All hail Malcolm Forbes, Jr.! Even if the multi-millionaire has to adopt the earthy moniker "Steve" in order to emerge from his father's shadow, he's still manipulated the political arena masterfully with his fortune. Running second to Bob Dole in New Hampshire polls, Forbes has catapulted to the "top tier" of the Republican pack by advancing one simple message: a flat tax rate of 17 percent. The "movement conservatives" north of the border seem little concerned that one of the main beneficiaries of this absurdly regressive measure will be Forbes himself.
Looking back on his speech at the Institute of Politics (IOP) last week, we're hard-pressed to tell whether Forbes' message is driven more by stupidity or by hubris. Decrying "legalized corruption" of the tax code via special interest group money in Washington, D.C., Forbes has reached the stupefying (reason-defying?) conclusion that he should be able to buy his way into office in order to lower tax rates for the rich. Forbes' other forceful prescriptions for American politics included calls for a new "individualism" in an "opportunity America"--whatever that means.
The IOP should be ashamed of its sponsorship of Forbes' speech. Although television and radio outlets may not be able to turn down Forbes' purchases of air time, a responsible forum for political discussion should filter its speakers in order to ensure responsible political commentary. Such expression does not come from a whiny multi-millionaire whose only qualification for office is an aspiration to increase his inherited fortune.