Bring Back the Smoke Filled Rooms

This is a textbook example of why We, the People, no longer matter in American politics, from Jonathan Martin at The Politico.

It could be an episode of Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.” Mitt Romney was announced from the podium Saturday afternoon as the winner of the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Straw Poll,” narrowly edging Mike Huckabee.

But it turns out that the 5,775-vote total included thousands of people who had voted online, and could have become eligible by paying as little as $1 to join FRC Action, the legislative action arm of Family Research Council.

Although the audience at the Washington Hilton was not told, the crowd favorite among the 952 attendees who voted in person turned out to be Huckabee by a mile. He got 51 percent of the in-person votes, compared to just 10 percent for Mitt Romney.

This led one rival to suggest the headline, “Romney Win$ Straw Poll.”

I would just love to ask some of the people who actually attended the FRC shindig how they feel about this. Used, one suspects.

I’ve been wondering why there doesn’t seem to be more movement toward Huckabee in the ranks of white conservative evangelicals. It turns out that whenever white conservative evangelicals get a close look at Huckabee, they flock to him like pigeons to bread crumbs. It’s the leadership of the “values voters” movement who aren’t flocking. I can only guess why that might be, but I suspect that power and money are factors, somehow.

The various Powers That Be like to go through the motions of asking us ordinary people what we think, but ultimately they don’t care. Eventually they’ll settle on whatever candidates promise them the most perks and influence, and then they’ll go about marketing those candidates to the rest of us, like toothpaste. Meanwhile, any candidate who fails to meet with their approval simply will not get the media exposure he or she needs to be competitive.

Note that I’m not saying I want Huckabee to be the nominee. Underneath Huckabee’s nice-guy exterior is a five-alarm whackjob. The point is that what went on at the FRC exemplifies how we’re all being jerked around.

Once upon a time there were no presidential primaries. The nominee was chosen at the party conventions, usually through a process that combined the opinions of delegates with behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing in the famous smoke-filled rooms. States began holding primaries as a way to “popularize” the nominating process. But the people at the top of the power pyramid have learned how to jerk the rest of us around and manipulate what “we” think. Most people go to polls knowing no more about the politicians they vote for than they do about what’s really in their toothpaste. All they know is that it tastes like mint and the people in the television ads have real nice teeth.

12 thoughts on “Bring Back the Smoke Filled Rooms

  1. Maha,
    Those nice teeth are dentures placed on bad gums. Actually, the entire body is rotting away. But, at least the teeth are white and minty-fresh…

    Huckabee is a nut. A nice one, I guess. But still a nut.
    I don’t want him to be the R candidate. Between his smooth style, weight-loss, and playing in a R&R band, the dimwitted among us will be “fooled again!”
    Huckabee looks like a compassionate conservative. But, after Shrub’s presidency, and the recent S-CHIP debate, we ought to know that there’s no such thing. Huckabee is nothing more than the latest conservative “huckster!”

    Here’s what I’d love to see:
    Dodd and Obama; Gore and Dodd; or, Gore and Obama in ’08!
    Fat chance! Ooops, did I say fat? I hope Faux Gnu’s doesn’t read this…

  2. I read a MSM article on the poll that broke down the vote by in-person/total votes and the article pointed out that the on-line voters could join at the last second. They did not quite say the vote was rigged – but almost. Occasionally, the MSM can see and speak to truth.

  3. It boggles my mind that after seven years of this insanity abortion will play a large factor. The radical right hates abortion above carpet bombing muslim nations, but they REALLY hate taxes more, and more war will eventually mean more taxes, even if they’re disguised in some way . I hope Jaysus comes back and takes ’em to the wood shed.
    Ron Paul is actually polling better than the MSM lets on. His antiwar/anti foreign aid message is doing well with many Republicans I know.

  4. My characterization of Huckabee as a fiscal moderate in the comments yesterday was probably generous (I didn’t know he supported the loopy fair tax scheme), but, believe it or not, that’s apparently the anti-tax folks beef with him. They’ve even got a website ( dedicated to the idea that Huckabee expanded Big Gummint while gov. of Arkansas. I can’t figure it, but that’s the only explanation that seems plausible to me. Huckabee should be the most dangerous Repub. candidates, the media loves him, the rank-and-file Christian right loves him, he’s picking up some momentum in Iowa, but his campaign is DOA because he can’t squeeze enough money out of the wealthy benefactor crowd.

  5. When I heard about the online voting, I thought, Oh my, the Christofascists have been freeped!

    Back in the 1980s when Religious Righties were organized by that freaky little toy boy, Ralph Reed, they seemed to understand how to use new technology to their benefit. I’m not sure what has happened, sclerosis of their brains perhaps, but now they’re lagging behind.

  6. Yeah, but they made one mistake.

    They made Alan Keyes mad

    Although I suspect labelling Teh Morally Failed Politicians with Stephen Douglas and states rights is not really a winning strategy for him with his most likely base…

    Meanwhile, Romney, who wants them to ignore both his religion and his record, and Paul, whose racism most likely won’t be enough to make them get over his libertarian views on sex, were able to freep the poll out from under activists who actually took off from work and travelled/paid money to attend this thing so the FRC could pump up their mailing list, which almost certainly now contains a great many people named Heywood.

    If they’d been a little less vicious when they thought they were running things I’d feel sorry for them right now.

  7. My understanding is that the anti-tax brigade, i.e. Norquist et al, have decided that Huckabee isn’t one of them, and thus are determined to destroy his candidacy. Of course those folks have a lot of money, so this fits your theory.

  8. The practice of directing a horde of people toward an on-line poll – usually one that has no entrance bar – is known as “freeping a poll”. There are often diaries on DailyKos directing the readership to site xyz to freep a poll for a particular cause or person. The practice presumably started on Free Republic, hence the name. Here’s wikipedia on the subject:

  9. Every little dent of chip made at this conservative-perpetrated myth of the “values voter” is a good thing…for progressives and even those “values voters” who are not being spoken for.

    We’ve known for a long time, unlike our media, that the religious right does not speak for all of the religious, that conservatives in the Bush administration are loyal to money interests not the religious (just as David Kupo), that those coopted by this myth will eventually come to grips with the nature of those who have manipulated them, that lower class “values voters” will once again realize that their prosperity is at stake and that they have been scammed.

    It will only take longer to separate coopted values voters from the leadership to which they cleave without occasionally calling attention to the fact that they’ve been scammed. Repetition also helps and this blog is one more drop in the bucket. Each drop helps.

  10. Pingback: The Mahablog » It’s Pat!

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