Subsuming Ideological Conviction for Constituent Service (They Say)
“If you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and vote against “em anyway, you don’t belong in the Legislature.”**
–Jesse Unruh, California politician in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
[Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced.]
The most important service that Bernie Sanders performed for Hillary Clinton in Tuesday night’s debate wasn’t taking her off the hook for her email woes.
It was giving her cover for her (too cozy) relationship with Wall Street.
Just as Sanders can argue that, as an elected official representing gun-friendly Vermont, he had to soft-pedal his support for gun control, Hillary can argue that, as New York’s junior senator, she was merely carrying water for one of that state’s most important constituencies.
You know, just doing her job.
No different than Chuck Schumer (senior senator) and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also staunch Wall Street partisans (and repeat New York election winners).
Leopard Changing Her Spots
The problem for Hillary is that her Wall Street-friendly ways both predate and postdate her eight years as Senator.
The 1990’s Clinton Administration was one of Wall Street’s biggest friends — and vice versa.
Which is no doubt why some of the Clintons’ biggest financial supporters came from there — not to mention their key advisors, political appointees, and legislative initiatives (repealing Glass-Steagall; green-lighting today’s derivatives casino over the objections of the CFTC’s Brooksley Born and others).
And still do.
Taking Their Money and “%$#%#* ’em”
If Hillary really wants to establish her financial reform bona fides vs. Bernie Sanders, let’s see her address “Too Big to Fail” (financial institutions), regulatory capture, and campaign finance reform (starting with the “Citizens United” Supreme Court case) in debate #2.
Or as Unruh would put it, let’s see if she can “take their money and “%$#%#* ’em.”
P.S.: I’m not holding my breath, but there are at least three historical precedents for national politicians “biting the hand that fed them”: both Presidents Roosevelt, whose constituencies as New York governor also putatively included Wall Street; and Harry Truman, who was a product of Kansas City’s Pendergast machine before betraying it as United States Senator from Missouri.
Anyone on the national stage remind you of Truman today?
**Unruh’s original quote reportedly used a more colorful term — “%$#%#* ’em” — instead of “vote against ’em.”