Adelson's $53 million 'investment' wasn't a total bust
The real lesson of money and politics: It pays to have a friend in Washington, even if that friend comes at a high price.
Having even a single elected official on your side isn't just a good thing. It has the potential to be stupendously awesome. Heller can now go to bat for Adelson in battles large and small with the federal bureaucracy. Adelson, who in addition to being a political donor is a major Nevada employer, needs all the "friends" he can get in Washington as his company faces a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for its business practices in Macao.
Since nothing gets done in the Senate without a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes, individual members have a tremendous amount of power. Senators can put anonymous holds on bills, effectively killing them, and ensure that the public never learns who is responsible for the action. Heller can also filibuster Presidential appointments and fight for policies, such as those toward Israel, that Adelson supports.
There are limits to what Adelson can get from his "investment" in politics. Though money may buy TV commercials, advisers and public relations rainmakers, it can't make voters like people who are otherwise not very likeable. Voters don't hire a president, they elect him. If Americans picked their leaders the same way that a board of directors choose a CEO, Mitt Romney would be the next president because -- at least on paper -- he is one of the most qualified people ever to compete to be the leader of the Free World. But the former Massachusetts governor was never able to shake the perception that he would say or do anything to be president.
No amount of money from Adelson or the Koch Brothers or Obama's many critics on Wall Street could transform Romney into someone who could inspire the average American to make their country a better place. Some may argue that Obama failed that test as well, but he managed to do a good enough job to gain a clear and decisive victory over Romney.
--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.
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