Friday, November 18, 2011

Shrum a Corzine Panegyrist?


Bob Shrum--a man who has demonstrated a keen political mind in the past, even if fundamentally wrong--has come out with a piece defending Jon Corzine in The Week. Shrum shows his hand in the opening paragraph:
Friendship has its claims; so does fairness. And in the wake of the bankruptcy of brokerage firm MF Global, the media's portrayal of Jon Corzine, MF's ex-CEO and a former Democratic senator and governor in New Jersey, strikes me as profoundly unfair — and not just because he's a friend.
From there, he traces Corzine's political career, noting again and again what a principled man Corzine was and is. But he says little about MF Global, instead urging caution before rushing to judgment, and actually predicting vindication for Corzine in the end:
I don't know precisely what happened there — and by the way, neither do all those who are rushing to judgment not just about the firm, but about the man. I know Jon Corzine. He was a client who became a friend. Again and again in politics, I've seen his integrity and his commitment to high standards. And I believe that after all the headlines fade, and the process comes to an end, that is one thing about him that will not change.
To read Shrum, one would think that the criticism Corzine is receiving is somehow misplaced and based on assumption, alone. But that's nonsense. We know--for instance--that Corzine was the one that pushed the risk envelope for MF Global in an attempt to remake it in Goldman Sachs' image. And we know that Corzine got preferential treatment for MF Global from the New York Federal Reserve, thanks to political connections, treatment that it clearly did not deserve. And we know that in the weeks before the collapse of MF Global, Corzine was still touting the company, claiming that it was fully prepared for whatever might happen in Europe and remained strong.

Beyond all of that, MF Global under Corzine exemplifies the greed of the elite writ small. After screwing up an entire State, Corzine set out to make himself a bundle...because after all, he's a man of modest means, right? And in order to do so, he seemingly ignored every lesson learned from the mortgage meltdown. That's not a man of deep principles, it's a man of profound arrogance. Shrum's arguments are clearly those of a dear friend, trying to defend the indefensible, nothing more.

Cheers, all.

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