GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich has a very specific set of requirements for speaking engagements. According to a leaked copy of a 2010 rider from an appearance Gingrich made at Missouri Western State University, he requires first-class air travel, the hotel of his choice with a nearby (but not adjoining!) suite for an aide, and, he specifies very clearly, a seat earmarked for Callista by his side for all functions. It’s a little high maintenance, sure, but not unheard of for the kind of speaker who’s pulling down $50,000 for an appearance, as Gingrich does. But another bit of specific language in the contract is a little more unusual: Newt asks for two bathrooms in his hotel suite, presumably his and hers. So apparently Callista isn’t by his side for ALL functions.
[B]ad systems corrupt good individuals [by] enlisting our self-interest to convince us to betray our values. And make no mistake: America’s campaign finance system is a disaster. Most candidates can’t self-finance their campaigns, so they spend a disproportionate amount of time asking the rich to donate to their campaigns. Those donations are limited to $2,800 per individual, but the Supreme Court believes political spending is a protected form of free speech, so the rich can spend as much as they want on their own campaigns, or on Super PACs to push their political agendas.
Populists like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and, in his complicated and contradictory ways, even Donald Trump, have risen in part because Americans loathe seeing their political system bought by the rich. Bloomberg isn’t so much a defense against those critiques as he is a confirmation of them. The populists say that politics is rigged, elections are bought by those with enough money to spend, modern liberalism is mere lipstick on perpetual corporatism. Bloomberg is here to test whether they’re right. He may pitch himself to centrists as an answer to the populists, but in leveraging his fortune to fight them, he offers the country the (hopefully) false choice between populism and oligarchy.