Such deep-pocketed mystery benefactors — not O’Donnell, whose reported income for this year and last is $5,800 — are the real indicators of what’s going on under the broad Tea Party rubric. Big money rains down on the "bottom up" Tea Party insurgency through phantom front organizations (Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Job Security) that exploit legal loopholes to keep their sugar daddies’ names secret. Reporters at The Times and The Washington Post, among others, have lately made real strides in explaining how the game works. But we still don’t know the identities of most of those anonymous donors.
From what we do know, it’s clear that some Tea Party groups and candidates like Sharron Angle, Paul and O’Donnell are being financed directly or indirectly not just by the Kochs (who share the No. 5 spot on the new Forbes 400) but by a remarkable coterie of fellow billionaires, led by oil barons like Robert Rowling (Forbes No. 69) and Trevor Rees-Jones (No. 110). Even their largess may be dwarfed by Rupert Murdoch (No. 38) and his News Corporation, whose known cash contributions ($2 million to Republican and Republican-tilting campaign groups) are dwarfed by the avalanche of free promotion they provide Tea Party causes and personalities daily at Fox and The Wall Street Journal.
But several things seem clearer to me, after a month on the road. There is tremendous dissatisfaction with both political parties. People don't think the same old Republican "solutions" are very credible, but they also don't like the idea of big government activism, especially bailouts that aggrandize the wealthy, and they simply don't get Keynesian economics. Having said that, though, there isn't as much of the fist-shaking anger as I expected. There is a minority in this country--perhaps 30%--who are furious and terrified and think that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim-socialist--but most people, even those who disagree with him and disapprove of his performance, admire the effort and seriousness of this President.
There is, however, a tremendous disconnect between what people are concerned about and what Washington--and the media--seem to think is important.
Thomas Friedman joins a long list of centrist media figures to call for a third party to offer a sensible alternative to Democrats and Republicans. To put it charitably, the column is wildly unpersuasive.
The general pitch is common, but lazy -- the parties are beholden to special interests, and refuse to tell Americans what we need to hear. To turn the country around, honest independents will swoop in and save us from ourselves and shake up the "stagnating two-party duopoly that has been presiding over our nation's steady incremental decline."
I didn't care for this column the first hundred times it's been published over the years, and it's not improving with age. Indeed, the more one thinks about the details of Friedman's case, the weaker it appears.
Ross Douthat: Here's Douthat's interpretation of Obama's "higher than other Presidents" poll numbers: He's alienating everyone in the Democratic Party. Of course, 86% of Democrats approve of his performance (56% strongly approve) according to Rasmussen. Ipsos-Reuters has it at 92%. And according to pollster.com, the Dem-only numbers are looking pretty good, with little change from the start of his Presidency. But don't let facts get in the way of a weekly column.
A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in "The Birth of a Nation," but you’re actually just extras in a remake of "Citizen Kane."
Tom Jensen tweet:
We polled CO Gov, CO Sen, CT Sen, CT Gov, Both NY-Sen, and NY-Gov this weekend. Only 1 of them in single digits
But... but... the CT and NY races are practically tied. Everyone knows that. Because a poll said so.