In 2007, transcending the debauched world of politics emanated his hope and promise: “I don’t want to spend the next year or the next four years refighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s. I don’t want to pit red America against blue America. I want to be the President of the United States of America.” What has transpired since then? Senator Obama eventually came face to face with the realities of the highest office in the land; hopeless and changeless circumstances grounded his Messianic rise.
In a 2009 interview with Steve Kroft on CBS’s 60 Minutes, President Obama unveiled his true view on unity, declaring without compunction, “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” Right, he just ran to vilify a segment of the electorate working, yes, to take home lofty paychecks, but concurrently, to facilitate transactions, grant credits, and even support emerging economies, thereby oiling the wheels of commerce. The President added later on that the same banks that had been bailed out by taxpayers were “fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists… up on Capitol Hill, fighting against financial regulatory control.” Apparently, he’d forgotten that these same banks had bought him out too.
Obama so desperately wants to appear as though he’s fighting a battle to end all battles against the wealthy on behalf of the disenfranchised—the 99%. Yet, what many liberals and now, particularly, those who occupy Wall Street—most of whom presumably voted for Obama and will vote for him the second time around, despite their claims otherwise—fail to admit is that Obama has reaped the largesse of “fat cat” bankers more than any Republican in recent history. They fail to perceive that the Democratic Party has as much to do with fostering a corporate-government collusion as the GOP. Obama took the White House not only through the small contributions of millions of average Americans, as his campaign touts incessantly, but also through hefty donations from the upper crust of society.
In fact, Obama has amassed more money from Wall Street than any politician from either party in the last 20 years. During his 2008 presidential bid, he received approximately 20% of his total campaign donation from Wall Street. Interestingly enough, these same reprobate financiers contributed a greater total to Obama’s campaign than they did to Senator John McCain’s.
More specifically, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, in the last presidential election Obama reined in wads of cash from multiple bulge bracket firms. In total, including contributions from employees and the respective bank’s Political Action Committee, Obama collected $1,013,091 from Goldman Sachs, $808,799 from JPMorgan Chase & Co., and $736,771 from Citigroup. Furthermore, he procured $532,674 from UBS and $512,232 from Morgan Stanley. An examination of campaign finance records also reveals that Obama picked up a modest sum of $421,242 from Bank of America, outdoing the bank’s previous record contribution of $329,761 to President George W. Bush in 2004.
It would also surprise ardent populist supporters of the Democratic Party who claim to be waging a Manichean battle valiantly for the cause of the unprivileged that according to figures dating to 1990, Goldman Sachs—the epitome of arrogance and greed against which liberals continue to rail—has consistently contributed more money to Democratic rather than Republican candidates for federal office. In 2008, for example, three out of every four dollars contributed by Goldman Sachs bolstered Democratic coffers.
Unsurprisingly, President Obama—the patriarch of the party that seemingly claims to have monopolized representation of the impoverished—has failed to reconcile his supposed moral adherence to defending the poor at all costs with his sycophancy to “fat cat” bankers.
Perhaps the statement most indicative of Obama’s self-contradictory behavior was one from an anonymous Wall Street executive who wished to avoid blowback from the administration. Invited to, but ultimately rejecting the offer to, an exclusive meeting with Obama in the White House’s Blue Room a few weeks before the President announced his reelection bid in April, the executive remarked that it was quite ironic that the man who had railed against bankers in blanket fashion would have the nerve to invite him and his colleagues to a fundraising dinner at Daniel, the Upper East Side restaurant whose $185 six course tasting menu and opulent interior reject any notion of restraint or genuine recognition of the plight of the country’s poor.
After all the slanderous statements he has plastered to the faces of bankers and corporate employees in general over the past three years, the least the President can do is set the record straight. He needs to reveal to the American people the truth about Wall Street and give them the post-partisan message that he promised when he was running to govern the United States of America. He needs to tell them that corporate businesspeople are, in fact, a vital and necessary source of the country’s economic prosperity, and not merely parasites on society. But, alas, he won’t ever commit this sinful deed, as it would effectively blunt the momentum of OWS and siphon away precious votes.
Maligning Wall Street employees amidst an abhorrently stagnant economy is neither presidential nor post-partisan. President Obama isn’t merely politicking, he’s governing disingenuously. The Obama 2012 campaign has begun to milk the rich, already raising $15.6 million from Wall Street donors. However, in a not-so-transparent fashion, the campaign hasn’t disclosed the identities of its wealthy bundlers. If your curiosity so piques you to, say, uncover that Jon Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs CEO-turned New Jersey Governor-turned disgraced executive of now bankrupt MF Global Holdings, raised over $500,000 for Obama or that Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank, also raised that much for our very own Robin Hood in disguise, you’ll have to dig through an endless stream of federal election records.
It seems that President Obama has cast aside his own calls for unity and moral rectitude in exchange for financial and political expediency. It’s only a matter of time before the American electorate realizes that they’re being brazenly bamboozled.
Raj Kannappan // Cornell University // @RajKannappan