- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama’s disdain for free enterprise is starting to offend even his fellow Democrats. In a rare breach of loyalty, Mr. Obama’s political allies have publicly criticized campaign attacks on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s business success. It’s a sign the president’s re-election campaign has strayed far outside the American mainstream.

The firing squad started Sunday when Cory Booker took issue with an Obama for America advertisement attacking Mr. Romney’s stewardship of the venture-capital firm Bain Capital. “I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” the popular Democratic mayor of Newark said on NBC. “If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they have done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses.” He characterized the campaign attacks as “nauseating.”

For this honesty, Mr. Booker was taken to the woodshed. By evening, the mayor released a video clarifying that he only used the word “nauseating” to refer to negative campaigning in general and reinforcing his support for Mr. Obama.

The backtrack came too late. On Monday, former Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. told Joe Scarborough that he agreed with “the substance” of Mr. Booker’s comments. “Private equity is not a bad thing,” said the Tennessee Democrat. “In fact, private equity is a good thing in many, many instances.”

Edward G. Rendell, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and governor of Pennsylvania, told Buzzfeed on Tuesday the Obama ads were “very disappointing.” Then Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner - another Democrat - told MSNBC, “Bain Capital was a very successful business. I think they got a good return for their investors. That is what they were supposed to do.”

The controversial six-minute campaign ad features residents of Marion, Ind., who were laid off or negatively affected by the 1994 purchase of SCM by Ampad, which was owned by Bain Capital. Randy Johnson, an ex-employee, union leader and tireless political campaigner, concludes, “Mitt Romney’s philosophy for doing business is to take over companies just to get some money, then dump the business no matter what.” A graphic shows Bain profiting $100 million from Ampad going bankrupt in 2000. Never mind that Bain ended its control of the company in 1996.

Mr. Obama refused to back down Monday, saying, “This is what this campaign’s going to be about.” In other words, the central theme of the Obama campaign is an attack on the very heart of capitalism.

There can be no private enterprise unless entrepreneurs are willing to stake their own capital on a business idea that may or may not ultimately succeed. This risk-taking is precisely what made this country great. Mr. Obama’s vision, on the other hand, is of a government that decides which businesses are too big to fail. Instead of markets, bureaucrats decide which industries deserve to succeed. Seed money comes in the form of taxpayer grants, ensuring Washington calls all the shots.

It’s natural that this position comes from a man who got rich solely from being a politician. Mr. Obama does not understand that profits drive growth, which in turn creates jobs and prosperity. This sets up a clear choice for voters in November. They will decide who can better restore the American dream: a former community organizer or a venture capitalist.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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