Zakariah and Rattner: Zero Credibility on Ethics

Zakariah and Rattner: Zero Credibility on Ethics

Sam Stein at Huffington Post makes much of the fact that former Obama administration “car czar” Steve Rattner is now slamming Republican contender Mitt Romney for his management of his personal finances, when Rattner once defended Romney’s record on Bain Capital–and recently faced very serious ethical accusations. 

Rattner, appearing on Fareed Zakariah’s GPS on CNN, accused Romney of using “every trick in the book” to take advantage of legal tax loopholes, concluding that “Americans would find that pretty distasteful. Perhaps–just as distasteful as accepting the ethical judgment of a financier who was recently banned from the securities industry for several years over his role in pension fund kickbacks, paying a hefty $5 million fine to boot.

Zakariah noted Rattner’s involvement with the Quadrangle Group private equity fund, but did not mention the scandal surrounding it, which nearly led to criminal prosecutions against Rattner. That left Rattner free to impugn Romney’s ethics, declaring: “I think one of the problems here is that Governor Romney has created a level of opacity around his affairs that has led everyone to assume the worst.” Rattner does not express any remorse for the opacity in his own affairs–the only shame he expresses is not being more aware of inequality when he himself was at the top of Wall Street and able to take advantage of similar tax shelters.

In May, when the Obama campaign began attacking Romney’s record at Bain, Rattner joined former Pennsylavia governor Ed Rendell, former Rep. Harold For, Jr. (D-TN), and Newark mayor Cory Booker in defending private capital. It is not clear whether the Obama campaign turned the screws on Rattner, as they clearly did with Booker, but Rattner is now on the attack for David Axelrod & Co. And Zakaria, a friend and ideological ally of the president, seems only too happy to oblige–despite his own professed affinity for elites.

Rattner complains to Zakariah that there are “two Americas.” That’s true–but not two Americas of rich and poor, as inequality holds steady; rather, there is one standard for Republicans, and another for the media’s left-wing friends, who can do no wrong, even when they have faced real and serious accusations.