Identifying the Stealth
The Providence Journal ran this story on the front page, Saturday, with the headline “Stealth GOP effort helped Brown win.” The first paragraphs surely give comfort to those who continue to prefer that the upset not be proof of real grassroots unrest and voter discontent with the Democrats’ policies:
The stunning Republican come-from-behind victory in Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election wasn’t entirely a shock to Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The Texas senator had led a stealth Republican operation in the Bay State since December that quietly funneled top staffers, $1 million in cash and campaign knowhow to backstop Republican candidate Scott Brown.
But what constitutes stealth ought to be a question. Here, the Republicans just didn’t advertise their financial support of a candidate in a critical (if long-odds) race. Further along in the article, reporter Maria Recio looks to give the other side’s interpretation:
State Democrats dispute that they were in the dark about the national Republicans being in the state.
And what Democrat does Recio present as comparable to a Republican in elected office who sits on a committee to elect more Republicans?
“We were very much aware that this was a national election,” said Tim Sullivan, the legislative and communications director for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “Contrary to popular belief, our side was running a campaign. When it came down to the race being a race, everyone got mobilized.”
Perhaps the acronym needs an addition: D-AFL-CIO. Indeed, on the very same interior page as the above quotation is Randal Edgar’s application to Rhode Island of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance legislation. The lead reads:
Campaign finance ruling could lead to more spending on ads by corporations and unions.
But three-quarters of the way through the story, one comes upon this:
“It allows too much special interests and lobbying,” said Edward Eberle, a professor at the Roger Williams University School of Law. “And I think it makes whoever is up for reelection beholden to the special-interest groups.”
Also critical were William Lynch, chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, and George Nee, president of the AFL-CIO of Rhode Island.
I’m not sure how much more beholden Democrats could be to their major interest group when journalists treat party activists and interest group activists as interchangeable. One suspects that the unionists oppose loosened campaign finance rules because they’re already so thoroughly interwoven with a political movement — and political party — that the slight leveling of the playing field that comes with allowing corporations to spend more money independently is far more of a threat than being able to spend their own money more overtly is a benefit.