Jonah Goldberg

It's worth remembering that Obama was the preferred candidate of Wall Street, and the industry gave to Democrats by a 2-1 margin at the beginning of last year. The top business donor to Democrats in 2008 was Goldman Sachs, and nearly 75 cents out of every dollar of Goldman's political donations from 2006 to 2008 went to Democrats. Few can gainsay the investment, given how well Goldman Sachs has done under the Obama administration.

It's not just Wall Street. Obama led in fundraising from most big business sectors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Aside from the desire to back the winner, and the cultural liberalness of East and West Coast plutocrats, why did Obama get so much support from precisely the constituency he demonizes?

Because it was good business. A host of big corporations bet that the much-vaunted Obama era would materialize. For instance, nearly 30 major corporations and environmental groups invested in Obama's promise to force the American economy into a new cap-and-trade system via the United States Climate Action Partnership (CAP).

Whatever the benefits of such a scheme for the economy and environment as a whole, these corporations, led by General Electric, were looking simply to cash in on government policies. GE, which makes many wind, solar and nuclear doodads that would be profitable under "cap-and-trade," was poised to make billions if Obama succeeded in seizing control of the "carbon economy." GE is still protecting its bet, but after the failure in Copenhagen, the "climategate" scandals and perhaps most significantly, that implosion of Obama's new progressive era, several heavyweights -- Caterpillar, BP and ConocoPhillips -- have pulled out of CAP, with rumors that more will follow. There are similar rumblings of discontent within the ranks of PhRMA, the trade association for the pharmaceutical industry, which had cut an $80 billion deal with the White House last year for its support of ObamaCare, only to see the whole thing unravel.

The lesson here is fairly simple: Big business is not "right wing," it's vampiric. It will pursue any opportunity to make a big profit at little risk. Getting in bed with politicians is increasingly the safest investment for these "crony capitalists." But only if the politicians can actually deliver. The political failures of the Obama White House have translated into business failures for firms more eager to make money off taxpayers instead of consumers.

That's good news. The bad news will be if the Republicans once again opt to be the cheap dates of big business. For years, the GOP defended big business in the spirit of free enterprise while businesses never showed much interest in the principle themselves. Now that their bet on the Democrats has crapped out, it'd be nice if they stopped trying to game the system and focused instead on satisfying the consumer.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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