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Then and Now: Obama Officials React to Enron, Solyndra

At the National Review, Rich Lowry makes the connection between the Bush/Enron and Obama/Solyndra controversies. He also notes the difference in the media coverage of the two stories (guess which one was hyped more?):

President Bush was flayed for the Enron bankruptcy, based on his tenuous ties to the firm. If the same media rules applied, Solyndra would be Obama’s Enron, given his active promotion of the company and his lavish funding of it. A prodigious Obama-Biden fundraiser is a major backer of the failed concern.

It’s not just the media that has lost its appetite for wild speculation about the cozy connection between the (Bush) White House and scandal-ridden corporations. Several current Obama administration officials were also eager to make political hay out of Enron in 2002, despite the fact there was zero evidence Bush had given assistance to the company.

Here’s then-Senator Biden appearing to relish the thought of a Bush-Enron connection during a January 13, 2002 interview with Tim Russert on “Meet the Press”:

“My sense is this could be very big, Tim…If it turns out to be true that the Enron execs got out and they let the bag be held by their employees and the average stockholder then there’s going to be heck to pay, number one. Number two, if there was any, any involvement because of the incredible help the Bush campaign got from Enron here, it will be–I don’t know that there has been–but it will be devastating,” said Biden.

And what about White House spokesperson Jay Carney, who said earlier this month failures like Solyndra are “just the way business works, and everybody recognizes that?”

Back when Carney was reporting on the Enron case for Time magazine, he seemed slightly more concerned about the ties between the Bush administration and the failing company:

At the White House last week junior aides were asking Washington veterans whether they will have to hire lawyers because they attended meetings in which Enron issues were discussed. Answer: probably not—but the question shows the level of concern. Though there has been no evidence of anything illegal, Enron enjoyed considerable influence from the start of the Bush administration.

According to Carney circa 2002, the Enron scandal foiled Bush’s attempt to reach out to the common man:

It was supposed to be a week in which George Bush made common cause with the common man, a week of speeches and photo ops to show that the president who whipped the Taliban could also save our jobs and fix our schools. But when a gust of news blew the Enron mess from the business section to the front page, the country saw a tense, cautious president trying his best to distance himself from one of his biggest campaign contributors, the friend he used to call “Kenny Boy.” In the Oval Office on Thursday, Bush told reporters he hadn’t seen “Mr. Lay” since last spring.

Good thing the media isn’t sensing any similar problems on the horizon for Obama’s jobs push yet.



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