“Suddenly we realize that America has turned into something ugly — and vicious — and corroded at the heart of its power with easy wealth and graft and special privilege.” (Thomas Wolfe, 1934)
CNNMoney.com reported yesterday that Obama was meeting with Mike Duke, the chief executive of Wal-Mart. “The meeting was closed to the press,” says the article, “but the official called it part of Obama’s ‘ongoing outreach’ to the U.S. business community.”
Obama has been criticized by some corporate leaders for what they see as an anti-business bias. But the president acknowledged in a speech earlier this month that he needs to improve his relations with business after the midterm Congressional elections resulted in major losses for Democrats.
“As I reflect on what’s happened over the last two years, it’s one of the things that I think has not been managed by me as well as it needed to be,” the president said press conference one day after the Nov.r 2 elections.
Obama is reacting to CEO complaints that he’s been mean to them. During the midterm election campaigns, when Republicans campaigned as pro-business, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to position themselves as pro-middle class, and Obama even “chastised ‘fat cat’ bankers who took large bonuses during the financial crisis, and lashed out at BP during the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” This kind of talk was very hurtful to the CEOs. Sure, Obama handed out the money to the bonus-sucking Wall Street parasites, and ultimately did everything he could to excuse BP and kiss the rings oil industry captains, but that’s not enough. They want to be coddled and praised and held up as Great Americans. They feel that Americans have been mean to them, and failed to appreciate their magnificence, and that Obama has done too little to promote their own view of themselves. In a story from July, CNNMoney reported:
Billionaire real estate and media mogul Mort Zuckerman, appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, said the White House has “done something here that affects everybody’s confidence in the attitudes of this administration to the business community and to the economy. They have demonized the business world.” Even ousted BP (BP) chief Tony Hayward, a man deserving of rebuke if there ever was one, this week complained he was “demonized and vilified” in the U.S.
“What’s the world coming to,” wonder the CEOs, “when you can’t destroy the economy and the environment without people criticizing you for it?” You can see what a horrible position they’ve been put in. Imagine how insulting and hurtful it must be to loot and destroy the United States and not be loved for it. They find it intolerable, as would any sensitive plunderer of fine feeling. No doubt Attila the Hun was often seen using his horse’s mane to wipe away his tears, and Tamerlane heard sobbing in his tent, over similar slights. Marauders have feelings, too, you know.
“It’s going to be better in the short term,” predicted Garten, author of “The Mind of the CEO.” “He’ll bring in one or two business leaders into the administration, if he can find them. And he’ll try to cut a deal in which the rhetoric stops, and he finds some things that both he and the business community can say they’re going to go forward on, on a congenial basis.”
You’d better believe they will. If you’d like a gander at Corporate America’s idea of sound policy changes, see the 54-page list of demands they submitted to the White House. It’s too involved go into it in detail in this blog, but some of the high points are:
● They’re against taxes.
● They’re against environmental protection laws, feeling the environment is best protected by business.
● They’re against regulation of industry — pretty much any regulation of any industry.
● They’re against any suggestion that they should provide “living wage, health care, retirement and paid sick leave” to their employees or “have fewer violations in labor and employment, tax, environment, and antitrust; and take a neutral position on union organizing campaigns.”
● They’re against Net neutrality.
● They’re for private, for-profit schools.
● They’re for free trade agreements.
● They’re for outsourcing.
Now that the President has seen the error of his ways, we can all rest assured that not only will the looting continue as usual, but the CEOs will be shown the love and respect they deserve for it. I hope this makes you feel better. I doubt it will please the Republican base Obama has courted so assiduously over the last two years, but maybe he can still learn to kiss corporate ass more tenderly and reverently than even he has yet dreamed. Mort Zuckerman’s feelings depend on it. More importantly, continued corporate payoffs to the Democrats depend on it.