Less than a month ago I referred readers to a Frank Bruni op-ed piece over at The New York Times. Today I’m going to do it again. “Of Bile and Billionaires” assesses the strategies and proposed methods of big money in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Starting with billionaire Joe Ricketts’ super PAC and its plan to resurrect and use Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s inflammatory speech against President Obama, Bruni strikes at the evils wrought by Citizens United, super PACs, deliberately slanted news media, and extreme partisanship at both ends of the spectrum:
It’s fascinating how things have evolved and spun out of control. In the quaint old days of Lee Atwater and his disciples, a candidate’s team nudged outside players to do dirty work that it didn’t want its own fingerprints on. The Ricketts saga raises the specter of outside players actually volunteering for even dirtier work that a candidate’s team has no desire for and can’t wrestle control of. The Swift Boat has a motor and mind of its own.
And what nasty waves it makes. …
There’s criticism for both sides, for the extremism and meanness of our political system, which is being taken over by the super rich and their super PACs. Bruni suggests — correctly, I think — that swing voters, independents, and moderates everywhere are fed up with tactics like the Ricketts proposal:
And the swing voters are turned off. Many of them recoil from meanness run amok and cynicism on steroids, which is why Ricketts’s redeployment of Wright would have been such folly. They want someone to make them feel calmer and more confident, not anxious and gross.
Of course, the questions remain: Will the voters reject these tactics in November? Will they even have a choice?