Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Just a few months back, which somehow seems a very long time ago, one of our liberal friends was giddily explaining to us why Barack Obama was certain to win re-election by a landslide. He had various reasons for his optimism, but most of it was based on the assumption that Obama was going to raise a billion dollars of campaign funding and overwhelm his opposition with advertising.

We were skeptical of that billion dollar figure, even though it was being bandied about in all the news media and was an article of faith in liberal circles, but conceded that Obama would likely be able to outspend his opponent. Now it appears that the vaunted Obama fund-raising machine won’t be able to match the efforts of Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and even Obama admits it.

The latest fund-raising figures haven’t yet been disclosed, but there is ample evidence that the Obama isn’t bringing in the amounts of money that had been expected by his giddy supporters. A major convention event planned for the enormous Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina has reportedly been cancelled for lack of funds, and even a small event in tiny Durham, New Hampshire, created a public relations mess for the campaign when it tried to stick the cash-strapped locals with a $20,000 tab for security costs. The campaign’s efforts to woo donors are becoming conspicuously desperate, with resort to such widely ridiculed gimmicks as “I’m Out For Obama” t-shirts for sale to homosexual supporters and hoodies emblazoned with the campaign logo for sale to the thug-American voting bloc, raffles to have dinner with the president or the hilariously snooty Anna Wintour and her high-fashion friends, and an “Obama Registry” that invites people to make a campaign donation in lieu of a wedding gift.

These difficulties should not be surprising. Obama’s last campaign was largely financed by Wall Street financiers and big businesses, despite a popular myth that he was able to vastly out-spend John McCain’s low-budget campaign because of all the idealistic young hipsters who decided to forego a café latte in order to send a small donation, and many of those former deep-pocket donors have grown understandably weary of being pilloried in presidential speeches, threatened with new taxes, and subject to ever more regulations. The public sector unions are as enthusiastic about Obama as ever, but they’ve lately been losing members and membership dues, and have already spent much of their war chest on a losing effort to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Many of those small donors have probably changed their minds about Obama or simply aren’t able to afford either campaign contributions or café lattes. The entertainment industry is still donating generously, but all that hobnobbing with the glitterati will also make it harder for Obama to argue that his opponent is an out-of-touch rich guy who doesn’t relate to the common man.

Should Mitt Romney wind up with more money in his campaign’s account, expect Obama and his supporters to wax outraged about the evil influence of money on the democratic process. When they do, remember that they weren’t so concerned about it just a few months ago when it was widely assumed that they’d have the financial advantage.

— Bud Norman

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