Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Newt Gingrich’s contract with big money

Call me a conspiracy theorist but I don’t think Newt Gingrich is just another “cheerful” loud mouth or an original voice in American public life. As a Republican presidential candidate, I don’t think he really has a mind of his own.
CNN just reported that Sheldon Adelson and his wife will pump millions more into Gingrich’s super-PAC “Winning the Future.” The Adelsons have already invested $11 million in Gingrich’s primary win in South Carolina and his life support systems ever since. It’s questionable he’d still be a candidate without their help.
Gingrich’s benefactor, of course, hasn’t put him on a leash and Gingrich needn’t expect to be cut off arbitrarily. Adelson didn’t make an estimated $22billion being temperamental.
Furthermore, Adelson isn’t doing something that actually hurts the front-runner right now—Romney’s anemic campaign needs a divided opposition. Furthermore, Adelson has made it clear that he’ll generously provide millions later if the Republicans eventually put Romney up against Obama. The New York Times reported that he’s simply a fervent Zionist who opposes any territorial compromise to make way for a Palestinian state and has “long been enamored of Mr Gingrich’s full-throated defense of Israel.”
There is, however, a contract between Gingrich’s throat and Adelson’s ear:
Newt Gingrich’s throat will crowd out any fresh intelligence or reflection on the last ten years of carnage in the Middle East that might worm into his head and threaten to move his rhetoric even an inch away from the most extreme and belligerent champions of the government of Israel.
He exercised his part of this contract during last week’s Republican debate. On the existential Iranian threat to Israel, Adelson’s ear was reminded by Gingrich that Barack Obama is the “most dangerous president in modern American history.” The rest of us—including long-time supporters of Israel, independents, conservatives, libertarians, Muslim-Americans, and liberal veterans, for that matter—might as well have gone to the kitchen, knocked back a double, and come back with a beer.
(Sure, Santorum and Romney sounded like warriors, too—naturally, they wouldn’t hesitate to send their boys. But, the former was simply being himself and the latter can’t act out of character anyway. Imagine finding, tracing, and then making a drama out of the convictions of Mitt Romney. They made only one Shakespeare and he always played with the facts.)
The Supreme Court and many thoughtful liberals and conservatives are reluctant to limit political advertising expenditures by the super PACs, unorganized groups, and individuals. Limiting free expression at all should be extremely hard to do and it’s impossible to prove that advertising “buys” elections or that, by itself, it suppresses voter turn-out.
Then, let’s agree to this: while you can’t corrupt the people with cheap advertising, you can effectively corrupt a politician by giving millions to his campaign.
It’s clean, efficient, and transparent. You don’t need focus groups and a sociologist; just read your benefactor’s profile in the New York Times.
Maybe no law can now be passed against it. Americans, however, still have the power of buyer beware. Does it pass the smell test to know that at least one intellectually curious candidate for president of the United States knows that the wheels will come off his campaign if he dares start thinking out loud on America’s interests internationally?

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