Having lived through the last seven years of you-know-what, I figured I'd been rendered immune further from shock or awe. And I was sure I'd exceeded my lifetime supply of irony-spotting.
Then I saw the story in question. It couldn't have been considered very important by WSJ editors, because it was buried on an inside page. But it sure jumped out to me. The headline asked:
The story answered it's own question:
Founded in 1987 with $5 million, the Washington-based merchant bank controls nearly $14 billion in investments, making it the largest private equity manager in the world. Carlyle doesn't dabble in investments. It buys and sells entire companies the way most other investment firms trade shares of stock.
I'm not saying that the Magna Carta's new owner, David Rubenstein, is a bad man. I did some research and he gives a lot of (tax deductible) money to worthy charities. But then, why not? If members of this exclusive group have anything in excess, it's money. At any point in time, Carlyle and it's investors have vested interests virtually any thing important that's going down in the world.
Wars are bullish for Carlyle. Which is why Carlyle's board of directors and advisor's has read like a Who's Who of all things that go BANG -- and KA-CHING.
Oh, and all things Bush too.
Former president George H.W. Bush is a Carlyle adviser, as is former British prime minister John Major who heads its European arm. Former secretary of state James Baker is senior counselor, former White House budget chief Richard Darman is a partner, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt is senior adviser -- the list goes on.
Carlyle has, from time to time, played the role of power-legacy incubator, as it did when asked to find a no-work job for George H. Bush's good-for-nothing son, George W. George and Barbara Bush are close to the Rubensteins. David, his wife and three children tagged along on an African safari with Barbara Bush.
Four years before George W. Bush's first run for Texas Governor, Rubenstein was asked to find a soft spot for Georgie to cool his heels and earn some easy money. Carlyle had just purchase Caterair, a company that provided food service to the airlines. A Bush family confident came to Rubenstein and pitched young George.
(Irony alert: Fred Malek received his 15 minutes of fame in the 1970s as deputy director of CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President), the Nixon White House operation behind Watergate.)
Did Carlyle's managers laugh at George's jokes? Hard to say. More likely they just grinned and bore it, which paid off a decade and half later: