As Yeats wrote
, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”
Let me immediately give credit where credit is due and say that this information comes from the newest issue of “Vanity Fair,” which did not hit newsstands until today. It is a capsule “Cliff Notes,” if you will, summarizing the article “Boss Rove” that runs in the newest issue (Craig Unger, pp. 228-234). If you have issues with the content, take it up with “Vanity Fair,” which has done the nation a service by tracking down the unfettered spending that is going on in the 2012 presidential election and ferreting out who is behind this massive spending spree. I thought I’d save all of you a bit of time and shorten the essential facts, so read on, if you dare.
In this unsettling issue, you will learn to what extent Pillsbury Doughboy Karl Rove—once known as “Bush’s Brain—-is involved in this year’s Republican presidential race. As former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said on one of the late-night talk shows where she was a guest, “Democrats are the party of the many—not the party of the money.” (Ain’t it the truth?)
I’m going to excerpt just a few startling facts from “Boss Rove” so you will at least be aware of them, in regards to the astounding amounts of money being spent this election season (by both parties.) First the article (which begins on page 228 of the September issue) re
I saw Karl Rove in person once. He came out on a balcony in Denver in 2004 at the Coors Amphitheater with the woman from Texas named “Karen” who was “W’s” other big favorite. Rove, DID, indeed, look like the Pillsbury Doughboy. In fact, George W. Bush, himself, who was a fan of giving everyone a demeaning nickname, called him ‘Turd Blossom.” Aptly named.
Rove left public view briefly in 2007 under a cloud and barely escaped indictment, as the article states ( page 229.) The president he served (George W. Bush) left office with the lowest rating in the history of the presidency (22%). The Supreme Court, in December 2000, handed down the notorious decision placing George W. Bush in the White House (“Bush v. Gore). Then, the Supreme Court appointees of our least favorite president of all time (Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito) joined forces on “Citizens United” recently to allow the electoral process to be subverted forever by allowing corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money, much of it anonymous and untraceable. It overthrew the previous campaign finance bill, McCain-Feingold, which was actually known as the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
In American elections now, anything goes. Money talks (and bullshit walks). And don’t let those complete commercial misstatements about how Obama doesn’t think people receiving welfare should work bother you, either; both the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post” completely debunked the ad that is running non-stop in swing states (and on TV Channel 6 in the Quad Cities of IA/IL).
So, Karl Rove (aka “Bush’s Brain”) immediately met with Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee Chairperson (who had also served in the Bush administration) and they became a dynamic duo, with Gillespie eventually sent over to work with Romney’s people. One wag said, “Ed’s got the better rap and Karl’s got the better Rolodex,” referencing Rove’s prodigious fund-raising ability.
Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, a longtime donor to Rove’s causes was recruited. Within three weeks of the Supreme Courts’ controversial decision in “Citizens United,” American Crossroads, a new 527 advocacy group, had a web-site up and running. Very shortly after its inception, the group had commitments of $30 million, which was 4 times what the RNC had on hand. Four OTHER groups were formed: American Action Network, the American Action Forum, Resurgent Republican and the Republican State Leadership Committee. None of these groups had to disclose the identity of their contributors because they were nonprofits. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS planned to spend $300 million to help GOP congressional candidates in battleground states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa. Their anti-Democratic ads would run thousands of times and “Under the new laws, all of this could take place with virtually no oversight.” (p. 230).
The war chest the GOP amassed now approaches $1 billion. John McCain spent only $370 million on his entire presidential campaign in 2008. American Crossroads was considered to be an alternative to the RNC, which more-or-less collapsed under the leadership of its token black leader, Michael Steele.
A telling quote: “The center of energy will always be where the money is. Karl is playing for control of the party. That’s where the power and the money are.” WABC radio host John Batchelor (a Republican) is quoted this way: “American is a two-party state. There are the Democrats. Then, there’s Karl Rove.”
All of us, by now, are aware that Rove turned up on Fox News and “The Wall Street Journal” also gave him a bully pulpit.
On April 5th, Ed Gillespie left American Crossroads and joined the Mitt Romney campaign as a senior adviser. This was well before Romney had locked up the nomination. Through Gillespie, Rove now had oversight of Romney’s campaign for the presidency of the United States. Rove became the gatekeeper over who would contribute how much to whom. Quote from Wayne Slater, (reporter for the “Dallas Morning News”): “When Karl put his imprimatur on you, it was clear that the money was going to go to you.”
Here’s a sobering paragraph from page 232: “The only way Romney can get back into the race quickly will be through the expenditures of substantial Super PAC dollars,” said Doug Schoen in “Forbes” magazine. “Specifically, the key actors in this process will be Karl Rove, whose Super PAC American Crossroads has raised $300 million, as well as the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future. But make no mistake about it: the 2012 campaign now is not Obama versus Romney. It is Obama versus Karl Rove, American Crossroads, and Restore Our Future.”
And so, goes the article on page 232, “The great consolidation began between Rove’s super-PACS and Romney’s operation.” Beth Myers, who was so close to her boss that “The Washington Post” called her his “office wife” would be in charge of the selection of Paul Ryan as VP.
Rove then began bringing in those who had strayed from the cause, like Sheldon Adelson, the seventh-richest man in America ($24.9 billion) who had given $21.5 million to Newt Gingrich’s book tour-cum-campaign. After some hemming and hawing, Adelson gave $10 million to Restore Our Future” and said, “He (Rove ) is going to be the Republican Party’s 800-pound gorilla in defeating Barack Obama.” (this from an Adelson friend to CNN.)
Then there are the multi-billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, who recently threw so much money into keeping Wisconsin’s Scott Walker in office as Governor when he began dismantling all unions and faced a recall. By early spring, Marc Short, a Koch operative, had begun attending the Weaver Terrace gatherings of Romney’s people. They had initially planned to steer $200 million to conservative groups and causes in 2012, but they doubled that to $400 million. Former “W” consultants” put that figure in context: “Think the $$ political system is screwed up? Koch brothers alone are planning to spend more money than McCain’s entire presidential budget.”
So, we have Grover Norquist’s “Americans for Tax Reform;’’ the National Right to Life committee; Ralph Reed’s “Faith & Freedom Coalition,” the National Rifle Association and the “American Future Fund,” all allied to spend money on Tea Party candidates and against Obama. Peter Stone (journalist) wrote: “By spreading their wealth throughout the conservative ecosystem the Kochs can exploit trusted brands with passionate followings that reach beyond the Tea Party base,” while at the same time leaving no trace of their involvement.
Romney now has a total of $1.8 billion dollars, with the RNC commanding another $800 million. In Virginia, Tim Kaine who was running for the Senate, was outspent 3 to 1. On Kaine’s behalf, as of late March, 380 ads ran, while Crossroads GPS and the Chamber of Commerce aired 1,980 attack ads against him. And it was a well-known fact that the Wisconsin recall effort was funded by the Koch Brothers and outspent those who wanted a new Governor about 4 to 1. Fox News, always glad to air an attack ad against the president, aired an attack ad on no fewer than 7 separate news shows in one 24-hour period, which means, as RNC strategist Brad Blakeman said, “Karl has gotten more earned media than the amount he invested in the ad.”
With Wall Street deserting Obama over some presidential feeble attempts to rein in the circumstances that caused the near-collapse of the country (no banker has yet gone to jail), Brent Budowsky wrote in “The Hill:”
“The inability of the Democrats to play in the same league as Karl Rove financially is a humiliating debacle that might be unprecedented, (measured by comparing wealthy donors of one party to wealthy donors of the other), in the history of presidential politics. The president and Democrats seem befuddled by how to react to the Citizens United decision, while Karl Rove understands with crystal clarity. Rove mobilizes his army, rallies his wealthy, organizes his ventures and puts his money in the bank.”
In 2008, more than 550,000 people gave more than $200 to Obama. In so doing they created the longest list of individual donors in American political history. According to BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith & Rebecca Elliott, at this point in 2012, nearly 90% of people had NOT come back to donate that amount again. Bush is gone and so are the donors Barack Obama needs to defeat the Mittster. Furthermore, the Democratic Super PACS are feeble. By mid-April, 4 of the biggest and 2 allied nonprofits had only $8.3 million on hand. Bill Maher and James H. Simons were responsible for a million each. Meanwhile, Rove’s groups had spent more than $11 million on attack ads against Obama.
At this point, George Soros, the famously liberal Democratic donor, tried to put together a strategy to combat Rove’s onslaught. He prepared to invest $100 million in Democratic super PACS and nonprofits, focusing on grassroots organizing, voter registration and turn out, rather than negative advertising. As Michael Vachon (a Soros adviser) told the “Huffington Post,” “Culturally, the left doesn’t do Swift Boat. It’s not what we do well.”
Rove’s strategy with all that cash is this: All Romney has to do is take 3 states: Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia—states that McCain and Palin lost in 2008, and recapture 2 big battleground states that Bush won in 2004 (Ohio and Florida) and—beyond that—-win just ONE swing state. It could be Iowa, where both Obama (his 13th visit) and Romney are visiting repeatedly. Rove wrote it up this way: “The self-portrait the president has painted is of a weak liberal, buffeted by events. That will make this election more like 1980 when Ronald Reagan defeated an ineffectual Jimmy Carter than like 2004.”
Said Roger Stone: “No one else can construct a power center like he (Rove) can.” Rove has been the brains behind one of—if not THE—-worst presidents in U.S. history, who started 2 horribly expensive wars and, having inherited a booming economy from Clinton, left the nation in near economic collapse. But now that the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson have fallen into line, Rove has consolidated the warring factions within the Republican Party and is in command, with complete control.
Running for the Republicans is a team (Romney/Ryan) with the thinnest foreign policy background since 1944 (Dewey/Bricker) and the man who wants to dismantle Medicare and deny all abortions, even for rape and incest, and deny women many basic health care needs,, (Paul Ryan), the VP candidate. Ryan spent 14 years in Congress and never ran anything other than his House office. Ryan’s slashing of Medicaid (by $800 billion over 10 years) would reward the strong and abandon the needy, balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class while the rich are spared and protected. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, in “Time’s” August 27th issue, called Ryan’ budget “an uncompromising right-wing Tea Party manifesto that provides big tax breaks to wealthy Americans at the expense of everyone and everything else.” Said the “Time” article (“Ryan’s Hope”), “Ryan is to budget math what Carl Sagan was to the science of the cosmos.” Said Joe Klein in the same issue, “Mitt Romney has effectively outsourced his job as intellectual leader of the ticket to his occasionally specific junior partner” (which Romney once called “marvelous.”)
Even worse, many of Ryan’s most prized ideas have already been tried and have already failed. The drastic cutting of taxes was tried under Reagan and did not work. Even the stupidest American can understand that, when bills are mounting, it is necessary to get more money. Maybe the average American takes a second job, but he or she tries to get more money to pay the mounting bills, and the nation needs to get more money to pay both our horrendous debt (Thanks, “W”!) and to pay for social programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and such things as infrastructure improvements.
In Ryan’s plan (quote from “Time”) “Average folks are taxed because they haven’t had the good sense to become wealthy.” Ryan’s budget is balanced on the backs of the poor and elderly. It would eviscerate medical help for the elderly poor and force those who are addled, decrepit and elderly to wade through the complicated market choices of private insurance, as their benefits would almost certainly not cover their medical needs under Ryan’s “voucher” plan.
What the Democrats have going for them, at this point, is a candidate who is genuinely likeable and not just a Gumby doll, some signs that economic unrest is at least under control for the moment in Europe (as well as somewhat stable in the Middle East, save for Syria), and a slowly improving economy. Obama was in Ohio today, but Mitt will be hitting the Quad Cities again tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m., while Ryan is going to Pennsylvania.
(Gallup Poll of 8/21): Twenty-two% of registered voter s like Ryan; 23% say they don’t like Ryan. 54% say it doesn’t make any difference in their vote, if they are registered Republicans.
Now if Barack Obama only had an educated, informed electorate that read, he’d be home free! But I’m watching an attack ad right now, paid for by Americans for Prosperity and, during Obama’s recent visit, the ratio of Republican ads to Democratic ads was 4 to 1. There’s one running right now, as I write this, which claims, quite ridiculously, that the Romney/Ryan plan will “protect Medicare,” when the opposite is the truth,.
But do people read these articles and know this?
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”