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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New False Equivalency Meme: Outing Rich Donors = Nixon’s Enemies list

TNR’s Alec MacGillis comments on Kimberly Strassel’s silly Wall St. Journal article, “The President Has a List,” which likens one of the Obama campaign’s websites posting of “A brief history of Romney’s donors” to Nixon’s ‘White House Enemies List.” According to Strassel,

In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having “less-than-reputable records,” the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that “quite a few” have also been “on the wrong side of the law” and profiting at “the expense of so many Americans.

In other words, “Gasp….How dare they rat out our rich donors!”
MacGillis has a little fun with Strassel’s warped reasoning, and notes,

Got that? Identifying on a campaign Web site the people who are giving to the opponent’s super PAC in six and seven-figure increments is the equivalent of Nixon’s enemies list, which, as John Dean explained it at the time, was designed to “screw” targeted individuals via “grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.”

Nixon’s white house enemies list was about harassing citizens who dared to publicly criticize the President. Outing fat cat donors who hide in the shadows is not quite the same thing. MacGillis explains it well, along with citing the hypocritical double standard of the GOP and their media defenders:

When you are giving at levels hundreds of times larger than the $2,500 maximum for a regular donation to a campaign, or thousands of times larger than the size checks regular people send to candidates, then you are setting yourself apart. And the only thing that the rest of the citizenry has left to right the balance even slightly is to give you some added scrutiny–to see what personal interests, biases, you name it, might be prompting you to influence the political system in such an outsized way. It’s all we’ve got, really–the Internet, the phone call, the visit to the courthouse. And yes, this applies to everyone. Why does everyone on the right know so much about George Soros? Because they were outraged at the scale of his giving in 2004 and 2006 and dug up everything they could on him. As is only right and proper. And now people are going to look into Frank VanderSloot, Harold Simmons and Paul Singer and the rest of Romney’s million-dollar club.

Fair enough. If rich donors want to use their wealth to influence elections, the notion that they should have their anonymity in doing so protected is not likely to win much sympathy outside their ranks.

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