Prominent Democrat and presidential campaign consultant Bob Shrum has an, uh, interesting column in The Week defending former Goldman Sachs CEO, U.S. senator, and New Jersey governor Jon Corzine. As you might also recall, Corzine has been in the news lately because his latest Wall Street venture, MF Global, collapsed amid very serious accusations of illegal conduct, taking hundreds of millions of investor dollars with it.
But according to Shrum, this MF Global unpleasantness shouldn't obscure what really matters--that Jon Corzine is a good progressive:
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.
Corzine, one of the most principled and capable people I met in 40 years in politics, is a genuine progressive who ran for office for all the right reasons. He did so many right things. And now he's been turned into a poster boy for all that's wrong with Wall Street. Jon Stewart called Corzine "the one man [who] could embody the corporate-government-industrial complex in all its clusterf***-itude."
I admire what he accomplished and what he stood for in public service. For the moment, that's been wiped away by the events at MF Global. 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.
A lot of his friends know this; I just thought someone should say it.
If you can't become CEO of Goldman Sachs, blow $62 million buying yourself a Senate seat, then spend one-term as governor bringing New jersey to the brink of fiscal ruin, and finally end up implicated at the center of one of the largest scandals in Wall Street history without having to suffer the slings and arrows of The Daily Show... then the world has finally gone mad, hasn't it?
Let's look at this another way--imagine the following headlines:
"Despite Katrina Mishaps Michael Brown was a terrific head of of the International Arabian Horse Association"
--Horse and Hound magazine
"Despite the unfortunate Lana Clarkson matter we shouldn't forget Phil Spector's contributions to music"
"Sandusky's alleged conduct should not be allowed to obscure his contributions to Penn State football program"
--Pittsburgh Post Gazette
This defense is also unfortunate coming from Shrum, who's in large part responsible for launching John Edwards's career. I wouldn't necessarily blame him for Edwards's failings, except for the fact that Shrum helped put him on a Democratic presidential ticket even though by his own admission he must have had serious misgivings about Edwards's integrity long before the National Enquirer started raising questions.
Meanwhile, back in the real world where integrity means something beyond having agreeable political views, Zero Hedge reports that Ann Barnhardt of Barnhardt Capital Managment has voluntarily shut down her hedge fund because "the entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse." Here's the relevant excerpt from her letter announcing her decision: