Mr. Smith Goes to Kenwood

Dane Smith is back, and he’s back with
the panache that only serious money can sustain. Is this a good thing?
As per Rupert Murdoch’s Pravda West, you decide!

When last we saw our hometown hero, March of 2007, Dane Smith was walking the plank at the Newsreel of the Twin Cities,
where the new spew of hard-edged gossiping, gay-bashing,
Muslim-bashing, Kersten-style investigative journalism has dragged
Strib reader’s average IQ down yet another 20 or 30 points. (When IQ
approaches zero it’s a basic math problem; check out renormalization. If you find this stuff difficult, you’re reading too much Strib).

to our story, shouldn’t we feel sorry for Smith, who coughed up a
20-plus-year career of determinedly non-partisan political reporting in
favor of getting out "while a good buyout offer was available"?

No, we shouldn’t. Smith quickly re-invented himself, jumping the shark
onto the career path of a politician who’s been around long enough to
know what principles to sacrifice, and when. He followed the money.

mere month from his Strib swanbyline, Smith was "found" for the
self-identified "progressive economic think tank" Growth and Justice in a "search" conducted by DFL mover and perennial candidate Rebecca Yanisch. This hookup paired Smith with ex-Strib crony and DFL candidate (do I sense a trend?) Joel Kramer, in a deal which looks chummier than a Wild night in the penalty box.

leaving office are inclined to tap their Rolodexes, those arteries
through which political influence and big money run fastest, for
whatever purposes motivate them. Smith is now the poster boy for an epidemic of similar vascular incursions by exiting political journalists.

brings this all to mind is that, on Wednesday past, Smith and his pals,
self-appointed keepers of Minnesota’s moral and electoral rectitude,
treated us to a gloriously righteous fit of profitable indignation, the
Worst Political Advertising in America Awards Ceremony. The event was, more or less, the political set’s version of the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards. Or something.

Smith’s pre-event spiel
touted an "Academy Awards style event," but admitted the content was
just the baddest stuff of a few intern-hours’ search on YouTube. He
proposed "marketing it as a way for people to blow off steam" in a
"non-partisan, multi-partisan setting," but that’s where it gets even
harder to believe.

What it is, really is, is a feel good dollar hook for Growth and Justice, Smith’s we’re-not-very-partisan lobby. Smith’s real message is "send me money!"

Growth and Justice has only one identifiable BOD Republican (Arlen Erdahl). The case makes itself that G&J is "nothing more than a front group for the DFL."
Nevertheless, Smith, like most partisan Democrats, has handed over to
the right the right to be openly partisan about anything. Like Dems in
general, he’s scared to death of the word.

in exchange for the paper-thin political cover of having kicked-out
(Ron Erhardt) and forgotten (Charlie Weaver) Republicans,
self-promoters (Mitch Pearlstein) desperate for their thoughts to be
remembered, and US Senators (some guy named Coleman) desperate for
their acts to be forgot, all act as award co-presenters, along with a
bevy of the DFL’s Kenwood elite, Smith and G&J happily conceded Democratic ads to be just as stupid, dishonest, and downright evil as Republicans’.

the First is that Smith’s methods, indeed his very position, are those
he so recently decried. His portentously perverse parting proposition
for a Strib successor: "Always pay attention to who’s getting what and
. I’ve always liked the old saw about comforting the afflicted and
afflicting the comfortable." Today no powerful or desirous Minnesota politician is too comfortable to sit in the shade of the G&J umbrella.

And let’s not mention that, as an entrenched media elitist, Smith has no trouble convincing MSM (see here, and here) to spring for free space ("earned media," in political parlance) to promote his fund raising activities.

be fair (must I?), Smith and his cronies are emulating a right wing
strategy of years’ proven effectiveness. For as long as memory, the
Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute and
other unabashed cash laundries have ecstatically catapulted Republican
candidates and causes upon us from behind the invisible shield of non-profit tax deductions. Left-wingers are finally catching on, and G&J is but one of a rapidly flocking coterie of port side dollar decoys.

But the impartiality illusion must be maintained.

complaints about Dem ads are fatuous at best. Growth and Justice
cheerily Swift-boats national Democrats, declaring the DNC’s smooth,
smart Valentine’s Day 2008 "Sweetheart Deal" to be the bad ad equal to North Carolina lunatic fringer Vernon Robinson’s 2004 "Twilight Zone v. Leave It To Beaver." "Sweetheart Deal," tapped as a "guilt by association" ad, wins G&J’s Daisy Award for Dems bashing Republicans, while "Twilight Zone" wins the Willie Award for the reverse. But there’s a qualitative difference between the two.

who has lost Republican primaries in multiple NC Congressional districts,
takes on Islamic extremists, homosexuals, lesbians, feminists, liberal
judges, burning American flags, killing a million babies, the ten
commandments, God, black children born out of wedlock, Jesse Jackson,
Al Sharpton, racial quotas, aliens (with and without spaceships) and
the unguarded Mexican border, in 59 seconds flat. He’s an avenging
angel, and there are a lot of us on his hit list. McCain and Bush may
not be peas in every issue’s pod, as "Sweetheart Deal" hints, but
they’re from adjacent rows of the same vegetable garden, and the ad
uses McCain’s own audio to make that point. The DNC MO isn’t guilt by
association; it’s association by guilt. Don’t bother trying to decode
this one. It’s tautological.

supreme intellectual insult, though, for those whose IQ numbers still
require sock removal (see paragraph 2), doesn’t even have a
(non-)partisan point. It’s a shame shame about using sex to sell
politics. Smith/G&J cite a clever tongue and cheek (sic) show by porn actress and political opportunist Mary Carey,
demonstrating her qualifications to command the office of Governor of
California, and whatever else might arise. How opportune! Mr. Smith, to
lure us to your very own fund raiser by flashing a hint of porn. C’mon,
Dane, who’s zoomin’ who?

entertain a rumsfeldian dialogue, is the growth of Growth and Justice
justifiable? No. Is it necessary to balance the political equation?
Yes. Will American politics improve, as Democrats catch up with
Republicans in the Think Tank Wars? I doubt it. Is there a better
way? You tell me!







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