Citizens United Works? Current Controversy

Watching Current TV, trying to feed my politics addiction after MSNBC switches to prison programs (?!?!?).

Current TV, Al Gore’s cable endeavor, is still struggling, but it’s worth a look. There’s a program hosted by Cenk Uygur, called The Young Turks, that’s pretty cool. Not the usual aged establishment talking heads, but some young guys (all guys alas) who are pretty smart.

One, Ben Mankiewicz (who looked enough like Frank Mankiewicz, RFK’s press secretary, that I looked him up and yup, the guy’s his son and has worked in lots of media), said the eviscerating of Mitt Romney by candidates who aren’t getting many votes in the two primaries so far shows “Citizens United works.” Challenging idea. (Citizens United is the Supreme Court decision that allows PACs to spend unlimited money on campaigns, and most liberals look at it as a Chicken Little moment.)

Here’s the thesis that The Young Turks kicked around: The Republican establishment is afraid that all the attacks on Bain Capital will spill into not just the general election but the country at large, threatening their status as the rich guys who get to run the country. Their candidate, Mitt Romney, will assure the status quo — rich guys can keep running the country. And here are dead men walking, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, trying to torpedo the keeper of the status quo. Without Citizens United, Perry, Gingrich and Rick Santorum would have had to pack up their tents and slink home by now — most primary voters have said no thanks. But unlmited PAC money is keeping them afloat. And their little boats are firing away at Romney like Iranian speedboats in the Straits of Hormuz.

The establishment is saying get behind Romney, everybody. “And here are a few other billionaires saying ‘no way, we’re going to back who we want cuz we don’t like Romney.'” They’re not falling in line, and they’re allowed by Citizens United to prop up lame contenders like Newt and Perry.

“It’s speech, man,” Mankeiwicz said. Speech that contradicts the oligarchy’s dictum.

Hmmm. Uygur tossed the discussion to Sam Seder, who laughed and said, “I’m not so crazy about different sets of billionaires making these choices for us,” but he allowed that Mankiewicz’s was a point worth considering.

Thought-provoking. And that’s a rare treat in TV news and commentary these days.

Take a look at The Current. After his latest snit, apparently Keith Olbermann is coming back to Countdown. Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan governor, has a show, and Al Gore pops in by remote feed now and then (and my lord is he slow and boring too often). It’s one more increasingly worthwhile stop for political junkies.

— Bruce Benidt
(Image from

2 thoughts on “Citizens United Works? Current Controversy

  1. john sherman says:

    Given that the choice is between the Young Turks and Chris Matthews, I find it pretty easy. Has Matthews ever invited a guest on and let him or her finish a sentence?

    Current’s production values are pretty raggedy, which is apparently one of the things feeding Olbermann’s current snit, but there are a lot of young, fresh voices–a category that excludes the ponderous Al Gore.

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