A guest post by Eli Clifton:
Last week’s firing of Las Vegas Sands (LVS) president William Weidner by CEO Sheldon Adelson marks the end of a relationship which spanned the business and political worlds.
Weidner served on the board of the Adelson-funded — and now defunct — Freedom’s Watch and mirrored the Islamophobic rhetoric and right-wing politics of his longtime boss.
Bloomberg reported that William Weidner tried to save himself a little dignity by insisting that he had resigned from LVS. Adelson shot back, “We helped him resign a little bit,” and suggested that there had been ongoing disagreements between him and Weidner.
We blogged about Weidner and Adelson’s relationship here.
LVS has taken a beating over the past year. The assumption of huge levels of debt to fund developments in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, perceptions that Weidner and Adelson were overly cozy with the Chinese leadership and helped crush U.S. Congressional opposition to the Beijing Olympics earlier in the decade, recently imposed visa restrictions on mainland Chinese seeking to visit Macau, and a global financial downturn have all played a role in battering the LVS stock price from its high of $122.96 to its current $1.99 value.
In 2007, Weidner delivered a speech at the Keystone Club in Las Vegas. The speech, available here, offered some insights into the political beliefs held by Weidner (and presumably Adelson) as well as the reverence Weidner had for his boss and mentor before their relationship soured.
As our forefathers so rightly articulated in their declaration, freedom to LIVE, is the most fundamental freedom; they listed it first…they were threatened with death from a coercive economic “ism”; mercantilism…the idea that royalty could use its power to monopolize trade to enrich its treasury to finance armies to project more power and gather ever more treasure for its treasury.
The American colonies represented a drain from King George’s treasury and he sought to balance his budget through taxation – taxation, of course, without representation. Taxation without representation was their rallying cry, but it was the concept of mercantilism that threatened to kill them.
Now let’s turn to a contemporary ‘ism’ that would take away our most fundamental freedom…Our lives…it’s called Islamo-fascism.
And, talk about a very important organization we are deeply involved in…Freedom’s Watch. An organization that I am sure you will hear more about over the ensuing months. Freedom’s Watch is currently dedicated to several priorities, the most pressing of which is educating Americans to the danger of radical Islam and supporting our military to protect us from its coercive forces.
In the past, our country has survived a lot of bad ideas that would threaten our lives.
As I mentioned, our forefathers opposed Mercantilism; we and our Parents opposed National Socialism (Nazism), Fascism, and Communism…but now we face the worst, most coercive dictatorial idea of all.
While thanking those who have supported him, Weidner made it clear where he got his ideological marching orders.
And for our lead iconoclast Sheldon Adelson; perhaps the world’s most successful contrarian who has taught us that an idea shouldn’t be repeated unless it has been examined thoroughly and you stand ready to defend it… passionately.
Adelson, it should be noted, has been as viscerally antagonistic toward labor unions as he has been enthusiastic about Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud. Interestingly, he did his damnedest to defeat Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley in last November’s election, a Las Vegas’ five-term congresswoman, because she has been a strong advocate for the labor movement. Despite their long-time enmity, however, she is as much a cheerleader for the far right in Israel as he — at least, that’s what I’ve been told. Among other things, she was the co-author with Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of the letter sent to the inspector-general of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) last two weeks ago demanding that Amb. Chas Freeman be thoroughly investigated for alleged conflicts of interest.