“Peter Lucas unfairly attacks Elizabeth Warren” by Mike Luciano

Regular reader and sometimes contributor Mike Luciano sent this post about a recent column in our local newspaper:

The last time I wrote a critical post about a Peter Lucas column, I told myself I was going to leave the poor guy alone. After all, it’s not his fault that he seems totally incapable of thinking about serious national problems without resorting to the worst clichés our political discourse has to offer. I figured that a retired state employee who collects a government pension while getting paid to rail against government in the Lowell Sun has enough issues without some smartass like me hassling him unmercifully.

But all that went out the window when Lucas recently began wailing away on US Senate candidate and Democratic frontrunner Elizabeth Warren. It isn’t that he regularly attacks Warren; it’s the manner in which he does it. Like his columns about Barack Obama and Deval Patrick, they are cursory hit pieces bereft of anything that could be called a substantive argument. It may not seem like a big deal, but Lucas is a columnist for the city’s only newspaper. That he uses his space to invoke and largely rely on the most hackneyed political rhetoric does a great disservice to the readership, and I would even go so far as to say it constitutes an abuse of his privileged position. And that’s why he gets me so fired up.

Elizabeth Warren is a Harvard law professor, the former head of the congressional panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and a former advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A helpful way to assess Warren’s suitability for the US Senate would be to examine her proposals for policing Wall Street, her views on job creation, and other relevant matters. But doing this requires a little research, understanding, and thought—activities that don’t seem to interest our favorite columnist. Hence we get lines such as,

“Like her hero Barack Obama, [Warren] is an academic, a faculty lounge liberal who takes ivory-tower pleasure in attacking corporations, banks and Wall Street, while she milks them for heavy-duty campaign contributions.”

What is a “faculty lounge liberal”? What does it mean to take “ivory-tower pleasure” in something? Using phrases like these and leaving the reader to figure it out shows that Lucas isn’t interested in winning anyone over to his side, or even having an intelligent discussion for that matter. No, the function of his columns is to preach to the congregation and no one else.

Even worse, Lucas trashes the Occupy Wall Street movements for being “anti-capitalist” and speaking “gibberish,” while defending those very Wall Street institutions that crashed the global economy just three years ago. He also applauds the Oakland Police Department’s brutal tear-gas and baton assault on protestors there, which left several injured including an Iraq war veteran. I will leave it to you to imagine Lucas’s reaction had the protesters been members of the Tea Party.

Lucas’s attempt to make a pro-capitalist case against Warren by citing her anti-Wall Street cred demonstrates two key things: 1) The man is way out of touch. According to a poll conducted earlier this month, 70% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Wall Street, including 59% of conservative Republicans; and 2) Lucas seems to regard Wall Street institutions as triumphs of capitalism, when in reality, they are a monument to cronyism, favoritism, interventionism, bailouts, fraud, and market manipulation. To cite just one example, large banks borrow money from the Federal Reserve at 0% interest, and then loan the money to borrowers at five, ten, twenty percent interest. Oftentimes, these same banks will borrow money from the Fed at 0%, and then buy US government debt with higher yields. It’s downright farcical, and it’s easy to look like a master abritrageur and titan of capitalism when you can borrow money for nothing. Not to mention, it was only three years ago when US taxpayers financed a multitrillion dollar bailout of the financial services sector. Yet this does not give Lucas pause when it comes to defending the big banks and taking potshots at Warren, who was actually one of the few people in Washington who wanted to hold both Wall Street and the government accountable for the gargantuan publicly-funded bailout boondoggle.

That’s because in Lucasland, details don’t matter; only generalizations and platitudes about liberals this, elitists that, Harvard, labor unions, and other leftist goblins that go bump in the night. And if Peter Lucas thinks that I am being unfair to his position on Wall Street and Elizabeth Warren’s attempts to rein it in, I invite him to respond on this site. I sincerely would like to know how, in light of what has happened in a few short years, a person can believe that everything on Wall Street is just super, and that the earnest efforts of Elizabeth Warren and others like Occupy Wall Street to hold the largest financial institutions accountable constitute an unfair assault on these banks and capitalism in general.

I will wait for a response, but dare not hold my breath.