When Barack Obama needed to win Pennsylvania, what villain did he use in his populist rhetoric? As we see in this video, he chose Countrywide Finance. Countrywide, Obama said, paid off its executives while leaving homeowners with foreclosure notices:
When it came time to selecting his VP, what hero did Obama choose? Jim Johnson, who got millions in loans from Countrywide. Now Obama wants to pretend that he doesn’t care about connections to Countrywide. It didn’t sound that way to Pennsylvanians in April, did it?
Slate’s John Dickerson wonders when we will get the handbook on New Politics:
Barack Obama called out Countrywide by name on the campaign trail during the primaries. He particularly criticized the company’s CEO for his excessive compensation and more generally “infecting the economy and helping to create a home foreclosure crisis,” which he linked not only to the 2 million who lost their houses but to school districts that couldn’t purchase supplies and pay teachers. This is the same CEO who gave Johnson his sweetheart deal. Obama’s aides also criticized Clinton’s then-campaign strategist, Mark Penn, for giving PR advice to the company.
Now the man Obama has entrusted with what he has called the most important decision of his campaign is wrapped up in Countrywide and tied to the CEO. There are lots of unanswered questions about the Johnson deal, though no evidence as yet that he did anything wrong. But the Obama standard isn’t wrongdoing. It’s mere connection to the company. By that standard, this is bad news.
It’s not just the fact that Johnson works for any presidential campaign; it’s the utter hypocrisy of a self-appointed ethics scold demanding one standard for his opponents and demanding a much different standard for himself. By any standard, that’s bad news, and it portends much more bad news in an Obama administration.