Hey, Media: It's Not About Romney; It's About Money:
On June 13, 2011, the Rude Pundit took to the Twitter machine and tapped out the following: "Christ, do we really have to live through the next 17 months until Obama beats Romney? Do we have to go through this?" The reason he brings this up is not to say that, on a bad day, when he's at the end of a three-day tequila and ecstasy binge, and he's not sure what city he's in, whose vomit is on the pillow, and whether that naked guy in the corner is breathing, he's smarter than every mainstream political prognosticator. True as that might be, that's not the point here (and, hey, he might turn out to be wrong in November [he won't be]). No, there's another reason the Rude Pundit is shamelessly touting his tweet - yeah, he's gonna punch himself in the balls for writing that phrase - and it's got less to do with the candidates than with the mighty media itself.
This morning, on MSNBC's Goatee-Flaunting with Chuck Todd, the significantly bewhiskered host declared former Governor Mitt Romney as the frontrunner by far in the New Hampshire primary and then talked about the battle for second place, sighing, "because we have to make a story about something here" (or words to that effect).
See, it's not that the Rude Pundit was so fucking prescient in his June declaration that he's never wavered from, not when Rick Perry jumped into the race, not when Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul had their surges. It's that everyone has known all along that it was gonna be Romney. Members of the media (and a good many people in Blogsylvania) have kept alive a narrative of competition where none exists, hoping beyond hope that this will become another Obama/Clinton slog through the winter and spring instead of the tedious wait on the inevitable occurring.
In doing so, nearly every reporter has missed the opportunity to cover the real story of this primary (and, truly, of almost every election in this country): the reason that Mitt Romney is winning is because there is no one who can touch him on money. Whether it's campaign contributions or PACs, this nomination process was over before it began because the very, very rich Romney is Wall Street's pick. This is not news. But with the rise of Super PACs in the wake of the Citizens United decision and the no-ceiling spending they can engage in under the guise of "free speech" (remember: if money equals speech, then some people have more speech than others, no?), we've moved into a new realm of crazy. That's news. Big-time fucking news. But it's pathetic when Stephen Colbert is one of the only media figures making the effort to expose how corrupting Super PACs are.
In other words, the real story of this primary process, the first presidential election since Citizens United, has been consciously ignored when, indeed, it is more significant than who Republicans pick to lose to President Obama. On the Meet the Press debate yesterday, host David Gregory came precariously close to making it a real topic. Asking Romney about the tidal wave of Super PAC ads that destroyed Newt Gingrich, Gregory brought up Gingrich's strategy to destroy Romney: "Are you consistent now as you're preparing to launch against Governor Romney?" Gingrich said he was. Gregory asked them, "Would you both agree to take these Super PAC ads down?" They would not agree. Dangerously close to actually talking about something important, Gregory moved on.
A more interesting moment occurred after the debate on MSNBC, when Chris Matthews spoke to Romney lackey John Sununu (who is strangely still alive) over the Super PAC spending. After defending Romney and the ads, Sununu said, "The law should be changed. Everybody, every candidate agrees the law should be changed. Nobody likes that law, but unfortunately, bad legislation put the Supreme Court in a position where [it] had to make that decision." Sununu was referring, of course, to the McCain-Feingold campaign spending law as the "bad legislation." But you got that? Nobody likes the law. But it is the law. And the Super PAC ads are a legal abrogation of an open, fair electoral process. There are others, but it is certainly the most egregious. Like Gregory, Matthews touched on it and backed away.
During the debate, Gingrich pushed Romney: "Governor, I wish you would calmly and directly state it is your former staff running the PAC, it is your millionaire friends giving to the PAC." Romney wouldn't deny it. Gingrich could have used that as a leaping off point to attack the campaign laws and Super PACs, but he couldn't because not only does Gingrich have one supporting him, not only is it about to launch a campaign attacking Romney for being a heartless capitalist (an odd strategy in a Republican primary), but one of Newt Gingrich's billionaire friends just donated $5 million to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC.
Of Republicans, only Buddy Roemer is speaking out against the current campaign finance laws. Roemer has more experience in government than Romney. Of course, he doesn't have the cash. And, of course, almost no one in the media gives a shit what he has to say.