The announcement yesterday by John McCain that he favored the firing of SEC Chairman Christoper Cox was interesting, to say the least. Some may not realize that Cox has long been a major conservative hearth-throb, mentioned, in fact, as a potential running-mate for McCain himself not that long ago.
Indeed, Cox–then a California congressman–got some national attention back in 2000 as the consensus “movement conservative” favorite to become George W. Bush’s running-mate.
He was selected to chair the SEC in 2005 precisely because he was certain to be a pro-business deregulator in the post. Here’s an assessment at the time by Stephen Labaton of the New York Times:
In Republican and business circles, William H. Donaldson has been viewed as the David Souter of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a disappointingly independent choice who sided too frequently with the Democrats.
President Bush, hearing complaints about Mr. Donaldson’s record from across the business spectrum, responded on Thursday by nominating Representative Christopher Cox, a conservative Republican from California, as a successor whose loyalties seem clear. And unlike the Supreme Court, where Justice Souter has a lifetime appointment, the S.E.C. provides the White House with an immediate opportunity to tip the balance of the five-person commission in a more favorable direction.
Mr. Cox – a devoted student of Ayn Rand, the high priestess of unfettered capitalism – has a long record in the House of promoting the agenda of business interests that are a cornerstone of the Republican Party’s political and financial support.
A major recipient of contributions from business groups, the accounting profession and Silicon Valley, he has fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to corporate mergers and executive stock options. He opposes taxes on dividends and capital gains. And he helped to steer through the House a bill making investor lawsuits more difficult.
Can’t say Cox didn’t come through as promised, eh?
One has to wonder if McCain would have dared call for Cox’s firing if he hadn’t definitively nailed down conservative activist support with his Veep selection of Sarah Palin. As it is, there’s still some grumbling on the Right about McCain’s opportunism in blaming poor ol’ Chris Cox for the financial crisis.