An Ugly 2012 Campaign Gets Its Ugly Started Early
Back when he was a principled Conservative Senator John McCain lead the way to try to limit the influence of money in a political campaign. His efforts are largely wasted and forgotten, in part because Mr. McCain himself lost his enthusiasm for the fight but largely because the Courts have ruled that the ability of very wealthy people to use that wealth to drown out opposition to their policies is somehow protected by the free speech provisions of our Constitution.
As a result, there will be almost unlimited spending by both Democrats and Republicans in the 2012 election. Since the wealthy tend to be Republicans though, this spending will not be balanced. Spending by so-called independent groups attacking the President could well be into the billions of dollars and limited only by the amount of TV ad time available. It’s not even 2012 and already
In the past six months, conservative groups like those affiliated with Karl Rove and the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, and, increasingly, Republican candidates themselves, have spent more than $13 million on advertisements carrying a negative message about Mr. Obama,
which may sound like a lot, but it’s not.
“These dollar figures we’re talking about now are going to seem quaint in a few months,” said Kenneth M. Goldstein, president of the analysis group. “And they’ll seem really quaint in eight or nine months.”
Total television advertising spending on the 2012 election cycle could top $3 billion, up from $2.1 billion four years ago, Kantar estimates, fueled in part by the rise of independent groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns.
The ads are starting out ugly
Mr. Perry took remarks by the president about the need to do more to lure foreign investment out of context to suggest that Mr. Obama believes Americans are lazy. And Mr. Romney edited a video clip to put in Mr. Obama’s mouth a thought actually expressed by a supporter of Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential race, misleadingly suggesting that Mr. Obama believes he cannot win if he talks about the economy.
The Democrats are fighting back,
Democrats have already run advertisements in
Arizona, Iowa and against Mr. Romney, who, if he wins the nomination, will be the subject of an intense Democratic effort to show him as an unprincipled flip-flopper. South Carolina
Priorities USA Action, a pro-Obama group founded with the help of Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman, has spent almost a million dollars on television advertisements.
but they are going to be underfunded and overwhelmed. The idea that one million can offset $13 million is ludicrous.
If democracy does fail in the United States, the beginning of its demise will be documented at the perversion of one of its greatest freedoms, freedom of speech. Freedom of speech was meant to provide for ideas to compete openly and equally in the marketplace for ideas. But a Supreme Court that treasures the right of wealthy Conservatives to drown out the opposition doesn’t see it that way. And thus they serve as “useful idiots” to a small group of concentrated wealth.