Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gail Collins says this election will be about "gobs of cash falling on campaigns like tar balls on a beach"


The mind boggles at how many zillions of $$$$ Meg Whitman's going to spend battling sad old Jerry Brown for the California governorship. Of course it's not likely to get her elected, but Gail Collins wants Californians to keep in mind that she wasn't going to pay off the state's debts anyway.

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
-- Alexander Pope, in "An Essay on Criticism"

"The rich rush in and keep right on rushing."
-- anonymous

by Ken

Gail Collins has a swell column today ("Rise of the Richies"), suggesting that newly designated California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman may have been right but for the wrong reasons when she declared in her victory speech Tuesday night: "Career politicians in Sacaramento and Washington, D.C., be warned; you now face your worst nightmare."
The people of California may be hoping that if she wins, she’ll just pay off their deficit. As a resident of New York City, which has had a billionaire chief executive for some time, I would like to say: Don’t hold your breath.

[Of course, as Harold Meyerson pointed out in his Washington Post column this morning: "Calif. GOP primary winners look headed for defeat," because their campaigns were of the far-right variety that's fine for GOP primaries but not, at least in a state like California, for a general election.]

Which leads Gail to a different take on pol-ish nightmares:
[T]he gubernatorial nominee explained that the worst nightmare for status quo lawmakers was of “two businesswomen from the real world who know how to create jobs, balance budgets and get things done.”

This is not actually the case. For career politicians, the worst nightmare would be a businessperson from the real world with a billion dollars and an open checkbook. Freddy Krueger is Michael Bloomberg.

We have been entertaining ourselves with theories about how this election year is going to be all about voter anger. Or Washington insiders. Or health care. Or TARP. But, really, it’s going to be about money. Gobs of cash falling on campaigns like tar balls on a beach.

As Gail points out, fear of a Bloomberg of their own drives already cash-crazed incumbents even crazier in building up that all-important reelection war chest.

This seems to me just another way in which the lovable schmucks of the Teabaggers' movement miss the mark. Even if they've actually located a few of the correct targets for their wrath, not only do they have no constructive clue what to do about them, but they've missed most of the really important targets. And what we're seeing now could have been easily enough foretold: the rich rushing into the political void to make hay while the sun shines, as it were.

Oh sure, the Teabaggers hate "bailouts." As usual, though, when it comes to reality, they have no idea what they're talking about. There's no way that the government was going to simply allow the financial-serivces firms -- notably the ones providing banking-equivalent services without being banks, thereby freeing themselves from even the light oversight of federal banking regulators -- to disappear. Of course the option that was minimally explored was liquidating the damned firms and paying off the depositors rather than letting managements and shareholders off the hook. Nevertheless, something was going to be done.

And now, of course, with the banksters having been made relatively whole thanks to the bailouts that the Teabaggers decry, they're acting as the banksters' foot soldiers, making sure that nothing is done to force the banksters to share the loot they've squirreled away instead of using it to restart the country's credit markets. And thanks to the Wall Street insiders who make economic policy for the Obama administration, who managed to screw up the stimulus package so it provided bulging deficits with precious little economic stimulus, not to mention the administration's failure to even try to educate the public as to what exactly economic stimulus is about (this is perhaps understandable, since the administration's cocked-up stimulus never stood a chance of accomplishing it), the entire "discussion" of depression-easing economics is left to the liars and economic neanderthals of the Right.

So we keep hearing about Greece, even though our economic situation bears hardly any resemblance to Greece's, while we never hear about Japan, whose "lost" decade we show every sign of emulating. In addition, the corporate Right has accustomed Americans so to downward expectations that with each economic downturn since the Clinton years, we're led to expect less in the form of "recovery" -- more and more Americans are shut out of such recovery as does occur, and it's come to seem normal.

As we've seen in the battle over financial-regulation reform, the business community is prepared to dump staggering sums into fighting for its prerogatives, even after the spectacular demonstration we've just had of what happens when their limitless greed is left unchecked. Sure enough, there's the Chamber of Commerce dutifully selling its horror stories of what will happen if its clients' prerogatives are impinged on even slightly, the same pack of fantasies and lies they trot out every time meaningful regulation is on the table. And Americans swallow it every time, just as they will swallow any appeal to military necessities, no matter how far-fetched or unfounded. As our friend Me has been arguing recently in the comments section, it really does appear that you can't win an election in this country taking a stand against war. (That toxic twerp Jeffie Sessions is trying to see if you can prevent the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice by branding her as "against the military," a charge even he, stupid as he is, can't be stupid enough to believe is true.)

There might be something amusing about seeing those people squawking about the economic injustice they've suffered at the hands of Big Government used as unwitting stooges of Big Money -- if it weren't so sad, and serious.

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