Friday, September 16, 2011

Michele, Michele, Michele

Poor Michele Bachmann: she keeps tripping over her own tongue, as the New York Times points out at great lengths this morning.

In the pugilism of this week’s Republican presidential debate, Representative Michele Bachmann seemed to have landed a clean blow against Gov. Rick Perry over an order he issued requiring Texas schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus.

But then in follow-up interviews, Mrs. Bachmann suggested the vaccine was linked to “mental retardation.”

There is absolutely no evidence that the vaccine causes retardation, of course. It seems some distraught mother tearfully made that claim to Bachmann after the debate, and Michele used the quote during cable news interviews, thereby wiping out the rather nifty blow she had landed during the debate. And that's a shame, because Rick Perry and his crony capitalism is a really valid subject for exploration and, yes, exploitation.

I decided to check out the issue and headed over to see what Open Secrets, a site run by the Center for Responsive Politics, for more information, which it had. The brief blurb directed readers to this column written for and posted at the CNN site.

Written by the officials from the Center for Responsive Politics, the column traces the campaign contributions to Gov. Perry received directly and indirectly from the pharmaceutical industry.

On Monday night at the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate in Tampa, Florida, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas suggested that he couldn't be bought for a campaign contribution of $5,000. That raises the question: Is there a price at which Perry's loyalty is for sale? ...

Merck has given $28,500 to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns since January 2001, according to a new report by Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group, which uses data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

And since January 2006, Merck has given an additional $377,500 to the Republican Governors Association, which, in turn, was one of the largest backers of Perry's own campaigns. Notably, Perry also served as the chairman of the governors association from 2007 until last month, when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell succeeded him, so that Perry could pursue his presidential run. ...

In fact, three other pharmaceutical companies have given more money to Perry than Merck and substantially more money to the Republican Governors Association than Merck.

The absence of attention-grabbing headlines does not signify that these companies expect nothing in exchange for their investments. To the contrary, it is their fiduciary obligation to return a profit to their shareholders. Bankrolling politicians -- Republican and Democrat -- is just another tool to help them meet their goals and, in so doing, bolster their profits. If anything, money spent on political donations and lobbying holds more sway when it is unexamined.

Perry's ties to Merck have made it into the sunlight, and people are now considering his actions in light of their past ties. ...

Is this an example of "crony capitalism?" That's not for the Center for Responsive Politics to decide. It's the public's job to decide if the money outweighed the merits in this policy decision, but it needs to have all of the facts in hand to do so.

Keep in mind that all of this, at least so far, is perfectly legal, even if it is slimy and ethically questionable. It's how campaigns are financed and future employment secured after the "public service" is completed. And it's not just limited to Republicans, which should explain the current morass the nation is in.

The key to tempering this money mill's effect on our political system begins with actually having all of the facts on hand. I don't imagine too many voters take time to comb the internet for the information provided in this case by the Center for Responsive Politics, but they do read the newspapers and they do watch televised debates (or at least the news program summaries). That means our press has to do its job. It also means that candidates and their staffs have to do theirs as well.

So, Michele, get with the program. Let your staff do the research and then, please-please-please, stay on message. That could be your greatest gift to your supporters and to your nation. It might not seem as interesting as inflammatory comments on the relationship of vaccines and horrific side effects, but it will be a refreshing start on changing the role of money in politics.

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Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Let your staff do the research and then, please-please-please, stay on message.

You must be thinking of some other person, Diane. Because that's not One L's style.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I know, I know.

Still, she does have an audience, one that might be reached if she would just freakin' pay attention.

6:16 AM  

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