A Cautious Man
June 22, 2008
Money Don't Get Everything It's True
What It Don't Get, I Can't Use

We're being told that we are supposed to be upset because Senator Obama decided to forgo public financing, and the spending limits that accompany it.

Senator McCain is arguing that it's a "broken promise", but nobody can find any promise other than a questionnaire response indicating that Senator Obama was willing to negotiate a real spending cap. The existence of independent groups, which Senator McCain said he could not stop or control, pretty much eliminated that possibility.

I don't understand why everyone is forgetting that donation limits are still alive and well. I thought the public financing/spending caps were there in order to encourage/reward candidates who dropped out of the race for campaign cash, and all the attendant problems with that. Senator Obama has a valid point – it's a new world of communication and connection out there. You're reading my random thoughts on this topic, not because you know me, or because I've been published by a news source that you look to for information, but because we're here on the internet. Just as Mr. "Cautious-Man-who-thinks-he's-all-that-because-someone-visited-his-site-today" can communicate in a way that wasn't as common four, or certainly eight years ago, raising campaign money is different now, also. It doesn't have to be a "fat cat" game any more, as Senator Obama has demonstrated.

(Of course, it doesn't hurt that all the Clinton fat cats are now available to be tapped for cash also, but I digress.)

Why would Senator Obama need to make sure that he has as much money to spend as possible? Do I really need to ask that question? Does anybody really think that the prospect of a Democratic President, a fairly progressive Democratic President, and (yes, I will go there) an African-American Democratic President, won't encourage some people to go all out to do whatever they can, to prevent that?

If anyone doubts this, just look at what happened four years ago. The smear campaign against Senator Kerry, and anybody associated with him, was disgusting. We received a reminder of that campaign in today's NY Times, which had a story about the men who served with Senator Kerry, and who therefore were also abused and mocked by the "Swift Boat" smear. These are men who had their lives made fun of, because they committed the "crime" of (a) serving this country, and (b) doing so under the command of someone who would eventually run for President.

For most people, “Swift boat” has become a political verb, a synonym for the kind of attack that helped destroy the presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry in 2004.

But for a group of Vietnam veterans at the center of the attacks, it is still a fresh fight.

On Friday, the group, who served with Mr. Kerry in Vietnam, sent a letter to T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman who helped finance the 2004 attack advertisements, taking him up on a challenge he issued last November: that he would give $1 million to anyone who could disprove a single charge the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Mr. Kerry.

The letter-writers served alongside Mr. Kerry during the events that the Swift boat group insisted he had embellished or made up to win his military decorations.

Identifying themselves as “patriotic, concerned veterans” they say the accusations of the Swift boat group damaged their reputations and deeply affected their families, “tarnished the sacrifices we made, called into question the medals we were awarded and challenged the very authenticity of our service.”

What is truly amazing, is the fact that the "Swift Boat" smear is still believed by people, and that right-wingers still insist that it was a fair attack on Senator Kerry, despite all the holes that were poked in that argument –

Extensive news media accounts undermined the Swift boat charges in 2004, pointing out that some of the Swift boat critics had written statements in Vietnam lauding Mr. Kerry for extraordinary bravery in the incidents they later said he made up. One critic had himself received a medal for heroism during a hail of gunfire he later claimed Mr. Kerry had concocted to win his third Purple Heart.

But that did not blunt the political impact.

Four years ago, it was considered an acceptable political tactic to spread lies about American veterans, who had done nothing to deserve the garbage that was thrown at them. I don't think that anything is inconceivable, with respect to what might happen in this campaign.

And Senator Obama has every right to want to be ready to meet anything that is thrown at him. And nowadays, that requires money, because he certainly can't rely on the media.



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