Jeb Bush would seem to be the near-ideal presidential candidate for the billionaires who own American democracy -- he wants what they want and believes what they believe. But now they're making it clear that he's not sufficiently deferential on one particular issue:
The warnings trickled in soon after an announcement began circulating last month that James A. Baker III, the former diplomat who is now a foreign policy adviser to Jeb Bush, would be a featured speaker at a conference hosted by J Street, the liberal pro-Israel advocacy organization.
It could be problematic, conservative donors and Israel hawks told Mr. Bush’s team, if Mr. Baker spoke at the event, according to three people briefed on the discussions....
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul and a powerful donor to Republican “super PACs,” is among those who have expressed concerns to Mr. Bush’s friends and allies, several of them said. Mr. Adelson is said to be incensed over Mr. Baker’s comments and the lack of pressure put on him by the Bush team before his address -- a significant concern, given that Mr. Adelson has the resources to pour tens of millions of dollars into the Republican presidential primary....
“A few months ago, people I speak to thought Jeb Bush was the guy. That’s changed,” said Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, a conservative pro-Israel organization....
Jeb doesn't feel he can rein Baker in, so he's tried to appease the money gods in other ways:
Mr. Bush has responded to the criticism carefully. His spokesman issued statements criticizing J Street ahead of the speech. On Wednesday, after the speech, Mr. Bush wrote an opinion article for the National Review criticizing President Obama’s handling of nuclear talks with Iran.
It's not going to be enough, as Matt Lewis notes at the Daily Beast:
“Whether Jeb disavows James Baker, & how quickly & strongly, could be an oddly important early moment in GOP race,” Bill Kristol tweeted....
Jeb can win the nomination, I suppose, even while alienating the majority of GOP primary voters on issues like immigration and Common Core, as long as fat-cat money enables him to barely finish first in enough states in a crowded field. But it's unlikely that he can win the nomination if he alienates these fat cats.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, Governor John Kasich would seem to be just what the oligarchs want, a guy who's tried to bust unions in his state and who launched a crusade for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution -- but, as Joan Walsh notes, he's not purist enough for the oligarchs:
[National Review's Eliana] Johnson does note that Kasich is “the governor of a swing state with a strong record of achievement who has been a part of the Republican sweep of the Midwest” who also “eliminated an $8 billion deficit without raising taxes.” But none of that seemed to matter to these “pro-growth” conservatives.
And why is that?
There’s an important glimpse of an answer in this dispatch from a Kasich meeting with big New York donors. This is the group, by the way, that hosted [Scott] Walker in February, though the gathering was hijacked by Rudy Giuliani insisting President Obama doesn’t love America....
Apparently Kasich turned them off with his “prickly” answer to a question from conservative intellectual powerhouse Avik Roy, about whether he wants to repeal Obamacare yet maintain its expansion of Medicaid. When pushed, Kasich defended Medicaid recipients: “Maybe you think we should put them in prison. I don’t. I don’t think that’s a conservative position. Because the reality is, if you don’t treat the drug addicted and the mentally ill and the working poor, you’re gonna have them and they’re gonna be a big cost to society.”
Another turn-off for the big New York money guys? “He also talked about the need for a renewed bipartisan spirit on both sides of the aisle, citing Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, and Jack Kemp and Charlie Rangel, as models for contemporary lawmakers to emulate,” Johnson reports. She concludes: “At the dinner’s close, there was little appetite for a Kasich presidency among those who’d assembled to hear him.”
Sorry -- the muckamucks don't want to hear about compromise, even from a very, very conservative governor. They don't want part of what they want. They want it all.
And they've sent a simillar message to Democrats with this warning shot:
Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said....
The amount of money at stake, a maximum of $15,000 per bank, means the gesture is symbolic rather than material
Moreover, banks' hostility toward Warren, who is not a presidential candidate, will not have a direct impact on the presumed Democratic front runner in the White House race, Hillary Clinton. That's because their fund-raising groups focus on congressional races rather than the presidential election
Still, political strategists say Clinton could struggle to raise money among Wall Street financiers who worry that Democrats are becoming less business friendly....
Right -- and this is true even though the bank-friendly Hillary Clinton is the all-but-inevitable Deocratic presidential nominee and the bank-friendly Chuck Schumer is the all-but-inevitable next leader of Democrats in the Senate.
Oligarchs have near-total control over American politics, yet they're still not satisfied because it's near-total control. Every so often, someone refuses to obey them on one or two issue. That can't be allowed!
I don't expect this to change in my lifetime.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog