Waiting for Another Watergate
Editor’s note: Truthdig welcomes Richard Reeves to our lineup of syndicated columnists.What is the most powerful political operation in the country in this 21st century? It’s the United States Supreme Court. The men and women in black are on their way to deciding their second national election in just the first decade of the century.In the year 2000, the justices stopped the counting of votes in the presidential election. This year they tilted (or mutilated) congressional elections by ruling—in the case called Citizens United—that corporations are people, only more so. What they ruled was that corporations (and unions) or groups they sponsor have the right to anonymously pump millions of dollars into campaigns. Citizens, you and me, can give much smaller amounts, but we have to reveal our names and addresses—”transparency” they call that.There is, to say, a heated debate going on about all this secret money. Two distinguished debaters, David Brooks of The New York Times and Al Hunt of Bloomberg News, have taken opposite (and extreme) sides of the argument.Brooks’ analysis appeared Tuesday under the headline: “Don’t Follow the Money.”Hunt wrote two days earlier under the headline: “Watergate Return Inevitable as Cash Floods Elections.”They are both commenting on the same set of facts: Because of the new Supreme Court decision, spending on next month’s House and Senate elections may top $4 billion, a record. Undisclosed cash, most of it from unnamed corporations, could be between $250 million and $500 million.As Brooks sees it, the money will have no impact; most candidates of both parties are perfectly capable of raising all the money they need to run as well as possible in their states or districts. So, according to his reasoning, the money does not change the politics on the ground. What it mainly does is make media consultants richer than they already are. He writes:
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