Diana West

I have seen the future of conservatism and ... he is a hedge fund manager.

I refer to hedge fund manager Clifford S. Asness, and I'm only halfway kidding. Or maybe I'm not kidding at all. The fact is, Asness this week launched the single most lucid and inspiring counter-attack against the Obama administration's brazen assault on capitalism as seen in its Chrysler bankruptcy shakedown.

Basically, the White House Chrysler plan picks economic losers and winners according to a naked political calculation that penalizes bondholders and rewards the union bosses of the United Auto Workers. It's that simple, that appalling, and that anti-capitalist. The hedge funds, seeking not to surrender the protections afforded their investors by the bankruptcy court process, quite naturally balked at the Obama administration's blatant power grab on behalf of what amount to union cronies. As Asness explained, "Some bondholders thought (the White House plan was) unfair. Specifically, they thought it unfairly favored the United Auto Workers. ... So, they said no to the plan and decided, as is their right, to take their chances in the bankruptcy process."

Their "right"?

Hah. With a remarked-upon display of anger, President Obama publicly castigated bondholders for opposing his plan, deriding them as "speculators" who refused "to sacrifice like everyone else," and who only opposed the White House deal to "hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout."

It was after this that Asness penned what stands as the first post-Obama capitalist manifesto, now making the rounds on the Internet.

"I am indeed fearful writing this. It's a really bad idea to speak out," Asness admits in a preamble that reads like a bulletin from capitalism's trenches where white-shoe comrades, as Asness writes, remain "anonymous for fear of going on the record against a powerful president." Possibly, Asness was also thinking about bankruptcy lawyer Tom Lauria's recent charges that the White House had pressured the firm Perella Weinberg to "withdraw its opposition to the (White House) deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight." (The White House denies the charge; Perella Weinberg says economic considerations compelled it withdraw its opposition.)


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).