Topic: Washington Examiner
With Mark Tapscott's May 28 column, the Washington Examiner is the latest ConWeb outlet to promote the right-wing conspiracy that the Obama administration is deliberately targeting Republican-owned Chrysler dealers for closure.
While Tapscott claimed that the assertions that bubbled up from the right-wing blogosphere "were all couched with important qualifiers," he quickly dismisses them: "That said, when multiple dealers who have been closed are found to have contributed millions to Republicans and mere hundreds to Obama, the serious number-crunching cannot be completed too soon."
But as we've detailed, auto dealers are disproportionately owned by Republicans, so it's utterly unsurprising that many closing Chrysler dealers are also owned by Republicans.
Tapscott did add an update to the online version of his column citing someone claiming that "more Chrysler dealers in general are likely to be Republican contributors, which would mean more of the closed dealers would be seen to be GOP supporters than Democrat supporters." But he still wants to cling to the conspiracy even as it's discredited before his eyes:
But two points should be noted here. First, even if we accept the proposition that most car dealers are more likely to be Republican than Democratic donors, there would still be a "disparate impact" from closings on one class of dealers, compared to the other. When the federal courts see a disparate impact on racial groups, the policy or action in question is typically held to be inappropriate.
Race and car dealer closings, of course, aren't analogous. But the lesson remains that when government makes economic decisions that ought to be left to the private market, it is impossible to avoid disparate impacts. And there is always the question of would the Obama White House be so quick to close hundreds of dealerships if the owners of those dealerships were predominantly Democratic donors?
Second, since neither Chrysler, nor the White House have made public the criteria used to select dealers for elimination - and because a significant number of those being closed were profitable - the only way to resolve the inevitable controversy about political considerations in political decisions is to make the criteria public and allow independent outside observers to assess how those criteria were applied.
Tapscott isn't content with echoing one baseless right-wing smear in his column, however -- he also adheres to the dictates of the noise machine in claiming that Obama is acting like a mobster:
In other words, companies that want to prosper in the anti-capitalist world Obama is creating in America will first have to make their peace with Big Labor before heading to Washington hat-and-checkbooks-in-hand to seek favor from the strong men in the White House and their enforcers in the Treasury Department and elsewhere in the executive branch.
Obama calls it “change we can believe in.” Vito Corleone called it “making them an offer they can’t refuse.”
UPDATE: Nate Silver details just how disproportionately car dealers are Repubican. Will Tapscott get around to telling his readers about that anytime soon?
UPDATE 2: In a later update, Tapscott acknowledges Silver's analysis, but he's not willing to loosen his grip on the conspiracy:
That's true, of course, but I'm not sure that it ends the discussion. In fact, it may even make the discussion of possible partisan considerations behind the closings even more relevant. Think of it this way: If 88 percent of all car dealers were Democratic contributors, rather than GOPers, how likely is it that the Obama folks would be delivering such an egregious economic blow to the group, a blow that put thousands of people out of work and deprives hundreds of Democratic donors of their means of making contributions?