Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
Earlier today, I posted a piece that looked at the criticism that Gene Sperling, who seems likely to be named Lawrence Summers' replacement at the White House, is a Wall Street insider. My verdict: he ain't. I reported on how he came to make a boatload of money working on a $100 million charitable project for Goldman Sachs' foundation. In that piece, I noted that Reuters blogger Felix Salmon was one of Sperling's critics, and he's quasi-responded in a post assailing "the revolving door" between Washington and Wall Steet. He writes:
It's fascinating to see how Corn reports on the institutionalization of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, to the point where taking $887,727 from Goldman Sachs is positively self-abnegatory.
Given our age difference, I'd wager I have spent far more years decrying this revolving door than Salmon. My point was not to discount the problem of the revolving door; it was to show that Sperling was not a good example of it. Yes, he was paid much by the Goldman Sachs foundation to implement a project to provide business education to 10,000 women in developing nations. But as my story made clear, Sperling had consciously chosen not to spin through the revolving door after leaving the Clinton administration. But it should come as no surprise to Salmon that Sperling was routinely told by the poobahs in his world that he ought to trade on his government service and do Wall Street's bidding to earn millions annually. That's what many do. He didn't take the advice, and, instead, spent years engaged in nonprofit work to advance the cause of universal education in developing nations. For a much better case study of the revolving door, check out the new White House chief of staff, William Daley, most recently of JPMorgan Chase.
Salmon notes, "If the revolving door is really as institutionalized as Corn says that it is, that’s a very serious problem." Agreed. And it's been that way for decades. Sperling's tale, though, shows that a fellow can leave the White House and avoid racing through that oh-so-tempting portal to cash in.
Lawrence Summers, the imperious Democratic economic poohbah, has departed the Obama White House, leaving the job of National Economic Council (NEC) director open. Which means it's time to rev up the inside-the-family debate about the Democratic party's economic stance: do Democrats want to work with corporatists to better manage the globalizing economy, or do they want to confront the corporatists to even out the distribution of economic power? With the White House apparently favoring Gene Sperling, currently a counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and an NEC director during the Clinton years, for the post, some progressives and Wall Street critics have expressed dismay or discouragement, as they point to Sperling's supposed Wall Street ties. But how upset should they be? Sperling is hardly a Wall Street insider. In fact, he's the rare economic power-player in Washington who didn't fully cash in after leaving government service. He might be the wrong guy for this game of political/policy football.
Last month, I reported that Mother Jones, several other media outlets, and a few citizen activists have been waiting for over two years for the state of Alaska to release emails Sarah Palin received and sent when she was governor. During the 2008 campaign, we each filed requests under Alaska's open records law for these materials, but the governor's office has repeatedly requested extensions from the state attorney general. And all the requests have been granted. But the work has proceeded. In the two years since the requests were filed, the governor's office has located and/or recovered 26,553 pages of emails to and from Palin (including some to and from private email accounts she used for state business). The state, though, won't release the material until all the records are reviewed by the state Department of Law. As of mid-December, that office had only evaluated 7,400 pages—less than one-third of the haul. The slow pace of review made it seem that the emails might not be made public until after the 2012 presidential election.
But late last year, state Attorney General David Sullivan demanded that the governor's office submit a work plan that would state when the request would be finished, and now there's a target date: May 31, 2011. On December 27, 2011, Linda Perez, the administrative director of the governor's office, notified the current attorney general, John Burns, that the Department of Law estimates it will complete its review of the emails by March 31, 2011. (The department has beefed up its review team.) Perez added that her office would then need an additional two months to consult with the lawyers about what material to withhold or redact.
There is, of course, wiggle room in these estimates. Perez noted that the spring will be a particularly busy time, with the state legislature in session. So it would be no surprise if the governor's office were to request an extension beyond May 31. But as the end of this process approaches, another question emerges: what will the state keep secret? Months before Palin was tapped by Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee, to be his running mate in 2008, her office declined to release 1,100 emails from two Palin aides in response to an open records request filed by citizen activist Andrée McLeod. The state claimed that these emails were exempt because they concerned confidential policy matters. Yet a list of the subject headings of the withheld emails referred to non-policy and political matters, suggesting that the state had taken a decidedly liberal interpretation of the available exemptions.
Might that happen again? First, we'll have to see if the state meets the May 31 date.
I've previously explained the DC Ticker I compile most days, which is now being featured weekly on ABC News' website show, Political Punch, hosted by Jake Tapper. Here are the picks featured on the latest PP:
* Joe Lieberman, buy — As a leading proponent for repealing Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the senator whom progressives love to hate scored a major progressive victory. Time to kiss and make up?
* John McCain, sell — It's one thing to be a cranky flip-flopper who wins a political battle; it's quite another to be a cranky flip-flopper who loses. The repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell showed the limitations of McCain's curmudgeonly influence.
* Jon Kyl, sell — The White House appears confident it will win ratification of the START treaty--and that's only possible by rolling Kyl.
* Pete Rouse, buy — Does it seem the White House is running a little smoother these days? Or is it just the eggnog?
You can receive the almost-daily DC Ticker report by following my Twitter feed. (#DCticker is the Twitter hashtag.) Please feel free to argue with my selections—though all decisions of the judges are final. And please feel free to make suggestions for buy or sell orders in the comments below or on Twitter (by replying to @DavidCornDC).
DC Ticker is merely an advisory service. It and its author cannot be held liable for any investments made in politicians, policy wonks,or government officials on the basis of the information presented. Invest in politics at your own risk.
Richard Perle, the veteran neocon hawk who helped cheerlead the United States into the Iraq war, is back. As the fight intensifies over ratifying the START treaty limiting the nuclear stockpiles of the US and Russia, Perle has emerged as a prominent conservative voice urging Senate Republicans to say no to the treaty. Writing on the National Review's website this week, he and Kim Holmes of the Heritage Foundation slam the treaty "as a throwback to the Cold War paradigm, a bilateral treaty in a multilateral world." Perle, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, insists that the treaty "threatens our freedom to deploy ballistic-missile defense," and he contends "that the Russians need this treaty, while we do not."
Perle has been trading on his past experience as a Reagan defense official to back up his gripes about the START treaty, noting in a recent Wall Street Journalcolumn (co-written with Edwin Meese III, Reagan's attorney general) that when he was with Reagan during a summit in Iceland with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he watched Reagan ditch "an otherwise desirable treaty with the Soviet Union precisely because it would have impeded work on his Strategic Defense Initiative." (Five former GOP secretaries of state—Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Colin Powell—say the new START agreement does not block US missile defense.) And in an interview with a conservative website, Perle again played the Reagan card, maintaining that this START accord is "certainly not the kind of treaty Ronald Reagan fought for and accomplished."