Monday, May 19, 2008

Last Dead Dog

As the days of the Democratic Presidential Primary Season dwindle down to a precious few, one might ask: Can Hillary win the Democratic nomination? Does Hillary really want to be Vice President? Can Obama be manipulated into accepting her as his Dick Cheney? Does anyone want Bill Clinton within a mile of the Obama White House?

The best advice you’ll ever hear for cracking the code of any political puzzle is a version of “Follow the money.” The great actor Hal Holbrook uttered these words from the shadows in the movie All the President’s Men, as if they were the most closely-held secret of clandestine meetings rather than the political equivalent of giving yourself an “I could have had a V-8” slap on the forehead. Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President not insignificantly because he has successfully re-written the instruction book on raising campaign money.

Hillary Clinton, against all logic, will still claim viability of her candidacy till the roll call of the states is taken in Denver, because she had to lend her own campaign money from the Bill and Hillary joint checking account. She needs every opportunity to recoup this money. The day after she racked up her landslide victory in West Virginia, a virtually uncontested gift from Obama, she raised a million dollars. Since then, Hillary has had two gala events in Los Angeles, at least one “sold out” at the Century Plaza Hotel. No resident of the state of California will vote in the remaining Democratic primaries. California is just “The Golden State.” Pick your media report. Some say Hillary’s campaign is more than $20 million in debt, including probably at least $11 million to $15 million borrowed from herself. Federal law requires these campaign loans must be repaid by the time the Democratic Party nominates its candidate, or the amount she can be reimbursed is limited to $250,000. Follow the money, indeed.

Some people occupy themselves with the delegate math, which Sen. Clinton can not and will not win. Not after Kentucky and Oregon. Not after South Dakota and Puerto Rico. Even when the last whimper decays about Florida and Michigan, the delegate math is just the shell. Keep your eye on the pea. The real math is how much can the Clinton campaign raise in order to pay back the candidate herself.

By comparison, Obama’s campaign reportedly has something like $50 million on hand, most of it raised over the internet. The average donation to Sen. Obama is around $100. I have personally donated. Twice. I’m still below average. I’m saving the rest for the general election.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

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