Merry Crony-mas! It’s time to pass out the goodies. While President Obama’s lips champion the middle class, his administration’s old hands are preparing to lavish rewards on the creme de la campaign creme: his wealthiest political donors.
Several media outlets reported this week that the White House is considering fashion doyenne Anna Wintour for a possible appointment as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain or France.
The rumored short list also includes Obama campaign finance chairman Matthew Barzun and investment banker Marc Lasry. The three share one common, er, “qualification”: Each raked in more than $500,000 for Team Obama 2012.
As previously reported in this column, Wintour held multiple million-dollar fundraisers for Obama in Hollywood, New York, London and Paris — raking in the fourth highest amount for the Man of the (Glamorous) People. Wintour’s $40,000-per-plate dinners attracted Hollywood’s biggest leftist celebs.
She went further than just passing around the fashion plate, though. Before Election Day, the fashion world buzzed over the British-born Vogue editor’s behind-the-scenes campaign to intimidate designers into spurning GOP women. Such Chicago-style diplomacy will fit in perfectly with the brass-knuckle-wielder-in-chief.
If Wintour snags the plum British ambassadorship as rumored, she will succeed another top Obama bundler known as “the vacuum cleaner.” Chicago lawyer and banking mogul Louis Susman (who worked for Salomon Brothers and retired as a Citigroup vice chairman in February 2009) had no diplomatic experience. But he vacayed and sashayed with the Kennedys and the Kerrys in Hyannis Port and Nantucket, siphoned up a total of $240 million for Democrats over the past several decades, and bundled upward of $500,000 for Team Obama.
Ambassadorships have long been used as patronage rewards for deep-pocketed donors, of course. Clinton did it. The Bushes did it. And Hopey McChangey immediately followed suit. In his first term, Obama awarded ambassadorships to California bundler John Roos, who was dispatched to Japan; California bundler and campaign finance co-chair Charles Rivkin, who took up the ambassadorial post in France; law partner and bundler Laurie Fulton, who was sent to Denmark; and Boston money man Alan Solomont, who won the appointment to Spain.
Moreover, a recent investigation by the Government Accountability Institute found that more than half of the most politically active 50 campaign bundlers for Obama won appointments to a presidential council, committee, board or other White House post.
Shameless defenders of Obama’s business as usual are now floating the sexism card to defend Wintour’s possible appointment. “The snark directed at the idea of Anna Wintour as ambassador to the UK seems to be 99 percent sexism. The bundler-to-embassy route isn’t new,” sniffed lefty writer Matthew Yglesias.
Silly “progressive.” It would be sexist not to heap deserved scorn onto the naked back-scratching at play here.
“It is no coincidence that the best bundlers are often granted the greatest access, and access is power in Washington,” a vocal critic of the practice once said. “Special interests,” the critic thundered, have “turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”
Who said it? Candidate Barack “Do as I say” Obama, circa 2007-08.
Forget the “forward” rhetoric. Cut the populist crap. Retro access peddling never goes out of style in Washington: To the victor’s elitist bundlers go the spoils.