I’ve been pretty hard on Obama lately, and so it’s time for me to give him some credit where it’s due. I think the donors who fueled his rise in Illinois politics were a bunch of limousine liberal, out-of-touch elitists… and it turns out, Obama thinks that way, too. The Audacity of Hope, page 114:
Increasingly, I found myself spending time with people of means – law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists. As a rule, they were smart,interesting people, knowledgeable about public policy, liberal in their politics, expecting nothing more than a hearing of their opinions in exchange for checks. But they reflected, almost uniformly, the perspectives of their class; the top 1 percent or so of the income scale that can afford to write a $2,000 check to a political candidate. They believed in the free market and an educational meritocracy; they found it hard to imagine that there might be any social ill that could not be cured with a high SAT score. They had no patience with protectionism, found unions troublesome, and were not particularly sympathetic to those whose lives were upended by movements of global capital. Most were adamantly prochoice and were vaguely suspicious of deep religious sentiment…
I know that as a consequence of my fund-raising I became more like the wealthy donors I met, in the very particular sense that I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality, and frequent hardship of the other 99 percent of the population – that is, the people I’d entered public life to serve.
Amen, senator! I think the donors Obama describes are a bunch of arrogant snobs*. But what does that make Obama, who listens to them offer their opinion and concludes they have a hard time imaging “that there might be any social ill that could not be cured with a high SAT score”?
With Obama, it seems a $2,000 donation will get you his ear, but not his respect.
UPDATE: A few readers who are “law firm partners and investment bankers, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists” wonder if this means I think they’re arrogant snobs. “Limousine liberals” should have been the key phrase there. If you’re so rich that you don’t worry about tax hikes, and thus support candidates who support them, I think you’re a snob in your disregard for the effect of tax hikes on those who make less than you do. If you’re in business, and donate large sums of money to politicians who paint a picture of the private sector as relentless greed and cruelty because you think they couldn’t possibly mean you, I think you’re arrogant to think your reputation will somehow remain immune from the business-bashing rhetoric.