Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Congressional Magic Act

In stage magic, sleight of hand is essential, but sometimes the magician needs to hide his or her true actions with a distraction so that the integrity of the trick is maintained. Usually this distraction is in the form of the magician's assistant, who does something that takes the audience's attention away from the magician for the length of time necessary for the prep work of the trick to be completed.

With the recent AIG controversy, President Obama and Congress have been attempting a trick worthy of David Copperfield. They're directing a lot of attention onto AIG for handing out bonuses. Nancy Pelosi wants the Attorney General to get back the money that Congress feels is excessive from any company that took federal bailout money. President Obama is upset at the greed, as is Barney Frank. Charles Schumer has even suggested that the AIG bonuses should be taxed at 100%.

One tiny problem. They're hypocrites.

Thanks to the good people at, it came out that President Obama received campaign contributions from AIG. Now, I'm not talking about a few bucks here and there. I'm talking $101,332, and he's only #2 on the list! The Grand Poobah of AIG contributions is Senator Christopher Dodd. In fact, the majority of recipients of AIG political contributions turn out to be Democrats, including some of the ones who are complaining the loudest about the AIG bonuses.

Not coincidentally, they're also some of the ones who created the environment for the current economic turmoil.

Listen, I'm not a big fan of AIG's actions, but I'm even less of a fan at the fake outrage expressed by Democrats right now. What they're doing is a version of sleight of hand: blaming an easy target to avoid having to admit how complicit they've been in the situations about which they lament now. And, with the news being full of stories of corporate misdeeds, it's easy to blame Big Business for acting like Marie Antoinette, as it is always easy to go after a faceless organization than it is to look at the deeper causes of a problem. That makes AIG into the magician's (albeit unwitting/unwilling) assistant to the government's magician.

But don't fall for the trick. Now that you know how it's done, you see it for what it is: utter dishonesty from a shameless pack of political wolves.

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