They had them at the dollar sign

Republican presidential wannabes parade before billionaire Sheldon Adelson to shout out mandatory uncritical solidarity with Israel. Then it’s back to Iowa to begin the crucial fight to win, not the nomination itself, but the endorsement of the Koch brothers.

Meanwhile, the current Democratic president fights off the progressive wing that nominated and then worked zealously to elect him, fighting to ensure that the secret Asian trade deal stays secret until it is blasted through a sympathetic Republican congress on a no-amendments-allowed, “fast track” vote.

Jeb Bush plans to “outsource” most of his campaign to a “private” PAC, in what looks at first to be a strange move to distance himself from control of his own push for the White House.

Hillary Clinton keeps as low a profile as a presumptive nominee can, hoping to ride out both the trade deal debate (“take no position, lose no supporters” seems to be her tactic here) and the Clinton Foundation contributions-for-favours stink (maybe now we know why those “private” e-mails had to go away).

What’s going on here? Is there some sort of connecting theme? Of course there is.

Money. Lots of money.
Sheldon Adelson spent $70 million in support of sufficiently-Zionist Republicans in 2012. (That was a record then, but just wait!) This year, his favourites stand to gain as much if not more support. So it’s a loud “Yes!” to permanent “settlements” in the Left Bank. “Yes!” to the security wall. “Yes!” to bombing Palestinian children in their schools and Palestinian patients in their hospital beds. Go, Sheldon! Go, Zion!

And the Koch brothers (wouldn’t a second capital letter be more fitting, more, somehow, regal?) have announced that they will spend somewhere north of $950 million supporting right-as-rain candidates and issues in this election cycle. Twelve times the previous record — even if you count them as two contributors, six times the previous record. Each. They seemed to endorse Scott Walker, but then he moved even further right than they were comfortable with, and they’ve backtracked. (You just have to gasp at the prospect that a national politician could be too right-wing for the KB!)

Meanwhile, the President accuses Elizabeth Warren and her “extremist” cohort (= traditional Democrats) of “distorting” the contents of the trade bill, contents that Obama has insisted must remain secret. Obama can tell us with impunity that Sen. Warren is wrong about the details of the bill, since he’s agreed to make it illegal to tell anyone what’s in it. So, even though Sen. Warren, an acknowleded authority on trade law, has been allowed to read the bill (she’s still a Senator, even if she is an extremist), she can be arrested if she tells anyone what’s in it. Transparency = democracy. But not just right now, ok? Thank you for your co-operation.

Barack Obama, like his predecessor Democrat, Bill Clinton (and his perhaps successor Democrat, Hillary Clinton), orates left whenever he has to and governs right whenever he can. Remember how Guantanamo was going to close as the first act of his administration? Drones strike your fancy? (But not your house, I hope!) NSA surveillance of everyone, everywhere, all the time? (Fundamental equality!) Ah, the joys of a progressive presidency!

Too bad Jimmy Carter is 90. Wouldn’t you vote for him now, too?

Jeb Bush has the most cynical plan of all. Taking advantage of the full force of the Citizens United decision (the one where the Supreme Court killed even the illusion of electoral democracy), Bush III can skirt the few meaningful campaign restrictions by ceding control of his campaign to an “independent, third party” group. Right. Maybe his campaigners won’t have a name as great as Nixon’s “Committee to Re-Elect the President” (CREEP), but they’ll be able to spend unlimited amounts, from unlimited, anonymous contributions.

Remember the “Swift Boat Truthers”? False, distorted, misleading, or derogatory TV ads, mailouts, and tweets can be as nasty or untrue as nasty and untrue can be — there’ll be no direct feedback on Bush, who won’t be forced to say “I’m sorry” — or even “I’m Jeb Bush, and I approve this message.” Even the worst junk can be put out there, and Jeb can even “deplore” or “regret” it. It’ll still be out there, on his behalf but not on his head. Welcome to Campaign Tactics 2016. I can’t wait!

As for Hillary, the poor woman just wants to be elected. She should have been elected in 2008, damn it, if all of those progressives whose butts she’ll have to hold her breath and kiss to win this time hadn’t correctly sussed that she’s even  less a true Democrat than her husband was. To her party’s progressive wing, she’s a “DINO,” to borrow a riff from the Republicans. The trouble, of course, is that she’s got more junk than her husband ever had. While he wasted his on interns and groupies, she honed hers as a war-time Secretary of State.

Over the years, she and her hubby have taken unknown tons of contributions (to campaigns and to the family foundation) from the military suppliers and the global marketers, the Wall Street bankers and the job exporters, and now she has to keep faith with them while downplaying her record and lip-syncing (as quietly as she can get away with) with the liberals. We’ll see how well she juggles all this as the election gets closer and closer.

So, next time you need to analyze a puzzling or surprising move by any of the presidential hopefuls, start with the sound advice that “Deep Throat” game to Woodward and Bernstein forty years ago — “Follow the money.”

OK, I agree, this posting does sound a bit angry, a bit cynical, and more than a bit disparaging. None of these emotions is new to me, however. After all, I’m pretty old. I’ve been observing American politics since 1960.

How on earth could these reactions be new ?

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