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.