FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Martha Stewart in Chains and Paul Wellstone in Agony

Alas: the pitter-pat of shuffling feet on the stair that Martha Stewart hears each day when she awakes is not the stirring of guests invited for a festive country weekend; it’s the SEC closing in. Last month ImClone boss and “family friend” Sam Waksal (her daughter’s boyfriend, later her own) took his perp walk for the cameras on insider trading charges. A few days later the story was that the Feds had turned at least one of Stewart’s own pals, a woman who flew to Mexico with Martha on Stewart’s private jet the day her ImClone sale was executed.

Delicious, isn’t it? Martha summed up better than anyone the consumption side of the long ’90s boom. Not least among her achievements, she figured out how to play both ends of the street. To the masses who bought up her branded Kmart merchandise she peddled a vain and costly domestic fantasy; to the moneyed would-be gentry she offered a practical primer on the good life. It proved so lucrative in part because it tapped a market-driven article of faith rigorously foisted on fortunates and unfortunates alike in the ’80s and ’90s: There really is nothing you can’t buy if you’ve got the money-style, grace, dignity, domestic tranquility, you name it. At bottom, like all timeless hucksters, she was selling a sense of personal completeness and substance.

Turns out it was all pretend, right down to the paper fortune Stewart amassed during her day in the sun. So far her stock in her own company has dropped over $300 million in value, and she may be facing time in one of those minimum-security facilities whose d?cor she could do so much to enliven. All this over a smarmy little insider transaction that saved her about $200,000 in stock losses. If you aren’t gratified by what’s become of Martha Stewart, you just aren’t paying attention.

Don’t bet she’ll scrape by on the strength of her money and clout. If the order of the day is a few show trials to quiet public outrage, what prosecution could possibly be showier than Martha’s? One can already imagine the indictment, the death-plunge of MSO stock, even the eventual plea agreement, filed on the finest linen stationery with inlaid flowers pressed by Martha herself.

AFTER LAST MONTH’S column on Paul Wellstone’s silence concerning the business scandals, I got a testy email from a Wellstone staffer, larded with press release attachments that demonstrated the senator’s fierce and fearless leadership. Wellstone has spoken against corporate abuses on the Senate floor, I was informed, not once but twice-and, more impressive still, he spoke forcefully each time.

Naturally I felt mortified at my own hubris. Who was I to criticize Wellstone’s leadership just because I hadn’t heard a peep about it myself? Had I scoured the full menu of his press releases? Had I pored over member comments on the Senate floor? No. But in my own paltry way I did try. I looked at various news archives and Wellstone’s own Senate website. Before its content was frozen by election rules round about early July, it contained no word about corporate accountability that I could find, not even one of the press releases-each surely more forceful than the last!-that are the sine qua non of his leadership. All I can say is that I’m sorry, Paul, and in the future I’ll bear in mind that the mere fact of being invisible doesn’t make you any less a leader.

Now, in mid-August, Wellstone’s campaign website is screaming boardroom larceny front and center. Lovely. Better late than never, and better a little than nothing at all: That’s the central refrain of Wellstone’s Senate career and the only credible slogan on behalf of his re-election campaign. I’ll still vote for him if I vote at all, but I won’t venture out just to pull the lever for Paul. And in that I doubt I’m alone.

The other day I spoke with Bill Hillsman, the political ad consultant who played a vital role in electing Wellstone the first time. “I was thinking about some of the ads we just murdered Boschwitz with in ’90,” Hillsman smiled ruefully, “the print ads where we talked about his being in the Senate for 12 years and never getting anything done. And I thought to myself, good Lord, what would happen if someone did that same ad now with respect to Wellstone’s record? It would probably be no better, maybe in some cases worse.”

Steve Perry is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch and a columnist for The Rake. He can be reached at: sperry@mn.rr.com

More articles by:
August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail