Colbert bids; Gingrich fails to click
He’s angling to get his name on a PAC, and not just any PAC. Colbert has offered his home state a swap:
Appealing to GOP frugalistas, he’s offered to help pick up the tab for the state's presidential primary Jan. 21, according to The State newspaper. In exchange, he wants the state GOP to let him exercise a naming-right option and rename the primary “The Colbert Nation Super PAC Presidential Primary," in the fine tradition of, say, Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, a ballpark formerly [for obvious reasons] known as Enron Field.
The host of "The Colbert Report" also wants a referendum on the ballot asking voters whether or not they agree that "corporations are people," the other bumper-sticker takeaway from Citizens United, echoed eloquently in Mitt Romney’s comeback to a heckler at the Iowa State Fair that "corporations are people, my friend."
Colbert already presides over his own super PAC, a deadpan sendup of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which popped the cork on how much corporate money can flow into federal elections. Colbert’s reasoning seems to be that if money can effectively "buy" politicians, why can’t it purchase the political process itself, outright? Or at least purchase sponsorships.
The Times reported that the GOP denies there was ever a deal, but The State newspaper in South Carolina says the GOP has agreed to put the referendum on the ballot in exchange for Colbert’s "significant contribution," which would pretty much let Colbert claim to have proven his point.
No matter how this turns out, the on-the-air/on-demand/online world has created a whole new playing field for playing politics.
No longer must political pranks and dirty tricks be confined to the sophomoric ordering of dozens of pizzas to be delivered to political opponents, COD, courtesy of Nixon operative Donald Segretti, who also sent a deeply sinister fake letter to the editor of a New Hampshire newspaper impugning Democratic candidate Ed Muskie, or to Karl Rove’s stealing of a thousand sheets of an opponent’s campaign letterhead to send out a flyer inviting the homeless to a campaign rally with "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing." It was, he later said, a "youthful prank" that he regretted.
Now there’s Internet squatting, too.
Someone in the Newt Gingrich camp didn’t cover all the bases before he launched his presidential campaign. The domain name "newtgingrich.com" takes you not to the former Speaker’s own website, or his campaign’s, but to a variety of sites and stories that don’t have much flattering to say about Gingrich.
I clicked on it several times. Once, a story appeared about a Gingrich business advisory group bestowing an "entrepreneur of the year" award -- on a Van Nuys online porn company. After publicity prompted the business group to rescind the award, the porn company ginned up its own "Family Values Porn Fan of the Year" award for Gingrich. On another click, I got the site for Freddie Mac, a firm that paid Gingrich handsomely for consulting work that he insists was not lobbying.
USA Today said its check of "newtgingrich.com" led to the Tiffany and Co. website, a broad hint about Gingrich’s onetime $500,000 tab at the luxe shop.
The site is evidently owned by a Democratic opposition research group called American Bridge 21st Century. It was reported to be selling the site on Craigslist for $1 million, "because we wouldn’t want to be accused of being socialists" by giving it away. But when I clicked for the link [and whether there were any offers], I only got this:
This isn’t the first time for political web-squatting. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee got the rights to www.jackabramoff.com, the name of the notorious Republican lobbyist who just got out of prison and asked the DCCC for the domain name back. Hit the road, Jack, the DCCC responded. [In case you’re wondering, I’ll save you the mouse click: dccc.org is owned and operated by … the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.]
-- Patt Morrison
Photo: Stephen Colbert attends IAVA's Fifth Annual Heroes Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 9, in New York City. Credit: Fernando Leon/Getty Images