Someone tell me again why this man has a column at The New York Times? Oh never mind. David Brooks does his best to gloss over the devastating effects of the Citizens United ruling and pretends that the big monied interests pouring money into this
October 9, 2010

Someone tell me again why this man has a column at The New York Times? Oh never mind. David Brooks does his best to gloss over the devastating effects of the Citizens United ruling and pretends that the big monied interests pouring money into this year's mid-term elections are just business as usua.l The Koch brothers and their ilk are just riding a wave of voter unrest with the electorate. Thankfully, Mark Shields was there along with him on The PBS Newshour for a dose of reality.

This is not just another typical election with the massive amounts of money pouring in from unnamed outside sources doing their best to buy as many races as possible for Republicans. Brooks in typical Villager fashion thinks that whatever is good for Republicans can't be so bad for the rest of us. Unfortunately he's right about the influence of money on our politics going on forever, but with this recent Supreme Court ruling, I believe as Shields does we're wading into some uncharted territory here.

Sadly instead of some badly needed campaign finance reform our lovely Supreme Court decided our politicians just weren't bought and sold by big business quite enough already. In the world of the David Brooks out there, it's just business as usual. I guess it's all just fine by him as long as he keeps drawing that paycheck to play turd polisher for the Republicans week after week. Never mind the damage to what's left of our democracy that ruling caused.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are there any -- well, one thing I want to ask you both about is, there are a number of reports lately about all this outside money coming in, especially on the Republican side.

David, this is millions and millions of dollars coming through these groups. And they don't have to say who the money is coming from. Do we know -- do we have any idea where it's coming from? And how much difference is it going to make?

DAVID BROOKS: We have names for the groups. I mean, they have to register. And so we have names of who the groups is coming for.

I'm curious to know how much of a big effect. In my view, the money follows the passion. Two years ago, the Democrats had all the passion. Obama himself raised $745 million, a huge amount of money. The money was flowing in that direction. Now the passion is all on the Republican side. And they're raising a ton of money and a lot of outside groups.

Candidates are ambivalent about this sometimes, because they have no control over what is happening. Sometimes, they don't like the message. But there's a lot of corporate money flowing. And one of the things that is interesting to me is, the corporate money doesn't flow to the Tea Party folks. They're giving to the non-Tea Party Republicans.

And Tea Party Republicans are getting almost no corporate money, which is a little break in the Republican Party. They're getting...

JUDY WOODRUFF: But some of them are doing pretty well.

DAVID BROOKS: They're doing well fund-raising because they have got some -- a few sort of more ideological givers. They're also doing phenomenally well with small donors. So, Marco Rubio in Florida has raised something like $4 million or $5 million in small donations.

So, they have got sort of grassroots passion. But whether -- how it will affect the race, I'm always skeptical that money really shapes races. I think the money follows where the passion is.

MARK SHIELDS: I disagree completely. I will tell you why -- and not that the money doesn't follow passion.

This has turned out to be the Chief John Roberts-Samuel Alito memorial election. They were the ones, with their decision, which the president, you will recall, in the State of the Union address, said it was opening up the floodgates to bring in corporate money, even foreign money...

JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the Citizens United...

MARK SHIELDS: That's the Citizens United decision and other decisions as well.

And Samuel Alito, sitting there in the cutaway, said, "Not true, not true."

True, because what we have seen, Judy, is, quite honestly, this was the election that, everywhere you went, David went, I went, anywhere went, people told you they wanted to take their government back from special interests. They hated special interests in Washington. And this is the election that turns it back to special interests.

And I'll tell you why. Not simply the -- Colorado, twice as much money has been spent in the United States Senate race by outside committees that -- David, with these bland names -- as the candidates and the campaigns themselves have spent since the 1st of August.

But, in a race like in Iowa, Bruce Braley, Democratic congressman running for reelection, safely there, a group called America's Future comes in. They're going to spend $800,000 against him, OK? They may not beat him, but they're raising issues like he is for building the mosque at Ground Zero, which has never been an issue, he's never addressed, and they're just making these charges.

And whoever wins will know one thing. And that is that they could have $800,000 come against them the next time. And this money, we don't know where it came from. And the hypocrisy of the Republicans on this issue is astounding. It is truly historic.

The Republicans have always opposed campaign finance that put limits on contributions or limits on what a campaign could spend. Their antidote, their solution, their one-size-fits-all solution was full, timely, and complete disclosure, that you could -- that citizens would know who was giving to these campaigns and why. Now we don't know.


I guess I would just say, the Koch brothers say -- this is a group of ideological brothers in the oil business who have given a lot of money. They have been giving a lot of money for 20 years. So, some of these ideological groups have been giving, giving and giving. Now they are riding a wave, so it seems to have a bigger impact.

But I'm less convinced that it's going to have an outside impact than the money they have always been giving.

MARK SHIELDS: If you want to avoid -- you want to avoid a primary challenge next time, you are going to please those groups that have that kind of money.

DAVID BROOKS: But that has been the history of the last 20 years of American politics.

MARK SHIELDS: Not when you spend a million dollars with nobody's name on it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We may talk about this on another occasion.


JUDY WOODRUFF: For now, thank you both, David Brooks, Mark Shields.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

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