McCain Scandalized By Obama Campaign's Financial Success

Reacting to news that Barack Obama set a record by raising $150 million in donations in September, John McCain said:

I mean, Senator Obama raised $150 million in — I understand, during the month of September, completely breaking whatever idea we had after Watergate to keep the costs and spending on campaigns under control — first time, first time since the Watergate scandal.

And I can tell you this, that has unleashed now in presidential campaigns a new flood of spending that will then cause a scandal, and then we will fix it again.

Chris Wallace helpfully asked McCain whether Obama was "buying the election," a suggestion that McCain happily embraced. [more ...]

Well, I think you could make that argument, but we're not going to let him. We're not going to let that happen. ...

So what's going to happen? The dam is broken. We're now going to see huge amounts of money coming into political campaigns, and we know history tells us that always leads to scandal.

Large political contributions lead to scandal when they come from lobbyists and corporations in exchange for policies that favor the powerful over the powerless. Small donations flooding into a candidate's campaign signal not scandal but broad support, a widespread desire to help that candidate change the status quo.

John McCain can talk all he wants about Watergate (a Republican scandal) and the "broken" system of publicly financed elections (which, thanks to the Supreme Court and Republican resistance has never functioned as intended). His griping won't change the reality that ordinary people are giving money to Obama because they want him to be president. There's nothing scandalous about those decisions. When individuals (as opposed to corporations and their lobbyists) support the candidate they like, that's called democracy.

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    Corporations cannot give money (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Democratic Cat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:26:15 AM EST
    to Presidential candidates' campaigns. This is a false notion. It's always individuals giving money. It's no less "democratic" if the head of GE contributes his $2300 than if the local schoolteacher sends in $25. Both are contributing because they want their favored candidate to win.

    Yes, corporations cannot give, but... (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by citizen53 on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:51:54 AM EST
    then there is this from the Black Agenda Report:

    According to the Wall Street Journal, a recent Obama fat-cat fundraiser in Miami was expected to bring in three and a half million dollars, but wound up grossing more than five million.

    The moneyed classes finance the bulk of the presidential campaigns - 60 percent, in Barack Obama's case, an even higher proportion for John McCain. So, when small donors - people with $200 or less to spare - put their meager funds at the disposal of the two big business parties, the little guys' pile of cash is dwarfed by the contributions from the big guys. Guess who really calls the shots. In effect, small donors to the Democratic and Republican parties are simply reinforcing decisions already made by the corporate world.

    60% of $600 million is $360 million.  Big money still has an overly disproportionate influence, and we are ignorant not to admit it.  It is obscene in my opinion, and it will not change much under Obama.

    In this regard, todays's NY Times article said:

    Coupled with his appeals over the Internet, Mr. Obama has maintained an aggressive high-dollar fund-raising schedule. Just last week, 10 hours after he left the stage of the final presidential debate, he arrived at a morning fund-raiser at the Metropolitan Club in New York in which more than 120 people paid $30,800 each to hear him speak.

    More than 600 people wrote checks of $25,000 or more to the Obama Victory Fund in September, including the actresses Melanie Griffith and Rita Wilson; Orlando Magic basketball star Dwight Howard; Andrea Jung, the chief executive of Avon; Gregory Brown, the president of the telecommunications giant Motorola; and Charles E. Phillips Jr., the president of the software company Oracle.

    Bill Moyers and Ralph Nader are right, and solely in this case, so is McCain.

    When the next Republican untaps the juggernaut, and outraises the Democrat, we will again cry that money has too much influence.

    If there was ever a double standard, where people looked aside from their principles, here is a prime example.

    The important question is whether or not President Obama, who benefitted so much from the system, will do anything about this and the way it corrupts the system against the average person?



    We surely do not want Melanie Griffith (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 12:05:05 PM EST
    influencing Obama. Now, Antonio Banderas, on the other hand.  <snk>

    When I hear about the huge amounts of money devoted to the campaign and spent for TV ads, I think of non-profits struggling to obtain donations for worthy causes.  Pity.  


    That's what I think about also. (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by nycstray on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 12:39:52 PM EST
    Food banks and other services are having a heck of a time. And things are just going to get worse. "The people" really can't afford these campaigns and really won't see much for their money. Since they are "buying in", I wonder if refunds will be offered down the road?

    Our CSA gives a fair amount of food weekly to a church and I noticed yesterday that the orchard brought down a ton of apples for them. The CSA only runs for 2 more weeks and I don't know what happens after that. I should check . . . .


    Heh (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by TheRealFrank on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:32:03 AM EST
    Yeah, McCain should talk about Watergate. And how he's friends with G. Gordon Liddy..

    By all means, talk about Watergate.

    I'm glad to talk about Watergateand public finance (3.00 / 2) (#17)
    by jawbone on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 03:29:36 PM EST
    was one of the great things to come out of Watergate.

    Now, a Democrat has destroyed it.

    I am saddened and angered by that.


    I have some sympathy for McCain's position. . . (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:32:47 AM EST

    The new left position seems to be that it's okay for money to dominate an election as long as it comes from donations from, say, one percent of the population.  If the money comes from a single wealthy individual, or a smaller number of wealthy individuals, then it's a fundamental corruption of the system.

    But if we really want elections to be fought over principles and policies then it seems counter-productive to allow the vagaries of advertising spending to affect the ability of each candidate to get their ideas (and that's taking a high-minded view of political advertising) before the public.

    Public financing can provide a more level playing field.  I guess that's something some folks don't favor when the playing ground is sloped in their direction.

    Fully publcially financed elections (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:34:44 AM EST
    with no donations from anybody is the only reform that can work. The rest of this is BS.

    Given the current scheme, Obama's is easily the most democratic (small d) financing of a campaign in our political history.

    But that is sayi9ng next to nothing.


    That would certainly be. . . (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by LarryInNYC on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:42:05 AM EST
    the most perfect expression of public campaign financing.  And, on paper, I think it would yield the most "democratic" results.  My ideal would be minimal direct financing (enough to allow candidates to travel and speak, but not to control the airwaves) combined with required and chaperoned access to the media, along the lines of the current debate system.

    Alas, I also believe that any attempt to limit political speech quite legitimately runs afoul of free speech rights.

    It's a conundrum.


    you need to actually do a little fact checking. (none / 0) (#21)
    by VicfromOregon on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 05:52:41 PM EST
    How about using the phrase "in recent history".

    No, the real left still wants (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:34:50 AM EST
    to put campaign money to bed.

    Honestly, I think campaign finance reform is impossible.


    REAL (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:36:42 AM EST
    campaign finance reform is completely publically financed elections with no donations at all.

    The Supreme Court will say no (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:38:51 AM EST
    How do you stop the self-funding?

    By making the money (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:48:42 AM EST
    choice by the candidate an easy one - properly fund the publically financed campaigns.

    No one wants to self fund and if you do - that means you are just very wealthy. And you can certainly block self funding from the publically financed campaigns.


    Then the right time to do it (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:57:34 AM EST
    is right after the election when Republicans are whining about how much they got outspent.

    And Axelrod and Obama will want to do that? Ha! (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jawbone on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 03:31:26 PM EST
    If John McCain (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 11:33:14 AM EST
    wants money out of politics, he should be pushing for completely publically financed elections.

    This actually is an issue where McCain is despised by his Party.

    maverick (m) (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 12:07:25 PM EST
    Am I the only person in this world who (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by hairspray on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    thinks this money raising talent is destructive.  Right now because it is Obama and in some ways a thumb your nose to the rich fat cats who always funded the GOP when the Dems went begging, it still isn't right.  Cream always rises to the top and Citizen53 is exactly right.  The unwashed masses think that this will be about them, but in the end it will be about what works best for the moneyed interests.  The Democrats just have a little more guilt and  more social conscience, that all!

    There are only so many hugely wealthy Americans-- (none / 0) (#19)
    by jawbone on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 03:35:37 PM EST
    so if the shift among fat cats is slightly to the left, perhaps bringing them from RightWad to slightly closer to center, it doesn't do a lot for, oh, the poor, the middle classes.

    There will be some slightly more enlightened self-interest, but they do want to protect what they now have, money, position, power.

    Obama owes the uber-wealthy big time.

    This will be a very interesting administration. Please, sir, prove me wrong in my skepticism!


    It isn't a shift to the left (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 08:17:27 AM EST
    it's a shift to the likely winner.  Most of these fat cats give to both parties, more to the party that looks most likely to win.

    doesn't every political (none / 0) (#20)
    by cpinva on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 04:47:20 PM EST
    candidate "buy" the election? unless the networks are now giving out free advertising, it does cost money.

    Now that Obama has his own media channel (none / 0) (#22)
    by VicfromOregon on Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:22:08 PM EST
    we are into complete packaging of personality and message. Has any American politician ever had such total control over what to cover and when, filtered only through supporters.  Pundits are fast becoming scriptwriters.  I fear there is no going back for the republicans and democrats. This is total control over public projection.  Commercialization dressed up as documentation. Now, this is Chicago politics on steroids!  This is the Obama I recognize.

    Is any of that money (none / 0) (#24)
    by sj on Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 10:16:57 AM EST
    going down-ticket?