Wow, January's gone already — time really flies when you're having Republican presidential primaries! And what better time than Groundhog Day to poke into that warren of feral Republican ideologues and see what the heck is going on.
Already, four of the GOP contenders have had to drop out — Michele Bachmann because she was just too wacky, Jon Huntsman because he was too sane, Herman Cain because he was too exposed and Rick Perry because he was too dimwitted.
But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, came from nowhere to a second-place finish in the Florida primary, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.
Never heard of Adelson? It consists of the married duo of Sheldon and Miriam, neither of whom are actually on any ballot. Rather, they are running on the Money Ticket.
Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas is a global casino baron who holds a $21 billion personal fortune. He has long been a major funder of far-right-wing causes, and this year he is placing an extra-big bet on his old political consort, Newt Gingrich. When Newt's presidential bid nearly flatlined after his electoral collapses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sheldon rushed in with emergency CPR — Cash-Powered Resuscitation. This one rich guy wrote a $5 million check to "Winning Our Future," Gingrich's Super PAC. Sheldon's money was injected directly into toxic attack ads against Mitt Romney in South Carolina's primary, jolting Newt's campaign back to life.
Gingrich still lacked the financial vitality to match Romney's media buy in Florida's pricy primary, however. No worries, though — Miriam Adelson stepped in to infuse Winning Our Future with another $5 million jolt of CPR. The Gingrich campaign, you see, is a vessel for the Adelson campaign, and word is that this one power couple is prepared to spend another $10 million to make their boy the GOP nominee, with more to come if he's the one to run against President Obama.
Just before this week's vote in Florida, Newt plunged head-first into the deep end of America's pool of political cynicism by telling a Tampa crowd that he's different than Romney because "I love people power, not money power." Sheesh — he wouldn't even be in the race without the money power of the Adelsons, who've turned "Winning Our Future" into "Buying Our Future."
How can one couple cause such a political distortion. Aren't there limits? Used to be. But in its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court upended our democratic elections by decreeing that corporations and uber-wealthy individuals can dump unlimited sums of cash into campaigns to elect their favored candidates. Astonishingly, Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in his majority opinion that such a gusher of special-interest money would not "give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." Who knew so much political naivete could be cloaked in a single judicial robe?
Earth to Justice Kennedy: Sheldon Adelson is a product of your cluelessness about how real politics work. He's not pouring millions into Newt because of some vague sense of civic responsibility but because he wants a president who'll serve him and his right-wing ideology. Adelson knows he can count on Gingrich because he bought him years ago.
The billionaire and The Newt bonded in the mid-'90s over their shared fondness for crushing labor unions. Adelson pushed a state law to crimp union rights, and Gingrich, then the House speaker, not only endorsed Adelson's legislation, but he also backed a tax break in Congress for casino owners.
In turn, Gingrich received campaign cash, funding to support him after being drummed out of office in 1998 for corruption, free rides on Adelson's corporate jet — and now, an open spigot of cash for his presidential run. In the past, the biggest personal check that Gingrich could've taken from his casino sugar daddy was $5,000. After the Citizens United edict, however, Adelson can go all in to push his willing servant into the White House.
How much money does it take to "give rise to corruption"? Well, 10 million bucks smells corrupt to me. But that won't be the end of it, since Kennedy and four other justices (none of whom have ever run for office or been in a campaign) voted to legalize unlimited spending to corrupt our elections.
It's a disgrace to let money rule America. To overturn Citizens United, go to www.united4thepeople.org.
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.