They Want What They’ve Paid For

Nicholas Confessore, in the NYTimes, tries to paste on a veneer of Both Sides! parity, with the help of some “Super PACs blessed by Democratic congressional leaders”. But almost all of his article concerns the Republican One-Tenth-of-One-Percenters who’ve lavished their millions on buying the GOP outright, and who now feel entitled to a better return on their investment:

The Republican donors who have financed the party’s vast outside-spending machine are turning against the consultants and political strategists they once lavished with hundreds of millions of dollars.

In recent months, they have begun holding back checks from Republican “super PACs” like American Crossroads, unsatisfied with the groups’ explanations for their failure to unseat President Obama or win back the Senate. Others, less willing than in the past to defer to the party elders and former congressional staff members who control the biggest groups, are demanding a bigger voice in creating strategy in exchange for their continued support.

Donors like Paul Singer, the billionaire Republican investor, have expanded their in-house political shops, building teams of loyal advisers and researchers to guide and coordinate their giving. And some of the biggest contributors to Republican outside groups in 2012 are now gravitating toward the more donor-centric political and philanthropic network overseen by Charles and David Koch, who have wooed them in part by promising more accountability over how money is spent…

The quiet revolt signals a broader shift in the world of big money. Clubs of elite donors in both parties are taking a more central role in shaping policy and campaigns, displacing party leaders and the outside-spending organizations they helped create after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. And the sheer scale of their spending is almost certain to rewrite the playbook for political campaigns this year, as candidates reckon with the strongly held views of some of the world’s wealthiest people…

It remains to be seen whether greater donor involvement will make any of the groups more effective at winning elections: Virtually every large right-leaning, outside-spending organization posted a losing record in 2012, regardless of who sat on the board.

Moreover, because many of the recipients are political nonprofits, it is difficult to assess precisely how much different groups are raising and spending. And even Mr. Rove’s rivals expect the Crossroads groups to play a substantial role in the 2014 campaign in the months ahead, especially as television advertising campaigns heat up…

“The Karl Rove thing is out,” said one donor, who asked for anonymity because he did not want to offend Mr. Rove. “The Koch thing is in.”

68 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Others, less willing than in the past to defer to the party elders and former congressional staff members who control the biggest groups, are demanding a bigger voice in creating strategy in exchange for their continued support.

    As liberals know all too well, this is a recipe for failure.

    So, good.

  2. 2
    Dee Loralei says:

    “The Koch thing is in”……..? Yea, that’s what he said. Sublimate much?

  3. 3
    RaflW says:

    Given that businesspeople can’t even run their own businesses well in many cases, and they surely don’t know bupkus about actual voters and their lives, what makes them think they can better advise political spending?
    Hubris does, of course. And pride sometimes goeth before a fall.

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    Please proceed, idiots.

  5. 5
    Schlemizel says:

    The GOP has been putting the Koch thing into us for years

  6. 6
    maya says:

    Can’t wait to see Dancin’ Dave with Dancin’ Dave at the WH Corespondents Dinner

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    A passel of 50¢ words on the topic.

  8. 8
    David in NY says:

    Yes, putting rich businessmen in charge of political campaigns is sure to work. Just look at President Romney’s record!

  9. 9
    Jeff( the other one) says:

    @Baud: Shhh. Not too loud . They might hear you…. and..and
    OH GO AHEAD SCREAM YOUR HEAD OFF , THEY WON’T LISTEN.

  10. 10
    Amir Khalid says:

    Not one word, in that New York Times story, about the Republican billionaires investing money to craft a governing agenda that addresses the voting public’s concerns. It’s all about gearing up for campaigning. There’s a difference between winning the shooting matches and winning the war, which may have escaped them here.

  11. 11

    The solution to what failed so miserably last time is much more of what failed so miserably last time. Boy, did I see this coming. Never believe that the rich are smarter or saner or more calculated than the rest of us. We do not live in a meritocracy.

    EDIT – @Amir Khalid:
    To the asshole ideologue, addressing voters’ concerns is not an issue. They know that their positions are right. Only the salesmanship can fail.

  12. 12
    Tommy says:

    Here is how things break down. These groups took at least 20% in media buys. Gosh knows what else in time.

    Joe/Jane Smith that might have believed in the “Tea Party” gave their money to firms that just sucked it up and gave each other a lot of money. I can’t stand these folks but this is what happened for at least two election cycles.

  13. 13
    Jewish Steel says:

    “What this party needs is more leaders leading with leadership.”

  14. 14
    Bill in Section 147 says:

    Now, from what I understand if you build your statistical models to meet your foregone conclusions the data gathered almost always proves the point you set out to make.

    With that in mind I am going to hire loyal advisers and researchers because loyalty is the most important factor in statistical analysis and data gathering and it is even more certainly loyalty that leads to the most correct conclusions when analyzing and interpreting that data.

    You may scoff but my loyal advisers and researchers advise me that you so can be even more certain and that, in fact I am correct in my assertions.

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    I need to find a way to scam earn some of that massive conservative dough.

  16. 16
    trollhattan says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    Heh, indoozle!

    “We need leadering, not behindering!”

  17. 17
    Jewish Steel says:

    @trollhattan: Right, and you’ll never see a Koch behindering.

  18. 18
    Mike in NC says:

    Looking forward to many more stories about facist billionaires flushing boatloads of cash down the toilet, with little to show for it.

  19. 19
    BGinCHI says:

    You all see that Lindsey Graham quote?

    “Well, number one, stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators. It is not your strong suit,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression. President Obama needs to do something.”

    Is it too much to ask that whomever was moderating or interviewing just say, “What do you mean? How does he invite aggression in this context? You mean there is no history or other circumstances?”

    Just any fucking thing would help. A 7-year-old could deconstruct his claim.

  20. 20
    Anoniminous says:

    This is shaping up to be one interesting election.

  21. 21
    Chris says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Not one word, in that New York Times story, about the Republican billionaires investing money to craft a governing agenda that addresses the voting public’s concerns. It’s all about gearing up for campaigning. There’s a difference between winning the shooting matches and winning the war, which may have escaped them here.

    I think the thing with Republicans is that they’re so used to winning elections just by having a nice-sounding campaign message (say “American” and “Jesus” a lot and put a lot of barely concealed racial rhetoric just beneath it) regardless of actual policies that they can’t imagine another way to win. Not winning elections? You’re just not blowing the dog whistle loud enough, or maybe the tone just needs to be adjusted a little.

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Never believe that the rich are smarter or saner or more calculated than the rest of us.

    I haven’t believed that for a very long time, but even if I had, the Marquis de Mittens’ performance would have cured me of it.

  22. 22
    aimai says:

    @BGinCHI: Guess they’ve never heard of “speak softly and carry a big stick?”

  23. 23
    Chris says:

    @BGinCHI:

    … So… what indecision was George W. Bush guilty of when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008? Did he just not glare hard enough? Had it been too long since he’d done a stunt in a flightsuit on an aircraft carrier? Inquiring minds, eager to learn from the world’s most accomplished experts in international relations, want to know.

  24. 24
    Narcissus says:

    “Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine.

    oh snap miss thing

  25. 25
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @BGinCHI: because when you’re looking for an expert in how to act powerful and intimidating, Lindsey Graham is right at the top of the list.

  26. 26

    You guys just have to look at the Mark Penn model in the 08 campaign for what this is all about. It is about redistributing the rubes money to their cronies. Period. These people are just collecting large amounts of cash from various people, some who can afford it and some who can’t and then giving it to their pals to do a job which they completely fail at doing. Hillary was in debt to Mark Penn for years after the campaign even after the fact that he completely and utterly failed at his job. His firm billed her millions despite being totally useless at his job. He didn’t even understand proportional distribution of votes, he was totally clueless, and yet he was still able to bill her campaign for millions of dollars.

    This is not about winning elections, this is not about getting their guy in office, it is about raising boatloads of cash and then redistributing it to their pals. It is always the game and should never be forgotten.

  27. 27
    John says:

    Yes. As an example, remember that time when President Obama indecisively ordered the attack on Osama bin Laden. Or that time when he indecisively ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Also, too, the times when he indecisively kicked the shit out of the Republican candidates in 2008 and 2012.

    It would be cool if we had a decisive leader who did decisive things like apologizing to the Chinese when they seized our pilots, or continuing to read a kids’ book with a scared look on his face while our nation was under attack, or flying his airplane overhead while a major American city drowned. Or decisively announcing that he just isn’t all that concerned about Osama bin Laden…

    Decisiveness!

  28. 28
    Chris says:

    @Litlebritdiftrnt:

    Sounds like the Bain Capital model applied to politics.

    Laissez-faire capitalism is eating itself. Margaret Thatcher said “there is no such thing as society,” and they’ve decided to take her at her word. Unfortunately for those who were expecting results, that holds true even when “society” means “the right wing.” Why should the suits attach any more importance to the Republican Party’s success than they do to America’s, or the dozens of companies they’ve run into the ground after making a golden parachute out of their employees’ retirement pensions? They get paid whether these things succeed or not.

  29. 29
    jl says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I heard a quote from Graham on CBS national news saying that Ukrainian crisis was important mainly in how our actions produced magic foreign policy credibility bitcoin for the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

    I wonder if that was the same appearance, and Graham just rattled through a list of incoherent insults and red meat throwing.

    The GOP has been playing its automatic foreign policy serious tough daddy credibility card for years (abetted by our incompetent and corrupt media), for so long that they have nothing coherent or sensible to say. Just strings of insults and foreign policy power jackoff magical thinking that grabs the most attention for the foreign policy problem (edit: and most Mr. evil Great Satan) of the day.

  30. 30
    Tommy says:

    @John: I only want him to voice these things. Say them and “drop the mic” as he walks off stage. For me, Obama is too military. Doing a lot of things I don’t like. So as a liberal when I see the right call him a liberal and weak on defense, well I’ll come to his aid. He is a cold brutal killer.

    He just understands a land war in the Middle East and Central Asia isn’t good idea.

    I like to joke, and it isn’t funny, when your national pastime is to play polo with a sheep’s head in a bag while on horseback, those folks might be kind of intense. Maybe not somebody you want to engage with ….

  31. 31
    feebog says:

    @BGinCHI:

    President Obama needs to do something.”

    Jeebus, the question is self evident; “So what do you recommend he do Senator?”

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @Tommy: The GOP knows darn well that there is nothing the U.S can do to prevent violence in Ukraine, those are the facts on the ground.

    I heard a GOPer on national news saying that if Obama were really tough, he wouldn’t just boycott the G8 meeting. No sirree, he would move to suspend Russia from the G9 for a year! A whole year! That would be tough, boy!

    The serious daddy GOPer favorites of the news talky shows know that the U.S. is in not much position to do anything. I guess we could threaten to start blowing stuff up with missiles, but I suppose that the GOP serious daddies know how such irresponsible suggestions would go down with the public.

    They have nothing. Which reminds me of Monty Python sketch.

  33. 33
    jl says:

    Can’t get a good link for Monty Python vocational guidance counselor. I guess people can find it themselves.

  34. 34
    IowaOldLady says:

    The thing that really gets to me isn’t that Rs disagree with the president (or me). It’s that they refuse to thing and talk about anything seriously. They just rattle off their talking points because everything, EVERYTHING is about scoring political gains and dissing the blah guy in the White House. Actually, it’s about the dissing first. Political gains if there’s time and energy left over.

  35. 35
    the Conster says:

    Wasn’t it just a few years ago it was considered traitorous to question the CIC? Oh, right, the sheriff is near now.

  36. 36
    The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:“An nescis, mi fili, quantiliâ prudentiâ mundus regatur?”

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @IowaOldLady:

    And that’s why I rarely bother to ever sit down and talk about any of “the issues” with them anymore. Well, that and the fact that most of them don’t have the minimal amount of knowledge required to talk about them even if they wanted to.

  38. 38

    @Tommy: I remember you saying that you are an expert Adobe DreamWeaver user. Are there any books you could recommend for an Advanced Beginner. I have done some coding in html and CSS but not much. Thanks!

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @RaflW:

    Given that businesspeople can’t even run their own businesses well in many cases, and they surely don’t know bupkus about actual voters and their lives, what makes them think they can better advise political spending?

    They have a lot of money, which in their philosophy proves that they are smarter than anyone else. I assume there’s also a heaping measure of believing their own bullshit, especially the part about how Obama and a bunch of Democratic Senators were pushovers in 2012. The failure to take advantage of that supposed vulnerability is held as proof of some mixture of incompetence, malfeasance, and disloyalty on the part of those running the 2012 campaigns, and the lack of any obviously more competent machine Republicans makes directing things themselves the only practical alternative for the ultra-wealthy.

  40. 40
    BGinCHI says:

    To everyone who responded: exactly right. How easy is it to be smarter than the whole MSM? Even a bunch of busy people on a blog run by a semi-functional but avid pet owner can figure this out faster than people who get paid to do it.

  41. 41
    The Very Revered Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    @Roger Moore: That philosophy is the bastard offspring of Calvinism. Screw the Civil War, we’re still fighting the Roundheads vs. Cavaliers, Jamestown vs. Plymouth Plantation.

  42. 42
    jl says:

    Monty Python, Vocational Guidance Counsellor
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4h-wVe9a6rQ

  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    To the asshole ideologue, addressing voters’ concerns is not an issue. They know that their positions are right. Only the salesmanship can fail.

    I don’t think it’s a question of thinking their positions are right. The goal of their campaigns is to get what they want by hook or by crook, the opinion of the electorate be damned. Their cash is a giant hammer to pound on a universe of nails. Worrying about mechanisms is for lesser mortals.

  44. 44
    Suffern ACE says:

    @feebog: or ask what US interest is threatened.

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The failure to take advantage of that supposed vulnerability is held as proof of some mixture of incompetence, malfeasance, and disloyalty on the part of those running the 2012 campaigns, and the lack of any obviously more competent machine Republicans makes directing things themselves the only practical alternative for the ultra-wealthy.

    Would you say there’s also a healthy dose of “Mitt Romney was One Of Us, so we don’t like to think that maybe he lost because he was just an abominable candidate, so we’re going to put all the blame on his hired help instead?”

  46. 46
    jl says:

    @Chris: But Mtt Romney’s hired help were so much like Mitt Romeny, and I think this is a case where the transitivity property is reasonable to assume, so…. really not much hope there in the reality based world.

    Edit: However, this assumes that the reality based world includes realms where there are problems that cannot be solved by unlimited corporate cash. Maybe hard to explain it these GOP titans.

  47. 47
    aimai says:

    @jl: Magic foreign policy bitcoin is a keeper.

  48. 48
    Warren Terra says:

    It’s interesting that the donors demand more accountability in how their money is spent even as they donate their money to organizations that do not disclose their donors, leaving the rest of us with no ability to assess accountability.

  49. 49
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:

    So… what indecision was George W. Bush guilty of when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008?

    According to the Mintru, those events never happened. Referencing unpersons is a thought crime.

  50. 50
    jl says:

    @Suffern ACE: No no no. Everything is connected in magic serious daddy foreign policy world where resolve and firmness will Solve All Problems.

    Obama being tough (which he can never be, that is stipulated) mines magic foreign policy credibility bitcoin for the Iranian nuke negotiations. (Graham said so himself today)

    But it’s pointless. If Obama did go beyond any of the only slightly tougher suggestions floated by the GOP serious daddies, and whatever he did was not immediately 100 percent successful by all conceivable criteria, he would immediately become the inadequate blah man in over his head.

    It is cynical political opportuniism all the way down with these scumbags.

  51. 51
    kindness says:

    Rove vs Koch is as Machiavelli vs Hitler.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:

    Would you say there’s also a healthy dose of “Mitt Romney was One Of Us, so we don’t like to think that maybe he lost because he was just an abominable candidate, so we’re going to put all the blame on his hired help instead?”

    If it had been just Mitt Romney, that might be a plausible explanation, but they lost several other winnable elections, too. I think they’re actually on to something with the idea that it’s a mistake to give money to Rove and his ilk; they genuinely are a bunch of bungling grifters who should be shown the door. The problem is in believing that they should take things over themselves rather than looking around for competent, experienced political operatives.

  53. 53
    Tommy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Try the Visual Quick Start Guides. My favorite. I own them with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and many other programs.

    Now with that said I use YouTube for most help. I love books. I like paper. But to see and hear somebody explain something, well that is priceless.

  54. 54
    BGinCHI says:

    What day does MoDo’s column come out? Gonna be an instant classic this week.

  55. 55
    RaflW says:

    @jl: It is cynical political opportuniism all the way down with these scumbags.

    Word.

  56. 56
    RaflW says:

    @Roger Moore: The problem is in believing that they should take things over themselves rather than looking around for competent, experienced political operatives.
    There’s also the small problem that Americans hate most of the policy “solutions” the GOP flogs. New salesman, same old shit, what good would it do?

  57. 57
    serena1313 says:

    More billionaires are joining the Koch brothers because … the Kochs have promised them a higher rate of return?

    They may want to reconsider unless of course they do not mind a few more Koch-funded crazy uncontrollable T-Party extremists in office who will, if they have the chance, shut down the federal government, default on the deficit, destroy the good faith and credit of the US, crash the world markets and the world economy …

    Even billionaires cannot escape something like that and come out completely unscathed.

    Anyone who has ever invested knows better than to pool money into one source. And there are no guarantees that your investments will yield a return. But most investors at least have some idea of the risks before they actually invest their money.

    These guys did not get rich by being stupid, but apparently they view running the government in the same way as running a for-profit cut-throat business and investing in politicians who will do their dirty work as a zero-sum game.

    Governing is not part of the equation.

  58. 58
    jl says:

    I have to go, so cannot be around to defend myself against charges that I am a Putin agent, or Neo-Nazi (depending on which commenter thinks I am sending what signal and insinuendo). But I am curious, so will mention this and check back later to see if anyone heard more about it.

    As Putin was taking over the whole Crimean Peninsula Friday, I heard a couple of news reports about Putin saying he could work with a nice fellow oligarch, like Tymoshenko. (OK, nothing in the report indicated Putin said anything like the ‘nice fellow oligarch’. I think the words were more like ‘responsible and reasonable partner’)

    Putin may be calculating that if he acts real threatening and scary like, he could get Ukrainian negotiating partners he wants to deal with. Whether he can get that, and knows how to keep things from spinning out of control, or keep he himself from doing some thing really stupid, if he does not, I guess remains to be seen.

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    When your concern is the horse race, and nothing else, this tends to put, appropriately, blinders on you.

    The American media establishment needs to be cleansed with fire.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The problem is in believing that they should take things over themselves rather than looking around for competent, experienced political operatives.

    Well, who can blame them, considering how stellar Turd Blossom’s performance was in 2012.

    Asshole laughed all the way to the bank, and as for electoral results, well, he laughed all the way to the bank.

  61. 61
    muricafukyea says:

    They still have not been able to fake and can not beat true grass roots get out the vote local involvement. No matter how much money they spend on it.

    Only thing they can do is try demotivate them which they failed to do in 2012

  62. 62
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    Wow! Fancy seeing the words ‘philanthropy’ and ‘Koch’ in the same sentence.

  63. 63
    danielx says:

    And the sheer scale of their spending is almost certain to rewrite the playbook for political campaigns this year, as candidates reckon with the strongly held views of some of the world’s wealthiest people…

    Gosh, it’s almost like they resent having to horse around with this whole electoral process deal, isn’t it?

  64. 64
    danielx says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    To the asshole ideologue, addressing voters’ concerns is not an issue. They know that their positions are right. Only the salesmanship can fail.

    Word.

    Repeat after me: Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.

  65. 65
    Ian says:

    @BGinCHI:
    And Lindsay Graham really makes me quake in my boots. He is the one to inspire fear in other leaders!

    Though, i’m not sure inspiring fear creates the results we want it too.

  66. 66

    […] post is from Anne Laurie over at BJ, and it discusses this important piece by Nicolas Confessore at the New York Times.  You should […]

  67. 67
    karen says:

    @Chris:

    You’re just not blowing the dog whistle loud enough, or maybe the tone just needs to be adjusted a little.

    You think they’ll use something closer to the N word? Or N lover? They seem to have lost their filter after all.

  68. 68
    Chris says:

    @karen:

    I think they already have gotten close, but at the same time you’ve also had the vague, tone-deaf attempts to reach out to minorities and women that’re part of it too.

    I think they’re just confused about why their dog whistle isn’t working, and are trying to figure out how to adjust it. Their whole talk about “how to reach out to minorities” is part of it; they vaguely realize that they need to take the newcomers into account, and are trying to figure out the shibboleths that’ll allow them to bring all the minorities into the fold the same way they did with the white ConservaDems of the sixties (“blacks are all social conservatives anyway, see if you can do something with that…”)

    It hasn’t occurred to them yet that simply dog-whistling on any frequency might not be enough, that the current voting public might be expecting actual tangible results rather than appeals to tribal/cultural catchphrases.

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