McCain Whines While Obama Does the Prom Queen

Yesterday’s announcement that Barack Obama had raised a staggering $150 million in the month of September has been largely overshadowed by news of the Powell endorsement.  There has been, though, a bit of whining in Republican circles, including from John McCain himself, about how unfair it all is.

Obama, meanwhile, is, to paraphrase Sean Connery’s famous line from “The Rock,” having his way with the prom queen.

Glenn Reynolds highlights this exchange yesterday between Howard Kurtz and Mark Halperin:

KURTZ: Mark Halperin, we learned this morning that Barack Obama in the month of September raised $150 million, the early estimates had been about $100 million. They always kind of leak a lower figure so they can exceed it.

If a Republican had not taken public financing and had raised all that money, and the Democrat was struggling financially, wouldn’t we see a lot of stories about one candidate essentially trying to buy the election?

HALPERIN: We would. We’d also see a lot of stories about his going back on his word saying that he would accept the public money and would reach out to Senator McCain to try to work out a deal. So I think this is a case of a clear, unambiguous double standard, and any reporter who doesn’t ask themselves, why is that, why would it be different if it’s a Republican? I think is doing themselves and our profession and our democracy a disservice.

Actually, though, the press hammered Obama for this back in June, with withering editorials from WaPo, NYT, and AP that I cited in a post called “Public Financing R.I.P.” I introduced that section of the post thusly: “Obama’s move, while almost certain to have zero impact on the minds of the voters five months from now, has the editorial boards fuming.” Emphasis added. I added, a bit later in the post, “If anyone who isn’t a die-hard supporter of either candidate still cares about either of these controversies on the 4th of July, let alone Election Day, I’ll be very, very surprised.” For good measure, I observed, re: McCain, “Whining about how Obama promised to do the same is going to be small consolation when he’s getting swamped in the ad wars.”

Patrick Ruffini gets it right:

First, public finance in the general election is dead, dead, dead. Any nominee from now on can safely opt out because the Internet makes it for the public to massively participate. If we had not had a nominee with such misguided instincts on campaign finance reform, Republicans probably would have figured this out this time. McCain raised $47 million in August, or 71% of Obama’s total, and he raised $10 million in 2 days because of Sarah Palin. Had this trend continued into September, McCain would have raised over $100 million for the month. By the time the McCain campaign figured out it was possible to excite the base, it was too late.

None of this is exactly a surprise.   At least, it shouldn’t be.  I’ve never run a campaign at any level but it was stunningly obvious to me at least as early as April 4, when I wrote, in reaction to news that McCain was leaning toward accepting public financing,

Frankly, he’d save the taxpayers $42 million if he just quit the race now. Barack Obama’s probably got $84 million laying around the office in checks he hasn’t bothered to deposit. McCain will likely be at a financial disadvantage either way but it would be political suicide to unilaterally disarm. Even with his problems with the base, he’ll be able to raise a couple hundred million if the alternative is Obama; more than that if Clinton somehow gets the nomination.

To be sure, the Republican National Committee has a ton of money and could help even things up a bit.  Given the numbers, though, they’re apparently not going to do that.  Obama, meanwhile, has so much money that he’ll have trouble spending it all.  He can do extravagent things like buying up time to host 30 minute infomercials or advertise in states he’ll lose to increase turnout and earn Brownie points with down-ballot politicians.

No word, though, on whether Michelle Obama was prom queen.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McCain Whines While Obama Does the Prom Queen: Yesterday?s announcement that Barack Obama had rai.. http://tinyurl.com/68q8t8

  2. Tad says:

    I have never understood the ‘outrage’ at Obama going back on his word for public financing. It was pretty clear at the time that keeping the promise would cost him millions of dollars, and thus be a stupid idea. And now it’s clear that it would have cost him what 200 million plus. I’d much rather go for the guy who said you know what my promise was a bad idea, I’m not going to be an idiot, than the guy who made the other choice. Really who wouldn’t make that decision, does anyone actually believe that if McCain thought he was going to pull in that kind of money he wouldn’t have abandoned his pledge as well.

    PS. There’s a February /= September typo in the first sentence. [Fixed! – jhj]

  3. Bithead says:

    Well, a little perspective, please.

    First, consider that despite Obama outspending McCain at at rate of three to one, the best he can manage is a small 3 to 5 point lead.

    Secondly, there seems some concerns over where this money is coming from.

  4. rodney dill says:

    It was pretty clear at the time that keeping the promise would cost him millions of dollars, and thus be a stupid idea.

    Hit it right on the nose. There’s absolutely no reason to think he’ll keep any of his promises, if all he needs to do is decide that keeping a promise is stupid. Right in line with the Clinton and DNC model.

  5. just me says:

    I do think there is something wrong with a system that allows one candidate to dominate everywhere-but the solution isn’t public financing, and in a way I find it humorous that McCain has essentially been slammed by his own bill.

    I think they should just let whoever wants to donate donate however much they want, but require full and open disclosure of who is donating.

    I think it is also clear that the internet has changed the way campaigns can be financed, but I do think there needs to be real people with real names, because I don’t like the idea of foreign companies or people donating to our elections.

    Basically McCain is right that Obama’s money is killing his campaign and the balance doesn’t seem fair, but he not only bought the idiotic idea of public financing he supported it.

    I think it was squirrelly of Obama to back out of his promise, but taking public financing would have turned him into an idiot given his ability to fundraise. I don’t blame him.

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    There’s absolutely no reason to think he’ll keep any of his promises, if all he needs to do is decide that keeping a promise is stupid. Right in line with the Clinton and DNC model.

    Indeed. I never fail to be impressed looking back at George H.W. Bush and the way he kept his promise to not raise taxes. Or at George W. Bush and his promise to have a humble foreign policy with no nation building. And nothing has impressed me more about John McCain’s campaign than his keeping of his promise to not do robocalls.

    Clearly, the GOP is the party of integrity here.

    Or perhaps it’s just that politicians don’t keep their promises in general.

  7. Triumph says:

    Obama, meanwhile, is, to paraphrase Sean Connery’s famous line from “The Rock,” having his way with the prom queen.

    Since Obama supports teaching kindergarteners about sex, it is unsurprising that he would engage in statutory rape.

  8. fredw says:

    We seeme to forget that McCain tried to opt out of the public financing but in one of the great ironies of this election, due to Bush politicizing the FEC there was no quarum available to approve his request before the deadline. If McCain loses this election it will be because of all of Bush’s chinckens coming home to roost.

  9. fredw says:

    Yes that’s right I said “chinckens”, they are similar to chickens, but not as tasty.

  10. rodney dill says:

    Clearly, the GOP is the party of integrity here.

    As opposed to an impeached president that perjured himself, duh yeah.

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    Rodney,

    Do you really think that Clinton’s perjury reflects on the entire DNC? Does Ted Stevens’ indictment implicate the entire RNC? Do Larry Craig’s peccadillos reflect on all Republicans?

    My point is simply this. All politicians will break promises. And thank God, because sometimes circumstances change and politicians holding themselves to promises made under different circumstances might speel disaster for the country. (And yes, sometimes we’d be better off if we kept them. But not every time.)

  12. Michael says:

    Hit it right on the nose. There’s absolutely no reason to think he’ll keep any of his promises, if all he needs to do is decide that keeping a promise is stupid. Right in line with the Clinton and DNC model.

    It is good to break a promise, when your reason for making the promise no longer applies.

    In the case of Obama, the promise was to prevent a few high-dollar interests from determining the campaign, when the reality turned out to be a mass of low-dollar donations it didn’t make sense to deny the multitudes the chance to let their dollars speak.

    Similarly, if Russia or China ever decided to unilaterally invade North Korea, I would hope that McCain didn’t set pre-conditions on talks with Kim Jong Il.

  13. rodney dill says:

    because sometimes circumstances change and politicians holding themselves to promises made under different circumstances might speel disaster for the country.

    I’m sure Obama’s breaking his promise to stick to public funding for his campaign staved off sure disaster for the country. If he can’t stick to the easy ones he is showing he has no moral compass, as opposed to your example George H.W. Bush, changed his mind on taxes because he did think it was the right thing to do. Even the left thought it was the right thing to do, but they made George pay dearly for it for breaking his promise.

  14. rodney dill says:

    It is good to break a promise, when your reason for making the promise no longer applies.

    So after Obama is elected, he won’t actually need your votes any more, so any promises made to his constituency no longer apply, and he can do as he pleases. Yeah, I can see that happening…

  15. Tad says:

    There’s absolutely no reason to think he’ll keep any of his promises, if all he needs to do is decide that keeping a promise is stupid. Right in line with the Clinton and DNC model.

    While I see no reason to comment on the whole Clinton/DNC model of implied dishonesty. I do think the nature of this ‘outrage’ is completely ridiculous. If keeping a promise made is a stupid idea and you, as a voter/citizen/random person, agree that keeping it would be stupid how could that possibly be imagined as to bad choice. Are you really suggesting that you’d vote for the guy who made a consciously stupid decision and then justified it by saying ‘well sure it may be stupid, but I said I’d do it’

    Wouldn’t that be a stubborn Jackass?

  16. just me says:

    I think anyone who thinks politicians will keep their promises is living in some kind of political utopia that doesn’t exist.

    I do think Obama’s inability to keep promises does indicate he won’t have any problems breaking others, but what I would really like to see is a revamp of the financing system for campaigns. Open them up and let the money flow, just require full discolosure as to who is donating-even the $25 and $50 checks.

  17. Bandit says:

    I have never understood the ‘outrage’ at Obama going back on his word for public financing.

    If people are outraged over this – was somebody? – they’ll have plenty more opportunities because every word out of Obama’s mouth is an outright lie or discardable placeholder.

  18. rodney dill says:

    Wouldn’t that be a stubborn Jackass?

    No, I think a stubborn Jackass is someone who votes knowing their candidate is not going to keep their promises, knowing their candidate is going to change his mind about keeping those promises with as little thought as most people use to decide to change their underwear.

  19. Bithead says:

    Indeed. I never fail to be impressed looking back at George H.W. Bush and the way he kept his promise to not raise taxes.

    Well, now let’s see… who was that he compromised with, again?

  20. Floyd says:

    Is she tied up with a gun to her head like the American people will be if he wins and his ilk gain control of both houses?

  21. Floyd says:

    So sorry about the sexism…. I assumed the “Prom Queen” would be female![lol]

  22. Tad says:

    No, I think a stubborn Jackass is someone who votes knowing their candidate is not going to keep their promises, knowing their candidate is going to change his mind about keeping those promises with as little thought as most people use to decide to change their underwear.

    I would call that voter ‘informed’ or ‘not an idealistic child,’ but your entitled to your fantasy politician. I do find it amusing that you find the promises of abandoning 200 million+ dollars equivalent to changing one’s underwear. Perhaps child is a closer to the mark after all.

  23. Rodney, the exact quote is:

    “The president has kept the promises he meant to keep.” — George Stephanopoulos

    I see Alex is still big on moral equivalence. As I have learned at the blog of the master I think it goes something like this: All politicians lie, so ignore context and scale and lets just call them all liars. Thus all your arguments in opposition to The One are discredited.

    Perhaps someone on the other side can help me out here though because I have become confused. Which is more important, having a set of ideals and principles and living by them or winning at all costs? The most tragic aspect of what is transpiring today is that the Left got most of what it wanted and transformed society through adherence to the former throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Then somewhere in there the principles and ideals got chucked out the window for nothing more than the trappings and exercise of power. A distinctly Machiavellian approach to politics is working now for the Left and we are approaching a tipping point where they can rewrite the rules to make their ascendency virtually unassailable. Watch in shock and awe as the indict Bush crowd takes over next year with little left to inhibit their political wilding. If you had a policy making role in the current administration, this might be a good time to leave the country, though best of luck finding somewhere you won’t be susceptible to extradition. I doubt even Colin Powell will be safe once the show trials begin.

    Come January 21, dissent will no longer be patriotic.

  24. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    That Charles, is why the 2nd amendment to the Constitution was written. It is not about hunting or house protection. It is to make sure tyrants do not lie thier way to high office and force their will on this nation. At least not without a fight. That is the main reason the left so wants to disarm the public. If Obama wins, I am buying 2000 rounds of 7.62×39. Have SKS, will travel.

  25. Grewgills says:

    A distinctly Machiavellian approach to politics is working now for the Left and we are approaching a tipping point where they can rewrite the rules to make their ascendency virtually unassailable. Watch in shock and awe as the indict Bush crowd takes over next year with little left to inhibit their political wilding. If you had a policy making role in the current administration, this might be a good time to leave the country, though best of luck finding somewhere you won’t be susceptible to extradition. I doubt even Colin Powell will be safe once the show trials begin.

    When do you get your tin foil hat refitted?

  26. Bithead says:

    Do you really think that Clinton’s perjury reflects on the entire DNC?

    Counter question: Do you really think that the dogged defense of Clinton by the whole of the party, doesn’t?</strong

  27. anjin-san says:

    Poor Bits. McCain is throwing in the towel in CO, NM & Iowa. Guess a good Clinton rant is all he has…

  28. rodney dill says:

    When do you get your tin foil hat refitted?

    Seems like 15 days and counting, but better switch to lead foil, or we’ll all be going… Obam-ho-tep… Obam-ho-tep… Obam-ho-tep…..

  29. anjin-san says:

    Obam-ho-tep… Obam-ho-tep…..

    You can almost picture ‘ol Rod, in a darkened room, rocking back and forth, repeating whatever the hell that is, hour after hour…

  30. Remember, shiny side out.

  31. anjin-san says:

    Remember, shiny side out.

    Advice from an expert…

  32. G.A.Phillips says:

    You can almost picture ‘ol Rod, in a darkened room, rocking back and forth, repeating whatever the hell that is, hour after hour…

    It’s from the mummy.It’s how you guys look to those of us who are not Zombiedonks, or should I say immune.

    Or at George W. Bush and his promise to have a humble foreign policy with no nation building.

    Dude why?

  33. Michael says:

    So after Obama is elected, he won’t actually need your votes any more, so any promises made to his constituency no longer apply, and he can do as he pleases. Yeah, I can see that happening…

    Sure, if you want to be cynical and believe that Obama is out to destroy America. Not all of us are like that.

    I do think Obama’s inability to keep promises does indicate he won’t have any problems breaking others, but what I would really like to see is a revamp of the financing system for campaigns. Open them up and let the money flow, just require full discolosure as to who is donating-even the $25 and $50 checks.

    Transparency only works if the electorate cares. I’m not convinced that seeing 90% of a campaign financed by a single wealthy partisan would make much of a different to many people.

    Come January 21, dissent will no longer be patriotic.

    Dissent stopped being patriotic on September 12, 2001. Come January 21, it will finally be patriotic again (unless McCain wins, then we’ll still be blame America firsters from the anti-American parts of the country).

    It’s from the mummy.

    Imhotep was a real person you idiot.

  34. rodney dill says:

    Imhotep was a real person you idiot.

    Hmmm… A little testy this morning. Yes, Imhotep was real, but was also used as the person that was the mummy in the movie ‘The Mummy’ and the sequels. The reason G.A. brings it up is that it is in the movie that the mindless followers/zombies of Imhotep march along going … “Im-ho-tep…. Im-ho-tep… Im-ho-tep…” blindly following the direction of Imhotep. Much as the followers of Obama follow him.

  35. anjin-san says:

    A guy who watches Brendan Fraser movies is talking about mindlessness? Well, I guess he has some expertise in the field…

  36. Michael says:

    The reason G.A. brings it up is that it is in the movie that the mindless followers/zombies of Imhotep march along going … “Im-ho-tep…. Im-ho-tep… Im-ho-tep…” blindly following the direction of Imhotep. Much as the followers of Obama follow him.

    Imhotep had a cult following in reality too, and he was deified after his death. Why resort to a Hollywoood reference (because, you know, Hollywood is evil) when a little knowledge of reality provides what you need?

    Hmmm… A little testy this morning.

    G.A.Phillips was an idiot long before he made that statement, I said that more as an (anti-)honorific title.

  37. Grewgills says:

    It’s from the mummy.

    I thought it was a Bubba Ho-tep reference.

    GA and Rodney,
    Make sure you keep the foil on tight and cover all your windows and bolt your doors.

  38. Floyd says:

    “”Sure, if you want to be cynical and believe that Obama is out to destroy America. Not all of us are like that.””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    True; Realists are often thought to be cynical by those who “bite the worm” until it’s too late.
    [relax,it’s only a fishing metaphor].