Posted by Lissa on May 25, 2010
In case you missed it — as several major papers seemed to do — Nina Easton wrote a story last week about the SEIU pouring in to intimidate her neighbor Greg Baer, who is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America. They didn’t organize a letter-campaign, or a bumper-sticker onslought, oh no; they poured onto his lawn and front porch while his 14-year-old son was home alone.
Now, Ye Olde Financial Company has a Legal department. (Duh.) I’m not sure we have someone with a “deputy general counsel” title, but I’ve met folks that fill that role. They advise what’s legal for YOFC and what steps must be taken to be in compliance with financial law. They negotiate with the SEC to make sure that they’re okay with how YOFC is conducting business.
They’re not at the top of the chain of command.
Not even close.
So why in hell would 14 busloads of purple-shirted protesters trek down to this guy’s house to make a statement? What good did they think it would do? How did they justify it?
While Easton’s coverage was very sympathetic to her neighbor, which I found unsurprising, I took note of her concluding paragraphs:
Of course, HuffPost readers responding to the coverage assumed that Baer was an evil former Bush official. He’s not. A lifelong Democrat, Baer worked for the Clinton Treasury Department, and his wife, Shirley Sagawa, author of the book The American Way to Change and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, is a prominent national service advocate.
In the 1990s, the Baers’ former bosses, Bill and Hillary Clinton, denounced the “politics of personal destruction.” Today politicians and their voters of all stripes grieve the ugly bitterness that permeates our policy debates. Now, with populist rage providing a useful cover, it appears we’ve crossed into a new era: The politics of personal intimidation.
Was Easton implying that if Baer was an “evil former Bush official” that the protest would have been acceptable? I hope not. Perhaps she was implying that the HuffPo readership would have reacted differently if they’d known he was a Clintonite. You be the judge.
I don’t have any kids, let alone teenagers of my own, so I can’t say I’m reacting as a parent. But if I had to make a guess at how I’d feel if my son were marooned on an island surrounded by screaming bullhorns and waving signs, I’d think of two words:
Followed quickly by two more:
P.S. Media Matters pointed out that Easton had a conflict of interest; she should have disclosed that her husband works for Stevens and Schriefer Group, a strategic communications group, one of whose clients is the Business Round Table, one of whose members is the Bank of America CEO. Big Journalism points out in turn that the Business Round Table hasn’t been a client of SSG in a decade.