Saturday, January 7, 2012

Newt's shop of horrors

(image via The Mary Sue)

Be careful what you wish for.

Politico calls it buyer's remorse. But I think I prefer Timothy Egan's little shop of horrors imagery:
There must be a Greek tragedy, a Shakespeare play or a “Daily Show” parody to explain the exquisite irony of Newt Gingrich being destroyed by the very forces he unleashed — a smack-down that sets up 2012 as the year the moneyed elite learn to use the limitless power granted them by the Supreme Court.

The deflated Newt balloon is pathetic, to use one of his favorite words. There he was, tired and bitter on election night, after getting carpet-bombed by advertisements painting him as a soulless hack tied to Washington like sea rust on the underside of a listing ship.

He complained about “millionaire consultants” buying every television outlet to “lie” about him. He whined about getting buried under “an avalanche of negative ads” that left him “drowning in negativity.” You get the picture: ugly, sudden death, the very life snuffed out of him by things he could not control.

And yet, of course, what killed Gingrich was in part his own creation, and not just because he himself is a millionaire consultant paid to destroy or inflate on demand. The Frankenstein’s monster emerged from his own shop of horrors.

Yeah, the funny thing was that it was Newt's own dog - or own monster, since I'm mangling metaphors here - shoving him through that wood-chipper:

Gingrich, for the last few years, has been partners in self-promotion with Citizens United, the group that prompted the worst Supreme Court decision of the nascent 21st century, the one that granted “personhood” rights to corporations and green-lighted them to dominate American elections. More to the point, that 2010 case gave birth to shadowy super PACs that can annihilate a candidate, no holds barred, no responsibility to those pulling the strings.

If you live in Cedar Falls, and didn’t like seeing Iowa nice turned into the scene from “Fargo” when a victim is ground up in the wood chipper, blame Citizens United, and the Supreme Court majority that Republicans can’t praise enough. Unlimited political filth by anonymous rich groups — this is John Roberts’s America. [my emphasis]

It was a hit piece, after all, a film on Hillary Clinton produced by Citizens United, that led to the Supreme Court case. Gingrich and Citizens United have worked closely together on several other films. Gingrich loved the court decision. And on the one-year anniversary of the case, Gingrich was still effusive.

“I actually think that the Citizens United case is one of the best examples of a genuine strategy that I’ve seen in the years I’ve been in Washington,” he said.

According to Republicans, corporations are people and money is speech. So what if billionaires have a lot more "speech" than you do?

And just because it's your money, in part, that corporate CEO's are using to advance their own interests, well, it would be "class warfare" to complain about that, wouldn't it?

Here's Politico:
The former House Speaker two years ago called the new legal framework that gave rise to unlimited fundraising by outside groups a “great victory for free speech” and predicted that the biggest of the recent federal court decisions deregulating campaign rules would make “it easier for middle-class candidates to compete against the wealthy and incumbents.”

Then he got a taste of the new rules in Iowa.

After weeks of withering attacks by a super PAC supporting his rival Mitt Romney, Gingrich won’t stop talking about the injustices of unchecked spending — specifically the $3 million spent attacking him. He even coined a name for it, saying he got “Romney-boated” by his chief opponent’s “millionaire friends.”

"Romney-boated." Yeah, that was another Republican tactic. Swift-boating became notorious enough to coin a new word, after right-wing groups in 2004 spent millions smearing a war hero with lies.

Yeah, this would be great fun if it were just Republicans getting hoist with their own petard, but this is our democracy we're destroying.

Note that the Citizens United decision is just one of a series of horrible Supreme Court decisions - including the disastrous decision which gave us George W. Bush as president - decided 5 to 4, with the majority Republicans all on one side and the minority Democrats on the other.

Republicans praised it, even though it overturned longstanding precedent. (They didn't mind these "activist judges.") Well, the GOP is the party of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich. Anything which increases the role of money in our political system must be a good thing, right? Because it's the rich who have the money pretty much by definition.

And where they don't own all of the money, as in corporations, they still control it. Of course, they do own most corporate stock, but even where they don't - as in your own IRA or 401-k, perhaps - they still control where the money goes. And all of this can stay completely anonymous, a secret from their shareholders (whose money it supposedly is) and the public, alike.

Newt Gingrich was at the sharp end of that stick this time, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. But it's not going to end there. We have opened up our democracy to the highest bidder. (And I say "we," because it was the America people who elected the Republican presidents who appointed these right-wing loons to the Supreme Court. Yes, voting matters!)


Jim Harris said...

Your post about Super PACs mentions swift boating, which I meant to mention in my post. I also like your political cartoons. I love that "Sure my dog doesn't bite - that's not my dog" cartoon.

If you had the money to create a Super PAC, would you use one, Bill?

WCG said...

Of course I'd use a Super PAC, Jim. It's legal now, and not using one would just put us at a huge disadvantage.

Of course, we're already at a huge disadvantage, because it's the wealthy who have the money to spare for these things - and because corporate CEO's don't even have to use their own money.

And a wealthy person might think of this as a wise investment. For every dollar he puts in a Super PAC to elect Republicans, he'll get several dollars back from tax cuts.

But it's not an investment for those of us who oppose this, because we're doing it for the good of our country, not for personal financial gain. (True, the wealthy have probably convinced themselves that tax cuts for the rich are good for our country, too. It's always easy to believe what you really want to believe.)

If I had the money, I'd create a Super PAC to elect politicians who'd work to change the law - either by passing a constitutional amendment or by appointing better Supreme Court justices. What else could I do?

PS. Note that unions can also create Super PACs. But the amount of money they can spend on politics is dwarfed by the amount corporations and other businesses can spend. So it doesn't level the playing field, not even close, even if you tend to agree with unions about everything. (I don't, not about everything.)