Payne: Durant gets slimed

Posted by hpayne on August 1, 2012

Payne: Durant gets slimed

Henry Payne/ The Michigan

The American political system’s War on Success added admired Detroit businessman Clark Durant’s head to its target list this week as both Democratic Party Chief Heavy Mark Brewer and Durant’s Senate rival piled on Durant for. . . the pay he receives as founder of Detroit’s Cornerstone Schools.

We’re not making this up. Build one of America’s most admired private equity firms and get smeared as a “vulture capitalist.” Pioneer charter school choice for the worst public school district in America and get sued as a tax cheat.

Is it any wonder Americans loath politics?

The Durant attack by Brewer/Hoekstra follows the pattern of the Gingrich/Obama tag team on Mitt Romney: Mudball your opponent with cheap appeals to envy. Never mind that Durant’s Cornerstone Schools have led a revolution in helping Detroit schoolchildren escape Motown’s nightmare. Never mind that he is a fundraising machine for Cornerstone, raising tens of millions of dollars to expand an education model that graduated a remarkable 95 percent of its inner city students from high school.

Class warfare has become a tired Democratic refrain. But Brewer’s over-the-top. Durant’s-pay-is-illegal hunting expedition of a GOP opponent running IN SECOND PLACE in the Republican primary is a telling comment on how much Democrats fear a Durant campaign against Debbie “I feel global warming when I fly” Stabenow.

Meanwhile, the growing Republican instinct to eat their own is plenty troubling as well. Where two candidates – Durant and Hoekstra – are similar in their political philosophies, apparently all that’s left is to destroy each other personally. Maybe Durant “started it” by unfairly smeared Hoekstra as a “birther” earlier this spring. There is clearly no love lost between the two men. And so into the mud they go.

But Hoekstra’s taking up Brewer’s class-warfare line against Durant smacks of the much-maligned tactics of Newt Gingrich against frontrunner Mitt Romney in party primaries. Except that Hoekstra is the front-runner, not Durant. And how does class warfare resonate with the GOP primary base exactly?

Durant is well paid for his efforts because two of Detroit’s selfless philanthropists, Bill Pulte and Bruce Becker, think he’s worth it. That’s a crime?

Election 2012 is a critical crossroads for a Senate that has failed to pass a budget in three years, has passed ruinous Obamacare legislation, and that is standing by while the Obama administration destroys entire industries by regulatory fiat. Yet one week before primary day, the conversation is about whether one of Detroit’s most successful businessman makes a lot of money.

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