FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 22, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Media and the Military Mindset
John Davis
The Real Megxit Deal
John O'Kane
The Obama Legacy: Reform Versus Revolution
Kenneth Surin
The “Evolving” Scotty Morrison From Marketing
Martin Billheimer
“The Cops & the Klan Go Hand in Hand!”
Thomas Knapp
Executive Power: Alan Dershowitz’s Imagination Versus the Constitution
Jacob G. Hornberger
Egypt and the Destruction of Civil Liberties in America
Justin Podur
The People of Colombia are Cracking the Walls of War and Authoritarianism
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson
Our Final Decade to Get Climate Policy Right
Jonah Raskin
Terence Hallinan: Fighter for the People and for the Legalization of Marijuana 
Colin Todhunter
Challenging the Flawed Premise Behind Pushing GMOs into Indian Agriculture
January 21, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Warmonger Cotton Accuses Antiwar Think Tank of Anti-Semitism
John Feffer
Trump Makes Space Great Again
Patrick Cockburn
The US and Iran’s Perpetual Almost-War is Unsustainable – and Will End Badly
James C. Nelson
Another Date That Will Live in Infamy: 10 Years After Citizens United
Robert Fisk
Iran Will be Changed Forever by Admitting Its Great Mistake, Unlike the West Which Ignores Its Own Misdeeds
Dean Baker
Did Shareholders’ Benefit by Paying Boeing’s Fired CEO $62 Million?
Susan Roberts
The Demise of the Labour Party and the Future For UK Socialism
Binoy Kampmark
Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision
David Levin
The Teamster Revolt Against the Hoffa Era
Victor Grossman
Defender and Spearheads
Russell Mokhiber
BS Public Editor and the Disease of Contempt
Tiffany Muller
Get the Money Out of Politics: 10 Years After Citizens United
Laura Flanders
Iowa is Not the Twitterverse
Graham Peebles
Education: Expanding Purpose
Elliot Sperber
Handball in Brooklyn 
January 20, 2020
Paul Street
Trump Showed Us Who He Was Before He Became President
Eric Mann
Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Ipek S. Burnett
MLK and the Ghost of an Untrue Dream
Mark Harris
Better Living Through Glyphosate? Spray Now, Ask Questions Later
Katie Fite
Owyhee Initiative Wilderness and Public Lands Deal Critique: Ten Years After
Thomas Knapp
A Loophole for the Lawless: “Qualified Immunity” Must Go
REZA FIYOUZAT
Best Enemies Forever: The Iran-U.S. Kabuki Show
Jeff Mackler
Worldwide Furor Sparked by U.S. Assassination of Iran’s General Suleimani
William deBuys
The Humanitarian and Environmental Disaster of Trump’s Border Wall
Binoy Kampmark
A Matter of Quality: Air Pollution, Tennis and Sporting Officialdom
James Haught
GOP Albatross
Jill Richardson
Why Do We Have School Lunch Debt at All?
Robert Koehler
Nuclear Hubris
Patrick T. Hiller
Instead of Real-Time Commentary, Eight Common-Sense Reason for Not Going to War with Iran
Charles Andrews
A Note on Carlos Ghosn and Global Capitalism
Jeffrey St. Clair
Some Trees: Los Angeles
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail