New York Times

Super rich, super PACs, super dirt

New York Time mastheadLess 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?

6 thoughts on “Super rich, super PACs, super dirt

  1. Since seeing super-pac money pouring in from both sides I have read complaints from both sides of the aisle on Citizens United. Maybe even the GOP may be getting concerned about this. They damned well should. John McCain and Democrat Whitehouse of RI have jointly appealed to the SCOTUS to “revisit” the decision and two SC justices have also called for that, Ginsburg and Breyer.

    This leaves me wondering whether there is any precedent for such reversal in a short time span like this. A web search is found wanting thus far, but I’m guessing there isn’t. Such a change of opinion on the part of any justice would necessitate both a public and internal-to-the-brain admission of fallibility that is inconsistent with large legal egos. Hope I’m wrong.

    1. I don’t know if there’s a mechanism for SCOTUS to reverse a decision unless another lawsuit reaches them and challenges the previous decision. As for admitting fallibility, it’s more than obvious to everyone that this was a bad one. (“Corporations are people”? Gimme a break!) I would think there’s more honor in reversing a bad decision than in standing by it.

  2. There was a report on The CBS Evening News about the billions being lost by American companies due to corporate espionage – where current and former employees are selling their secrets to foreign interests for cash. I know that’s a very big problem, and I know it’s not fair for me to think of them all in this way, but my first thought was “what have those companies done to earn the loyalty of their employees? For that matter, what kind of loyalty should the country expect from its citizens as a whole, considering how it allows big money interests to run roughshod over them?”

    1. True, they aren’t doing much to endear themselves to either their employees or the American public. I guess when you have that much money, you don’t worry about what other people think. Somehow, some way, it’s going to come back to bite them. I hope. At least that’s what I’ve always believed. But I have become very disillusioned in recent years. 🙁

  3. If only Darwin was right and there was some natural law against the success of stupidity. Hopefully those of us who blog and comment on this misuse of logic. fact, sentiment and defamation aren’t the only one’s who see these lame attacks promoting some troglodytes emotional, knee jerk response – for exactly what they are — Arguments for ignorant people to make an ignorant decision based purely on ignorant prejudice. From my perspective, I’m glad that idiots are wasting their money on this crap, but the media plays up their messages as if there were some reason to act like a credible campaign issue. Maybe that’s why I believe almost nothing that comes from the mainstream media.

    1. The MSM just parrot what their backers say or tell them to say, and they slant it all to whichever audience — liberal or conservative –they want to attract. The dearth of legitimate news, reported by experienced, professional journalists, is enough to make me cry.

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