Update at bottom: RNC fundraiser hoping to raise $60,000 will take place at Blackwater compound
"What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House, or the Senate?" asks a Republican National Committee PowerPoint presentation.
Answer: "Save the country from trending toward Socialism!"
That -- along with a heavy dose of fear-mongering about President Barack Obama, sums up the Republican Party's strategy heading into the 2010 mid-term elections, according to documents obtained by Politico.
In a presentation delivered to donors and fundraisers in Florida on Feb. 18, RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart made it clear what the 2010 race was going to be about for the GOP: Creating a caricature of President Obama and the Democrats meant to help the Republicans recoup their losses from the last two election cycles.
One PowerPoint slide, entitled "Evil Empire," shows the famous (or infamous) sketch of Obama painted up to look like the Joker from The Dark Knight. Underneath are cartoons of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with the title "Cruella DeVille and Scooby-Doo."
The whole presentation can be found here.
And Politico notes that the presentation displayed "an air of disdain for the party’s donors that is usually confined to the barroom conversations of political operatives."
The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”
Manipulating donors with crude caricatures and playing on their fears is hardly unique to Republicans or to the RNC – Democrats raised millions off George W. Bush in similar terms – but rarely is it practiced in such cartoonish terms.
Politico says it obtained the PowerPoint presentation from "a Democrat who said a hard copy had been left in the hotel hosting the ... retreat."
Faced with financial shortfalls and general discontent with the leadership of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, the GOP has been experimenting with some novel fundraising ideas of late. One, which drew some sharp criticism, involved mailing out fundraising letters disguised as a US census form.
GOP fundraiser hoping to raise $60,000 will take place at Blackwater compound
On Thursday, Politico's Ben Smith noted an additional finding in the leaked documents.
"The Republican National Committee is planning to raise $60,000 at a fundraiser next month at the North Carolina compound owned by the company formerly known as Blackwater," Smith writes, adding that the "the committee will hold a gathering of its 'Young Eagles' -- major donors under 40 -- at the U.S. Training Center in Moyock, North Carolina April 16, an astute reader points out."
William Fisher reported for TruthOut earlier this week, "Blackwater changed its name to Xe - pronounced 'zee' - early last year in an effort to shed the negative baggage acquired because of its frequent run-ins with Iraqi, Afghan, US and NATO forces. Blackwater Lodge & Training Center - the subsidiary that conducts much of the company's overseas operations and domestic training - has been renamed US Training Center Inc."
CNN recently reported, "Despite revelations in a congressional investigation of a subsidiary's mismanagement and questionable vetting of employees, the company formerly known as Blackwater could soon win millions of dollars in new job orders for work in Afghanistan."
A subsidiary of Xe, the new name for Blackwater, is eligible to win Department of Defense work worth tens of millions of dollars to train Afghan police, according to a Pentagon official.
Five companies were qualified to bid on the training and training-support contracts, including Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, ARINC and the U.S. Training Center. U.S. Training Center is a subsidiary company owned by Xe.
The Pentagon contract is to be announced next month. Xe has not been officially notified whether it will be awarded the contract, according to a company spokesman.
In May 2009, four contractors in Kabul were involved in a shooting incident that left two Afghan civilians dead. Two of the contractors are now facing charges in the United States.
A congressional investigation found evidence that the company that hired them, a Xe subsidiary called Paravant, armed the employees despite having no permission to do so from the U.S. military. The probe also found that the company illicitly obtained the guns used in the shooting, and hundreds of others, from a stockpile of weapons meant for the use of the Afghan military and police.
Ben Smith adds, "The RNC document doesn't say what the donors will be doing at the North Carolina compound, which describes itself as the nation's 'premier weapons and tactics training facility.'"
An article posted at the center's site describes a Blackwater course “Basic Shotgun" which is taught there.
After wolfing down lunch and several cups of coffee I met up with D.H. and my other classmates at a range that fully simulated breaching a room. Inside these “rooms” steel targets presented perpetrators and hostages. The pop-up heads on the body-shaped targets were managed by D.H. from a control panel behind us. Our mission was to go from door to window in every room and shoot the heads of the perpetrators in the shortest amount of time.