"The Professional Right Bled Mitt Romney Dry"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 8 2013 12:50 PM

"The Professional Right Bled Mitt Romney Dry"

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Rep. Allen West (R-FL) speaks during a news conference on the payroll tax vote at the U.S. Capitol on December 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

RedState's Erick Erickson writes at good, angry length about a question that's dogged Republicans since they lost in 2012: Who will rid them of these troublesome scam artists? Erickson's buckshot hits plenty of people, from the Romney strategists to the RNC, but this is the bit that might be unfamiliar to people who don't immerse themselves in conservative media.

The professional right has turned a mailing list habit into a mailing list addiction. Like drug addicts wanting one more hit before going straight, they send out one last mail piece demanding money to help Allen West. But now, like going from cocaine to crack, they spam your email inbox too demanding your immediate defense of Allen West, Rand Paul, etc.
Never you mind that Allen West will never see one penny of the money. “We’re building his name identification,” the mailhouse tells you. Yes, in the days of Rush Limbaugh’s 20 million listener audience, Fox News’s domination of the news airwaves, and Allen West’s own efforts, I’m sure he needs some crappy little group no one has ever heard of using his name so that they themselves get money.
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This is a real problem, and the West example is well-chosen. In 2012, West ran the best-funded campaign for the House in America. Conservatives who saw him on TV or YouTube couldn't give him enough money. Seeing that, groups like the dodgy CAPE PAC created West websites and bought West Web ads to ask for money—money that never went to West. That was a particularly flagrant example of something Rick Perlstein, the liberal historian of conservativism, identified for The Baffler. Direct-mail appeals, which helped fund the New Right, were always susceptible to graft. In the email era, they hit the same mental sweet spots as whatever article a conservative reader just read about Obama's plan to install "common core" in classrooms or send FEMA troops to take your guns. Next step for Erickson: naming who the worst scammers are. He'd have to burn some friends and financial sources to do so.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.