In politics, moments of honesty are few and far between. They can also be met with major blowback.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker found that out the hard way when, Sunday, he took the Obama campaign to task for its attacks against private equity - specifically Bain Capital, the firm Mitt Romney founded.
He said, in now infamous remarks on “Meet the Press”: “This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides . . . it’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses . . . and this, to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.”
The administration, naturally, couldn’t countenance a fellow Democrat standing up for capitalism — not with so much riding on the Obama campaign’s decision to portray Bain as a “vampire.” Hours later, Booker slightly tweaked his comments in a YouTube video he posted online.
Too bad. Damage done. Obama is still finding himself as a lonely messenger in a weak message war against Romney’s time at Bain.
In fact, since the Obama anti-Bain assault began in earnest last week, Booker has been joined by a chorus of Democrats who have stuck up for the firm and the industry and refused to sing off the Obama song sheet that this one form of capitalism is inherently bad.
Obama’s own former car czar, Steven Rattner, originally called Obama’s attacks on Bain Capital “unfair,” later clarifying them, perhaps feeling White House pressure, in a New York Times op-ed.
Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr., also a Democrat, backed Booker up and said he agreed with the core of his comments, and that he wouldn’t have backed off. Massachusetts governor and Obama ally Deval Patrick said Bain “isn’t a bad company,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called Obama’s attacks on the company “disappointing” and California Senator Diane Feinstein said Obama should “move on” from the issue.
Even Obama as recently as last week said there were people “who do good work in that area [private equity\]” and can help identify opportunities for new jobs and industries (when he was raising money for his campaign at the home of a New York private equity firm executive).
What these Democrats and anyone who is being honest realize is that Bain Capital was and still is an extremely successful private equity firm — and it got that way for the post part by taking risks and buying companies, turning them around for a profit, often saving them from bankruptcy.
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It is good to see some abandoning the extreme left wing ideology that has defined Obama.