Jan 242010

President Obama seems to be confused by the Supreme Court ruling.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday strongly criticized a Supreme Court ruling removing limits on corporate donations for political campaigns, saying it was a major victory for banks and oil and health insurance companies.

Yes, it is a victory for those entities, but part of the President’s job is to look out for the legal rights of those entities. It’s a victory for those of us who aren’t banks and oil and health insurance companies, too. It’s a victory for all of us.

“With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” Obama said in a statement.

Which is as it should be. There are many special interests in this country, and all of them should have a right to spend their money to speak out and influence the political process. What’s bad is when no interests except governmental interests get the right to speak out, as happened in the takeover of GM and Chrysler.

“We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.”

I presume we shouldn’t take the President to have meant the term “forceful” to be taken literally. Given the way he has dealt with banks and automakers, it’s hard to say. But if by forceful he means legal and constitutional, that could be a good thing.

Now about that term “public interest,” I hope he realizes that there are and should be many public interests, many of them at odds with each other. There is not just one public interest. That’s why this ruling that ensures a voice for the many of the special interests in our society is a good thing.