We owe it to our readers to tell you the truth, even if it spoils the fun for our ideological allies. I’ll admit when we uncovered this we thought about not writing about it because we love an elaborate prank just like the next guy, and this story reveals the most elaborate, sophisticate political astroturfing prank in Ohio history since Kasich Deputy Press Secretary crowned himself one of “Ohio’s top bloggers” all the time he was writing from Virginia on the Ohio Republican Party’s payroll.
Here it is: Building a Better Ohio, the campaign committee we all thought was a pro-SB 5 campaign is actually …. an anti-SB 5/union funding front group.
The challenge with a good satirical astroturf organization is that you got to keep up appearances while you walk that fine line between pretending to be legit while actually satirically lampooning the characterture you’re portraying.
In this case, the union folks behind Building a Better Ohio just gave a big tell:
Look, there’s no way an actual pro-SB 5 campaign staffed with political professionals who are being paid to make sure SB 5 survives the referendum campaign would a) seek Newt Gingrich’s endorsement, or b) publicize it has heavily as they did today.
Newt looks like he’s filming this while the bank manager working on his latest loan stepped out for a second. Also, his slurring makes it sound like he’s been drinking. (Mecklenboooooooorrrrrrrgggggggg! You scamp!)
And then there’s… well, it’s NEWT GINGRICH, one of the most despised, ideological Republicans in the nation. Newt Gingrich who is running for President and is leading the GOP pack among likely GOP Iowa caucus goers at 28% (when asked which GOP candidate they absolutely would never vote for.) Newt, who is kicking tail in New Hampshire polling at 7% among Republican voters there… just behind Romney, Bachmann, Palin, and Guiliani.
Was Hermain Cain not available?
And then there’s the fact that Gingrich repeatedly makes references to SB 5 being about John Kasich, which I think any honest Republican political consultant would say the absolute last thing an actual pro-SB 5 campaign would want to do is frame SB 5 as a referendum on Kasich. I mean, yeah, on political economies of scale, Newt makes John Kasich look like a pariah in comparison.
(I just love that clip, sorry.)
If I were to draft a campaign plan to sell SB 5 to the public, one of the first things I would want to do is make it appear to be as non-partisan as possible. The last thing (let alone one of the first things) I’d want to do is seek, secure, and then promote the endorsement of a politician who is loathed in his own party and everyone outside of his party views him as one of the most ideologicially divisive politicians in their lifetime.
Now, if I were an anti-SB 5, union-funded front group, the FIRST thing I’d do is make sure SB 5 was associated with unpopular politicians in the news like Newt Gingrich. I’d get Newt in the most unflattering video I could muster, and I’d alert the entire Ohio media about it. And that’s EXACTLY what the Building a Better Ohio campaign did.
So, it has be an union front group. It’s the only thing that actually makes sense. The only other possibility is that Building a Better Ohio is filled with so many Republican campaign hacks that are so politically tone deaf they actually think that a Gingrich endorsement that ties SB 5 to Kasich is a smart political move as the referendum campaign begins in earnest, and that’s crazier to believe than it’s really an anti-SB 5/union funded front.
I mean, with Kasich’s young governship on the line in November and his dismal approval ratings, there’s no way a genuine pro-SB 5 campaign believes they can win by framing this as a pro-Kasich/Gingrich ideological battle in Ohio. No genuine advocate for SB 5 would pursue such stupid, counterproductive message.
You read it here first, folks. The cat is out of the bag. The only question is did all of Ohio’s unions play a role in this too-clever-by-half ruse or just one of them? I’m betting on the CWA.
Whoever came up with this idea, please step forward. There’s a PlunderTee shirt in it for you in appreciation to one of the most elaborate political pranks since the Anonymous Chocolatier: