Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Daniel Gross suggests that anti-Obama paranoia is good for at least one business, writing in

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about what historian Richard Hofstadter called the “the paranoid style in American politics.” To believe the Glenn Becks of the world, the Democrats and their Commie, tree-hugging comrades are going to take away Americans’ guns, confiscate private property, enslave free thinkers, and generally destroy the nation. Of course, most sophisticates don’t give much currency to such arguments. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying to monetize the phenomenon. Fox News Channel has boosted audiences by narrowcasting to birthers and tea partiers, and it has seen an increase in ads from gold companies (the metal is thought to be a good hedge against Obama destroying the dollar). HarperCollins, another New York-based component of the Murdoch empire, has ordered up a huge printing of Sarah Palin’s memoir Going Rogue. On Tuesday, Peter Lattman, the Wall Street Journal’s sharp private equity reporter, unearthed (subscription required) a more interesting example: the pending initial public offering of gun manufacturer Freedom Group.

Ironically, Freedom Group is a creation of Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm founded and controlled by Stephen Feinberg, a hard-core Republican. It’s been a rough few years for the firm, which bought controlling stakes in Chrysler and GMAC (General Motors’ former lending arm) at the top of the market. In the wake of the financial meltdown, Cerberus’ stake in Chrysler was wiped out as part of the car company’s recapitalization, and its holding in GMAC was trimmed after GMAC was forced to turn to the government for funds. Cerberus didn’t get any special dispensation from the Bush or Obama administrations. But now it seems that Obama’s election has provided Feinberg with an opportunity to recoup some of his recent losses.


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