The Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has just launched a campaign to “Stop Colbert,” as in Stephen Colbert, the acerbic incarnation of right-wing blowhardism. The first shot in this battle, for which a brutal retaliation from Colbert can be expected after he gets back from vacation, is this video that Pelosi posted yesterday:
The issue is one that has become an integral part of this election year that has seen income inequality, corporate abuse of power, and fair elections, take precedence over almost every issue other than jobs. Pelosi sums up her position saying that…
“…House Democrats are reintroducing the DISCLOSE Act today to get unlimited, secret donations out of politics. The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to unrestricted special interest campaign donations in American elections—permitting corporations to spend unlimited funds, directly or through third parties and Political Action Committees organized for those purposes, to influence Federal elections and opened the door for the emergence of Super PACs.”
It is Colbert who has succeeded in making Super PACs one of the most reviled political devices ever conceived. And he did it by starting his own (Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow) and demonstrating how easy it is to collect huge sums of money from secret sources and spending it on self-serving activities without any unaccountability whatsoever.
The issue made headlines this week when President Obama announced that he would not oppose the formation of Super PACs to support his reelection. Republicans immediately pounced on the announcement, portraying it as a flip-flop of his previously expressed position against Super PACs. Of course, Obama did not flip-flop at all. He is still against Super PACS, he has just resigned himself to the fact that they are a part of the electoral process as it currently exists and that abstaining from using them would amount to a unilateral disarmament that would permit Republicans to vastly outspend Democrats this year.
Obama and other Democrats still intend to pursue an agenda to bring an end to the practice as quickly as they can get support from enough members of the GOP to pass legislation like the DISCLOSE Act which Pelosi is addressing in the video above. It is only by the obstructionism of the GOP that the bill has not already become law.
Pelosi is firing both barrels at Colbert in the video. She hammers him for “taking secret money from special interests” and for being “out of control.” And she nails him for his hatred of kittens. As an aside, she zings Newt Gingrich with what could be a fatal blow by referring to him as her friend. If Gingrich’s campaign weren’t already dead, this would surely kill it.
Still, this campaign aimed at Colbert is a big step for Pelosi and company. It was not that long ago that one of Pelosi’s top lieutenants in the House was advising Democratic members to refrain from appearing on The Colbert Report. Rahm Emanuel was the Democratic Caucus chairman before leaving to become Obama’s Chief of Staff, and then mayor of Chicago. But back in March of 2007. while still a member of Congress, Emanuel told his colleagues to “steer clear of Stephen Colbert.” That advice was widely ignored, to the dismay of many congressmen with deficient senses of humor.
The DISCLOSE Act is an important first step in restoring the power of people over corporations and wealthy special interests. Pelosi’s efforts on behalf of this bill are welcome. But in this topsy-turvy world it may turn out that Colbert will wield more influence over the matter in the long run. His brilliant comedic sensibility and fearlessness in injecting his satire into the real world is having an impact that could never have been anticipated. And as Pelosi says, He.Must.Be.Stopped!