President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney have raised and spent millions of dollars for campaign ads. They have logged thousands of miles, crisscrossing the nation, speaking to millions of Americans.
And yet, when the 2012 Presidential race finally ends on November 6, history may well record the contest was settled with a single video.
It’s the infamous “47%” video of Romney speaking–for once, truthfully–at a private fundraiser:
“Well, there are 47% of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right? There are 47% who are with him. Who are dependent upon government. Who believe that–that they are victims. Who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.
“Who believe that they’re entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it. But that’s–it’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this President no matter what.
“And–and–I mean the President starts off with 48%, 49%, 40–or he….starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. 47% of Americans pay no income taxes. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every….four years.”
A great deal of speculation has centered on: Who filmed it?
One guess: The bartender, with an iPhone, at the wet bar.
Before Mitt Romney spoke at the May 17 fundraiser, guests were reminded that Mitt Romney’s comments were off the record. Those present were asked not to repeat his remarks to the press.
Marc Leder, the wealthy hedgefund manager at whose house the fundraiser occurred, apologized to Romney. Reportedly he believes that the video was made by someone who was hired to work the party.
Such speculation on the identity of the video-leaker totally misses the point.
It doesn’t matter who provides vital information. What does matter is: Is that information accurate?
In this case, it most definitely was.
More importantly, it opened a window into a world seldom-seen by voters: The world of big-league donors and their money-grubbing political solicitors.
“A man usually has two reasons for doing something,” said J.P. Morgan, the American banker and financier. “One that sounds good, and a real one.”
It should be clear that money-grubbing politicians have two versions of campaign speaking: One for donors whose money they seek, and another for the public whose votes they seek.
Rich and greed-obsessed donors are too smart to be fobbed off with appeals to their fears and prejudices. They expect a tangible return for their support–namely:
- Lower (preferably no) taxes
- Freedom to pollute
- Freedom to pay their employees the lowest possible wages
- Freedom to treat their employees like serfs
- Freedom to churn out shoddy or even dangerous goods
So when you hear what a candidate says in private, to his wealthy donors, you’re hearing what he really means and what he really intends to do.
A similar frenzy of speculation centered on the identity of “Deep Throat”–the legendary source for Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal. For decades, this proved a favorite guessing game for Washington reporters, politicians and government officials.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein working on Watergate
In the end, “Deep Throat” turned out to be W. Mark Felt, assistant director of the FBI.
Commentators have endlessly debated his motives for leaking crucial Watergate evidence that ultimately destroyed the corrupt Presidency of Richard Nixon.
- A patriot who wanted to serve the cause of justice.
- A loyal FBI man who sought to protect the Bureau from “outside interference.”
- A disgruntled executive who sought revenge on those who had passed him over for FBI director.
And, in the end, despite all the theories, it didn’t matter.
Felt provided Washington Woodward with the evidence necessary to keep the Watergate investigations going–by both the Post and the FBI.
W. Mark Felt
Thus, the question making the rounds about the “47%” video shouldn’t be: Who filmed it?
It should be: How can more of these private fundraisers be penetrated and recorded–so voters can learn the truth about those who would become our elected rulers?
Definitely, those who specialize in “opposition research” should be thinking hard about this.
Private investigators–who regularly unearth secrets others want to keep secret–might also take an interest in this line of work.
And news organizations should offer financial rewards to those who provide such secret information.
With the advent of billionaires trying to buy the Presidency, and the unwillingness of Congress and the Supreme Court to stop the flow of unsavory money into politics, this may be our only chance to preserve what is left of the Republic.
Anyone who’s ever turned on a light to find roaches scurrying quickly over a kitchen floor knows the truth of this.
Turn on the lights–and watch the roaches scurry away.