Saturday, July 10, 2004

If it wasn't for lawyers

Daniel Gross argues that lawyers—derided by the business-friendly and secrecy-obsessed White House “as enemies of free enterprise and the state”—are emerging as the true heroes of the Enron debacle. “Bush's MBA administration proved itself singularly unequipped to deal with the cascade of bankruptcies, accounting scandals, and Wall Street conflicts that exploded in 2001,” Gross writes. In this responsibility vacuum, lawyers “have proved to be the most effective tools—perhaps the only effective tool—for making the Bush government work.”
Bush, and many of his surrogates, can't make political hay out of this great coup. Every development in the Enron saga becomes an occasion to rehash the many links between Bush, the Bush administration, and Enron—and inconveniently close to the elections. (Salon conveniently dusts them off here.) And it's difficult to criticize trial lawyers for destroying Americans' businesses when Enron stands as an example of how a bunch of greedy MBAs from Texas sunk a giant American corporation all by themselves—or to bash lawyers when, as the Enron Task Force shows, they're the only potent weapon the government has against corporate corruption.
Also, an excellent piece at BillMon (solid piece of writing, as usual) laying out the history between Enron, Lay, the GOP, and the Bushes (I & II). The Whitewater "scandal" is quaint by comparison.