It’s always fun to watch wingnuts become so blindly zealous in their argument that they start attacking their own side like some twisted political game of pin the tail on the donkey. This week, it’s the lunatic left fringe getting its panties all in a bunch over my recent speculation that Wall Street short-sellers are funding the Center for American Progress’s advertising blitz in order to drive down the stock of publicly traded for-profit colleges. These are the same short-sellers recently exposed by the Wall Street Journal for working closely with senior Obama administration officials to impose new government regulations that would hurt for-profit colleges and reap the short-sellers millions of dollars.
Campus Progress, the college arm of the Center for American Progress (CAP), insists that the charges are absurd. That they’ve never heard of this Steve Eisman guy (I get the feeling they paused for a moment, wondering whether deliberately misspelling his name would add credence to their argument) and that their ad campaign isn’t costing millions of dollars, merely thousands. As usual, they miss the point entirely.
Granted, the ad looks like it was edited while the editor was waiting for his Hot Pocket to finish cooking in the microwave, but the point is not the quality or how much the ads cost, it’s the effort itself. Campus Progress is working extremely hard advocating for obscure regulations that even the president of the Urban League says would harm “at-risk students, including minorities, parents and full-time workers who believe these schools offer them the best shot at a good job in a field they will enjoy.”
In its own strident self-defense, CAP forgets that it’s on the wrong side of this issue. CAP takes a shot at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, another liberal group that led an investigation into the short-seller issue. CAP forgets that President Obama himself has argued for less unnecessary regulation. CAP even ignores the bipartisan congressional committee asking the Government Accountability Office to re-assign staff from investigating for-profit colleges because of the multiple errors in their report.
Rushing to CAP’s side is Dave Weigel. Readers might remember his journalistic stylings from some comments that he left on a listserv savaging the conservatives he was supposed to be objectively covering. While defending CAP’s campaign and arguing against for-profit colleges, he might want to check his paycheck. The Washington Post Company, owner of Slate, actually loses money on the deep thoughts of Dave Weigel. It does, however make money from its for-profit college division, Kaplan. Oops. Does this guy ever get anything right?
Of course, an organization like Campus Progress deserves to be taken seriously. After all, I was perusing their website just today and noticed that their most popular item was a cogent and heartfelt analysis on why Chelsea Handler’s “Black Penis Jokes Aren’t Funny.” Well, gosh, I take it all back. Corporate donors worried about penis jokes must be flocking to their door with huge checks. But just in case I’m wrong, I think it is still worth asking whether their opinions are about actual progress or just the Center for American Progress’s coffers.
Natasha Mayer is a political consultant in Washington, D.C. Her Twittter handle is @natashamayer