What an interesting week…
While traveling in Asia, President Bush criticized China over its abysmal record on human rights. While traveling across the United States, would-be President John McCain criticized the Bush Administration over its abysmal record on fiscal policy, and his political opponent, for being a pop culture icon. And while traveling on his own campaign trail, Barack Obama criticized his own public enemy of choice: American oil corporations.
Admittedly, the week was a rough one for Obama. It began with the McCain campaign having released a video commercial that portrayed Obama as a pop culture icon, and likened him to such notable celebrities as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
Obama reacted to this advertisement by insisting that he and McCain should both be talking about “the substantive issues,” and not about Britney Spears (this from the same Barack Obama who has ignored McCain’s invitations for a joint town hall meeting for nearly three months). Shortly thereafter, the Obama campaign released its own video commercial, claiming that McCain is “just like” President Bush and Vice President Cheney on energy policy, and that McCain is “in the pockets” of “big oil.”
Now think about this for a moment. Senator McCain compared Senator Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. An insult? You bet it was, and an intentional one at that.
Yet, Obama’s response was to compare Senator McCain to an actual President, and to an actual Vice President, and to claim that McCain is - - what? - - too supportive of American business?
If Obama was intending to equalize the presidential campaign terrain this week, it’s difficult to imagine that being called a “friend to the oil companies” compares at all with being called a “pop star.” Similarly, its tough to fathom that for a man to be compared to the President of the United States is somehow worse than being compared to Spears or Hilton.
But this attempt to malign McCain by pointing out his alleged association with “big oil” is consistent with Obama’s entire campaign. Indeed, throughout his nineteen month pursuit of the presidency, Obama has seemingly taken every opportunity to malign American free enterprise - - be it the oil industry, the insurance industry, the banking industry, or the medical profession - - as though it were the source of all the world’s evils. Obama’s radical, anti-business streak showed itself again this week, in an outburst aimed specifically at the Exxon-Mobil corporation.
After reporting a nearly $12 billion quarterly profit, Obama lamented that "no U.S. corporation ever made that much in a quarter" - - as though setting new records for financial success were a bad thing.
He then used the occasion to reiterate his plan for taxing the excessive, or “windfall” profits of oil companies, and to redistribute that revenue to “deserving families” in the form of “rebate checks.”
But since when is it presidential to single-out an American company by name, and to publicly trash it? And what exactly is Obama (or anybody else) talking about, when he says the name “Exxon Mobil?”
Well, the Exxon-Mobil corporation is a privately held, publicly traded, legal corporation, governed by a board of directors, and headquartered in suburban Dallas. According to market analysis from the Wall Street Journal, the corporation employees over 80,000 people, and is the world’s largest publicly traded (not government owned) oil and gas company. It markets products in nearly every country on the planet, and provides energy that is the underpinning of both developed and emerging economies around the world (including our own).
This is what is so conveniently dismissed as “big oil” by candidate Obama. Forget the fact that the company employs more than the population of a small town. Never mind that those “windfall profits” that Obama gripes about pay dividends to stockholders - - stockholders who are “working Americans,” and retirees, and people of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. And ignore the fact that “big oil’s” profits are helping to produce the future funding for union member’s retirement plans and pension funds. No, no, forget all that. Senator and almost-President Barack Obama is outraged because the Exxon-Mobil corporation set a new record for quarterly profits, he knows he can manage that money better than anyone else, and he’s determined that these dastardly corporate profits are, indeed, the greatest threat to the United States.
So while President Bush speaks out against the tyrrany of communism, and Senator McCain speaks out against the stranglehold of government that prevents Americans from using American energy resources, Senator Obama wages his own war on corporate profits. And herein lies the greatest insult of campaign 2008 - - Mr. Obama assumes that Americans don’t know any better.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.