Monday, November 14, 2005

In Lockstep Formation

If you've spent any significant amount of time watching cable news over the last 12 months, you've probably seen more than one of Progress for America's political ads supporting John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and possibly even Harriet Miers. Yep--even as most other conservative organizations and commentators either remained silent or vociferously attacked Miers, PFA stood steadfastly behind the president, as it has consistently done since its foundation in 2001. The New York Times profiles this confusingly-named 527 in a piece from today's edition, paying particular attention to the great speed and power it wields on behalf of the White House:

The group was formed in 2001 as a nonprofit organization to support Mr. Bush's agenda, but drew widespread attention in last year's presidential race. Its Voter Fund raised roughly $45 million in a few months and financed a barrage of television advertisements focused on terrorism. Now, the group is pushing Mr. Bush's new priorities.

After putting up the Web page supporting Judge Alito [in only 39 minutes], Progress for America created an advertisement within hours and ran $425,000 in television commercials in the first week. It activated consultants in 20 states, who began lobbying for Mr. Alito before editorial boards and on local talk radio programs. And it announced that it would spend $50,000 on Internet advertising and online advocacy.

The group sent about 10 million e-mail messages to supporters, with help from lists supplied by the Republican National Committee and other organizations, and it released "Alito2Go," a video clip of its commercial on the judge that can be viewed with an iPod.

Progress for America has also circulated long lists of Judge Alito's allies to reporters in hopes of generating favorable articles. In addition to law school friends and fellow judges, the group tracked down Judge Alito's former English teacher, his Latin teacher, a fellow youth baseball coach, classmates as far back as middle school and even a neighbor Judge Alito once baby-sat for.

Last week, it helped arrange for 22 of Judge Alito's former law clerks to visit Washington, where they lobbied senators in behalf of their former boss.

Truly, affluence and efficiency are the wages of loyalty. PFA wouldn't be able to act nearly as quickly as it does if its members had to stop and evaluate each of Bush's decisions on its merits. I don't know if there's a liberal equivalent to PFA--a political organization that pours all its efforts into supporting the decisions of a single person without regard to their content. I've never thought very highly of blind faith because I think it lends itself to abuse, and what's worse is that the faithful never know when they're being hoodwinked because they're not in the habit of checking. Nevertheless, you really can't beat it if all you need is sheer expediency.