Maybe what this country needs on the
The infamous Citizens United decision -- which permits corporations and individuals to flood election campaigns with torrents of cash through super PACs as long as they are independent of candidates' formal organizations -- has invited some of the worst abuses of negative campaigning.
The latest example is the disclosure by the New York Times of a draft proposal submitted to a super PAC supporting
Among other things, the draft for a
A spokesman for Ricketts said the scheme was "merely a proposal" from a Republican television advertising consultant,
But the proposal illustrated again how wealthy individuals and groups are now able to affect the public discourse, or even dominate it, in the guise of these allegedly unaffiliated political action entities. Under campaign finance law, they are required to function without consultation with the formal candidate organizations.
That distinction, however, has often proved to be a sham. Former campaign officials routinely break off to lead or work for these super PACs, and no actual collusion is needed for these groups to provide campaign services benefiting the candidate or nominee for whom that official formerly labored.
This latest proposed anti-Obama ad campaign would have been an attempt to resurrect an old controversy, which Obama finally detoured in 2008 by repudiating the pastor's most racially offensive remarks. The formal Romney campaign professes to want to keep the 2012 debate on the president's troubles in righting the economy.
Both the Romney and Obama formal campaigns welcome the huge influx of money from the super PACs supporting their candidates. The formal campaign strategists, however, would prefer that they get the money without some of the unsolicited lame-brained ideas that often go with it.
The most essential and cherished power such strategists require is control of the campaign message, conceived in their hands and implemented through the candidate and the whole campaign apparatus. Free-lancing from any PAC is to be mightily discouraged.
It's true, at the same time, that occasionally an unaffiliated political action committee can perform campaign dirty work to the advantage of its favored candidate. That happened in the 2004 presidential campaign, when a supposedly independent group, the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, attacked Democratic presidential nominee
Kerry and his campaign failed to mount any effective rebuttal of the ads, with which the re-election campaign of President
A politician or political scientist sitting on the
In any event, both the Romney and Obama campaigns, and their "independent" super PACs, are now going all-out to shatter all records for raising and spending in what will unquestionably the most costly presidential election in American history. Thanks a million, all you Supremes who voted to open the floodgates, for your own contribution.
Read the latest political news.
- Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms
- Budget Cut Blues: America Needs More Informed Citizenry
- Pentagon Spending Spree
- Why the 'Pro-Growth Centrists' are Wrong
- Social Security's Dual-Income Trap
- Mitt Romney Must Find Tactical Advantage
- New Marco Rubio Faces Key Test
- Mitt Romney's Pitch to Hispanics Won't Work
- Turning the Other Cheek to Donald Trump
- Trampling the Right to Vote
- Ham-Handed Solution to a Problem That Doesn't Exist
- New Florida Voter Purge Should Come As No Surprise
- Romney and Bain: Actual 'Entitlement Society' in Action
- An 'Independent' Super PAC Demonstrates Supreme Court's Folly
- On Picking an Unprepared Vice-President
- Fat Cat Urged to Bankroll Anti-Obama Hatefest
- The Massachusetts Indian War of 2012
- Chameleon Nation
- Cabinets Gone Wild
- Which Kind of Capitalism? A Debate for Obama and Romney
- More Campaign Surrogate Blunders
- Are We Better Off Than in 2008?
- The Defeat of a Man of Reason
- Our Politics is a Mess, But Only One Party is The Cause
- Right-Wing Rage Trips Itself
- 'Money Primary' Pushes Obama to the Left
- Mitt Romney's Stellar Performance
- A Campaign Treading Water
- Mitt Romney Feeds the Crocs
- The Power of the Incumbency
- Demise of a Centrist Nominee Dream
- The Media's Religion Deficit
- Crushing College Dreams
- We Can't Afford Energy Subsidies and Tax Breaks
- The Truth's Liberal Tilt
- Mitt Romney's Media Handicap
- George Bush's Pithy Endorsement
- Spending Debate Creates an Opportunity for Mitt Romney
- The State of the Military-Industrial Complex Is Strong
- Republicans Have Bad Brains?
- The Citizen and the Government
- The President's 'Other Gospel'
- Voter IQs Need Refresher Course
- Cliches Conservatives Say
- Generation Pap
- Are Government's 'Strategic Communications' Coming to American Airwaves?
- The Job Stall
- Who Lost Latin America?
- United States Unlikely To Condemn Argentina's 'Outlaw Behavior' -- Yet
- French Elections Lesson
- Companies Save Big On Corporate Taxes With the Help of Lobbyists
- Happy Anniversary, or Partisan Boasting?
- On Losing Control of the Message
- My Papers? No Thank You
- Pothole Nation
- Why Being 'On The Right Track' Isn't Enough
- The Poor as Collateral Damage
- The Real Deal About College Costs
An 'Independent' Super PAC Demonstrates Supreme Court's Folly | Politics
(c) 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.