The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Sinful Investors in the Hands of an Angry Obama


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Sinful Private Equity Executives Purchase Indulgences from the Obama Campaign

Yes, I imagine this contradiction could be a little awkward:

A top fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign expressed disappointment that he is taking money from the private equity industry while simultaneously attacking them to tarnish Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital.

Don Peebles, a Miami real estate executive who has raised more than $100,000 for the president’s campaign this cycle, told BuzzFeed “I think it’s difficult to attack or demonize an industry and then take money from it.”

“I think it’s inconsistent,” he added. “I wonder why the leaders of that industry are supporting him.” Peebles, who is sometimes described as the largest-scale African-American real estate developer in the country, told BuzzFeed that he was wary of the ads by the Obama campaign and the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA which have attacked Bain Capital. “Any type of attack and vilification of a particular industry is not okay to begin with,” he said.

Mr. Peebles is a successful man, and it’s a free country, so he can give to any candidate he likes, but… sir, if Obama’s methods bother you so much… why are you writing big checks to him?

Peebles isn’t the only person asking this question; Anderson Cooper asked Tuesday night, “President Obama is critical of Romney’s private equity background, so is it okay he’s taking private equity money for his campaign?”

Zip at Weasel Zippers watches Jay Carney struggle to explain how Obama’s donors are the good private equity firm managers, including a former Bain executive, but Romney and his ilk are the bad ones, and sighs, “I almost (key word being almost) feel bad for Carney, he’s being put in an unwinnable situation by the Obama campaign attacking and embracing private equity on the same day.”

The editors of the Wall Street Journal observe:

On Monday night Mr. Obama spoke at a fund-raiser at the Manhattan home of Tony James, the president of the private-equity giant, the Blackstone Group. Attendees, many from the private-equity world, paid $35,800 a head for the privilege of dining with the President who purports to loathe Wall Street when he isn’t asking its greedy denizens to redistribute their wealth to his campaign. Mr. James donated the legal maximum of $35,800 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee in November 2011.

This is the same private-equity business the Obama campaign is now smearing as morally repugnant when undertaken by Mitt Romney. On Monday Team Obama rolled out a two-minute television ad focusing on a steel company that was bought and eventually shuttered by Bain Capital, the private-equity firm that Mr. Romney founded.

What all of this demonstrates is that all the demonization of private equity firms doesn’t really mean anything; it’s just a handy cudgel to a president who needs everything he can get to persuade the electorate to look past his disappointing record. But the idea that “the actions of my foes are egregious, the same actions of my allies are not worth mentioning” is pretty standard-issue in politics today, isn’t it?

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney


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