What Democrats Really Should Be Worried About
June 07, 2012
I’ve spent too much of the past week trying to rein in Beltway overreaction, adding in the context necessary to keep my fellow ’12 correspondents from spinning off into the ether. No, Barack Obama did not accuse the Polish people of genocide. No, Bill Clinton’s wandering off the rhetorical reservation is not particularly newsworthy. No, Scott Walker’s win in Wisconsin does not necessarily spell doom for the Democrats. But I’ll abandon that scolding, buzz-killing mode this afternoon to pour some fuel on the latest news of the day—the Republicans’ big fundraising haul.
Is asking voters to compare Romney’s vulture capitalism to Solyndra a good idea? The Romney campaign and its cohorts seem to think so. Within the past few days, American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s super PAC, released an ad that counters Obama’s attacks on Bain by highlighting Solyndra, a bankrupt solar panel company that had been given a government-backed loan guarantee, as well as the auto industry bailout. George Will made the Bain-Solyndra comparison on This Week; Paul Ryan did the same on Fox News Sunday; Michael Barone piled on in National Review Online.
Spooky Music, Steelworkers, and American Flags: A Brief Taxonomy of the Political Ad Wars
May 26, 2012
The fateful marriage between TV advertising and presidential politics that was consecrated 60 years ago with a crudely drawn black-and-white cartoon endorsing Dwight D. Eisenhower—the amateurish off-screen musical narration: “You like Ike. I like Ike. Everyone likes Ike for president”—will culminate this year in an estimated $1-billion-plus orgy spent trying to define the Obama-Romney race.
Why Neither Side is Bringing the Nasty
May 24, 2012
I’m on record claiming that Team Obama is playing a tougher form of bean bag this time around than in 2008. But, even so, I agree with Jon Chait that this election won’t really be that nasty. I just think so for different reasons. Chait argues that it’s all about elites. As he puts it: The socially liberal, economically conservative sensibilities of the party elites are working in tandem to hold back Republicans from attacking Obama on cultural grounds, and to at least complicate Obama’s populist attacks on Romney’s business career. I’m not sure I agree, at least on the right.
The Anti-Obama Ad That IS Running
May 17, 2012
My colleague Tim Noah and many others are rightly lampooning the aborted effort to resuscitate Jeremiah Wright for another go-round. But it’s worth noting that this trial balloon did accomplish something for Republicans, intended or not—it drew scrutiny away from the anti-Obama attack ad that is running, a minute-long broadside from Crossroads GPS, the group co-founded by Karl Rove, that went up this week in all the big swing states with a $25 million buy. Folks, that is a lot of dough, even in this day and age. And who’s behind that money?
Does Crossroads’ “Cool” Ad Cross The Line?
April 27, 2012
Four years ago, the McCain campaign decided that the only way to overcome Barack Obama’s star power was to try and turn it into a negative. The campaign made up its “Celebrity” ad, which, amid images of Obama being cheered by a huge throng in Berlin, compared him to Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton. The ad’s narrator asked: “He’s the biggest celebrity in the world—but is he ready to lead?” This tack wasn’t enough to bring Obama down in 2008, but the opposition had decided to try it again this year—with a bit of a twist.
April 20, 2012
Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.
Karl Rove's $10 Million Mystery Donor
April 16, 2012
In the magazine's current issue, I reported on an effort in the earliest stages among some state treasurers to use the leverage of their states' pension funds to encourage the private equity and hedge fund executives who manage much of the funds' money to be more open about their campaign contributions. There is already an equivalent effort underway to use shareholder rights to get publicly held corporations to disclose more of their political spending.
Karl Rove: MLK Without The Moustache
April 04, 2012
This is what I get for not watching Fox News (or any cable political news) closely enough: I missed Karl Rove being prompted by my own reporting into making a truly hilarious historical analogy. Earlier this week, a Fox News anchor asked Rove about the fledgling, under-the-radar effort by some Democratic state treasurers to use state pension funds' huge investments in private equity and hedge funds to force Wall Street money managers to disclose more of their political giving in the era of Citizens United.
States vs. Plutocrats
March 29, 2012
Thanks to Citizens United and other recent rulings, the nation’s ultra-wealthy have a lot more latitude than they did a few years ago when it comes to pouring money into the political system. And, according to the latest campaign filings, they aren’t skimping. During February, Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel, and Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity giant KKR, each gave $100,000 to the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, while American Crossroads, the group co-founded by Karl Rove, received $500,000 from the financial services firm S.W.