The PJ Tatler

Perry, Walker Early Exits Kill the 'Super PACs Buy Elections' Scare from Anti-Citizens United Crowd

The headlines were less than subtle:

Super PACs a disaster for democracy

The Super Rich Have a New Way to Buy Elections

And on they went, many replete with dire warnings about the Koch brothers virtually being able to shop for a president the way we normal folk get toilet paper at Costco.

The first two exits from this crowded Republican field have pretty much sunk this ghost ship that was supposed to scare the non-billionaire voting public.

His stunning fall, from top tier hopeful to a so-called “asterisk candidate” who couldn’t break 1 percent in the latest CNN poll, also illustrated the limits of fundraising in a 2016 that was supposed to be dominated by unregulated campaign spending. Both Walker and former Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out earlier this month, represent a two-man money-couldn’t-buy-them-love club on the sidelines. Super PACs affiliated with Perry and Walker raised millions in the weeks leading up to their collapses — Walker’s alone banked more than $20 million.

Even The New York Times is admitting it was all bunk:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was among the most successful fund-raisers in his party, with a clutch of billionaires in his corner and tens of millions of dollars behind his presidential ambitions. But his swift decline and exit from the presidential race on Monday were a stark reminder that even unlimited money has its limits.

While a super PAC supporting him, Unintimidated, was relatively flush with cash — on track to raise as much as $40 million through the end of the year, according to people involved with the group — Mr. Walker’s campaign committee was running dry, contemplating layoffs and unable to find enough money to mount a last stand in Iowa, a state that once favored him.

The Super PACs can’t pay for the more mundane expenses of a campaign, which means that a candidate can be blanketing a state with a zillion dollars’ worth of television advertising but not have the electric bill paid at headquarters.

That’s just the practical shortcoming of the model, however.

Just as money can’t truly buy love or happiness (as I’m told by people who have lots of money), it also can’t buy you a personality that sparkles on television or in front of a crowd at a campaign event.

Perry has that personality, but it was too tainted by his 2011 post-surgery debacle to be overcome by Super PAC money this time around.

The trepidation surrounding Walker going into this race was that we wasn’t electric enough in front of a crowd. That ultimately had more to do with his rapid descent in the polls than anything else. Those who only knew of him from the news had an image of this mighty slayer of Democrats and Big Labor. He had a gargantuan reputation that wasn’t served well without some swagger.

There were some other problems in that campaign, but the quiet demeanor in a race where conservatives and Republicans desperately want a champion was fatal to the campaign.

And proof that all the Super PAC money in the world can’t buy an electorate for a flawed candidate.