For some time now, I’ve had the feeling that not all is well between one of our most dynamic corporations and our government.
Somehow, relations between Amazon and the Trump administration have appeared to be worse than relations between Amazon and Queens.
It isn’t so much that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has mocked the president’s hair, lair, or even his right to be there in the White House.
Instead, it seems the president has rather taken against Bezos for owning the Washington Post, a paper that isn’t entirely supportive of the current U.S. government.
Which, of course, it may be called one day. Branding can be a fickle thing.
The president has also accused Amazon of paying little to no taxes and treating the U.S postal system as “their delivery boy.”
Still, Amazon has rather kept out of biting back — at least directly.
Until, that is, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs Jay Carney gave himself up for a chat at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Wednesday.
As Bloomberg has it, Carney was asked about his time as President Obama’s White House press secretary.
Now given that he has been a PR type for some time, you might expect — given his company’s tense relationship with the White House — that Carney would offer PR-speak of an exalted order.
Instead, he offered this comparison between his dealings with the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations and the current one:
Virtually with no exception, everyone I dealt with in those administrations, whether I personally agreed or disagreed with what they thought were the right policy decisions or the right way to approach things, I never doubted that they were patriots. I don’t feel that way now.
It’s hard to read between the lines of a statement that has no lines.
Here was a senior Amazon executive openly accusing the Trump administration of being unpatriotic. (He also seemed to, with scant obliqueness, suggest that while he never lied as Obama’s press secretary, that may not be the case with the current administration.)
I find no joy in parsing the ins and outs of political discourse.
Instead, it moves me more that Carney appears not to fear some level of reprisal.
For Carney to feel emboldened to speak this way suggests a particular calculation that no ill effects might ensue.
For some time now, many corporate leaders have been dragged into political issues, not only by daily events, but also by their own employees.
As more and more employees expect certain social stances to be taken up by business leaders, so those leaders have felt obliged — some, I suspect, reluctantly — to fight their corner.
Yet here was Carney seeming to volunteer a sneer.
When political operatives go to work for corporate America — the money’s a lot better — you might expect them to be careful about, well, politics.
I’m not sure I’ve heard him offer such forthright headline-stoking fare.
And he works in a (slightly) more neutral business than does Carney.
Perhaps Carney knows something we don’t.
Or perhaps he’ll have already received a friendly call from Bezos.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.