A major newspaper connected the role of a top-tiered Democratic presidential candidate at a hedge fund with the ruined lives of millions of Americans.
On Friday, the Washington Post painted John Edwards in a picture of contradiction and hypocrisy. Noting his brief stint as a senior advisor to the investment firm Fortress Investment Group, the article reported that the former North Carolina senator became a "major player in the high-risk mortgage sector Edwards has pilloried in his presidential campaign."
Major? Major indictments from a windy paper. The Post ought to be cited for reckless and negligent operation of an adjective.
Before Edwards was hired there in 2005, Fortress owned a whopping 4 percent holdings in Green Tree Servicing LLC, a subprime lending firm. Subprime lending targets buyers with poor credit history, and it often charges higher interest rates or hidden rate hikes. Four percent!
Ninety-six percent of the company's portfolio had nothing to do with subprime lending. When compared with investment firms whose portfolios consist of 50-90 percent holdings in subprime and predatory lending firms, Fortress looks like a saint.
I'm not rushing to defend investment firms, almost all of whom benefit from world-wide inequality and injustice. I'm simply questioning the motives and discretion of the Washington Post.
The Post is splashing "major" indictments against Edwards all over its front pages. Last month the Post "discovered" that Fortress is using the types of offshore tax breaks Edwards has criticized as a presidential candidate.
This article tries to rub Edwards's nose into the woes of this country. "Largely as a result of the rise in subprime lending and the cooling housing market," the Post laments, "home foreclosure filings rose to 1.2 million in 2006, an increase of 42 percent."
"That's your fault John Edwards," the Post seems to scream. "It's your fault that the predatory loan business ever began. It's your fault, and you can't try to fix it because we won't let you forget that you created the problem in the first place. You forced all those poor families out of their homes! How could you do that?"
The Washington Post should focus on the real causes of America's woes. We have a vice president shelling millions of dollars worth of tax payer money into Halliburton, a company he formerly ran. We have rampant free trade deals moving American jobs offshore. We have a broken health care system and a fast commitment to global warming.
These woes have worsened on the watch of former Republican majority politicians who are not John Edwards.