Campaign Cash from Jews Is Bad Only if It Goes to Republicans
The New York Times has been a bit obsessed this campaign cycle with all the big-money checks going to groups backing Mitt Romney for president, or to support conservative causes. Since the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, the political left has railed against the decision, which in their collective minds has meant that rich corporations, and/or their super-rich executives, might be able to buy the election this year for the Republicans.
Of course, in 2008, the left seemed little bothered that the Democratic Party's presidential candidate Barack Obama became the first presidential candidate of a major party to refuse to accept federal funding for the general election. Obama was running against John McCain, the co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws, a candidate who was certain to take the federal money, and its associated limits of $75 million in direct spending, for the general election. After all, limits on campaign spending were an article of faith for McCain. Knowing this about McCain, and aware of the excitement and enthusiasm his own campaign was generating, Obama knew that by opting out of the federal campaign financing system, he could raise and then spend multiples of the $75 million McCain had to spend in the two-month general election period.
This, of course, is exactly what occurred. In September and October, Obama spent five times what McCain did in key battleground states such as Florida, and Ohio, most of it on negative and deceptive ads aimed at McCain. Obama won easily. Given the financial crisis in September of 2008, the unpopularity of George Bush, the contrast between Obama and McCain in terms of age and charisma, and the media love affair with Obama, it is a stretch to argue that all the extra campaign cash was the reason Obama won. But it certainly helped widen his margin of victory, and his coattails probably carried other Democrats to victory in Senate and U.S. House races.
The 2012 presidential race is shaping up as one where the financial resources of the two major candidates and their support groups will be much more in balance than was the case in 2008. This in and of itself is very upsetting to the left. They like their party to have more resources than the other side, and they particularly do not like big spending by very rich Republicans, or corporations. Spending by very rich Democrats and by unions seems to bother them far less, or not at all.
Two particular villains for the left in terms of campaign contributions have been the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson. The Koch brothers tend to play things close to the vest, and most Americans do not have a clue who they are, despite the obsessive coverage of them by MSNBC and left-wing blogs and filmmakers. Adelson is a different story. He has not been shy about whom he is supporting (first Gingrich, now Romney) and about how much money he is prepared to spend. Adelson's business is gaming and hotels, both in the U.S. and abroad. He is also an ardent support of Israel and a skeptic of the so-called "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All of this has made Adelson a rich target for his political enemies. He is spending tens of millions to defeat the candidate of the left. He is a supporter of Israel, a bête noire for the left. He is in the gambling business, which is frowned upon by the left, unlike noble businesses such as Hollywood movies (after all, actors and producers give almost exclusively to Democrats, whether due to belief or because people want to have jobs in the industry and understand that "you have to give at the office" to keep your job). The left seems to fear that Adelson could help elect a president who will be friendlier to Israel than Obama has been.
The New York Times has ripped Adelson both in "news" stories and editorials. This week, John McCain, undoubtedly appalled by all the big money going in to the campaigns this year, took a swipe at Adelson, though Adelson is a supporter of his own party's candidate. Foolishly, McCain argued that since Adelson makes a good bit of money from his casinos in Macau, it is as if the Chinese were funneling money into the campaign. If Adelson gives money to a campaign or a super-PAC, it is of course his contribution, not that of the Chinese government, the Chinese people, or even his company. For the record, virtually every large America-based corporation is now a multinational, earning a significant amount of money overseas -- in many cases, well over half of their income. By the McCain "logic," any executive who gives money to a campaign or a PAC and whose company had business overseas is thereby purportedly injecting foreign money into the campaign.
Here is another example. Jeffrey Katzenberg is the largest identified contributor so far to an Obama super-PAC, providing $2 million to this point. Katzenberg, who has also maxed out in his gift to the Obama campaign and is one of Obama's biggest bundlers of contributions for the campaign, made his money in the entertainment business. He is today an executive of Dreamworks and Dreamworks Animation. His partners at Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, are also both large contributors to Obama and to Democrats. The great majority of the box office made in the film business today is made overseas. After all, the U.S. has less than 5% of the world's population. A good portion of total box office receipts for some movies comes from China. Katzenberg appears to have been busy seeking favors lately from the White House to help secure a big movie-making deal with China. So Katzenberg appears to be buying influence with the U.S. government to help his business with China and is, by the McCain rules, injecting Chinese money into the campaign as well through his contributions, since his company made a lot of money in China.
This week, the NJDC, a group which tries to get American Jews to vote for Democrats, in an article written by David Harris, wasted no time using the McCain comment to demand a cease in the flow of Chinese "dirty" money through Adelson to Romney. Part of Harris' defamation of Adelson relied on charges made by a former employee about his business in Macau -- charges never adjudicated in any Court.
So far, The NJDC has not yet demanded the return of "dirty money" to Obama from Katzenberg or, say, from executives at Google or Facebook, who also make some of their money from their corporations' success in China and other less than savory nations as far as democracy goes.
Alan Dershowitz, a lifelong Democrat, who is on a different page politically from Adelson on many issues, lashed out at the NJDC and David Harris for the smear of Adelson:
I know Sheldon Adelson and I have worked with him on several matters relating to Israel and the Jewish community. I have spoken on behalf of the wonderful school he has built in Las Vegas. And have had the pleasure of teaching one of the brilliant graduates of that school. Adelson was deeply involved in the creation of the Birthright Israel Program, which has had extraordinary success in exposing young Jews to Israel. It's hard to find anyone who has done as much for the Jewish community as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson grew up in Boston in near poverty and is a shining example of the American dream. He is a self-made multi-billionaire who has contributed significantly to the world of modern technology and to the economic growth of Las Vegas and other areas. His generosity has helped repair the world..... I'm sure that if the Democrats were to apply David Harris' "Adelson test" to all the contributions they have received from Hollywood moguls and other wealthy business people, they wouldn't like the results.
The NJDC attack on Adelson and similar attacks from the New York Times are evidence that there is only one real test of decency for the left this year -- whether you support Obama. It is regarded as un-American in the eyes of the left to give big money to the Republicans, and so leftists will try to make it look wrong (like tainted Chinese money in the case of Adelson). Of course, the Democrats have some prior experience with controversy about actual Chinese money in campaigns from 1996.
So long as it helps damage the Romney campaign, the NJDC seems happy to feed vile anti-Semitic toxins into the campaign -- dirty Jewish money that is really from overseas that is going to Romney. The New York Times, a bit more subtle (but not much), is conveying that Adelson and the Israeli right are buying Romney.
In the classic movie A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More, sentenced to death for supposedly making public comments critical of the king's divorce and remarriage, sees who has profited from lying about More in order to advance his career. Spotting Richard Rich in the robes of Wales, More says to him:
It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales, Richard?
And this year, Jews like David Harris can feed the anti-Semitism beast, and for what? Obama?