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Funny Business
What corporate exec would be stupid enough to endorse Kerry?


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Donald L. Luskin

The Kerry campaign has just published a long list of “Business Executives Supporting Kerry-Edwards.”

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How’s that again? For all of John Kerry’s tough talk about “Benedict Arnold CEOs,” higher taxes on “the rich,” and the need for more government regulation, one wouldn’t expect a lot of business executives to endorse him. Indeed, it would make about as much sense for a deer to endorse the National Rifle Association.

For some of the names on the list, the self-interest is clear. It’s no surprise to see Robert Rubin there — nominally an executive of Citigroup, but in reality Kerry’s Federal Reserve chairman-in-waiting. And no one should be shocked to see Harvey and Michael Weinstein on the list. They’re the co-chairs of Miramax Films, and the executive producers of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9-11.

And some number of names are sheer padding. Former Clinton economic advisor Laura D’Andrea Tyson may be the dean of the London Business School, but does that make her a “business executive”? And Lisa Caputo is listed mysteriously as only a “senior financial executive.” Turns out she’s Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary.

But the closer you look at the list of execs backing Kerry, the weirder it gets. For example, there are two names associated with the Carlyle Group. That’s right — the same Carlyle Group demonized by Michael Moore, Paul Krugman, and all the other leftist shock-pundits as the clearinghouse for corrupt self-dealing defense contracts in both Bush administrations. Be that as it may, William Kennard (Clinton’s FCC chief and Carlyle’s managing director), and Arthur Levitt, Jr. (Clinton’s SEC chief and a Carlyle “senior advisor”) are on Kerry’s list.

And here’s a shocker. Peter Chernin, president and COO of News Corp. and chairman and CEO of Fox Group is on the list. That’s right — the same News Corp. run by the evil Australian reactionary Rupert Murdoch, and the same Fox whose cable news channel stole the 2000 Florida election from Al Gore (according to Michael Moore). Kerry’s press release even quotes Chernin at length. He sounds like a fire hose spouting pro-Kerry feel-good platitudes:

The Kerry-Edwards plan for America is exactly what is needed to jumpstart businesses and get America working again. It will lower healthcare costs and cut taxes on corporations and small businesses to strengthen our economy today and invest in education, science and innovation to help us stay competitive in the economy of tomorrow.

Has Chernin lost his mind? Is he a pro-Bush mole in the Kerry campaign? Or is it time to re-evaluate the constant litany of lies from the left to the effect that Fox News is, as Paul Krugman recently put it, “a G.O.P. propaganda agency”?

Perhaps most remarkable of all, though, is the number of business executives on the list who are full-fledged, living, breathing Benedict Arnold CEOs. Forty executives on Kerry’s list work for companies that appear on Lou Dobbs’s “Exporting America” list — a hall of shame for companies that (according to Dobbs) are sending American jobs overseas.

And for all of Kerry’s talk about improving labor standards at home and abroad, some of the executives endorsing him are closely tied to sweat-shop operations. Kerry list-member Donna Karan has faced a class action suit by Manhattan garment workers alleging “workers toiled seven days a week, 11 hours each weekday and eight to 10 hours on the weekends … and did not earn the minimum wage,” according to the New York Daily News. The liberal magazine The Nation reported that Esprit, the garment firm of Kerry list-member Susie Tompkins Buell, used sweat-shops in San Francisco that were raided by the Department of Labor.

It’s not surprising to see the unprincipled Kerry accept the endorsement of the very people he demonizes. Maybe it’s not unprincipled at all — it’s just “nuanced.”

But once you filter out the hacks and the revolving-door political hopefuls from the list, it remains a mystery why capitalists smart enough to have achieved business success are stupid enough to endorse John Kerry. Yes, Lenin said that capitalists will sell you the rope you will use to hang them. But this seems like a case of capitalists simply hanging themselves.

– Donald Luskin is chief investment officer of Trend Macrolytics LLC, an independent economics and investment-research firm. He welcomes your comments at [email protected].



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