Saturday, February 13, 2016


Politico reports that billionaires who donate to Republican presidential candidates are frustrated because they haven't really been able to steer the race in their desired direction:
Some of the biggest Republican donors, who collectively have contributed tens of millions of dollars to shape the presidential race, are tightening their purse strings out of frustration with their inability to boost their favored candidates, or to slow Donald Trump.

Rather than continuing to write huge checks to support the cluster of establishment candidates jockeying to emerge as the leading alternative to Trump, a billionaire real estate showman roundly despised by the GOP elite, these donors have mostly retreated to the sidelines.
One of donors quoted is Stan Hubbard, a media bigwig from Minnesota. He initially backed Scott Walker -- a reasonable enough investment given the popularity of Walker among conservatives, and also given Walker's ability to win elections in a state that twice voted for Barack Obama. But when Walker flamed out, the largesse of Hubbard and his family became rather scattershot:
After Walker dropped out, the Hubbards played the GOP presidential field a bit, donating nearly $40,000 to committees supporting Bush, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, as well as the since-aborted campaigns of Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie.

“That’s money down the drain,” Hubbard told POLITICO, adding that his latest hope to take down Trump is John Kasich.
Hubbard is complaining about "money down the drain" and he's giving to John Kasich? Kasich, who's going to finish a distant fifth in every Bible Belt state? (Hubbard is not alone. We're also told that Home Depot founder Ken Langone, a former Christie backer, is now supporting Kasich.)

And Hubbard is worried about Trump, yet he's given money to Ben Carson -- a candidate who's just as ignorant and unqualified as Trump?

And, ultimately, why was Hubbard giving money to so many different candidates? Donations from Hubbard and other rich people kept too many people in the race for too long, at a time when someone had to start emerging as the obvious Establishment anti-Trump.

We're told this:
Several donors expressed frustration that the establishment candidates and the super PACs supporting them spent considerable time and money attacking one another -- and not Trump -- in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.
Well, of course they attacked one another, you idiots. Your money kept them all in the race. It's as if Ken Langone moved into a town and put a Home Depot on every block, then gave each one a year to turn a profit. What are they going to do to survive? Yes, they have to compete with Lowe's -- but they also have to compete with one another.

And then there's this guy:
Wyoming mutual fund pioneer Foster Friess, who supported Rick Santorum, this week told POLITICO -- presumably with tongue planted in cheek -- “I am still in the fetal position in my bed where I probably will be for the next 30 days after Rick's decision to drop out.”
Friess gave money to Rick Santorum, in the 2016 election cycle, and he wants sympathy? I know Friess is a highly successful businessman, but can't he read a freaking poll?

These people should have recognized the possibility that Trump could gain unstoppable momentum after early victories, so they should have coalesced around the best choice that had. It sounds ridiculous to say this now, but I still think the best choice was Rubio. If they'd made it clear a couple of months ago that he was their boy, I think he actually could have survived the robot moment -- maybe a cash-strapped Christie would have dropped out and the gaffe never would have happened, or maybe Rubio would have been able to withstand the bad moment because weeks or even months of donor-favorite status would have given him an air of inevitability.

I realize that hasn't worked for Jeb Bush, but Rubio, apart from that horrible moment, has been a much better candidate than Bush. (It's a low bar to clear.) I'm thinking back to Bill Clinton's ability to withstand the Gennifer Flowers scandal -- it helped a lot that he was the clear Establishment favorite.

The richies should stop complaining -- they're the party now, and when it came to picking a candidate, they decided not to decide. And so angry voters are deciding for them.


mlbxxxxxx said...

It really is amazing how dumb you can be and still be rich. There seems to be no correlation between intelligence and wealth.

Also, good riddance, Antonin Scalia.

sdhays said...

I know what you're saying about Rubio, and you're probably right that he was the best choice they had, but I think you've consistently been overestimating how good a choice he is/was. The man is fundamentally lazy. He has been running a lazy-ass campaign while ignoring his real job, and doesn't have the discipline or even basic intelligence of W. (yes, ponder that). He chokes when it matters. This is why no matter how much the media is/was ready and willing and desperate to explain away his glaring faults, he was always going to fail. He just never quite had the right combination of swagger and entitlement (probably because he's not rich and not the son of a former President) that made it possible for W. to get away with it. After he came out of Iowa (such a strong third place finish!), I just couldn't believe that he wouldn't wilt in the spotlight, although, I admit, even I was taken aback by how quickly he blew off his own leg.

On paper, you're right. He might have been able to weather this storm with earlier, more coherent elite backing, but honestly, Christie didn't bring down Rubio. Rubio brought down Rubio, just as Jeb? brought down his own campaign by being such a limp, rudderless loser. The guy just chokes when things get real.

mathguy said...

Most of the billionaire class is made up of sociopaths (you'd have to be to think you should have that much money). Doesn't require general intelligence, just a willingness to do nasty things to others and be reasonably gifted at doing one thing well. Most of them are myopic, so none of this is a surprise.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

This Politico story from a couple years back, Lament of the Plutocrats, reminded me of the time Ken Langone, David Koch, and Paul Singer got Henry Kissinger (!) to stand up and beg Chris Christie to run for President. Yes, really.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember Bill Clinton being an "establishment favorite" in 1992.