Brown v. Warren: Automatons v. Leaders

Corporate execs fear elected officials who have inconvenient morals or brains–like Elizabeth Warren

Topics: U.S. Senate, Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown, Massachusetts,

Brown v. Warren: Automatons v. Leaders (Credit: AP File Photos)

Ask corporate executives what they really want in a legislator, and they probably won’t use words like “principled” or “well-informed.”

If the cocktails are appropriately strong and inhibitions are consequently reduced, executives will likely tell you in a moment of candor that the best politician, from their perspective, is the one who is incurious and who possesses very little policy expertise. They don’t want people with inconvenient morals, ethics or brains getting in their way. They want the equivalent of T-1000s from the “Terminator” films: unthinking, fully programmable cyborgs willing and able to shape-shift in order to carry out a mission.

Alas, it is rare to get such an admission in public, and it is even more rare to get said admission in the pages of a major publication. That’s why Businessweek’s recent examination of the country’s marquee U.S. Senate race is so significant. In looking at the Massachusetts matchup between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren, the magazine quotes Brown fundraiser Lawrence McDonald, a former Lehman trader, acknowledging that he and his Wall Street friends hate the idea of an independently informed legislator who might bring her own wisdom to Washington.

“If Warren were to win, McDonald says, she’d be ‘seen as an expert’ by a second Obama administration, which he finds terrifying,” the magazine reported. “Scott Brown is ‘just a good senator,’ McDonald adds. ‘He wouldn’t be an adviser to either candidate in a financial crisis.’”

Get that? Warren is disliked precisely because of her years of distinguished research as a Harvard professor, her tenure heading the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and her overall unwillingness to take orders from corporate interests. Meanwhile, Brown is praised as a “good senator” specifically because he lacks policy knowledge that might help him counsel government officials on how to deal with another bank meltdown. Oh, and because as a lawmaker, he has a proven track record of saying “how high” when Wall Street says “jump.”

You Might Also Like

To be sure, McDonald’s general lament about the arbitrary assignment of expert status certainly has a grain of truth in it. America is run by false experts – indeed, all you have to do is thumb through Chris Hayes’ recent book Twilight of the Elites to know that national politics is dominated by people who have little experience in, and knowledge of, those policy areas in which they claim to possess expertise. And this is a problem in both parties.

For instance, Democrats tout Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet as their go-to expert on education. But he is a man who spent only a little over three years in any education-related position (as an appointee in the Denver school system) and who spent the vast majority of his career as a political aide and corporate raider with “no teaching or school administration experience,” according to the Denver Post. Likewise, Republican Rudy Giuliani has long been billed as a foreign policy and national security expert merely because he happened to be New York City’s mayor on 9/11, not for any actual experience in those fields.

But, then, the seeming randomness of the “expert” label highlights special interests’ antipathy toward legislators with genuine expertise. Through political stagecraft – corporate-funded symposia, conferences, speeches, etc. – those interests help manufacture policy “expert” status for expertise-free politicians like Bennet, Giuliani and other automatons who are most willing to simply take orders.

Warren is different–a leader with more knowledge and intelligence on economic issues than almost anyone in Washington. That’s why, as Businessweek says, Wall Streeters are desperately hoping her opponent defeats her in the upcoming election. Like every special interest with business in the nation’s capital, they fear anyone coupling legislative power with independent thought.

David Sirota
David Sirota is a senior writer for the International Business Times and the best-selling author of the books "Hostile Takeover," "The Uprising" and "Back to Our Future." E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>