The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Blaming Citizens United For Gingrich Is Like Blaming Kel-Tec For Trayvon Martin

Posted on | April 9, 2012 | 9 Comments

by Smitty

Possibly too soon for the analogy, but this bit from Adam Clancy at The American Interest is really that off-putting (emphasis mine):

But as Gingrich found out all it now takes is the support of one billionaire to keep your campaign alive indefinitely. For Gingrich, that billionaire is the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. Adelson donated $5 million to the floundering Gingrich campaign after Iowa. When that failed to resuscitate the campaign Miriam kicked in another $5 million in the lead-up to South Carolina. And as if to prove that casino owners can be just as profligate as their customers, Adelson donated another $5 million in mid-February after it became apparent that Gingrich’s win in South Carolina was not the game changer they had hoped it would be. All told, the Gingrich super PAC “Winning Our Future” raised $18.8 million through the end of February, of which the Adelsons contributed $16.5 million. It is fair to say that without the Adelsons’ largesse, enabled by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, Gingrich would have gone quietly into the good night.
As well as prolonging the primary, Citizens United also made it a nastier process. Mitt Romney ran a traditional, pre-Citizens United campaign. He performed well in Iowa despite the state not being a naturally fertile ground for his brand of Republicanism. In friendlier territory in New Hampshire, Romney won a convincing victory. He emerged from the Granite State as the overwhelming favorite and proceeded to South Carolina with at least one eye on the general election. What Romney’s campaign had not counted on was Sheldon Adelson’s checkbook.

What is with all this emoting about nastiness? This whinging about on the topic of money in politics is a Progressive’s erotic legislation dream:

  1. Stir up the angst about the money.
  2. Write another atrocious piece of legislation.
  3. ???
  4. Progress!

Let it be. There is no way under the sun that you’re going to achieve human redemption through the rule of law, much less stink-free electoral campaigns. The solution to bad speech is more speech, but it does not follow that the answer to odious legislation/court decisions is more legislation/litigation:

But fortunately, voters are not mindless automatons. They evaluate the messages being presented to them and compare them with elected officials’ records in office. An incumbent with a good record will find his ads reach a receptive audience. Conversely, an interest group whose agenda is broadly unpopular with voters is going to have a harder time using ads to reduce the candidate’s poll numbers.
Relatedly, as Meg Whitman recently learned, advertising dollars are subject to diminishing returns. If the average voter sees candidate A’s ad 10 times and candidate B’ ad only once, that’s likely to give candidate A a sizable advantage. But if the average voter sees candidate A’s ad 1000 times and candidate B’s ad only 100 times, the gap is unlikely to matter. Indeed, some voters might get so tired of seeing candidate A’s ads that they vote for candidate B out of spite.

So, while I’m no more enthusiastic about batteries of negative advertising artillery than the next bloke, I submit that the electorate itself is doing as good a job or better as Congress in dealing with the situation.


9 Responses to “Blaming Citizens United For Gingrich Is Like Blaming Kel-Tec For Trayvon Martin”

  1. DaveP.
    April 9th, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

    Kel-Tec? I thought he was using a S&W.

  2. richard mcenroe
    April 9th, 2012 @ 10:07 pm
  3. smitty
    April 9th, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

    Not according to my intensive two minutes of Googling.

  4. Charles
    April 9th, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

    Consider the possibility that Adelson got exactly what he wanted. That is, Gingrich made some speeches in support of Israel at a moment of potential crisis. And the candidate who might cause Adelson the most unease got derailed.

    If Santorum had been a different, better candidate, who could speak for Christian values without making non-Christians and non-evangelicals so nervous, he might today be on track to be the nominee. That goes beyond Adelson or Gingrich.

  5. SVT
    April 9th, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

    Yes, Clancy, it would be much better if only the mega-wealthy were able to run for office. 

  6. Adjoran
    April 10th, 2012 @ 12:00 am

    Too bad for Clancy, but SCOTUS also has even another case which deals with corporate speech coming up, so the poor dear may be faced with even more advertising he doesn’t approve.

    Which is really nearly always the complaint – it’s not even “the influence of big money on politics” like the leftists love to claim, because they are mum about the union spending which dwarfs anything that corporations or rich individuals put into it.  It’s that he doesn’t like what is said or who is saying it.  And for the First Amendment to have any meaning at all, it’s the unpopular speech and speakers who need us to stand up for them.

    It’s baffling how these crazy ideas take root so fast and become part of an ideology.  In the 1968 campaign, Senator Eugene McCarthy’s challenge that drove a sitting President from the race was funded mainly by three very wealthy individuals who each gave over $1 million to his campaign.  The Senator’s nickname matched his reputation:  “Clean Gene” wasn’t corrupted by rich donors, why would anyone else be?

    In fact, there is more room for corruption in the small donations under $200 which require no real reporting.  The  Obama campaign has once again deliberately turned off security verification software to accept donations from anyone with a debit or gift card, without respect to their true identity or eligibility.


  7. Adobe_Walls
    April 10th, 2012 @ 12:35 am

    I was unaware that Romney’s super PAC had done absolutely no advertising against Gingrich or Santorum in Iowa.

  8. Bob Belvedere
    April 10th, 2012 @ 8:23 am

    Me neither.  That fact alone makes whatever Clancy wrote utterly useless.

  9. TellMeWhatYouReallyThink
    April 10th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

    I think the idea is that everyone must shut up and let their betters do the deciding. That’s why Romney and Obama will lose. Obama will be impeached and removed from office. His supporters will be the ones doing the impeaching because they don’t want to lose all their wealth.  Romney will lose because he is the standard empty suit which people despise.  Who wants a brown nose? Ann Coulter!