there's any point to take away from this lobbyist-gotcha, it's just how far the Democratic Party has traveled down the protectionist and populist road. Take Mr. Podesta at his word last year, when he was quoted as saying that "I've never asked anybody on the Hill to do anything they didn't feel was good policy . . ." Let's assume he believes Wal-Mart - the largest private employer in the country - is good for the economy. Let's assume Mr. Penn knows free trade is crucial to the financial well-being of millions of Americans.
There was a day when Democrats could make these cases without fear of blacklist. Bill Clinton pushed for free trade. (Hey, it turns out he's even pushed for Colombia free trade!) Former Sen. John Breaux argued for competition in government-run health care. The late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan proposed cutting the payroll tax and letting Americans use the money for private retirement accounts. Blue Dogs voted not just against raising taxes, but for lowering them. It was possible for Democrats to champion strong companies, competition and a strong economy, even as they pushed for a larger social safety net.
These days, corporate bashing, closed borders and class warfare have become staples of the left. The Obama and Clinton campaigns have pushed these positions to new heights, in the process setting litmus tests for what counts as being a good Democrat.
Pharma companies? Rich and greedy. Fossil fuel companies? Dirty polluters. Multinationals who "offshore" jobs? Traitors. Americans who strike financial success? Fat cats. Developing countries working to open their borders? Job stealers. It rarely is noted that this vilification is encouraged by yet another set of lobbyists, those representing unions and environmental groups.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your summary of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH