"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Quick, Stop The Presses, Corzine's Rich!

We couldn’t help but notice Alfred Doblin’s column - Quick, stop the presses, Corzine's rich! So, we decided to deconstruct his column – enjoy. Doblin begins:

Five years ago, Corzine's wealth was a campaign issue. The former grand poobah of Goldman Sachs was a political unknown and he spent a record $63 million on a successful run for the U.S. Senate. That money bought Corzine media time and a lot of notice. It was a very expensive invitation; it was not a bribe. Yet, there is renewed media outcry that Corzine bought the election. New Jersey voters were not that stupid.

Granted, spending $63 million to finance a campaign is not a bribe and we don’t recall anyone referring to his record breaking spending as such. It is however, rather hypocritical for Corzine to strongly support campaign finance reform that limits the amount others may legally contribute to the candidate of their choice. That places Corzine and others with vast personal resources at a distinct advantage over nearly everyone else.

We believe Senator Corzine should be free to spend as much money as he pleases on his campaign. We also believe everyone should have the right to spend as much as they choose to support the candidate of their choice. Campaign finance reform that lifts spending limits and requires full public disclosure, of all campaign contributions, would help level the playing field. That’s not the type of reform Corzine favors.

Here’s what Senator Corzine had to say back in April, 2001 on the passage of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill:

Today, the Senate took a historic step towards loosening the grip of special interests on our public policy debates. The passage of McCain-Feingold will not only help clean up our campaign finance system, but also give us a real chance to pass meaningful health care reform, an equitable tax cut and greater access to the American promise for all Americans.

We need clean money to fund clean campaigns. While this bill is not perfect, it goes a long way towards making our campaigns about our constituents – rather than about those who seek to gain influence. The past two-week debate and the amendments added to the bill improve and enhance the overall initiative.

I certainly hope that the House of Representatives and the President will join with the Senate to secure the enactment of this legislation. We need to act expeditiously – before another election cycle goes by and the agenda of the people is once more colored by the agenda of the special interests.

The bill passed the House and was signed into law by the President. The country’s been through two election cycles, record amounts of money have been spent and in our opinion, special interests groups seem to have an even tighter grip.

But one thing that didn’t change under McCain-Feingold - Mr. Corzine’s ability to bank-roll his own campaign. If spending $63 million in an effort to win a Senate seat isn’t spending money to gain influence, we would appreciate hearing a better example. If Corzine believes thus far, his campaign for Governor has been about his constituents, then his constituency is a mighty small group - Democrat Party bosses. Corzine’s grip on public policy debate within his party is so tight, he can make sure none take place.

Now back to that line about New Jersey voters not being that stupid. Maybe, but how does Doblin figure the citizens of New Jersey got into the mess he describes so glibly as follows:

Codey followed the train wreck known as McGreevey. But Codey was in the same train station as McGreevey for 30 years. It is impossible to separate the acting governor from the Trenton that made New Jersey overtaxed, drowning in debt and incapable of reforming public education or protecting children under its care.Codey is not solely responsible for this mess, but he was in a leadership position long before McGreevey discovered that he was "a friend of Dorothy's," code for being gay.

Doblin sure has us beat in his way the words, but his logic escapes us. The majority of New Jersey voters put the train wreck and other assorted disasters into office and have been doing so for quite some time. Doblin can fault the Wizard of Oz if he likes for the mess we’re in, but we think the voters of New Jersey are to blame. Now as to whether the voters of New Jersey are “that stupid”, we will withhold judgment until after the elections in November.

More on Doblin stupid voter theory. He doesn’t think New Jersey voters are “that stupid”, but he must think they’re not “that bright” either. In his mind, people are smart enough to see a connection between Codey and the elected officials that brought us the disaster in Trenton, but apparently are too stupid to see a connection between the man that spent over $8 million dollars to help elect the majority of the ill-fated Trenton train crew. Perhaps it’s only Doblin that can’t make the connection.

And if Corzine’s interests are on the side of the people of New Jersey, why did he spend so much money to elect these people? Why back people with a proven track record of failure, with clouds of scandal and corruption hanging over their heads? His interest in helping New Jersey and party building? Two other explanations come to mind. Corzine’s either too stupid to figure out those responsible for the mess in Trenton or he doesn’t care about the state’s residents. We lean towards the Corzine doesn’t care about anyone, except himself – getting himself elected at any cost – his and ours. However in fairness to Senator Corzine, we will keep open the possibility his lack of brain power is to blame.

Doblin goes on to describe the reason he believes Corzine won his Senate seat and why he is so popular today:

Voters liked what they heard and put Corzine in the Senate. Today, polls show Corzine is the most popular elected official in the state. That's not because Corzine is incredibly rich, but because New Jerseyans are happy with what Corzine has done.

Oh really? Does anyone believe Corzine would be Senator today if he wasn’t incredibly rich? The Senator has not been too embarrassed to claim his wealth is the major reason we should elect him Governor. He recognizes his money was the key to his successful Senate campaign and his best qualification for Governor. Why pretend otherwise?

But Doblin may have hit upon the root cause of the state’s problems. The voters don’t have an opportunity to hear a variety of opinions or to learn much about other candidates.

Perhaps the voters liked what they heard from Corzine because they didn’t hear much of anyone, but Corzine. The television news programs and the major broadsheets reaching New Jersey voters are Democrat Party echo chambers. Add $63 million worth of Corzine’s invitations and it’s a wonder anyone ever heard his competitor’s name. Do remember his name? Don’t fault your memory, you just didn’t hear it often enough for it to stay with you.

Declaring Corzine the most popular elected official in New Jersey is a great example of the media echo chamber we just mentioned. When people “hear” that others think he’s popular, it makes Corzine sound great. When people “hear” he’s popular because their fellow citizens are happy with the job he’s doing in the Senate, he sounds better still.

Quick, name another statewide elected official? So Corzine is more popular than Frank Lautenberg. What are we to make of that - Frank Lautenberg is the least popular elected official? We can see the headlines tomorrow. (We assumed former officials; those having resigned in disgrace; presently embroiled in a scandal or currently under indictment were not included in the poll.)

So let’s be honest, how many people have heard (there’s that word again), the name of an elected official outside of their own town or district. So we think it would be fair to say the poll measured name recognition. Important in any political race, but at this stage of the campaign, merely the echo chamber attempting to plant the inevitability of a Corzine win in the minds of the voters.

Now concerning the happiness people feel at the sound of the name Corzine - we wonder if it’s really because Senator Corzine has done a good job or if it’s because the people of New Jersey are thankful he hasn’t been arrested or required to resign for any number of reasons. Let’s face it, our track record with New Jersey politicians has caused us to set the bar pretty low in terms of what we consider to be a good job.

Quick, tell us something you know about Senator Jon Corzine? Beside the fact he is incredibly rich. Name one thing Jon Corzine has done for New Jersey during his time in the Senate? Well, we’ve heard people are happy with the job he’s doing, you must be able to rattle off at least one accomplishment. Go ahead ask your friends, neighbors, anybody you run into and tell us what you hear in response to the question. We’ll bet you won’t “hear” anything.And for a good reason.

To continue with Mr. Doblin’s column:

Now enter Corzine with enough money to self-finance a campaign and he is criticized for buying an election. A candidate beholden to special-interest groups is bad. A candidate with enough money to remain independent is bad. Who does that leave to run for office? Corzine quickly has lined up important endorsements. Some say that is unfair to Codey. What's so unusual about a candidate shoring up support?

We hope this is just more of Doblin humor, because he can’t be serious. Is it possible for someone to buy an election? We believe the term is just a figure of speech. But if forced to give an example of what is meant by the term - John Corzine’s campaign for the senate in 2000 would probably fit most people’s understanding of the concept.

Yes Alfred, a politician beholden to a special interest is bad. In this case Corzine is the special interest and the Democrat Party bosses are the politicians beholden. Nothing wrong with shoring up support and endorsements. It just seems above board when those bestowing endorsements and support claim it’s because of the candidate’s accomplishments, his ideas for governing, his plans for the fixing the state’s problems. Did you hear any of those reasons for their support, we didn’t?

Time for another reality check. How did Corzine shore up support and endorsements? How did he manage to secure his party’s nomination so early, no primary required? Clearly he must be a very special candidate, heads and shoulders above all others. A slam dunk, no need to answer any questions, he’s our man. Doesn’t that sound a bit unusual? What might we attribute this amazing loyalty? Does Corzine’s money fill that piece of the puzzle in for you? No?

Then what’s even more unusual is that a candidate so fantastic and qualified found it necessary to contribute $8 million to Democrat party organizations and candidates over the last several years. Even more interesting is the timing of all this generosity – Corzine’s “party building” interests began at the same time as his political ambition. Merely coincides with his recent fascination with politics you say.

Okay, why did the beloved and independent candidate for Governor, Corzine find it necessary to give $342,000 to Democrat county organizations this past October? Why did his mother, living in Illinois, contribute $37,000 to the Democrat party in Bergen County? Alright, the legal maximum of $37,000 explains the amount, but why her sudden interest? Nothing unusual there. Then again, this is New Jersey.

See if this explains everyone’s behavior. Corzine was insecure in his ability to win people’s support on the basis of his singular popularity, qualifications, record and plans for the state. He gave large campaign contributions and promised there was more to come in exchange for party boss support. Doblin sites other reasons for this amazing support, but we’ll save them until the end. You can be the judge of the most plausible explanation. Ours or his?

Doblin continues his defense of Corzine with:

Now Corzine wants to be governor and some pundits are seeing red, the color of acting Gov. Richard J. Codey's hair. Corzine is the big, bad wolf who pulled Red Riding Codey off the path to an elected term as governor. Codey: "What a big checkbook you have, Corzine? Corzine: The better to eat your lunch with, Codey."

There were rumors that Corzine would have challenged then-Gov. James E. McGreevey in 2005 before McGreevey announced he was a "gay American." Once McGreevey announced his intention to resign, the push was on for a Corzine candidacy.

In August of 2004, no one was concerned that Corzine was incredibly rich. No one was concerned that Codey would actually want to run for an elected term as Governor. Things change.

Where to begin. We do enjoy Mr. Dublin’s ability to weave references to children’s stories into his column. We are also grateful for his defining what it meant to be “a friend of Dorothy's”. Remember how we picked right up on the Wizard of Oz connection. Odd though for Alfred to came up with the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Hiding Hood analogy if he didn’t think it fit the facts. Does it fit, you decide?

On to rumors and a push for a Corzine candidacy. Spreading more than $8 million bucks around, courting party bosses and telling the press of your potential run for Governor, seems a bit beyond the rumor stage. The only folks pushing for a Corzine candidacy before the McGreevey revelation were the people in Corzine’s PR firm.

And what does the lack of concern over Corzine’s being incredibly rich in August of 2004 have to do with present concerns over his method for locking up the Democrat nomination in January 2005. Things change alright.

Almost to the end – Doblin continues:

It's true voters don't know how Corzine will fix the state's finances. Voters also don't know how the myriad of Republican candidates will fix them either. That's why we have campaigns and debates.

How did the Republicans get mixed up with Corzine’s method of shoring up the support and endorsements needed to avert a primary? Dublin’s right the voters don’t know how Corzine or anyone for that matter will fix the state’s finances. Who said they should at this point in the race? The major complaint seems to be that the party bosses endorsing Corzine don’t know and apparently don’t care. Cause for concern? You be the judge.

We were very happy to learn that Doblin believes voters should wait until the campaigns are underway and after they have heard the debates before making a decision. We hope the media takes his advice – so many have already proclaimed a Governor Corzine as a foregone conclusion. We’ll go out on a limb here and say the media didn’t base, its nearly unanimous, conclusion on anything except the fact Corzine is an incredibly rich Democrat.

We told you Doblin provided reasons for Corzine’s amazing popularity and ability to lock up the Democrat’s nomination - here they are:

In the Senate, Corzine has advocated for immigrants. He traveled to Darfur in the Sudan to bring more attention to the genocide, and he has been a loud voice in Congress on the subject of protecting our ports and chemical plants against terrorists. Maybe Corzine is popular because many New Jerseyans think those issues are more important than the heft of the senator's checkbook.

Corzine’s advocated, traveled, spoken in a loud voice and has released zillions of statements to the press. Great, but what has he accomplished? We’re sure if Corzine had any successes in the Senate, Mr. Doblin would have listed them to bolster his case. Instead he has chosen to provide a rather thin list of topics he associates with the Senator – hardly the major issues on the minds of most New Jersey voters. For some reason we doubt the Senator’s popularity derives from this record.

To be sure, the issues cited are more important than the heft of Senator Corzine’s checkbook. The fact that Corzine is rich is not the concern. It’s how and why his checkbook is considerably lighter that raises a few eyebrows.


At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Raphael said...

I think every person should glance at this.
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