On WaPo’s ‘Remarkable Class Solidarity’

Wondering at the “remarkable class solidarity” displayed by U.S. elitists, Robert Parry (Consortium News, 3/22/09) hypothesizes that “this may help explain why the Washington Post‘s editorial writers penned three editorials last week decrying the populist outrage over the AIG bonuses“:

The first editorial on March 17, entitled “Bonus Blowback,” purported to share the public’s outrage but came down on the side of paying the bonuses. “We hope that the president is setting the stage to do whatever it takes to answer legitimate protests about AIG without adding to the existing dangers or jeopardizing the necessary rescues of the banking sector still to come,” the Post said.

The next day in an editorial called “The Big Bash,” the Post expressed stronger annoyance with the “‘populist’ backlash” against the AIG bonuses. The Post wrote:

No matter how morally satisfying, taking back bonuses now â┚¬Ã‚¦ would probably accelerate the exodus [of AIG executives], with the likely effect that the country would lose much more money on AIG than it would otherwise….

The relevant policy question here is not whether we feel like spending $165 million on bonuses; it is whether doing so will help wrap up the AIG rescue as cheaply and quickly as possible.

By March 20, the Post editorialists were starting to fume, equating the irresponsibility of AIG’s risky bets on derivatives with the angry reaction from politicians and their constituents over the bonuses.

In an editorial entitled “Washington Gone Wild,” the Post chastised Congress for trying to recoup the taxpayers’ money by imposing a 90 percent tax on bonuses at firms that took significant government bailout funds.

Parry concludes that, being ” too cozy with their brethren on Wall Street,” Post editors “may share too much of what might be called a class interest… to understand how justifiably angry Americans are… at both the financiers who took the economy over the cliff and at the politicians and pundits who bogged the nation down in the bloody quagmire of Iraq.”

Listen to the latest edition of FAIR’s radio program CounterSpin: “Robert Johnson on AIG Bonuses” (3/20/09).