I still tend to stick with my belief back in early autumn that the conservative presidential nominee would be determined by the Republican establishment. As just about every candidate has enjoyed a surge of support ultimately that surge ended because of attacks by the Right – unless you believe that conservative pay any attention to Democratic fact checkers, bloggers and pundits. That establishment dominion over the preliminary process is what has taken on new, unexpected and twisted dimensions. Pitting factions within the establishment against each other. Sure Newt, Perry, Mittens and Santorum are all running as outsiders. We know that is simply not true. Those four in particular are poster boys for political insiders. Romney’s PAC friends at Restore Our Future have been running attack ads against Gingrich that speak to Gingrich’s use of his insider contacts to get large fees from clients such as Freddie Mac. That was interesting even if predictable. Interesting and very surprising in a way that gives yet another pause to the cliche that conservatives are always great campaigners is this from Josh Marshall – The Boffo Awfulness
In the preceding post I referenced this swift-boat-style ‘documentary’ on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital which the Gingrich-backing SuperPAC (Winning Our Future) has bought and will use as the battering ram against Romney in South Carolina. They’ve put up a trailer for it now which you can see after the jump. It really is right out of the Swift Boat witch’s brew, the camp lighting, rumbling black clouds, the cinematography of 30 second hit ads expanded out longform.
Late Update: A few people have written in to say I’m wrong to call this ‘swift-boating’. I guess Swift-boating is in the eye of the beholder. So let me explain what it is I mean. In the main, the premise of this ‘documentary’ seems accurate. Mitt Romney wasn’t an entrepreneur in the sense most of us think of the term. He was a private equity guy, which at its best is the tip of the spear of capitalism’s creative destruction. At its worst, it was a very mercenary and destructive type of takeover operation in which a lot of companies had short term value ‘extracted’ from them and then got junked. Either way, that’s part of the economy we now live in. But it doesn’t look good held up to the light of day in a dismally bad economy. And as the basis for the claim to be a ‘job creator’ it’s either painfully laughable or laughably painful.
With a few tweaks here and there this is an ad someone like MoveOn or a progressive advocacy group would run. It has been written in stone in the conservative playbook that Freddie Mac/Fannie May, Barney Frank – single handedly at that and liberals in general caused the housing bubble and financial collapse. Here we have a far Right conservative and his PAC claiming that predatory capitalism of the type practiced by Romney and his Wall Street friends are a big part of what tanked the economy. This is one for the record books. Historians who write a history of this era need to note this ad and how it it as close as we’ll probably ever see of a right-wing conservative trashing a bedrock myth of the conservative noise machine.
The conservative cult of free markets. The USA had, not a perfect market, but a fairly stable one until the Regan deregulation era started. The financial collapse or Great Recession was not some natural occurrence like a hurricane, which is what conservatives argue. Oh well, these natural disasters happen – pushed along by those horn-tailed liberals of course, you rebuild and go on. Not what the Levin-Coburn Report says that, “that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.” Newt and his PAC have taken a largely liberal progressive, dare we say 99% stance on the causes of the collapse. No More Mister Nice Blog also brings up an interesting possible consequence for Gingrich, THERE’S A NEW LIBERAL IN THE RACE!
I can’t see how Gingrich and Adelson could have gotten what they paid for. Watch the trailer. No, let me say that again: Watch the trailer and imagine you’re a Republican voter. Imagine you watch Fox News incessantly, and listen to Limbaugh and all the Limbaugh wannabes. Imagine you buy all those damn books the right-wing blowhards put out. How do you react to this?
I don’t care how much “capitalism is great, but…” talk prefaces these attacks on Romney’s record at Bain — it’s not going to impress Republicans. It’s only going to infuriate them. I think this material is much more likely to rally GOP voters to Romney’s side.
He might be right because of the tendency among conservative described in the little poster above. I’m a capitalist. What we have now is pretty much an oligopoly or plutocracy or crony corporatism ( Romney comes across as a condescending assclown in the video when he answers back to the crowd about where corporate profits go. Even that crowd of supporters knew that money from corporations filters down to the masses but makes the top 10% very wealthy – Romney’s Bain Capital Made Billions While Bankrupting Nearly One-Quarter Of The Companies It Invested In). NMMNB is probably mostly correct. Though it wouldn’t surprise if there were not a few conservatives out there who have not drunk the Freddie Mac kool-aid. There was that Mr. Wells in that MoveOn ad and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of those ordinary people interviewed for the Gingrich Winning Our Future PAC were also conservatives. One reason to think Newt might be able to get traction are the polls that showmost Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy. The numbers are such that a sizable portion of conservatives agree. They must also think that that a small portion of the population is reaping rewards exceeding the contribution they make to the economy. That might not add up to enough conservatives to get Newt back at the top of the polls, but it might be enough to eat away at Romney’s support. If Romney is thus wakened going into the RNC convention the far Right gets a lot of its demands – cabinet appointments, court appointment, political promises in general agreed to. Whatever happens in the long run this should be an interesting week as conservative react to the ad.
I included this link in Saturday’s post but didn’t expand it. It deserves more attention – Super PACs: The WMDs of Campaign Finance
Super PACs can receive unlimited contributions and make unlimited campaign expenditures for or against a candidate, often with actual donors hidden from view. This election year will see an exponential growth in their number and in the funds available to them.
[ ]…Exhibit A (we will likely run the alphabet this year) is Restore Our Future, the Super PAC organized by the political director of Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign and supposedly “independent” of the Romney campaign itself. On November 30, 2011, Newt Gingrich led Mitt Romney in Iowa by a 14 percentage point margin (31 percent to 17 percent), per a New York Times/CBS poll. In the next 30 days, Restore Our Future spent more than $3 million on negative, anti-Gingrich ads — twice the amount spent by the Romney campaign itself. The final result: Romney in first (barely) with 25 percent of the vote, Gingrich in fourth, with 13 percent of the vote.
Super PACs are, of course, the progeny of the Supreme Court’s January, 2010 decision in Citizens United, which declared unconstitutional the legislative provisions that had prohibited corporations and unions from their organizational treasuries to pay for ads, even if those ads were made independently of a candidate’s campaign.
…In 2010, 80 Super PACs registered with the FEC. In this election cycle, more than 250 Super PACs have already registered. This includes a pro-Obama Super PAC (Priorities USA Action), a behind-the-curve pro-Gingrich one (Winning Our Future), a number organized by prominent Republicans like Karl Rove in a reprise of 2010 (e.g. American Crossroads), and even one promoted by Stephen Colbert (Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow). Super PACs spent $90 million in 2010.The amounts they spend this year will be many multiples of that ($32 million has already been raised, and the war has barely begun).
For conservative critics of campaign finance regulation, Super PACs are an excellent development …
Yes Citizens United means that non-conservatives can start PACs and spend tons of money too. Anyone think that all these 30 to second sound bites will provide farther and deeper insight into the issues and candidates. It will be who has the most money to a very large though not exclusive extent – Perry for instance spent more money per vote than Romney in Iowa. More than any other modern era election it will be a campaign of new shampoos. Which media consultants and their script writers can come up with the most and best attacks.