I am not a big believer in conspiracy theories, but I do love a string of coincidences -- or, in this case, a loosely tangled web of a week's worth of unfortunate events.
First, the timeline:
Saturday: The White House signals that it will not back SOPA and PIPA -- the twin bills meandering through Congress that would censor the internet and make it harder to do the cyber version of sneaking into a movie theater without paying.
Wednesday: a national day of protest and dissent against SOPA and PIPA. Congressional sponsors of the bills drop like flies. Hollywood millionaire ex-Senator Chris Dodd goes ballistic and says Big Entertainment will cut off Barry's Big Entertainment money. Waaaaaah.
Thursday: Barry goes to Disney World to
soothe Donald Duck's ruffled feathers be a tourism shill and promote the theme park to rich people (not Americans). You see, the Disney people also had gone ballistic over the treason of its bought and paid for politicians running away from the anti-piracy bills that Disney helped pay for. Especially since Obama is the biggest single political recipient of Disney money. As a matter of fact, Disney donates to Democrats over Republicans two to one. WTF!!
Thursday Night: ABC (a Disney subsidiary) airs the juicy interview with the second Mrs. Ex-Newt. Newt goes ballistic.
Where does one even start? First, let me disabuse you of any notion that I am defending Newt Gingrich. I loathe everything about this dangerous, mean little man. He must never become president. But I find it strange that as soon as Newt started gaining on Mitt Romney in South Carolina this week, ABC/Disney suddenly has this big scoop of an interview with the former wife. (It is common knowledge that the Obama campaign would rather fight Mitt than nasty Newt any day.) The network execs were said to be absolutely agonizing over whether they should even run it, because they have consciences and stuff. But after about an hour, they started leaking out dribs and drabs of clips, and they ran the whole thing immediately after Thursday's debate. Which Newt had handily won. His smackdown of CNN's odious John King was worth the price of admission. These kinds of withering smackdowns are what Obama '12 can ill-afford.
Everybody was shocked, shocked, shocked that Newt wanted an open marriage. But there is only one problem with this scenario. Not only was this no scoop, it is very old news. Of course, people actually have to be readers to realize how stale this stuff is, so I guess the point is that few people bother to read in this Age d'Information. Especially those vaunted "swing" voters.
As John H. Richardson points out in an Esquire blogpost, Marianne Gingrich spilled her guts to him more than a year ago, leading to his own lengthy real scoop of an ignored article. And ABC/Disney is taking credit for its own blockbuster of non-originality? So now, it is serious journalism's turn to go ballistic:
Her portrayal of Gingrich (writes Richardson) was devastating, complex, nuanced, and compassionate. She held nothing back. And we continued talking after the piece was published, a conversation that continues (more on that in a moment.)
And so it's kind of funny, actually, seeing news that you broke a year and a half ago being blasted out on the Internet as some kind of world exclusive. Why, it's as if we're all amnesiacs. All last night and into today, alarmed headlines have blared across the masthead of the Drudge Report. SHOCK CLAIM: Newt moved for divorce just months after she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.... Or: Gingrich Lacks Moral Character to Be President, Ex-Wife Says... Bitter Marianne Gingrich Unloads, Claims Newt Wanted Open Marriage... Or: Adviser: Marianne 'very bitter'...Follow those links and you arrive at breathless stories about Marianne Gingrich's "first television appearance," which will be aired tonight on ABC. She will say that Gingrich "lacks the moral character to serve as President" because "his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage."
That's Disneyfication for you. It's all about the family values glitter, glitz and glamour of forcing an old coot's dirty laundry down our throats. But
back to the Disney/Barry/DNC connection. Obama is a master at fence-straddling. I can just picture the conversation he had with his miffed Hollywood bundlers-not-lobbyists over his pretend defection from the piracy bills. (wink,nod..."It's an election year, so I can't be too obvious about helping you guys out till I'm safely back in the WH. This SOPA/PIPA thing, we just gotta kick the can down the road for a little while.... but how about I jet down to Orlando and do a giant commercial for you guys in the meantime.... and hey, how can your people help my people with the Newt problem?)
The Center for Responsive Politics has the whole scoop on the Disney Company's political heft and generous giving. It spent $3 million on lobbying Congress last year, mostly to pimp out PIPA/SOPA. (John Podesta, listed as one of the Disney lobbyists, is also the founder of Obama's favorite centrist think tank, the Center for American Progress). Disney has "officially" given $28,800 to Obama's re-election effort this cycle, with Rick Perry coming in with sloppy seconds of only $2500. And poor Mitt got only two grand from Mickey Mouse and friends. Newt got nada. Unless you count the free publicity Disney gave him last night.
And going back to Obama's Cinderella photo-op: the announced purpose of his Florida visit was to make it easier for rich foreigners to come here and drop their cash, being that about half of Americans are either in or close to poverty and theme parks are beyond their means. Isn't tourism promotion one of the main functions of dictators in Banana Republics? Defined by Wikipedia, a banana republic is "a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by the collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, whereby the profits derived from private exploitation of public lands is private property, and the debts incurred are public responsibility". Sound familiar?
One of the main profit drivers in third world economies is tourism. The rich foreigners self-indulging and spending their currency in Disney World need never see the surrounding squalor of Florida, with its blighted neighborhoods of foreclosed homes and destitute citizens and private jails full of minority victims of the War on Drugs. But with the increased tourism the president is touting and increased profits to his political backers, the upside (we are told) is that the cute Disney "cast members" might see a nickel or two extra trickled down in their wage-slave paychecks.
No word yet on when Obama might fly back down to Disney to dedicate its new Anti-Pirates of the Caribbean ride.