In a series of vapid non sequiturs, Clint Eastwood's gravelly voice pinned the promise of a city -- no, a nation -- to government dependency, claiming that "the people of Detroit" lost almost everything but because "we" pulled together and the "Motor City is fighting again" -- punching, roaring, imbued with American grit -- we survived.
Or, some might argue, after screwing stakeholders, discarding legal contracts, rewarding failed business models (while punishing those who employ better ones) and sticking taxpayers with the unions' fat pension tab, America got a heaping spoonful of the Obama administration's economic policy.
Either way, it's odd that we didn't hear much griping about "corporatism," oligarchies and Citizens United, though a corporate-sponsored campaign spot laid out the president's re-election narrative rather nicely. Now, I have no beef with Chrysler's running a campaign ad, but the thing is that if Obama had his way, Republicans would have a good case for banning this kind of politicking. You know, for the good of democracy.
You may remember that the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision centered around the ability of a corporation to air a documentary critical of then-candidate Hillary Clinton. In her first case as solicitor general for the Obama administration, in fact, current Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan went so far as to argue that the federal government should be empowered to ban books if Washington deems that they amount to "political electioneering." Let's just say the spirit of Voltaire is not exactly soaring in Washington these days.
You may also remember that when Ford ran a TV ad praising its innovative strategy of competing without taxpayer charity (a bit of a myth itself), the White House was reportedly incensed, viewing Ford's defense of free enterprise as an attack on the president. Needless to say, upsetting this administration is bad for business, and Ford pulled the ad.
What about commercials? What about commercials produced by companies that benefited (in this case, a Bush bailout supported by Obama) from policies supported by this administration?
What about "It's Halftime in America"? Well, cheers all around! White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, "Saving the (American) Auto Industry: Something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on." (Eminem apparently read a script that was written by the same people who wrote the script that Eastwood read.) Obama's campaign architect, David Axelrod, tweeted: "Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?"
Hmm. Not sure. David -- if I may -- maybe you could ask Clint or the agency that created the commercial, Wieden+Kennedy, because it is reportedly staffed by folks who have worked on Obama campaigns and Democratic causes for years.
As for those super PACs -- the main boogeyman of Citizens United -- The Washington Examiner reminded me, the president once asked voters to "challenge every elected official who benefits from these ads to defend this practice or join us (in) stopping it." Join us? Let's start with Obama, who is going to have to challenge himself, as this week, his campaign asked top fundraisers to support his own super political action committee.
Admittedly, brutes like me live under a preposterously antiquated notion. We believe that citizens should be free to support any candidate with as much money as they'd like -- anonymously, if they desire. But if super PACs and corporate-sponsored politicking are really jeopardizing the very fabric of American life -- Obama once claimed they were a "threat to democracy" -- why would the president partake in this orgy of gruesome selfishness?
It was reported that Obama had one of his internal "evolving conversations" on the issue, conversations that always seem to evolve into Obama's rationalizing whatever is best for Obama. Conversations that are educational. Because the next time the administration claims that more speech is threating democracy -- corporate speech, super PACs, Citizens United -- what it really will mean is that more speech is threatening its second term.
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