The former eBay CEO has spent more than $81 million so far – $71 million from her personal fortune. And if she wins the GOP nomination on Tuesday, it marks only the halfway point in her quest for office.
Eighty one million freakin dollars for a freakin gubernatorial primary!
Why anyone with so much personal wealth would want to be the governor of a structurally dysfunctional and bankrupt state like California is beyond me. Unless, of course, Meg Whitman is feeling guilty about not even bothering to register to vote until she was in her forties. As The Contra Costa Times opined last October:
The issue is not just that she failed to register and failed to vote; it’s also the reasons she has given and her misleading statements about her voting history. It all shows an unacceptable disdain for the political process and the electorate she is asking to support her.’
Or maybe its guilt over her time sitting on the board of Goldman Sachs, illegally taking advantage of insider information to make even more money. Does she plan to rescue California from default by changing the Golden State into the Goldman State?
Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court bestowed personhood on corporations, equating their right of free speech with the ability to write checks directly from their treasuries to buy as many elections as they please. Queen Meg presumably didn’t like that ruling, as there are only so many fellow billionaires to compete with on the political stage.
If the financial meltdown of Wall Street, the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people rejected for coverage by the medical insurance industry, and BP‘s ecocide of the Gulf of Mexico has taught us anything, it’s that the corporate ethos is helplessly warped by the all consuming desire to make as much money as possible: Life is a zero sum game; the end justifies the means.
I can’t help but think that there’s a corresponding mental contagion in the people most responsible for the ruthless pursuit of corporate profit. As individuals, I’m sure that a lot of them are family and community oriented, wanting the best for the people in their immediate zone of contact and interaction. But as the limits of personal interaction are exceeded, it becomes society’s responsibility to insure fair dealing. A system of laws and regulations replace the individual’s own sense of responsibility.
Naturally, corporations recognize the necessity of working within the law and their corresponding regulatory frameworks. That’s why they spend so much time and money buying the politicians who write them and corrupting the regulators charged with enforcing them. Nobody wants to spend their retirement years wearing an orange jumpsuit.
And while there has always been an unholy relationship between business and politics, the Bush Administration simply chose to eliminate the middle man. They made a practice of inviting industry lawyers in to write their own regulatory legislation, excuse themselves for a country club lunch, and upon returning ask only where they wanted them to sign.
Unfortunately, the practice has continued in the Obama Administration. Recall that when the health bill, largely the one originally submitted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus was finally signed into law, Baucus was effusive in his praise for the tireless work of his senior staffer that did the actual writing, Liz Fowler, the former VP of Wellpoint.
How can the practice of scheming and corrupting, honed to a fine art after decades of practice, not effect the cognitive style of the individuals most intimately involved? As I pointed out last year in my post Evolution Of Wingnut Deception Routines:
The ability of primates to deceive a perceived competitor for access to resources or mates conferred obvious survival advantages on those who mastered it.
So successful were the results that their victims had to develop effective countermeasures. In time, they evolved the ability to detect physiological clues– facial expressions, vocal inflections, furtive glances, and other ‘tells’– to divine an aggressor’s intent.
Would-be thieves and social dominators were thus held in check until they could, in turn, develop a counter to the counter. The problem: how to mask the neuro-muscular reactions resulting from the intense scrutiny visited upon them by their intended victims. Through much trial and error, they learned that the only really fool-proof means of deceiving their victims was to first deceive themselves into believing that their own intentions were benign. Thus the practice of self-deception– true lies– was born.
A common Washington practice these days is to release bogus information to reporters only on “background”; that is, outside the purview of the public’s ability to intuit deception. In Whitman’s case, so unpracticed in the art of political deception is she that she has to resort to heavily scripted press briefings, like this one where she refused to even take questions:
She also holds fake town hall meetings where she told one audience:
You’re an integral part of all this, lots of cheering would be good.
The Contra Costa Times reports, Queen Meg is pioneering a new form of propaganda as well, using corporate style VNRs:
In what appears to be an unprecedented campaign tactic in California politics, Whitman has advised television stations in all markets that she will be providing footage for events they are unable to attend for the rest of the campaign. The campaign sent its first footage Tuesday — eight minutes from a Riverside event in which she is shown talking to an audience.
Money may not buy her love, but it just might buy her the governor’s mansion where she can make good on her promise to take a $15 billion chain saw to the state’s social safety net, public schools, and public employee pension plans while simultaneously promising to reduce treasury inflows by eliminating state capital gains taxes. She also supports cracking down on undocumented immigrants, opposes gay marriage, wants to suspend California’s green energy initiative, and believes the attempt to decriminalize and tax marijuana is the worst idea she’s ever heard.
Queen Meg must be related to the White Queen, who told Alice:
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Or is it the Red Queen, who could have been speaking of California’s crazy minority rule system when she said:
Here you have to run very fast just to stay in the same place to avoid falling behind.
Just what California needs: Another super rich narcissist with no governing experience running the country’s most populous state with a GDP exceeded by maybe ten countries in the world.
Mr. Caterpillar: Pass the hookah, please.