Left Finds New Target: Nice, Smart, Thoughtful Conservative Businessman
Jane Mayer, who wrote the New Yorker's error-drenched attack piece on the Koch brothers, has a new hit out on North Carolina philanthropist Art Pope. He has committed the unforgivable sin of being a conservative interested in politics.
I'm reading the piece now but had to highlight a few parts. The premise of the piece is that Art Pope bought elections in North Carolina in 2010, as evidenced by all of those Republicans who won there. It begins with a story that, if not written by a serial errorist, might sound like an unfair advertising campaign. But even so, the story fails to explain how Republicans took over the 20 Democratic-held chambers in other states.
The article then blames Pope for an ad that he publicly decried. Why? Well, he supported the target of the ad's opponent. It glosses over the fact that unions are the group that most exploited the donation opportunities afforded by the Supreme Court's Citizens United case.
Republican state legislators have also been devising new rules that, according to critics, are intended to suppress Democratic turnout in the state, such as limiting early voting and requiring voters to display government-issued photo I.D.s. College students, minorities, and the poor, all of whom tend to vote Democratic, will likely be most disadvantaged. Obama carried North Carolina by only fourteen thousand votes and, many analysts say, must carry it again to win in 2012, so turnout could be a decisive factor. Paul Shumaker, a Republican political consultant, says, “Art’s done a good job of changing the balance in the state.”
Politicians on the left, unsurprisingly, see things less benignly. Nina Szlosberg-Landis, a Democratic activist in Raleigh, says, “It’s part of a very deliberate national strategy of the ultra-conservative movement to change the face of democracy. And I have to hand it to them. They’re pretty successful.”
Can you believe that list of voter suppression tactics? The humanity! And please note how George Soros' Secretary of State project is just ignored.
Of course, every time Pope is quoted, he sounds downright awesome. Take this, for instance:
As a political combatant, Pope is more subtle than Jesse Helms, his conservative forebear. Mac McCorkle, a former Democratic campaign consultant in the state, who is now a visiting lecturer at Duke, recalls, “Helms would just call you a Commie pinko and shout you down. Pope’s different. A lot of people find him intellectually engaging. He’s been underestimated.” McCorkle said that Pope’s weakness “is that he never comes out except where you think he will. He’ll say he cares about the poor, but there’s a puerile Ayn Randism to him. In the end, his views are pretty cardboard. Deep down, he’s an ideologue, a zealot.”
Pope, when explaining his views to me, invoked not Rand but the great political philosophers. He said, “Politically, I would describe myself as conservative, and philosophically I would describe myself as a classical liberal, which you had in John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill.” He added that he supports “a free-market economy, subject to the rule of law.” Pope also described himself as a big admirer of John Rawls’s “A Theory of Justice,” which argues for equality of opportunity, but he had one major caveat: he doesn’t like Rawls’s belief in “redistributive justice,” which allows for the transfer of wealth to the worst-off members of society. Joseph Levine, who teaches political philosophy at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and who studied with Rawls at Harvard, says, “John Rawls would be rolling in his grave if he knew what Art Pope said.”
Pope believes that wealth is the just reward for talent and hard work, and that all Americans have a fair chance at success. Using Michael Jordan and rock stars as examples, he said, “Why should they be deprived of that money—why is that unfair?” He said, “I’m not envious of the wealth that Bill Gates has,” and added, “America does not have an aristocracy or a plutocracy.” Citing I.R.S. data, and the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, he said that “wealth creation and wealth destruction is constantly happening. And, really, when you look at the lowest income, most of that is just simply a factor of age and marriage. If you’re young and single—and God forbid if you’re young and a single parent, and don’t have a high-school education—then your earnings will be low, and you’ll be in the bottom twenty per cent. But, usually, as people get older . . . they save and retain wealth, and work their way up.”
Art Pope for President, I say! Seriously, though, if this is the Left's bogeyman, I feel worse for them than their opponents.