Why is there no super PAC against super PACs? Stephen Colbert was supposed to front one, but how aggressive will he be? And this is no joking matter. People complain the super PACs, which can raise unlimited sums of money to trash candidates on TV, are poisoning the tone of American politics and yet what are they doing about it?
Taking action should be easy. Plenty of wealthy individuals decry the influence of money in politics and could easily start their own organizations to run large-scale campaigns. Bill Maher would have been a candidate. But he gave $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC.
Non-profits might take a break from advocating directly for their causes and spend funds to run spots pointing out the trouble super PACs are causing. They might steal from Will Ferrell’s Super Bowl strategy and run an ad in an inexpensive market and spin that into a PR boon.
And, where is the citizen uprising? Where is the grassroots organization acting like the Obama campaign four years ago soliciting donations in small increments?
That seemed to be Stephen Colbert’s role when he launched his much-ballyhooed Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow super PAC. His wit and reach via Comedy Central was supposed to expose how troublesome super PACs could be. But, at least for now, he’s just sitting on some considerable cash.
Recently, Colbert tried to engender some activism on college campuses by selling 1,000 start-your-own super PAC kits -- replete with a “small canned ham that resembles Karl Rove” -- for $99. The college groups would be “unaffiliated” with Colbert, but “serve as his personal attack dogs.”
The Super PAC Super Fun Packs helped fuel Colbert’s fundraising among small donors. No donation to his super PAC topped $396 in April, with the bulk at $200 or less, according to Politico.
The publication also noted the Colbert’s super PAC had more than $800,000 to spend at the end of the month. Colbert should change the name of his organization to Super PAC Against Super PACs By Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. And, get to work spending that money.
He seems to be at risk of being one-upped by Donald Trump, who’s making noise about funding his own super PAC.
Perhaps Colbert is waiting for the fall when super PAC spending should ramp up. Then again, indications are that boom may come sooner than later. The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama campaign plans to increase spending on attack ads focusing on challenger Mitt Romney’s work in private equity at Bain Capital. Which is likely to prompt pro-Romney super PACs to fight back with ads assailing Obama.
What’s too bad is there would appear to be an opportunity for a bipartisan anti-super PAC super PAC. A new Harris Poll shows a high number of Republicans (91%) and Democrats (85%) believe PACs donating to candidates have too much influence in Washington. That's right. More Republicans -- the party of Mitch McConnell and others opposed to all political fundraising caps -- than Democrats.
Would a super PAC fighting super PACs work? Probably not. Only a Supreme Court reversal or message to candidates that negative campaigning doesn’t work would likely be effective and neither appears imminent.
Which is good news for TV stations. According to the Hollywood Reporter, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves recently joked that the super PAC boom "may be bad for America but it's good for CBS."
No doubt about that. Until election day, Bain should be anything but a bane for local broadcasters, who would like some Colbert money, too.