And you'll just never guess who's in the middle of it all...
The linchpin of Rove's coup is American Crossroads – a shadow version of the RNC for the party's richest donors. Organized under the same part of the tax code that gave us Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the fundraising group can collect unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations. Before the Citizens United decision rewrote the rules of campaign finance, these so-called "independent expenditures" could only be used to support issues, not candidates. But now groups like American Crossroads can use their funds to openly back GOP candidates – or quietly work to destroy Democratic opponents by investing in the dirty tricks of which Rove is a Jedi master.Oh, sure (continuing)…
The group is intended, (senior Repug strategist Ed) Gillespie tells Rolling Stone, to become a fixture in GOP politics for 2010 and beyond: "The idea is that there needs to be an institutional entity – a transparent, professionally run Republican operation – that will be there every cycle." The strategic logic behind the group is simple: to narrow the fundraising deficit that has daunted the GOP since Democrats discovered how to raise megabucks online. "Obama had $1.1 billion in 2008," says Gillespie, who chaired the RNC under Bush. "John McCain and his supporters spent $634 million. That's a sizable gap." American Crossroads, he boasts, will be the place where the real money goes to "play."
In the weeks since its secretive launch in March, the group has already secured commitments of more than $30 million. That's halfway to the $60 million it plans to spend by November – nearly equaling the $80 million that the RNC itself spent in 2006. That startling sum, according to one lobbyist, can be chalked up to the formidable one-two punch of Gillespie's salesmanship and Rove's Rolodex. Officially, the two men are described only as "advisers" to American Crossroads. But party insiders reveal that Rove is calling the tune, just as he controlled the RNC from the White House as an adviser to Bush. Even the cast of deputies is the same: The directors of American Crossroads are all former top officers whom Rove installed to run the RNC. "American Crossroads is not the return of the old RNC," confides one prominent committee member. "It is the return of Rove." (Through his chief of staff, Rove refused to comment.)
Gillespie maintains that American Crossroads isn't meant to displace the RNC. "I've urged people to give money to American Crossroads, but I believe their first dollars should go to the RNC," he says. And what about the timing of the group's launch, just as top party donors like billionaire Richard Melon Scaife have been abandoning the RNC? "Coincidental," Gillespie insists.
With the RNC a shadow of its former self, (Rove and Gillespie’s) shadow party is now ascendant. Though Steele is likely to keep his post, he has been excluded from top strategy sessions on the GOP's plan to take back Congress. One of the RNC's top fundraisers quit in April, and large contributions have dried up: An audit leaked to The Washington Times revealed that the party is actually losing money on its major-donor program, spending $1.09 for every $1 raised. The RNC has devolved into the small-donor arm of the party. The average contribution: $40.And I got kind of a perverse kick out of the statement that “(Rove and Gillespie plan) to raise $25 million for its campaign efforts this fall – expenditures that will be directed by a former chief of staff to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor,” thus taking the dead RNC carcass, if you will, completely out of the fundraising equation.
Once more, congrats to Joe Sestak for defeating Arlen Specter in the PA Dem senatorial primary. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t say I thought it was a boneheaded maneuver on Sestak’s part to provide grist for the right-wing echo chamber about Obama supposedly offering him a job for dropping out. Even if that’s true, shut your mouth about it next time (or have a ready response when either Toomey or some Repug “Astro turf” group brings it up again, since you know they will).
Also, with the victory by Bucks County Commish Jim Cawley in the Repug Lt. Gov. Gubernatorial Primary, I find myself in a bit of an odd position, secretly hoping for a Tom Corbett victory since that would get Cawley out of Bucks for good (just kidding – I’m for Dan Onorato, of course).
The last observation (not mine, I’ll admit) is that, for all the talk of a Repug resurgence in November, how many people have noticed that, with the victory by Mark Critz in PA-12, keeping John Murtha’s old seat in the “D” column, the Dems have won their seventh special election in a row? That streak may end this weekend in Hawaii, but it definitely works for now.
Who is the President of the United States?Now to Congress:
Who is the Vice President?
Can you tell me the order of presidential succession in the event that the president either leaves office or is temporarily incapacitated? Which Constitutional amendment stipulates this?
Can you tell me which presidential election was decided by a ruling of the Supreme Court?
Can you tell me a presidential election that was decided by the U.S. House of Representatives?
Who was the only president who served longer than two terms?
Who was the only president who served two non-consecutive terms?
What was the shortest term in office for a president, and whose term was it?
Did a president ever hold office with a vice president from his opposition party? Who were the two?
Who is the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives?Now for state and local questions:
Who is the House Majority Leader?
Who is the House Majority Whip?
Who if the House Minority Leader?
Who is the Senate Majority Leader?
Who is the Senate Minority Leader?
Do you currently depend on any type of federal government assistance?
Who is your U.S. House Representative? Which party does he or she belong to?Media time:
Please name at least one of your U.S. senators and his or her party (what is the maximum number of U.S. senators per state? Which Article in the Constitution tells you this?)
Who is your state representative?
Who is your state senator?
Is your municipality or township governed by a board or council? If a council, please name your councilman or woman. If a board, please name at least one member.
Do you read a newspaper? Daily? Once a week? Once a month? Once a year?Now for the good part (here):
Have you ever written a Letter to the Editor or submitted an opinion to that paper’s editorial page?
How do you learn about politics? Television? Radio? Print? Online news sites? Online social media, including blogs, wikis, or other collaborative forms of communication? Democratically oriented? Republican oriented? Third party-libertarian-other oriented?
Which Article of the Constitution tells you that only a “natural born Citizen” may be President?I’ll tell you what – if I hear of a “teabagger” out there who has taken this test or something close to it and either passed or come close, then no matter how forcefully I may disagree with them, I can assure you that I will respect their opinion.
Which Article details the judicial power and duty of the Supreme Court?
Which Article tells you that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”?
What fractional amount of the House is required to agree in order to amend the Constitution? Which Article tells you this?
Which Section of Article II stipulated the conditions for impeachment?
Which amendment to the Constitution tells us that a warrant is required before a search of someone’s property?
Which amendment allows for the Federal Income Tax?
Which stipulated the right to trial by jury in civil cases?
Which amendment stipulated the voting age at eighteen?
And if somehow this test were administered to a teabagger and an illegal immigrant and the illegal got a better score…well, that sure would be a hoot, wouldn’t it?