This article appears in the August 23, 2004, issue of National Review.
“The Bush Money Machine: An Industry Gets Its Way,” screamed a headline on the top front-page story of the May 17 Washington Post. The article quoted a major Bush campaign contributor saying that he supports the GOP because of its belief in “less government, more individual freedom, more individual responsibility.” But, in a typical Post “gotcha,” the story (by James V. Grimaldi and Thomas B. Edsall) detailed another possible motive for the gentleman’s contributions: The Bush administration had reversed one of the Clinton administration’s “midnight” environmental regulations that would have affected his business. This, the piece declared, was an example of one of “the subtle intricacies between corporations and an administration determined to roll back what it considers to be regulatory overkill.” The article went on to document the Bush administration’s adoption of policies “benefiting sectors of the business community . . . that happen to be a source of major fundraisers and donors.” “Securities and investment banking firms,” for instance, “have benefited enormously” from tax changes pushed through by President Bush.
It’s perfectly fair, of course, to ask who benefits from a candidate’s policies; but the coverage by the Post and other mainstream media outlets has not been evenhanded. In the past few months, quite a few of the super-rich have backed John Kerry and attacked Bush’s policies; among them are currency speculator George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, and Warren Buffett, the CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company that owns, among other things, more than 20 percent of outstanding shares of the Washington Post Co. Yet the parallel question is never asked: Would these tycoons benefit from the more interventionist government policies advocated by Kerry and the Democrats?
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