Frank Savage's record is appalling, even by the standards
of Enron board members. He is a director of the investment firm Alliance Capital
Management (he also chaired one of its divisions), which until recently was
Enron's largest institutional investor. Alliance was nearly the last to get out
of Enron: The firm bought large blocks of stock on August 15, 2001 -- the day
after CEO Jeffrey Skilling resigned -- and continued to buy even after Enron's
October 22 announcement that it was under investigation by the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC).
One of the more frustrating Republican talking points is the politically advantageous assertion that Enron's collapse, far from being a scandal, actually vindicates the free-market system. "That companies like Enron go bankrupt," National Review lectured recently, "is a sign that markets work." Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill hailed its collapse as "the genius of capitalism." And as Ken Lay sat glumly before Congress recently, while news spread that six Enron directors would resign, it probably sounded like a reasonable point. After all, who would let Lay or Enron's directors run their business? You wouldn't trust Wendy Gramm to balance your checkbook, would you? They're finished, done, kaput, right?
While the nation focuses on the still-contested presidential election Ralph Nader threw into question, the effect his campaign had on Democrats running for Congress has gone largely unnoticed. From the outset of his effort, Nader argued that even if his candidacy stole votes from Al Gore, it would mobilize progressive voters to support Democratic congressional candidates once they'd pulled the lever for Nader. "I would prefer a Democratic House," Nader assured voters as recently as September. "I really would."
Even as American voters have entertained the prospect of electing a "compassionate conservative" as president, there is little evidence the public is in a conservative mood. In fact, an unusual poll conducted this summer suggests that Americans hold liberal views on important taxing-and-spending issues.