Money, speech, corporations, and Stephen Colbert

If you’re not paying attention to what Stephen Colbert is up to these days, you should fix that.  You may recall that he formed a SuperPAC called “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” a little while back.  The PAC was also known as “Colbert SuperPAC” – however, Colbert recently transferred control of ABTT to Jon Stewart so that he could form an exploratory committee for president in South Carolina, and consequently the group is now known as the “Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert SuperPAC.”  As a result of all of this, there are three things you should do.

First, watch the SuperPAC’s anti-Romney ad, which is running in South Carolina.

Next, watch Colbert being interviewed this morning on ABC’s This Week.

Finally, read the short NY Times piece about these developments, and the long NY Times piece that gives some context and backstory to all of this.

Bonus video: the piece on the SuperPAC’s “issue ad,” featuring Buddy Roemer and Colbert riding a unicorn.

What to make of all this? First, it’s fascinating to watch “serious” journalists like Stephanopoulos try to figure out how to handle Colbert. Second, I think Colbert is doing a real service by taking the absurdities of campaign finance laws and Citizens United to their logical conclusion. It’s hard to say what, if any, effect it all will have, but if it helps people start to question whether things like “corporations are people” and “money equals speech” really make sense, that’s a big achievement that nobody else seems to have yet managed. Third, it’s really funny, and everyone can use a good laugh.

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6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Huge Event This Weekend

    In keeping with the issues raised by the Colbert actions in South Carolina, I just wanted to let everyone know that “Citizens United To End Political Bribery” (an Occupy Boston working group) is hosting a huge series of events this coming weekend to mark the two-year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United case (and to address the more general question of how to get financial influence out of politics). Here’s a flyer:

  2. Stephanopoulos destroyed

    Gosh did he mishandle that moment in the sun.

    As to unicorns, WikiNarnia has the following excellent background information:

    Unicorns are magical creatures which dwell exclusively in Narnia.

    Unicorns were present at several important events in Narnian history. They were members of Aslan’s army during the Winter Revolution, and at least two were sent to save Edmund from the camp of the White Witch. In some accounts, Peter also rode a unicorn into the Battle of Beruna. Jewel the Unicorn was a loyal follower of Aslan during the Last War of Narnia.

    They are very honorable creatures in Narnia and it is said that “not even a king would think of riding a unicorn except in great need.” They are almost always loyal to Aslan, and are known to be very wise. In battle, they are fierce opponents, due to their advantage of teeth, hooves, and horn.

    Thus, first, “To Narnia!” was a non-sequitur: Colbert was evidently already in Narnia when he filmed the ad, given sentence one. Second, he appears to be getting ahead of himself: not only is he not a king, his need is not great: he hasn’t even decided if he will run.

    For the record, Colbert is polling ahead of Huntsman. Memo to the former Obama diplomat: third place in NH was not a ticket to ride, it was a ticket to a graceful withdrawal announcement. …

    And, lo and behold, he has gotten the message! He must be a BMGer!

    • With all due respect

      to C.S. Lewis, the claim that unicorns “dwell exclusively in Narnia” is the height of hubris.

      The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat’s beard. First mentioned by the ancient Greeks, it became the most important imaginary animal of the Middle Ages and Renaissance when it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. In the encyclopedias its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness.

      Now, admittedly, Colbert’s reference to Narnia does suggest that he was thinking in Narnian terms. But since I think it highly unlikely that as learned a fellow as Colbert would commit a gaffe of the sort you suggest, it seems perfectly clear that Colbert was riding a traditional mythical unicorn, and selected Narnia as a unicorn-affiliated destination that would be recognizable to viewers of the SuperPAC ad. This also eliminates the king problem that you noted.

      I’m glad we’ve cleared that up.

      • I will concede, however,

        that Colbert’s three children render the “could only be captured by a virgin” aspect of the traditional mythical unicorn problematic. Perhaps that aspect of the folklore is not entirely reliable.

  3. To bigmike above

    Was there supposed to be a link with your comment about the event? Your comment ends with “Here’s the flyer:” then nothing.

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Sat 26 Jul 11:10 AM