Questions about Citizens United and political ads...

  1. Depending on the election’s outcome, how do you think people will regard the effect of Citizen’s United? Obviously, if Romney wins, it will be pointed to by liberals as a key factor. Equally obviously, if he loses, conservatives will claim it proves that it’s nothing. What the opposite side will say in each situation, I can’t say for sure, though I’m sure that in the former, conservatives will claim sour grapes, while in the latter, liberals will just say it made it harder for Obama to win that it otherwise would’ve been, and that it doesn’t change their basic claim.

  2. Somewhat more objective question: how do you think the millions upon millions of dollars being put into this race is best spent? This one was inspired by a mention in another thread of conservative PACs planning a “carpet bombing” of key states. But would such a tactic of inundating the airwaves with advertising draw low-information undecided voters off the fence, or annoy them into going in the other direction (or just not voting)?

  3. This is the first election post-Citizens United, so obviously the money is flowing very readily since there are no past results to affect things, and the landscape is still fresh. Do you see the level of spending being done in the future increasing, decreasing, or remaining flat (feel free to speculate on both sides of the possible results of this election)?

  4. Conservatives: why are liberals wrong for thinking that contributors are, or are attempting to, buy the election?

  5. Liberals: Given Romney’s still being mildly behind in the polls, and liberal blog commentators gloating that a lot of money’s being wasted for poor results, does this affect your belief in the negative effects of Citizens United in any way? Why or why not? To what extent do you think efforts by the grassroots can impact CU’s impact?

Some of the political ads will certainly feature lies. Not just little fibs, but outrageous, incredible, unbelievable lies.

Because lies work. If they tell a big, huge, tremendous lie, folks will think - “well, they could not say that if it was not true, right? Where there is smoke there is fire.”

The media will try hard to present both sides, in order to be “fair”. They will not dare to call out the giant steaming lie - they’ll present “two sides”

But but… you say… The American people will not fall for that! They could never, for example, believe something so insane as, for example, that Romney deserves the credit for killing Osama bin Laden. Right? That would be impossible.

Nonsense. The papers and many other media outlets are fact-checking like Mo Fos this election cycle.

Here’s a stellar example of “fact-checking” from the AP:


SuperPAC spending will be a factor in the election, but not the sole deciding factor. Campaign expenditure in the 2008 elections, pre-Citizens United was already astronomical.

The power of the media and the parties themselves will always dwarf outside spending. Besides, Citizens United only affected corporations. Individuals could always spend unlimited amounts on third party ads.

I assure you that my money, as an individual, is quite limited. Your qualification here is utterly meaningless. As an individual, I am free to go to the moon anytime I wish. I would further elaborate, but I am late for my spacesuit fitting.

Doesn’t matter. Individuals have an absolute right to spend as much money on speech as they desire. Only corporations could be limited up until Citizens United, and Citizens United may not have closed the door to regulation of corporate spending. Kennedy’s primary objection was the division of corporations into “favored” and “disfavored” speakers. presumably a ban that applied to everyone equally would be received more favorably.

There is no such thing as an “absolute right”. Not even property rights are absolute! Oh, dear, he’s fainted.

I think people will still hate it

I’m not an advertiser so I don’t know. Its hard for me to see how an undecided voter might think, as I routinely tune out the GOP ads and believe the Dem ads

Increasing. Every election gets more and more expensive. Someday we will reach a plateau, but I cannot see that happening yet

No. Romney essentially ad-bombed his opponents in the primaries out of the race. He’s trying to do that with Obama, but Obama’s simply a much better candidate. In fact, without the SuperPAC money, I think Romney would be much farther behind. So even if Obama wins, it won’t change my opinion that the CU ruling is bad for democracy and creates a class of people who think they can simply buy the election

Maybe. Too early to buy new dancing shoes, but there are hints abroad that money is losing its oomph. Did Romney win by advertising, or did he win by default? Then there’s Obama, who by standard political wisdom would lose to Hannibal Lecter. We live in interesting times.

Corporadoes are business people, they invest in elections for business reasons, they expect a return on their investment. Which is how they got to own one political party outright, and a half-interest in the other. Until the Tea Party fanatics took over the base of the Pubbies. And they cannot be relied upon to see the clear reasoning of Calvin Coolidge, to wit: The business of America is business.

But it ain’t about civics, and it ain’t about ideology, its about business to these people. (With the probable exceptions like the Koch Brothers.) If Daddy Whorebucks spends 10 million dollars to elect Romney and reliable Republicans, and all they get back for it is Obama on the left and batshit Tea Partiers on the right, that is not a good return on investment, they will be a lot more careful next time.

Maybe you can’t fool all the people all the time, even with tons of money. Dare we hope? We do dare. Do dare.

When it comes to political speech, that’s about as close to absolute as you can get.

Yes, but spending like this was perfectly legal in most states until 2003, when the law that Citizen’s United overturned took effect. It’s not as big a deal as everyone says.

I am a liberal who very strongly supports the Citizens United decision (as did the allegedly liberal ACLU). I think it’s a mistake to say this is just another liberal-conservative issue.

Oh, I can easily believe that 15 of Republicans somewhere believe something absolutely idiotic.

I think a large part of it was by advertising. Gingrich showed a credible threat in a few states by winning them and threatening to win in others. It was well-documented that Romney and his surrogates blasted him and Santorum whenever they were showing any momentum. I don’t think all of that can be attributed to simply Romney winning by default. And don’t believe the stuff about Obama, that’s just what Fox News wants you to believe! Don’t join the dark side, you’re one of the few good ones left! I think the American people generally still like Obama and would elect him in a landslide if not for Romney’s money making things interesting. He’s shown capable of doing that in the primaries and modern political history has given us proof that money and ads matter

Corporations are filled with people who still think like people. Even Fox News has admitted that they’d be financially better off if Obama was re-elected. And I’m not sure exactly how corporate donations work, but I think much of that money doesn’t exactly come from the wallets of the people making the donations. They’re playing with other people’s cash, so it doesn’t matter to them if its used to support a losing agenda. They’ll keep spending anyway. Then you have guys like Dan Cathy whose personal beliefs trump good financial sense. Of course they’d make more money opening on Sundays and not openly discriminating against gays, but they feel that certain things matter most. We can’t discount that

Let’s not go down the same old path of claiming that because a right isn’t absolute, any and all gaping exceptions are justified. That would be saying the right doesn’t exist at all.

Do you think rich people should be barred by law from going to the moon because you can’t afford to?

It’s not just the presidency that is at play here. Much of the money is flowing to down ticket elections

In the presidential race, most of the voters have per-conceived notions about the candidates which will be hard to sway even with ad saturation bombing. However in the lower races where the candidates are less well known, the only information that a voter gets about a candidate may be from advertising, and if they are 8 to 1 on one side that can make a huge difference.

Hey, you’re in luck, never had any such intention. But thanks for the warning anyway.

I regard myself as pretty fundamentalist when it comes to free speech, I am perfectly willing to shout “Theater!” in a crowded fire. But I mean the content of the speech, not necessarily the size of the megaphone. Property rights do not trump civil rights. The rich man has every right to buy all the loud shiny crap he wants, no problem from me. But his property does not grant the privilege to more political power than I simply because he can afford it.

Good evening, I’m Leonard Plinth Garnell and this is Bad Analogy Theater. Tonight, we offer a real stinker of an analogy…