Strakon Lights Up, No. 49

Comrade Warbucks


A fellow named Jon Corzine won the New Jersey Democratic nomination for Senate yesterday, beating former Gov. Jim Florio. He beat Florio not only in votes but also in fund raising to attract votes, spending more than $30 million on the primary campaign, or about $140 per vote.

Never heard of Corzine? Back in 1998, when I sat down to write my article on Senate candidate Evan Bayh for TLD 21, I hadn't either. That soon changed.

Bayh, a former Democrat governor of Indiana, was running for Senate against a "designated loser" Republican, whom he was outperforming in fund raising by about 50 to 1. (See "A gold-plated hayseed: How the ruling class molds the political class: A case study," August 21, 1998) At the polls in November, Bayh duly crushed his helpless little opponent.

In my article, I suggested that Bayh was being disproportionately funded by movers and shakers of Wall Street and their employees, especially people connected to Goldman Sachs, the politically cloutful investment-banking titan. I had stumbled across the fact that, during a certain period, "among Bayh's individual contributors are listed 18 — yes, 18 — people from Goldman Sachs, in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and (mostly) New York." It was that fact, which I found not only amazing but also pregnant, that actually motivated me to write the piece. Among the $1,000 individual contributors from Goldman Sachs were "chairman Jon Corzine, managing director James Gutman, and chief of staff John Rogers."

Further digging proved that those 18 were just the top squirmy layer of an economy-sized can of worms. Several people claiming other principal affiliations but actually connected to Goldman Sachs also turned out to be Bayh contributors. For example, Robin Neustein, of Wall Street's Goldman and Corzine, gave another $1,000; and he or she was also a managing director at Goldman Sachs.

In 1998, Jon Corzine was one of those cosmically obscure people of cosmically impressive wealth and influence whom we're usually not supposed to hear about. (His personal holdings are estimated at $400 million.) This year, obviously, Corzine decided to change that.

It's always interesting when bona fide members of the ruling class subject themselves to electoral politics; after all, it's a pretty down-market forum in which to pursue your interests. You subject yourself to rubbing shoulders every day with smelly pols and ward-heelers whom you would normally truck with only through intermediaries. Put it this way: just because you and your partners own a crowded, noisy rooming house on the wrong side of the tracks doesn't mean that you actually have to live there!

Usually when Wall Street moguls go down to Washington, it's to serve as appointed mandarins in the ministry of foreign affairs, war, finance, or trade, or in that large part of the national-security apparatus that lies outside the ministries. And a lot of the time you can just about see them pinch their nose while doing it. Remember Elliot Richardson clenching his jaw in disgust when Richard Nixon fired him as attorney general? In the 1940s, no monocled Prussian general exhibited any frostier abhorrence when being cashiered by the "Austrian corporal."

Robert Rubin walked the typical mandarin path; Corzine, Rubin's successor at Goldman Sachs, is taking the one less traveled. But it has been walked before, by none other than Nelson Rockefeller. And the Rockefellers of Nelson's generation were all bona fide aristocrats, scions of an established house and bearers of a great name. Corzine, by contrast, is the second sort of important Dark Suit: a "no-name manager" from a small town in Illinois who elevated himself into the Higher Circles through talent and hard work. I'll bet he's got a congenitally tougher nose than Rockefeller had when he got bored with mandarin posts and decided to run for governor of New York. (Corzine left Goldman Sachs after losing a struggle for control, but it would be silly to assume that, in so doing, he turned in his Dark Suit membership card and sought new friends among us the yokels.)


Though a Democrat, Evan Bayh is no Red Guard. He was a do-nothing governor from the conservative wing of the Indiana Democrat Party. Now of course "conservative" doesn't mean what it still sometimes meant in Barry Goldwater's time. Whatever the reality lurking under the surface — and with the Buckleyite Right's support of militarism there was a lot lurking — we didn't hear too much frank talk in those days about "Big Government" conservatives. But in the present day, we know right away that when we hear about someone's being a "conservative" it almost always means that he's a Big Government conservative. That is, he's a fascist or conservative socialist. Bayh seemed to be a perfect choice as a foot soldier to fight in the trenches for a regime that owes everything to Wall Street and is principally concerned to advance Wall Street's agenda.

But the Clinton regime is also infested with Red Guards and is still seen — not least by the Guards themselves — as owing something to a wide range of Red Guard constituencies. In that respect, I think the current regime reflects the country's actual political-economic structure better than a Big Government Republican regime could, however expedient and spineless it tried to be (though George W. Bush may yet explore new frontiers in expediency and spinelessness). The ruling class is composed of a senior Dark Suit wing and a junior Red Guard wing; the Clinton regime constitutes an almost ideal political arena where general decisions made by established Suits and co-opted Guards at a high level can be played out specifically.

The official public regime includes Congress as a part of the workshop where the common designs of Suits and Guards, settled upon outside the official regime, can be hammered into real, workable, and profitable shape. With the "ideal" Clinton era coming to an end, and Gore's election uncertain (and perhaps undesired), the ruling class surely considers it necessary to ensure that there are important Red Guard spokesmen in the official regime's legislative branch. Naturally those Red Guards must be of the domesticated, not wild, variety.


That's where Jon Corzine comes in. In light of the work I'd done on Bayh, I started wondering what sort of Democrat Corzine might be as soon as I heard he was running. Well, today on CNN's "Crossfire," Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) claimed that Corzine is to the Left even of Paul Wellstone and Teddy Kennedy! That sent me straight to Corzine's Website. Sure enough, it starts off pretty scary, saying up front that Corzine is running "because it's time to get BOLD THINGS done."

Corzine goes on to say that "I want to go to the Senate to set high expectations and achieve bold progress"  toward universal health care, universal long-term care, universal quality public education, universal gun registration and licensing, and "universal access and opportunity." Following the links for each of those categories, I read the explanatory text, and my conclusion is this: whether or not Mr. Universal State really out-Commies Wellstone and Kennedy, he's unlikely ever to be expelled from the soviet, except maybe for being too much of a Stakhanovite hero-worker.

Corzine starts out his "universal health care" section by saying, "America should no longer be the only industrial society on earth that does not insure the health of all its people." You know what that  means. He goes on to say, "Just because the special interests defeated national health reform in 1994 doesn't mean we should turn tail and run. We need to change health insurance so every American is covered in the right way, and we need to do it now."

The title of the section on guns is pretty self-explanatory, but for the record, I'll pass along this promise, or threat, contained in it: "If I go to the Senate, I will fight day in and day out to enact the toughest possible gun control." "Universal access and opportunity" isn't quite so self-explanatory, but it's no surprise, either, to find that the section so titled is devoted to state privileges for colored minorities. Under the subtitle, "Fiercely Support Affirmative Action," Mr. Universal State says: "I am an unequivocal supporter of affirmative action, and will fight right-wing attempts to distort its mission, which is to produce diversity and equal opportunity for all Americans." This section is illustrated with a photo of a Negro woman wearing some sort of African headdress.

That's enough to give you a good taste. If you simply must inflict more of this sort of thing on yourself, you can consult Corzine's site. (I've really done some heavy lifting on your behalf: I found every page on the site to be a maddeningly slow loader.) [Note: By the time this column was reposted — April 2002 — the Corzine campaign site had no doubt been taken down. Hit the link at your own risk. — NS]


Ordinarily I'd hate to cite George Will, but a certain piece of his is too good to miss, especially since it's linked from Corzine's Website. Will makes it pretty clear that Corzine is a totalitarian leftist, even writing that "like most liberals today, he wants radical restrictions on freedom of (other people's) speech. He would close the 'loophole' — aka the First Amendment — that permits citizens to finance issue advocacy ads." ("Meet Jon Corzine, the Next Hubert Humphrey," December 12, 1999) Apparently the designers of Corzine's site think the anti-American ugliness Will exposes is likely to win Corzine more votes than it loses him.

Will writes that Corzine's "promises to women include lifting the cap on damages for sexual harassment and discrimination, multiplying Women's Business Centers, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, including gender in hate-crime laws, training teachers 'to engage girls in technology,' [and] ending discrimination against women 'globally.'" If we're talking free expression, I will note, as Will does not, that there are a couple more attacks on free expression embedded in that swamp of socialism, not to mention attacks on freedom of association.

Will says Corzine wants to be the new Hubert Humphrey. That's a very appropriate choice of models. Humphrey started out an extreme populist and liberal, according to the established media, and ended a corrupt warmongering fascist and servant of the corporate state, according to the same established media — and he didn't change his ideology over the years by more than a quarter-inch.

Like Humphrey, Corzine manages to combine Dark Suit and Red Guard personae in one body. That's pretty impressive. But it's when we pair Goldman Sachs's Evan Bayh, the moderate-conservative, with Goldman Sachs's Jon Corzine, the hard-leftist, that the whole bleak picture comes into focus.

June 7, 2000


Lagniappe, with a dollop of irony

A few days after writing the above column, I encountered a jaw-dropping illustration of ruling-class thinking (or propaganda) on CNN's "Capital Gang," one of those shout-fests featuring both left-wingers and right-wingers. One of the journalists on the panel ridiculed conservatives' characterizations of Jon Corzine, saying how absurd it was to claim that someone who had been a top executive on Wall Street could be a member of the hard Left.

That journalist was none other than Al Hunt. Now, do you know who Al Hunt is? He's the hard-leftist who for the past 11 years has been executive Washington editor for — The New Republic? No. The Nation? No. The Progressive? Nope, three strikes, you're out.

The correct answer is: the Wall Street Journal! 

Either Hunt understands nothing or he wants to make sure that we  understand nothing. You can guess which I find more likely.

© 2000 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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