I suppose if you recently ran into a burning building to save a neighbor, as Newark Mayor Corey Booker recently did, you do not have to prove your courage. Still, it was interesting to see him walk back his comment, made yesterday morning on Meet the Press, that the attacks on Bain Capital, like the attempts to revive the Jeremiah Wright issue, are "nauseating." Here is the link to the video Booker released yesterday afternoon walking back is comments.
But, the mayor still has some explaining to do. It is not clear from his Meet the Press appearance that he understands what Democrats are fighting for in this election. He noted that his city is home to many who work in the financial sector, including the venture capital business. He mentioned that many pension funds and unions and private persons invest in private equity firms like Bain Capital, and indeed they do. But, to borrow a phrase from Joe Biden, it is not clear that Booker "gets it." It is not clear that he is willing to challenge the "financialization" of the economy, the morphing of modern capitalism from a system that does a good job creating and spreading wealth into a system dominated by the financial sector, in which the interests of investors trump all other considerations and which large multinational banks hold sovereign nations hostage.
Someone who does get it is E.J. Dionne. His article this morning in the Post explains that this upcoming election is not a battle between capitalism and socialism, but between a social market economy and an anti-social market economy, between trying to build an economic system that aims to empower workers as well as enrich fat cats, that considers the effects of economic decisions on the health of communities and not just on the corporate bottom line. I wish the President were better at artciulating this debate. I wish, too, he had a Secretary of the Treasury who had not previously drunk so deeply at the financial sector wells that his capacity for making ethical judgments about the economy is severely circumscribed. Everyone is for growth, but if the growth we most care about is the bottom line of Wall Street and not the fortunes of Main Street, we have, as a society, granted way too much power to the moneyed interest.