The Independence Institute has announced that it plans to raise $20,000 in order to run a full-page ad in the Denver Post. The libertarian think tank wants to honor former Denver Mayor Federico Pena for his work as a venture capitalist and an equity manager that, like Bain Capital, was responsible for rewarding successful businesses and shutting down failing ones. What is particularly interesting about Pena though is that he is a co-chair of the Obama for America reelection campaign.
What The Independence Institute hopes to accomplish with its ad is to highlight that a chief member of the Obama campaign has made his money in the exact way that Mitt Romney has made his. The Denver Post has previously ignored the story, but Institute President, Jon Caldara, wants to run the ad in the Post to “educate Post readers to the importance of capitalism.” The ironic “congratulations” to Pena would exemplify how dishonest it is for the Obama campaign to continually demonize and belittle Mitt Romney for making his millions as a venture capitalist, when one of their own—a chairman of the campaign no less—has made lots of money doing the very same thing. It would point to the hypocrisy without specifically saying it, even crediting Pena for contributing to making specific companies stronger by telling him: “You built that”. The irony is pretty hard to ignore.
Caldara has promised to spend any money that they raise on some form of public awareness, but his primary goal is to get the full-page Post ad. Caldara claims that the paper originally quoted him a price of $6,800 to run the ad, but tripled the price once they saw the concept art. Not surprisingly, the irony wasn’t lost on the Post, even though the ad never once mentions Mitt Romney or Bain Capital. Caldara himself is quick to point out that the ad isn’t necessarily meant to be a partisan plea for either party, but is simply trying to tell the whole story regarding the financial history of one of Obama’s “main men.” The Institute simply wants it to be known that Obama for America has its own “vulture capitalist” working for an Obama reelection. It is a brilliant tactic.
It should be obvious that The Independence Institute is on to something here. Every paper across the country could be running similar ads about local politicians and vocal Obama supporters who have “built that” in their own careers. Wealthy liberals and big-government supporters have often made their money as capitalists before turning into spineless redistributionists. The Denver Post ad could be a catalyst to hundreds, even thousands, of stories in communities across the country about individuals who want to penalize others who make money in much the same way as they did. When two “superstar” politicians are vying for the public attention, it is mostly impersonal, but when a local politician or businessman is being spotlighted for his hypocrisy, the contrast becomes more obvious. Perhaps the Institute is showing the way for local groups to make their voice heard about the Obama hypocrisy in a local way. It certainly can’t hurt to try.