Obama and the Captains of Industry

The Delmarva Media Group is running a short op-ed item about Obama meeting with the captains of American industry:

Sen. Barack Obama has been meeting secretly with heavy industry CEOs in Washington to discuss issues that he would face as president.

On the campaign trail, Obama has been highly critical of corporate executives and promised them nothing but tougher regulation and higher taxes. But the unannounced, small evening sessions with them since he clinched the Democratic nomination have been nonconfrontational and cordial.

Obama scheduled the meetings without any hopes of winning the captains of industry over from Sen. John McCain, but to show them they would be able to do business with him in the White House and that the president’s door would be open to the corporate leaders. Their consensus was that he has largely succeeded in that purpose.

This is another example in a long list of cases where people’s misconceptions about Obama change after greater exposure to him and his views. I’m referring to the writer of this op-ed as well as the corporate executives. Those who have read Obama’s work and paid close attention to the influence of University of Chicago economists on his views would not characterize Obama as is done in the second paragraph. The ultimate conclusion is probably correct. Top business executives will vote more for McCain just as they vote Republican every year, but I also think that many have already seen through the stereotypes generally promoted by the right.

I’ve known businessmen who both concede that business does better under Democrats than Republicans but continue to vote Republican. The tendency for the stock market to also do better under Democrats might also help to reduce their fears of a Democratic president.

I fear there will be a handful on the left who will also point to this to claim that Obama is some sort of Republican turncoat. (That is also a segment of the left which tends to be as out of touch with reality as those who still think that George Bush has been a good president.) Obama’s willingness to meet with all segments of society and consider a wide variety of viewpoints is exactly why many of us back him despite how new he is to the political scene. We can be certain that Obama meeting with business leaders is quite different from some notable cases of Republicans doing so, such as with Dick Cheney’s energy task force. It is one thing to discuss their concerns and to understand the importance of business to America . It is quite different to pursue a course of corporate welfare as we’ve seen under the Republicans.

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