Could Chris Cox's coziness with the business community he'd be in charge of regulating at the SEC prove a liability for President Bush? An article on Cox in the latest issue of The New Republic makes a compelling case for this possibility. Outgoing SEC Chairman Bill Donaldson was perceived to be tough enough on corporate wrongdoing that Bush could claim his administration was providing meaningful oversight. If a corporate giant trips up on Cox's watch, it could serve as a confirmation of what polls  show many voters already believe: The president favors corporate interests over the public interest. And could prove his undoing.
Clay Risen's fine article—sorry, subscription only—ends with a zinger of a quote from an anonymous "SEC insider." About Bush's choice, the insider says:
"At best, it's a success for the business lobby. At worst, it's an enormous success for them, and a disaster for the nation and shareholders."
Overall, Risen echoes the widespread concern—noted last week on TomPaine.com  by Lee Drutman—that the reign of Cox at the SEC would usher in a new era of lax oversight for corporate America. <!--StartFragment --> But Risen's real insight is his warning to the president. Risen writes:
Bush's decision could very easily—and very quickly—come back to hurt him and his party. This is particularly true if, as is expected, Cox pursues an aggressive agenda.
Risen goes on to quote investor advocate Barbara Roper:
"The fact that Donaldson had a credible regulatory reform agenda left Democrats with no effective message about the Bush presidency being weak on investor protection or corporate crime. He really did insulate the administration against that criticism."
<!--StartFragment -->Without Donaldson, Risen points out, Bush is defenseless. It almost makes you want another Enron—a scandal that will expose the Bush administration to the nation as nestled securely in the back pocket of the business community. And will tarnish the GOP in the process. It also makes you hope, of course, that when and if this happens, Democrats themselves can profit from it—meaning that Dems can make a believable case to voters that they are the champions of the public interest over the corporate interest.