Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Super PACs are super insulting
I’m not sure which is more embarrassing as an American this election season, the GOP making a mockery of the primary system or Super PACs making a mockery of the campaign contribution system.
With schizoid Romney, pious Santorum and arrogant Newt busy bashing one another until the moment they stop and have a group hug (sooner than later), I prefer fake candidates telling the truth over real candidates lying. So although a tight race, the most embarrassing thing at the moment for me is the Super PAC farce.
No one exposes the charade clearer than Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert with their absolutely brilliant mockery of the mockery of the running joke known as the American electoral process.
What these two entertainers have accomplished over the past few weeks, exposing dishonesty and hypocrisy through humor while at the same time actually educating viewers about the corrupting influence of money in politics (thus understanding the absurdity of it all), can only be described as comedic genius.
Beginning with the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision that allowed Mitt Romney to proudly say to a group of semisupporters, “Corporations are people, too, my friend …” and leading up to the insulting (yet legal) practice of allowing Super PACs to say whatever they want about candidates as long as they don’t “coordinate” with actual candidates, Stewart and Colbert have implemented a visual strategic exercise of enlightening voters (mainly viewers younger than 30) on how ridiculous and downright undemocratic the entire process really is.
To believe Romney’s Super PAC (Restore Our Future), formed and run by his former personal lawyer, is not coordinating with Romney over ad content is like believing Rob Katz makes every Vail Resorts decision based solely upon the wants and needs of Vail Resorts employees first and the good of the community second (with stockholders way down the line).
What an insulting joke.
Yet these two comics created their own Super PAC (Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow), raised funds estimated to be in the six-figure range, announced an exploratory committee for Colbert to maybe run for president, told voters in South Carolina a vote for Herman Cain (whose name was still on the ballot) was a vote for Stephen Colbert and actually received more than 6,000 votes last Saturday thanks to those who grasped the power of irony (at least, I hope that’s why they voted for Cain).
Stewart, who heads Cobert’s Super PAC, simultaneously used some of the money to run TV attack ads against Colbert. On the surface, they say it was done to prove the lack of coordination between the two (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), yet of course everyone knows they co-produce most of their endeavors and have been close friends for many years.
Sure, it helps their TV ratings and, therefore, their sponsorship dollars, and pundits will treat it all as a joke, but the GOP, Federal Election Commission and Supreme Court do not seem to grasp the fact that the joke is on them.
On the outside looking in, it’s truly difficult to be sure which ones are the real jokers.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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