Worse candidates win; White House celebrates

Robert Gibbs and his plastic wand

The head of communications for the White House, the veritable life of the party, Robert Gibbs declared last night’s primary results a slam dunk for the Democrats. “Last night’s elections … were nothing but good news for the Democratic Party,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, according to the Los Angeles Times. This is because Michael Bennet won the Democratic nomination for Senate in Colorado and teabaggers won primary contests for Senate in Colorado (against establishment GOP wishes) and Connecticut (with the state party’s wishes, but against a more “moderate” GOP opponent). This means that in all three of those races the more conservative candidate one. This to Gibbs is reason to celebrate. The man who worked for Fritz Hollings and created a committee to subvert Howard Dean’s campaign has recurring dreams where a man dressed in black with a plastic wand says “Robert, I am you father” and takes off his mask to reveal he is Strom Thurmond. So he could not be happier. Every step the country moves to the right means it is a little less likely he will have to cross swords with Strom.

Colorado surely was a rich harvest for the White House. They stacked all their chips on Michael Bennet. It was the kind of low risk bet the White House likes to make. Bennet had been appointed to the seat by an unpopular Governor. He had never run for office before. Although Bennet’s father had once worked for Hubert Humphrey, Michael became a “new Democrat,” one that believes that God helps him who helps himself. So Bennet helped himself to a heap of money by working for “Christian Billionaire” Phil Anschutz, who not only made money the way Jesus would have, if he were a greedy capitalist; having become rich, he gave away some of that fortune to such worthy causes as campaigns to repeal state laws against discrimination against gays, the Discovery Institute, which explores the relationship between intellectual dishonesty, pandering to simple-minded Creationists, and conservative Republic politics, and the Parents Television Council, a group that advocates against indecency on television unless shown on one of the Fox networks. To give Michael credit, we can suppose that he tried to convince his boss of the virtues of Humphrey liberalism and almost persuaded his boss not to by the Weekly Standard. Certain it is that the influence didn’t rub off the other way. So he was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Colorado. Bennet used his experience as a corporate raider to make a big deal for the teachers’ pension in the state. The New York Times reported the story on August 5. As David Sirota explains it, Bennet “orchestrated a deal with JP Morgan–a deal that destroyed the Denver Public Schools’ balance sheet and made JP Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America millions. Bennet’s senate campaign (no surprise) is a recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the financial industry, including PAC contributions from JP Morgan;  individual contributions from a Citigroup lobbyist and director; and an individual contribution from a Bank of America executive.” Well, that seems to have worked out for Wall Street and Michael Bennet, how about the teachers? Gretchen Morgenson of the Times says:

“Since it struck the deal, the school system has paid $115 million in interest and other fees (to JPMorgan), at least $25 million more than it originally anticipated…to unwind it all, the schools would have to pay the banks $81 million in termination fees, or about 19 percent of its $420 million payroll. …

(Bennet and DPS chief Boasberg) say that it has saved the school district $20 million it would have otherwise had to pay to cover the pension shortfall. … But the savings cited by the two men do not take into account termination fees associated with the complex deal. And had the school district issued fixed-rate debt, Wall Street would not have received the cornucopia of fees embedded in the more complex deal. …”

Oh well, someone had to lose. Good thing it was not Wall Street bankers. That would mean Bennet would have to vote for another bailout. And that would put him in a sticky situation. Because his official website this campaign season has a big cleverly designed graphic (putting Wall Street contributions to good use) with a “Wall Street” sign followed by the words “pay it back.” What’s not to like about this guy? And how could those teachers hold it against him anyway? No wonder the White House supported him against former Colorado state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff was running like a liberal, and we all know how Gibbs can’t stand those types.

As for the teabaggers, they made it easier for the Democrats to win. One is against Michael Bennet–there’s a slam dunk. We don’t know anything that might be used against him. And since he has never run for political office before, he’s likely to offer the kind of fresh face that people who are looking for a guy who accepts Wall Street money and votes against financial regulation reform will want to vote for. I’m certain the White House was assured by many Washington insiders that people are just dying to vote for a Democrat who has good friends on Wall Street. Those guys only listen to their good friends any way.

And if the teabaggers win, that simply means when the White House does its pre-emptive caving to the Republicans on all issues, it will just have to move a little bit further to the right than it does now. That might even get Gibbs to break out his Princess Lea costume.


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