Last August, Politico revealed that the Obama campaign intended to make Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney "a sort of political Gordon Gekko" if he won the nomination.
Right out of that playbook, MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday compared Romney to the financial villain of the '80s movie classic "Wall Street" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: What Romney seems to want to do is say, “Hey gang, let’s all go to B school, let’s all go to business school.” No, really. “Let’s all try to make as much money as we can any way we can make it. Let’s all be like that. And by the way, if you vote for me, you can be like me. You can be just like me.” That’s what he’s offering.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: I would put it slightly differently. I think what he’s basically saying, Chris, it’s a variation on your point. I think what he’s saying is, “Look, we tried a guy who didn’t have deep experience in the private sector as president," and in Romney’s assessment, that didn’t work. What he is pitching himself as is a guy who has spent his life fixing the problem which is turning things around. You can agree or disagree with this concept, but turning things around. The Salt Lake City Olympics. Companies with Bain he would put in there. He would put Massachusetts in there though many people would disagree. Turning things around that he is a fixit artist.
MATTHEWS: Chris, how’s that different than Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street,” greed is good?
How's that different?
Well, first of all, at the film's conclusion, Gekko played by Michael Douglas is convicted and imprisoned for insider trading.
Has Romney ever been accused of breaking the law let alone found guilty of it? No.
Moreover as Cillizza pointed out, apart from his extensive business experience, Romney rescued the financially troubled 2002 Winter Olympics before becoming governor of Massachusetts.
While heading up that state, he quickly turned the $650 million deficit he inherited into as much as a $1 billion surplus while bringing the unemployment rate down from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent.
Is any of that part of Gekko's resume?
This is why one has to be reminded of what Politico's Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin wrote last August:
Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee. [...]
In a move that will make some Democrats shudder, Obama’s high command has even studied former President George W. Bush’s 2004 takedown of Sen. John Kerry, a senior campaign adviser told POLITICO, for clues on how a president with middling approval ratings can defeat a challenger.
“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.
The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”
When you think about it, isn't this EXACTLY what folks like Matthews and most of the media have been doing the past several months as it's become clear Romney was going to win the nomination?
He's rich, he dresses funny, his wife wears expensive clothes, he doesn't pay enough taxes, he's Mormon, he once strapped a dog to the top of his car, he's just not one of us!
But there's more:
The second aspect of the campaign to define Romney is his record as CEO of Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that was responsible for both creating and eliminating jobs. Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the great recession — a sort of political Gordon Gekko.
“He was very, very good at making a profit for himself and his partners but not nearly as good [at] saving jobs for communities,” said David Axelrod, the president’s chief strategist. “His is very much the profile of what we’ve seen in the last decade on Wall Street. He was about making money. And that’s fine. But often times, he made it at the expense of jobs in communities.”
Practically right out of Matthews' script today, which means at this point he and many of his colleagues are for all intents and purposes working for the president's reelection committee.
When you think about it, they're engaging in a form of insider trading themselves by using their positions within the media to advance the political candidate of their choice through any means possible while undermining his opponent.
In Matthews' terms, how’s that different than Gordon Gekko?