Steve Wynn appeared for about six minutes on Fox News today in a town hall setting with Republican pollster and savant Frank Luntz. Luntz is an old friend of Wynn's; Wynn had told me long ago that Luntz field-tested Le Reve versus Wynn Las Vegas to decide which to call his resort.
You can hear the audio of that TV appearance by clicking here. Thanks to Hunter at RateVegas.Com for grabbing that for me.
It was really a weird appearance. He spoke of how "only in the control of the people and the better life of my people" does the enterprise flourish, that employees who are uncertain or whose standard of living is in peril won't attend as well to his guests. I get what he was trying to say, but I'm fairly sure Luntz would not have advised the use of the word "control."
But the bit that stunned me was Wynn claiming he voted for Barack Obama in 2008. We know that soon-to-be-ex-wife Elaine was gaga for Barry and that she forced Steve to socialize with the Obamas, where Wynn admitted to being charmed. But is it not a bit of a surprise that in all the many, many rants that Wynn has made to me, to Jon Ralston, to whoever on Fox or CNBC flips on a camera for him, he has never once said this before? He gave not a cent to Obama and the legal limit to John McCain -- and gave the legal limit again for McCain's 2010 Senate campaign, by the way -- but he VOTED for Obama?
I'm not saying it isn't possible. In fact, Wynn and I spoke at length in December 2008 as Encore was opening and he actually told me off the record -- although now that's moot because he has now said it on national TV, too -- that he had, in fact, voted for Obama. But there was something about the moment that rang false to me anyway; it felt like he was trying to seem like he had picked the winner after the game was over. I felt like if he really had, he would say so publicly then when Obama was popular and see what sort of benefit he could derive out of being "in," either genuinely thanks to Elaine or opportunistically on his own, with the White House.
But if Steve Wynn did vote for Hope and Change, why's he so mad about the health care reforms Congress has passed? This was precisely what Obama promised he would do, it was a cornerstone of his campaign; did Wynn think the president was lying about how important this was to him? If anything, the reforms that were passed are less intense and government-driven than those that Obama spoke about on the stump.
And another thing. Wynn said on Fox today that his health care costs had been increasing by 8 percent a year since 2005 and that since the new law -- which has not even gone into effect yet in any meaningful way -- he's up 10 to 12 percent. And then he tells Luntz that what he wants is for the government to "get off health care. Let private enterprise figure it out."
But didn't he just say that private enterprise, the system as it was, was responsible for consistent 8 percent increases in costs every year? That's sustainable? Health costs rising ridiculously faster than inflation is a way to keep his employees' standard of living intact? What? Does any of this make sense? He was OK with 8 percent increases EVERY YEAR but a 10 percent one is suddenly the worst thing that has ever happened?
Finally, and only slightly off topic, I will observe with fascination whom, if anyone, Mr. Wynn supports in our upcoming special Congressional election between Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall now that Amodei has posted this as his first TV ad:
Can Steve Wynn seriously afford to support a China-bashing candidate for Congress from his own state? China is the reason why Steve Wynn has been able to keep so many of his employees employed! Were it not for the obscene profits in Macau, Wynn surely would have laid off many more people and been as imperiled by the horrific Vegas economy as MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. It's easy, in fact, to make the case that Amodei's "nightmare" of China kept the official Nevada unemployment rate from hitting 20 percent.
Oh, the political pretzels we twist. What a fun summer ahead!