Oops. That’s the Obama administration admitting their latest messaging failure. Over the past week the Democratic National Committee and President Barack Obama have been laying out a coordinated attack against donations by foreign owned corporations. Yet another election year bogeyman that is intended to draw voters away from the main issues – the economy, the unemployment rate, and looming taxes – that are sure to hurt Democrats in November.
Speaking at a rally on Sunday Obama said that “the American people deserve to know who is trying to sway their elections”. He put a seed of doubt into the crowd of whether the apparently nefarious influence peddlers from across the oceans could be the one’s attempting to dismantle his mantle of positive change. “You don’t know,” Obama said, “It could be the oil industry. It could even be foreign owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose.” Obama echoed the concern in other campaign stops throughout the week, telling voters that “groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections.”
The DNC was more pointed in their criticism accusing the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove of “stealing our Democracy, spending millions from secret donors to elect Republicans to do their bidding in Congress. It appears they’ve even taken secret foreign money to influence our elections. It’s incredible, Republicans benefitting from secret foreign money.”
Powerful if true. Faux nativism plays almost as well in elections as another recent Democratic schtick – faux populism. So the question is, is it true?
Perhaps Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod can shed some light on the answer. When Axelrod was asked by Bob Schieffer of “Face the Nation” whether he had any evidence that the Chamber of Commerce was using foreign funds to influence the election he responded “Do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob.” “The fact is…they won’t release any information about where their money is coming from.”
The New York Times reported ,
The Democratic committee’s spokesman, Hari Sevugan, likewise offered no evidence and suggested it was up to the chamber to disprove the assertions. “Serious questions have been raised,” he said in an e-mail. “If they want to clear this up, they can open up their books.”
In other words, this is a guilty before proven innocent kind of world and Democrats are more than happy to throw around unfounded accusations and then leave it to Republicans to prove that it isn’t true. Apparently slander and fear tactics are part and parcel of this whole “hope and change” package.
Regardless of who bears the burden of proof, we’re still left wondering…is it true? Fortunately, the New York Times has done some digging and found that,
“[A] closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.
Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association , have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States.”
Bipartisan agreement? Well that sure makes it sound less scandalous.
But let’s say that these evil foreign corporations with names like Reebok, 7-Eleven, and (gasp) Food Lion, are squeezing the life out of our American Democracy. Who exactly are these shadowy foreign groups giving to? Well according to the Center for Reponsive Politic s, a nonpartisan group tracking money in U.S. politics, of the $12.2 million given by foreign-connected PACs in 2010, Democrats have received $6.52 million while Republicans have received $5.58 million.
Wait, what? All this hoopla by the Obama and the DNC railing against the influence of foreign corporations on the upcoming elections and they’ve actually received more money from them? Yep. So perhaps Obama and the DNC were right. Perhaps foreign corporations are influencing our elections. It’s just an inconvenient truth that they happen to be influencing more towards Democrats than Republicans.
by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee