Their dastardly plan? To “buy the election.”
That’s according to bombastic New York magazine columnist Frank Rich (a rich, white man himself, although “old” is a more subjective term). The article is titled, “Sugar Daddies.”
“If you want to appreciate what Barack Obama is up against in 2012, forget about the front man who is his nominal opponent and look instead at the Republican billionaires buying the ammunition for the battles ahead,” Rich writes. “A representative example is Harold Simmons, an 80-year-old Texan who dumped some $15 million into the campaign before primary season had ended.”
Stop right there. Let’s examine Rich’s initial, shining example.
Simmons (a Wood County native) has indeed contributed large sums of money in the primary cycle — including $1 million to Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign. That campaign bombed so badly, despite Perry’s war chest, that Simmons clearly “bought” nothing.
How about the rest of Simmons’ spending? He and his company, Contran, have given to conservative political action committees — in a year that has seen all conservative alternatives to former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney fall by the wayside.
Still, to further buttress his claim, Rich points out that Simmons funded ads attempting to link then-candidate Barack Obama to leftist Bill Ayers in 2008.
Look how well that worked out.
But on to the meat of Rich’s claim: “Whatever else happens in 2012, it will go down as the Year of the Sugar Daddy. Inflamed by Obama-hatred, awash in self-pity, and empowered by myriad indulgent court and Federal Election Commission rulings, an outsize posse of superrich white men will spend whatever it takes to have its way with the body politic and, if victorious, with the country itself.”
His piece seems to be intended as a wake-up call to the Democratic party — Sugar Daddies are “largely a Republican phenomenon,” he claims.
But surely the Democrats boast their own super-PACs and gazillionaires.
There’s Bill Maher, who is granted a pass on misogyny and incivility, perhaps because of his $1 million donation to Obama’s PAC. And Obama is on track to out-raise Republicans in this election cycle. He could bring in as much as $1 billion.
But raw facts don’t deter Rich. He’s too busy scaring the electorate.
In his panic, Rich goes where he usually does, in asserting that anyone who opposes Obama is a racist.
“Obama arouses these kind of violent emotions less because of his actual record than because of who he is (emphatically not one of them) and what he says,” he contends.
So which is it? Greed or racism?
Presumably, Rich would say both. And that’s the real problem.
What’s wrong in our political system today isn’t “old, white, rich men.” It’s assuming the worst about our opponents. That’s what’s poisoned our politics. It’s not money. It’s cynicism.