Thursday, March 27, 2014

Quote of the day: "The Sheldon Primary"

That's the term of art now for the fashion show in which Republican presidential wannabes do the swimsuit and formal gown strut on the catwalk for the billionaire dark-money providers – a process that is now more lucrative, and probably more predictable from the point of view of campaign strategy than those old-style land-based primaries like New Hampshire or South Carolina. (And as a health plus for the candidates, they probably don't have to eat deep-fried anything or stand in the snow as much.)

In 2012, Sheldon Adelson himself pissed away what you and I might naively consider a fortune to get Newt Gingrich into the lead for . . . about a week or two before Mitt "Mister Inevitable" Romney ran him out of the race, along with the Randians, snake handlers, and pizza magnates and the rest of the field, one by one. Seeing his colors fade in the backstretch, Adelson let it be known that when they put Gingrich down he'd be looking for another horse, probably Romney. And that was just two candidates and one sugar-daddy. Now, thanks to the miracle of Citizens United and Shelby County decisions, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has allowed any billionaire to have his own candidate and bring him up with far less regard for, or deference to, what the RNC might want, with its silly ideas about actually winning elections at the national level.

It's hard to feel too sympathetic about this, since the bear that is biting them on the ass is one they raised and nurtured since it was a cub.

But Robert Reich draws the larger moral:
Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and obeyed the laws.

They’re also entitled to their own right-wing political views. It’s a free country.

But in using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That’s a betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share.

The Kochs exemplify a new reality that strikes at the heart of America. The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs and their ilk, and against the rest of us.

America is not yet an oligarchy, but that’s where the Koch’s and a few other billionaires are taking us. […]

At this very moment, Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (worth an estimated $37.9 billion) is busy interviewing potential Republican candidates whom he might fund, in what’s being called the “Sheldon Primary.”

“Certainly the ‘Sheldon Primary’ is an important primary for any Republican running for president,” says Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. “It goes without saying that anybody running for the Republican nomination would want to have Sheldon at his side.”

The new billionaire political bosses aren’t limited to Republicans. Democratic-leaning billionaires Tom Steyer, a former hedge-fund manager, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have also created their own political groups. But even if the two sides were equal, billionaires squaring off against each other isn’t remotely a democracy.

Heaven help us.

No comments: