President Obama has extensive ties to Goldman Sachs. Yet even given record-breaking financial contributions and sketchy relationships between Goldman executives and Obama officials at the highest level, the mainstream media will not afford Obama the same scrutiny it gave to George W. Bush during the collapse of Enron.
Obama's inflation-adjusted $1,007,370.85 in contributions from Goldman employees is almost seven times as much as the $151,722.42 (also inflation-adjusted) that Bush received from Enron. Goldman was one of the chief beneficiaries of the TARP bailout package -- supported by then-Senator Obama -- and has been a force for -- not against -- Democratic financial "reform" proposals currently under Senate consideration.
Despite the extensive connections between President Obama and Goldman Sachs, the same media that vaguely alleged unseemly connections between the Bush administration and Enron after its 2001 collapse have barely noticed the Obama administration's prominent ties to Goldman (h/t J.P. Freire).
The New York Times made sure to note in January 2002 (according to a Nexis search) that "President Bush is seeking to play down his relationship with Enron's embattled chairman, Kenneth L. Lay. But their ties are broad and deep and go back many years, and the relationship has been beneficial to both."
Yet the Times has not reported on the extensive ties between President Obama and Goldman Sachs since the SEC filed charges on Friday.
Time reported on "Bush's Enron Problem." Newsweek played up personal relationships between Bush and Enron executives. "Bush urged to be open about Enron," read a Chicago Tribune headline. Salon commented on "Dick Cheney's Bonehead Enron Play." And the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram pondered "Six degrees of Enron Ties between the company and the Bush White House."
But what of the extensive ties between the Obama administration and Goldman Sachs? Why have major media outlets not given the President the same skeptical coverage they afforded his predecessor?
To its credit, the Washington Post did note Goldman's massive campaign contributions to Obama. But it did so in the context of asserting Obama's "transformation in relations" with Wall Street, as evinced by the financial reform package currently in the Senate.
The Post and many others in the media seem to be ignoring Goldman Sachs's advocacy of the reform being proposed. A recent letter (PDF) to the company's shareholders from its President and its CEO reveals that it actually favored regulations that would be put in place by the Senate bill.
But if personal connections are what concern the mainstream media -- WaPo reported in 2002 that "Enron's Influence Reached Deep Into Administration; Ties Touched Personnel and Policies" -- they need look no further than Obama's chief of staff and top cabinet officials.
The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney reported mere weeks after Obama was elected that Emanuel would be Goldman's "most valuable asset yet" in its quest to leverage government power to its advantage.
Emanuel, Carney reported, was hired as Bill Clinton's chief fundraiser in the 1992 campaign.
At the same time, however, Emanuel was on the payroll of Goldman Sachs, receiving $3,000 per month from the firm to “introduce us to people,” in the words of one Goldman partner at the time. This is certainly a noteworthy relationship, but it’s one that has almost entirely escaped scrutiny.
Corporations and partnerships are and were at the time prohibited by law from contributing to federal candidates out of the corporate coffers. So, while Rahm tapped Goldman employees personally for six figures in gifts to Clinton’s candidacy—more than any other firm—Goldman, as a company, was helping keep Clinton’s top fundraiser well-fed...
So, Goldman may have been funneling money to Clinton’s campaign through the back door (Emanuel’s retainer and those discounts the FEC noted), and the front door. By March of 1992, the heart of that dramatic primary season, Goldman partners had sent $54,000 to the Clinton campaign.
They would contribute another $50,000, making the firm the top source of funds for Clinton’s election, and contemporaneous media credit Emanuel, together with Robert Rubin, with this tight relationship.
Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner also enjoys a cozy relationship with the most prominent investment banks, including Goldman. The Associated Press reported in October of last year,
Even during his most frenzied days, when Congress is demanding answers or the president is calling, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner makes time to talk to a select group of powerful Wall Street bankers.
They are a small cadre of businessmen who have known and worked with Geithner for years, whose multibillion-dollar companies all survived the economic crisis with help from U.S. taxpayers.
When they call, Geithner answers...
The calendars, obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act, offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the continued influence of three companies -- Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- whose executives can reach the nation's most powerful economic official on the phone, sometimes several times a day.
So Obama's chief of staff and Treasury Secretary have extensive connections to Goldman Sachs. Why has this not received the attention that Bush's connections to Enron did?
Well, that should be obvious by now.