Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FUNDRAISING....Bloomberg reports that Hillary Clinton may be about to "blunt one of rival Barack Obama's few advantages" in the presidential race:

As the campaigns press donors with predictions that their candidate is losing the fund-raising race, both Clinton and Obama are set to report about $20 million in donations during the third quarter, which ends Sept. 30, according to campaign officials and fund-raisers.

A failure to out-raise Clinton would deprive Obama of the momentum he needs to overcome his rival's significant leads in national and key state polls.

This is crazy. Obama is on track to raise maybe 3x what the leading candidates in 2004 raised for primary season. He's already raised $60 million compared to Howard Dean's $50 million for the entire 2004 race. There's just no way he could seriously be expected to do much better than that. Have we really gotten to the point where an insurgent candidate can raise nearly $80 million by September and still be considered a disappointment? Holy cow.

Kevin Drum 12:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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America has the finest government that money can buy.

Posted by: alex on September 26, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

It costs a lot of money to lie to the American voter.

Posted by: Matt on September 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's horse-race reporting, and it's bullshit. Provides a convenient reason to ignore John Edwards (and Dodd, Biden, Kucinich and Richardson), and the ISSUES.

Posted by: Ish on September 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

What exactly, is the trigger that sends all the MSM lemmings scurrying off the cliff? Why on earth is This Week's Meme "The Inevitability of Hillary"? Are they really that freakin' lazy? Does no one remember Iowa last time around?

P.S. Campaign finance reform NOW.

Posted by: cazart on September 26, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is that actual numbers are less important than what those numbers would seem to suggest.

Obama's big selling point in terms of momentum and voter interest has been that he's outraised Clinton.

Take that away, and what does he have left?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

A teachable moment for the American people - we need public financing of national elections to remove the inevitable corruption of the political process that moneyed interests bring.

And don't give me that money=free speech horsecrap. Money doesn't equal free speech. It equals bought-and-paid-for speech. End it now!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 26, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

What The Conservator Deflator said. Every word.

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on September 26, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

A teachable moment for the American people - we need public financing of national elections to remove the inevitable corruption of the political process that moneyed interests bring.

Well, the irony of this statement with regard to this latest development in the Obama campaign is that it actually would work against him.

Obviously, Obama has been stuck well behind Hillary in the polls. What objective index is there that he nonetheless inspires real voter energy? Well, the fact that he had been receiving more in voter donations.

Wouldn't your proposal take away from Obama the one real advantage he seemed to enjoy? Is this really the outcome you wish?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

So remind me how democracy works again.

The candidates all scurry around the country begging for money, and whoever gets the most wins, right? What could be more impartial, transparent, and equitable than one-dollar-one-vote?

Posted by: Quizzical on September 26, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Basically, the democratic candidate with the best chance of losing (highest negatives) and that will provide the most constant media fodder whether she gets elected or not is HR Clinton.

So, the media will do everything to jack up her campaign until they can get really big ratings (and hold on to tax cuts and a lack of media conglomeration restrictions) by pulling the jack out from under her.

Looks like I'm voting Green, unless Edwards or maybe Obama can overcome HRC.

Posted by: Brian on September 26, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. He will.

She's projecting herself as the inevitable candidate and unless Obama passes her in money or in national polls that narrative won't be cracked. Until he beats her in an actual primary he's going to be facing this battle. If he wins one though it may already be too late with the quick primary season.

That's the reality for Obama at this point. He hasn't been able to make a serious move and I think he's running out of time.

Part of me wishes he'd get out and let Edwards take a real run at her. Obama consistently underwhelms me. I expect this unabashed, proud liberal/progressive and too often I find him acting far too "Senatorial"

Posted by: Steve Balboni on September 26, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the first disappointment is that money is such a crucial factor. The second disappoinment is that even in blogs such as this one, the accepted narrative and language are co-opted - $60 million is certainly more than $50 million but is it "better"?

Posted by: RS on September 26, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is silly. Both candidates are raising more money than any of the Republicans. Both are raising more than enough to stay in the race to the end. So is Edwards for that matter.

I guess the article can be chalked up to the Hillary campaign's effort to create the impression that resistance is futile.

Hillary seems to be serenely floating along, but I have a hunch she is paddling like hell.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on September 26, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

>"P.S. Campaign finance reform NOW."

The system itself is built upon the underlying power of money to control the electoral process.

This is an example of what is commonly called 'Structural Corruption'.

By definition, a system with structural corruption is not capable of reforming itself, it can only be replaced by a fresh system.

Posted by: Buford on September 26, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: Wouldn't your proposal take away from Obama the one real advantage he seemed to enjoy? Is this really the outcome you wish?

I can't speak for TCD, but I would imagine that with this statement he was speaking, as I am, about the larger context here, not focusing narrowly and literally on Obama's prospects. After all, Kevin's post is discussing the insanity of current fundraising expectations in general, not just how this is affecting Obama.

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

there is still time for Obama if and only if he fires his manager Mr Axelrod NOW. Get some new people in NOW. Kerry was able to recover after he re-org'd his staff altho Dean and Trippi did help sink their own campaign. It is amazing that Trippi still has a job.

Posted by: bob on September 26, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: "Obama's big selling point in terms of momentum and voter interest has been that he's outraised Clinton."

No. The big selling point isn't just that he's raised more money, but that he's raised smaller amounts from more people in order to reach that greater total.

"What objective index is there that he nonetheless inspires real voter energy? Well, the fact that he had been receiving more in voter donations."

And that, in spite of the fact that he hasn't been able to gain the traction that he & his supporters would like in this quarter's polls, he's still raising as much money as the other half of the Clinton dynasty.

All this aside, The Conservative Deflator is spot on.

Posted by: junebug on September 26, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I can't speak for TCD, but I would imagine that with this statement he was speaking, as I am, about the larger context here, not focusing narrowly and literally on Obama's prospects.

Be that as it may, the ability of a candidate to raise funds is some kind of index of the enthusiasm people have for that candidate that goes well beyond name recognition or simple comfort with the status quo.

Point is, wishing away the whole scheme might have some highly unintended effects.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Look below the dollar figures and you'll find that he's still got more actual contributors and a significant part of his donors can be asked for donations again (and again), both during the primaries and general. A significant (but not majority) of HRC's donors are already maxed out. Plus she's contributed money from her Senate campaign.

Point is, this is all about crowning her NOW. Why wait for the unwashed masses to have their say, let the Very Serious People of the World tell us who is the Democratic nomineee. I loveee democracy.

Posted by: Keith on September 26, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that the amounts raised so far are really disappointing. They're phenomenal, both in their own ways and especially compared to past years. The problem is that as he as moved up a little or stayed put in the polls, Clinton has moved ahead. She's gaining the aura of inevitability, to use that common phrase, and one of the things that Obama could have used to try to stop her isn't as potent as it might have been.

Posted by: Brian on September 26, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Be that as it may, the ability of a candidate to raise funds is some kind of index of the enthusiasm people have for that candidate that goes well beyond name recognition or simple comfort with the status quo.

Sure, it's an index. So? Is it your assertion that voter enthusiasm can't be indexed or must be suspect (or written off as simple name recognition or status quo support, both of which, incidentally, are strongly affected by the amount of private campaign contributions raised) unless each enthuser cuts a check or hits a PayPal button?

Point is, wishing away the whole scheme might have some highly unintended effects.

You're still focused too narrowly here.

Of course changing the whole scheme will have effects that some of us will find negative ("unintended" isn't quite accurate) in some instances. We think those are outweighed about a zillion to one by the chief--or intended, if you will--effects.

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

You really seem not to be getting my point here.

To begin with, I'm not really bashing Obama here. I have opportunities like that galore; they grow like dandelions on the roadside.

But I think that many people are seeing the current funding numbers not so much favoring Obama and are now decrying the whole concept of campaign contributions.

I'm simply pointing out that it may be precisely candidates like Obama who have the most to lose if private campaign financing is simply cut out. Obama and Dean before him got a great deal of money relatively speaking, in good disproportion to the number of actual voters who favored them. They did so because they generated enthusiasm in voters who were NOT simply paying attention to name recognition or the comforts of the perpetuation of the status quo.

So I do think that those who look at these latest funding numbers and now seek the ending or severe limitation of private funding of campaigns may be asking for something which would have some very much unintended results.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Bush the leading fundraiser in his two elections? Didn't that prove that the best fundraiser makes the best president?

slight sarcasm

Posted by: tomeck on September 26, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK
There's just no way he could seriously be expected to do much better than that. Have we really gotten to the point where an insurgent candidate can raise nearly $80 million by September and still be considered a disappointment?

A candidate that's been expected to run and make a strong showing in the present election as far back as the last presidential election cycle, like Obama, is hardly fairly described as having an "insurgent" candidacy. I mean, if we were talking about Gravel or Kucinich with those numbers, sure, fine, that would be an outstanding "insurgent" candidacy. But Obama? Someone whose been the second most discussed Democratic 2008 candidate not only since before he announced, but since 2004? That's not an "insurgent" candidacy, and calling it that is ridiculous even by the standards of hyperbole.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 26, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Have we really gotten to the point where an insurgent candidate can raise nearly $80 million by September and still be considered a disappointment?

—Kevin Drum

Yes.

He's not a disappointment from a fund-raising perspective. He's a disappointment (to some) because he set up the expectation that he would be different from HRC -- a bold agent of change. Failing to meet the expectation he himself has created is what makes him a disappointment and, by the way, undermines his accomplishment on the fund raising side.

I dare say, had he met the expectation of being a bold agent of change, that feat would have been thought of as very impressive even if he had raised only half the amount she had.

I think the lesson here is that a candidate can be charismatic, raise a lot of money, and still fail if he/she sets up a bold expectation that is not met.

To me, this is all about expectations. As one of my old bosses in consulting used to say: "Underpromise and overdeliver."

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 26, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em boys, it's war!

Gotta give dem Dems credit. They know how much the Iraq War has benefited them. So what do they do? Authorize another war! This time it's Iran.

Thanks to the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment, and votes for it by Senators Clinton, Schumer, and a host of other Democrats, Cheney and Bush have the authorization for their next war adventure. You can bet the won't bother asking for any more votes on the issue.

So its time to sign up boys -- wez goin' to war . . . again.

Posted by: Dicksknee on September 26, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's horse-race reporting, and it's bullshit. Provides a convenient reason to ignore John Edwards (and Dodd, Biden, Kucinich and Richardson), and the ISSUES.

Posted by: Ish on September 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM

Hey Ish -- you want people to think?

More and more, I believe Obama is a DLC stalking horse, designed to squeeze Edwards and other progressives out of the way on behalf of HRC. If he's named the veep candidate, you know the fix was in.

Posted by: Vincent on September 26, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, if either Hillary or Barak want my vote, they'd better lay some of that scratch on me, by golly. Gimme some "earmarks," baby!

Posted by: CT on September 26, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

A failure to out-raise Clinton would deprive Obama of the momentum he needs to overcome his rival's significant leads in national and key state polls.

This seems to presume that the content of campaign speech no longer matters; that only volume and frequency are required to carry the day and everything else is equal.

I hope not.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 26, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, I'm really not missing your point. You're not reading what I'm saying, instead choosing to answer statements I've never made because they fit your narrative.

It never occurred to me that you were bashing Obama, as should be obvious from what I actually wrote. It should also be obvious to you that nothing I've said here about campaign finance is said in support of Obama. Yes, some people probably do think that Obama's funding numbers are a reason to decry the whole system, but TCD didn't say anything like that, and neither did I. Without rereading the thread, I'll say I don't remember anyone other than you making any such a connection either directly or implicitly.

What I've said--and I'll say it one more time here--is that it isn't these "latest funding numbers" inspiring my interest in public financing of elections; it is the entire system, not just this race, that interests me. Again, Kevin's post is not only about Clinton and Obama; it's also a commentary on how out-of-control the entire fundraising expectation has become. That has ramifications far beyond "helping" or "hurting" Obama or similar candidates.

You keep contending that private contributions are an irreplaceable means--perhaps the sole index--of properly measuring candidate support, particularly for the also-rans. But the truth of this supposition seems to rely on the continuance of private financing. It's not a caution against reform; it's a simple observation of one of the parameters of the current system.

It may be that you believe that without the measuring stick of private support, non-leading candidates would receive no media attention whatsoever, or something along these lines. If so, that is a point worthy of debate, so say so explicitly.

Meanwhile, I want to be sure you understand me this time: I am not arguing that Obama's not surpassing Clinton in fundraising is an argument for campaign finance reform. I am arguing that the entire system, which favors independently wealthy candidates or slaves to corporate interests; invites corruption and undue influence; spurs candidates to amass ever-greater war chests in a bizarre Star Wars-like competition; and keeps legislators (in particular) away from their real work so they can fundraise an appallingly large portion of the time, needs scrapping. And the outrageousness of the sums raised in preparation for the Democratic primary--regardless of whom the amounts raised favor--is but one example of the problem.


Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Calling his ablity to raise money his leading selling point could only be asserted by someone who doesnt like Obama. Given the tendency toward sensationism its not surprising that the narrative tries to make the issue being reported on as THE central issue in the race when its just one among many and not of high prominence. Of course, you dont expect reporters to write stories about money raising without trying to make it look important and newsworthy.

As noted earlier this horse race mentality is meaningless. It could just as easily if not more so been framed as Obama shows he is no fluke by continuing to stay competitive with the established money making ability of Hillary Clinton.

I am not going to pick my candidate based on whether they can pick up the most money. I dont know of anyone who does. Now whether or not they can raise enough money to be viable is certainly a practical consideration but we already know he can do that.

Posted by: Catch22 on September 26, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 uses every opportunity to say something negative about Obama, his protestations notwithstanding. I know your game.

Posted by: GOD on September 26, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like there’s a political echo chamber. MSM and blogs are driving the Clinton and Obama stories, disseminating opinions and then legitimizing their opinions as fact before the primary.

Posted by: JerseyMissouri on September 26, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, hush, GOD. That doesn't help.

So...sometimes I get tired of writing grave, carefully worded and exquisitely polite (if sometimes mildly sarcastic) emails to my reps. So the poor kid answering Dick Durbin's phone just got an earful about Durbin voting for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. That'll toughen the kid up; he's going to need it.

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards won't get much ink b/c he was part of losing team. Americans don't like losers. End of story.

Posted by: bob on September 26, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK
This seems to presume that the content of campaign speech no longer matters;

Well, certainly, the media finds it much more attractive (because its easier) to cover "horse race" items like fundraising totals and ignore substance, so, inasmuch as media coverage is important to campaign outcomes, that's probably largely true.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 26, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

Well, I didn't know exactly where you were coming from in your criticisms, and so I guess I was partly offering up some points -- e.g., that I wasn't really criticizing Obama -- to forestall any potential misunderstanding.

But mostly those points don't matter.

What matters is the larger point that I was arguing, namely that cutting out or severely restricting private campaign financing is likely to have negative consequences precisely for candidates like Obama and Dean, who represent to activists agents of change. The net beneficiary of such a change would seem to be status quo candidates like Hillary Clinton.

While I certainly have major problems with Obama himself, I also see the importance of giving candidates of his nature some special boost -- and money, both symbolically and practically, represents that boost.

If you think that something else might do equally well, I guess I can only say that I haven't the slightest idea what that might be. In the real world we inhabit, money seems to be the thing that achieves that effect. We can deplore the fact that the media pays so much attention to it, but does anybody think that they, of all parties, are going to begin to behave more fairly, and focus instead on the things that are "really" important? I'm not personally expecting a sudden turn toward the noble in their conduct. I don't think we should construct a political environment premised on such a transformation.

While you call my focus on Obama and Dean "narrow", I just don't see how that is an accurate assessment. They represent a broad class of candidate that very much needs more, not less, encouragement. Let's suppose that your suggestion about introducing a radical change in campaign financing would cut out certain kinds of undesirable corporate entities. If it doesn't preserve the effect of promoting the Obamas and Deans of the world, or indeed pushes things in quite the opposite direction, why on balance would it be good?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"If it doesn't preserve the effect of promoting the Obamas and Deans of the world, or indeed pushes things in quite the opposite direction, why on balance would it be good?"

1) Incumbents spend the first half of their first term doing nothing but raising money. As opposed to governing.

2) If the media didn't have "funds raised" to use as a measuring stick, would they have to talk about, you know, substantive positions? Policy differences? That's the hope, anyway.

3) Let's say everyone is on an even playing field, monetarily-or-media...tarily.
If you've got $100 to spend on an ad, and I've got $100 to spend on an ad, neither of us has the media weight to carpet bomb each other back to the proverbial stone age. The winner might just be the candidate with the better idea - even if it's just a better idea for an ad.

Posted by: cazart on September 26, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"A teachable moment for the American people - we need public financing of national elections to remove the inevitable corruption of the political process that moneyed interests bring."

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 26, 2007 at 12:57 PM

Tax revenue should not be given to anyone to run for public office. I don't want any part of my tax dollars going to Dems and I'm sure you don't want any of yours going to the GOP.

If public financing is the only thing that's going to "fix" this problem, then I say just get rid of elections altogether and have all elected offices filled by lottery by citizens who are willing to serve.

What could be fairer? All the candidates, not just those of the two major parties, would have an equal chance of winning and money would have nothing to do with the outcome. In addition, we could eliminate the seemingly pointless primary and general election campaining and put morons like Chris Matthews and the rest of the MSM out of their high paying jobs.

What's not to like about that solution, eh Deflator? :)

Posted by: Chicounsel on September 26, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

If you think that something else might do equally well, I guess I can only say that I haven't the slightest idea what that might be. In the real world we inhabit, money seems to be the thing that achieves that effect. We can deplore the fact that the media pays so much attention to it, but does anybody think that they, of all parties, are going to begin to behave more fairly, and focus instead on the things that are "really" important?

frankly0, I am banging my head against my worktable here. (Is anyone else having trouble understanding my meaning? Show of hands, and if so, I'll cop to not being clear enough.)

Everything you say above applies only to a privately financed election. If you have any evidence, or any argument at all, for lesser-known candidates getting the disadvantage in wholly publicly financed elections, which is the context in which all of my statements have been made and which was the context of TCD's original statement, please present it. Otherwise, I think we're all pretty clear on how you stand re current campaign financing.

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want any part of my tax dollars going to Dems and I'm sure you don't want any of yours going to the GOP.

You idiot, your tax dollars already go to Democrats, as they do to Republicans -- and in fact, red states generally receive more in tax revenue than blue states, which pay more, do.

Though it figures that Chicounsel has nothing to offer but idiotic solutions ... typical Republican.

Posted by: Gregory on September 26, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

speech is absolutely free — it's getting heard that's expensive...

Posted by: mudwall jackson on September 26, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

While I would say it is a rather sad reality that monetary concerns feature so prominently in elections, within the context of that reality I see little to quibble about in the article. What matters isn't the gross amount of money raised, but rather the percentage of total donated money that is the useful metric. For instance, doubling what Dean raised isn't so hot if the total amount of donated money for all Dems has more than doubled.

Now, I've no idea how much money has been thrown out there. It would seem that it is considerably more than 04, but I could easily be wrong...

Posted by: worker bee on September 26, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

I have asked you a simple question: in the absence of money to provide candidates like Obama and Dean a boost beyond their other numbers, what is it that would realistically give them any kind of real boost because of the enthusiasm they may generate? (Clearly, money has served that purpose, both symbolically and practically, in privately financed elections.)

This is a question exactly apropos of a purely publicly financed campaign.

You and others act as if it's entirely obvious that a change to publicly financed election will have no negative effects on candidates like Obama and Dean. But that is pure belief. I'd like to see an actual argument.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

"frankly0, I am banging my head against my worktable here. (Is anyone else having trouble understanding my meaning? Show of hands, and if so, I'll cop to not being clear enough.)"

How about a show of hands if you didn't see this coming.

Posted by: junebug on September 26, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Have we really gotten to the point where an insurgent candidate can raise nearly $80 million by September and still be considered a disappointment?

No, we've passed the point where the GOP has nominated Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. All the rightwing talking heads and the preznit agree.

It doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense. The fix is in.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 26, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell. I'll try once more.

frankly0, let's start by remembering that the question is not whether you think Barack Obama has any noteworthy qualities other than his campaign chest. Really, it's not. Honestly, that's not what everybody else in this thread but you is talking about.

I'd like you to close your eyes and not think of Obama. Humor me. Don't think about him. Don't think of Dean. Put these two fellows completely out of your head. You've never heard of them.

Okay? Ready?

Now picture a publicly financed election: one in which candidates actually have an equal amount of airtime, ad space, and so on. Picture the media not having any fundraising stories to do, so they have to cover policy, plans, planks--and, of course, haircuts and earthtones. (This is where my media comment, which you utterly misunderstood, came in--I was asking whether you thought that the absence of fundraising meant that non-frontrunners wouldn't get any media coverage at all, or something like that, in a publicly financed campaign.)

Okay, so you've got the picture of a publicly financed campaign and how this could correct disproportionate exposure. And you're seriously arguing that that's going to hurt the lesser-known candidates? Seriously? You're actually asserting that having more money doesn't affect a candidate's ability to generate enthusiasm?

Don't forget the rest of it--I mentioned a bunch of other reasons for my support of public campaign financing above, and cazart did a more succinct job of laying them out in his/her post of 4:19. Those are the intended consequences, and they are significant indeed.

I don't have to offer an argument for publicly financed campaigns helping to equal the playing field; that's self-evident. You, on the other hand, need to give us something if you're maintaining that a publicly financed campaign is negative for the non-leading candidate. So far, everything you've offered has been within the context of private financing in general and the Clinton-Obama race in particular.

(And I just saw junebug: :))

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK
I have asked you a simple question: in the absence of money to provide candidates like Obama and Dean a boost beyond their other numbers, what is it that would realistically give them any kind of real boost because of the enthusiasm they may generate?

Neither Obama nor Dean were boosted above their "other numbers" by money; both were boosted by having large numbers of relatively committed followers. Now, in the current system, one of the most useful results of that particular "other number" is that it means more money is available, but the fundamental boost is from the committed core of people, which is would remain an advantage, and likely be a more powerful advantage, if status quo candidates' generally smaller number of deeper-pockets backers weren't able to compensate for those candidates comparative disadvantage by opening up the floodgates of funds.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 26, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who's been down this path with frankly0 before, I'll give you the crib notes. He:

-- either doesn't read your post in its entirety or completely ignores the points in your post which are inconvenient to the argument he's making;

-- frequently changes said argument throughout the comment thread;

-- attributes to you comments you've never made, ideas you've never held, and, occasionally, worldviews you didn't even imagine existed;

-- invariably sees you as someone who either hates Hillary Clinton or prostitutes small children in order to finance Obama's campaign.

Other than that, I'm sure he's great fun on Scrabble night.

Posted by: junebug on September 26, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

Now I'm banging my head against the wall.

All your words, and you have utterly failed to answer my question, which I now repeat:

in the absence of money to provide candidates like Obama and Dean a boost beyond their other numbers, what is it that would realistically give them any kind of real boost because of the enthusiasm they may generate?

All you have done is reiterate how wonderful a publicly financed would be, because it would level the playing field.

What you have failed to notice is that my question assumes the opposite: that in certain respects its best if the playing field NOT be leveled for certain kinds of candidates who generate real enthusiasm, and that, instead, they be given a special boost.

Now, maybe on moral grounds candidates who seem to represent change and generate excitement from activists shouldn't get a boost. But that's not what you seem to be arguing. You seem to imagine that somehow they won't be damaged, though they are certainly net beneficiaries of the current system.

All I can say is that I don't see any real argument from you on the essential point of how such candidates will thrive at least as well in this new environment. Mostly, what you argue sounds like so much Kumbayah to me.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton was considered a disappointment when she raised less than Obama, despite raising a huge amount of money. Why shouldn't it work the same way for Obama when she exceeds him in fundraising? It stinks to criticize her when she raises less, then claim that the evaluation is meaningless or unfair when she raises more and Kevin's preferred candidate is on the shorter end. To be fair, an evaluation standard needs to be applied consistently.

Posted by: Lucy on September 26, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Neither Obama nor Dean were boosted above their "other numbers" by money; both were boosted by having large numbers of relatively committed followers.

Well, in both perception and in practical fact, the greater amount of money that Obama and Dean have enjoyed has done much to propel their candidacies. Are you really going to argue that having more money isn't a big deal when it comes to conducting a campaign? If not, why do people care so very much about it, including, obviously, those who want to reform campaign financing?

While having a large number of committed followers will no doubt have other positive effects, it's very hard to get around the fact that their ability to contribute money has been one of the most important things they have been able to do. If you remove that possibility, how do you not on balance diminish the impact of those followers?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I'd like to see a serious argument that entirely publicly financed elections would be likely to give us a more interesting, and less conventional, set of candidates, rather than a more boring, more status quo set of candidates.

As I've argued, the candidates who have been regarded as the most unconventional in recent years, such as Dean and Obama, are exactly the ones who have most disproportionately benefited from privately funded campaigns, especially when one considers the ratio of funding they received to voters who seem to favor them.

Why believe that going to publicly financed elections will prove out well for such candidates?

I realize that what I'm arguing represents a major deviation from standardly held beliefs about campaign finance reform, and how great things would be if all campaign money came from public sources. Yet I simply don't see the deficiency in my argument here.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

junebug,

I know it's silly of me to ask, but could you possibly do something other than engage in ad hominem?

It makes you look so poorly equipped.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 26, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK
Well, in both perception and in practical fact, the greater amount of money that Obama and Dean have enjoyed has done much to propel their candidacies.

No, in both Obama's case and Dean's, their fundraising success is a result of their success in connecting with large numbers of voters well before significant amounts of money were raised or spent on the campaign, and in neither case has that money done anything to propel their candidacy "beyond" their other numbers.

Are you really going to argue that having more money isn't a big deal when it comes to conducting a campaign?

Certainly, its an important thing to have in the status quo system, and if you have a large energized base of support, its one thing you tap that base for. But if you have a large, energized base of support, you can tap it for other purposes if you don't need to tap it for direct donations, the money is a result, not a root source, of the advantage.

While having a large number of committed followers will no doubt have other positive effects, it's very hard to get around the fact that their ability to contribute money has been one of the most important things they have been able to do. If you remove that possibility, how do you not on balance diminish the impact of those followers?

If the media didn't have fundraising differences to report on, what would it report on? Most of the other things that could be focussed on don't allow a small number of big-money supporters to have the same net effect as a large number of small-money supporters. Simply eliminating financial horserace reporting would magnify the importance of breadth of support as opposed to wealth of support.

That wouldn't, I think, be the only advantage, but it would be one of the big ones.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 26, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yet I simply don't see the deficiency in my argument here.

The deficiency in your argument is that you've got it exactly backwards. The money raised by Obama and Dean is a reflection of the interest they generate, not the cause of it. Not only have you failed to explain why that interest in would not be as great in a publicly financed race, you aren't understanding that it would likely be even more beneficial to attractive, change-oriented second- and third-tier candidates in such a case, because that interest is combined with a financing situation that is equivalent to other candidates'--including the status quo candidates who previously brought in the swag at much higher rates. In other words, if more people are backing you and working for you, in a public financing situation it doesn't matter if the status quo candidate's supporters have more money.

There's nothing particularly kumbaya about that, frankly. It's simply logical.

Now we have brought TCD's and my original point--that public campaign financing is a positive goal worth pursuing and the Star Wars race going on between Obama and Clinton is just one illustration of this--all the way over to your own traveling goalpost--how does this help Obama?--which you never stopped contending was the heart of the discussion, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: shortstop on September 26, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Q. Why doesn't your local branch bank have gold?
A. It's too valuable.

Posted by: slanted tom on September 26, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: "I know it's silly of me..."

Yes, but you do silly pretty well. You might help yourself out if you stopped to puzzle out the causal relationship between a candidate's support & a candidate's contributions before framing your (and everybody else's) argument.

You might also help yourself out if you didn't always bring everything back to the Evil That Is Obama. Tacking Dean on to the argument this time is, I guess, novel for you, but it's just riffing on your old shtick. You're starting to sound like the guy on my corner who mumbles about Freemasons & Jews.

Posted by: junebug on September 26, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

.


The Democrats are in a very fortunate position: no poor candidates.

I would be very happy with Clinton-Richardson or Richardson-Obama -- but I think it's clear that both America and the rest of the world will be far far better off whichever of the possible pairs comes in.

Small bit of reality: it is important that the Democrats win. Like is everybody here registered to vote? What happens in America is important to the rest of us, so anything like Thompson or Guiliani or whatever would be a major tragedy. It would mean hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world and unmeasurable lost potential.

The only conceivable good thing the Republicans could do is put forward Ron Paul. Not the best, but smart, funny, thoughtful, not my kinda guy, but at least not aggressively evil.


.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on September 26, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama said that if nominated he would select Richardson as his running mate ...it would be all over.

Posted by: mezon on September 26, 2007 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

How can Obama possibly be an "insurgent candidate"?

It is really strange and sad that words get used out of context and in ignorance.

I cringe but am not surprised when the commander-in-chief believes that "troop" is the singular of "troops" but am astonished when people who should know better follow along.

It's pretty sad when multiple military say "cachet" for "cache", though I haven't seen how they spell it.

"Perfect storm" hung too long over some less than extraordinary non-convergent events but seems, at last, to have blown away. And all because of a movie!

Kevin Drum should know better than to apply some adjective just because it is in vogue.

Maybe I should go do some late night insurgent shopping. But not before I post this insurgent comment.

Merriam-Webster:
1 : a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one's own political party

Posted by: notthere on September 26, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that the gas has gone out of Obama. Very sad, because he is inspiring. But he has been behind the curve on just about every breaking event for weeks now.

BTW, for the commenter above who said they would vote green if HRC was nominated. . . really good thinking. Because there is no difference between the HRC and the reThugs. Just like there was no difference between Gore and Bush. A vote for the Greens will sure show her.

Posted by: wvng on September 27, 2007 at 7:32 AM | PERMALINK

notthere: "Troop" to refer to a single person has been widely used for at least as long as the first Gulf War (which, I clearly recall, is when I first noticed and was bugged by it). But now I guess I've assimilated.

Posted by: shortstop on September 27, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop --

Then what happened to the the whole US mythology, like C Troop, a body of cavalry as correctly designated.

And if this word change happened in the "first" Gulf War -- I rather think that others will see that differently -- I definitely missed it. This was new to me and is the height of mlitary ignorance . . . or indifference.

Merriam Webster, today:
Etymology: Middle French trope, troupe company, herd, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English thorp, throp village -- more at THORP
1 a : a group of soldiers b : a cavalry unit corresponding to an infantry company c plural : ARMED FORCES, SOLDIERS
2 : a collection of people or things : CREW 2
3 : a flock of mammals or birds
4 : the basic organizational unit of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts under an adult leader


dictionary.com:

/trup/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[troop] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation,
noun

1. an assemblage of persons or things; company; band.

2. a great number or multitude: A whole troop of children swarmed through the museum.

3. Military. an armored cavalry or cavalry unit consisting of two or more platoons and a headquarters group.

4. troops, a body of soldiers, police, etc.: Mounted troops quelled the riot.

5. a unit of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts usually having a maximum of 32 members under the guidance of an adult leader.

6. a herd, flock, or swarm.

7. Archaic. a band or troupe of actors.

Cambridge dictionary:

troop (GROUP) Show phonetics
noun [C]
1 a group of soldiers, especially ones who fight in strong military vehicles or on horses:
the King's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery

2 an organized group of young people who are Scouts:
We've got a troop of Scouts camping in one of our fields this weekend.

trooper Show phonetics
noun [C]
1 a soldier who belongs to the lowest rank in the part of an army that fights in strong military vehicles or on horses

2 US a police officer in one of the forces of the 50 political areas of the United States:
state troopers
Troopers are called out in emergencies or dangerous situations.


Yeah. I guess everyone else missed it, too!

Now I'm looking for a cite, shortstop, as in "widely used".

Posted by: notthere on September 28, 2007 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

012134.. Smashing :)

Posted by: www.washingtonmonthly.com on March 25, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK
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