Saturday, May 10, 2008

Has anyone calculated how much it would cost to get Senator Clinton to go away (relatively) quietly and get her people to vote for the Dem candidate?


A thoughtful reader attached this interesting comment to my post this morning about torture:
wjbill ( said...

I know you dont get many comments here. I also do not know if you read the few that get posted. I do know you think Barak Obama is the right person for the United States. I agree and have donated to his campaign. I can afford to make an additional donation(s) but hesitate as I read about consideration being given by the Obama campaign to give money to the Clinton campaign (and all her staff etc.) to help retire debt. This is NOT what I intended when I made my donation. What do you think?

I started replying in the comments section, and got this far--
Hi, WJ--

Both Howie and I try to keep up with the comments (which do seem to have tapered off since we started including those damned Digg thingies; personally, I would rather have the comments).

I can't speak for Howie, but
when I realized that WJ's post is a perfect demonstration of why it would be such a bad idea for the Obama campaign to pay Senator Clinton to go away (relatively) quietly, and the point seems worth making here out in the open.

In case you hadn't heard, what WJ is referring to is a swirl of rumors that somebody somewhere is talking about maybe what the Obama campaign could do to encourage the Clinton campaign to fold up its tents and get with the program of supporting the now-all-but-certain Democratic candidate against the Republican foe. We're hearing stuff like offering Senator Clinton the vice presidential nomination (a disastrous idea, it seems to me, given the level of animosity between them) or the Senate majority leadership (a bizarre idea, it seems to me; how do you "give" someone the Senate majority leadership?). Or, and this is where WJ and I both get queasy, maybe helping the senator pay off her considerable campaign debt.

This apparently isn't totally unprecedented, falling under the heading of "that's politics," but I'd love to know if there really is a close precedent for having a presidential challenger essentially "bought off," in effect threatening to withhold her -- and her supporters' -- support without the payoff.

Proponents of such an arrangement suggest indignantly that if the Obama campaign were to refuse to consider it, they would be showing lack of respect for Clinton's supporters, and encouraging them to sit out the election or vote for the unspeakable McCranky. Now, this seems to me to show a shockingly low opinion of Clinton supporters. They're so aggrieved by the lack of respect from the rival campaign that they're going to not vote or vote for a Republican -- unless their candidate is paid off, with presumably a showering of jobs for her top supporters if the campaign makes it to the White House.

What the hell is that?

I try very hard not to say bad things about Clinton supporters, because I'm sure they're sincere in their beliefs, and there's no question that their votes are going to be needed in the campaign to keep McCranky out of the White House -- and allow poor Justice Stevens to contemplate the future with some sense of peace -- but sometimes it's hard to top the terrible things the Clintonites seem to be saying about themselves.

It becomes even grislier when you consider the large chunks of money Senator Clinton has lent to her own campaign. Does someone seriously imagine that it's okay for the senator to pay herself back with money supplied by the Obama campaign? Jeez!

It has been pointed out that there's one immediate problem: the possibility that by pouring Obama campaign funds into Clinton campaign coffers, contributors who have already maxed out their allowable giving to the Clinton campaign could be put over the legal limit. But there's a more powerful moral argument: Did Obama contributors imagine that their money could be transferred right into Senator Clinton's pocket?

And here we see an immediate application: If I were WJ, I too would be wary of giving any more money if I thought that money could wind up being used for a political payoff.

A fellow blogger proposed a solution that I for one could live with easily. No money is transferred from one campaign to the other, but Senator Obama assists Senator Clinton in retiring her campaign debt by appearing at fund-raisers for that purpose, allowing anyone who wishes to contribute money for that purpose to do so.

I don't know how serious these rumors are, so I don't know how immediate the problem troubling WJ (and me) is. But I would sure feel more comfortable with an arrangement like the one proposed here.

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At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I've read, $10-11 million is owed to Mark Penn's firm and Hillary's lent her campaign approx. $11 mill more.

I can see trying to help her pay back the other creditors. The caterers, the printers and other small and large businesses who shouldn't have to carry the cost of her failed campaign on their backs. But Hillary has a habit of spending money like it's going out of style, so she should raise her own damn money and Penn should look at discounting his inflated bills. He knew what he was getting himself into since he was running the campaign.

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anybody considered the possibility that the GOP's "swift-boating" campaign designs could be stymied by their own precarious finances--meaning that broadcasters might ask the GOP to pay cash in advance for air time?

At 7:13 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

(1) PDQ, thanks for the reminder about the money owed to Mark Penn. If I were Senator Clinton, I would just return the invoice to the putz marked "PAID IN FULL, YOU #@$%$#@%!" And of course for the reminder that some of the debt is REAL debt--to the sort of people the late Leona Helmsley would have called "the little people," and stiffed.

(2) iludiumPhosdex, the shrunken GOP coffers are certainly a major factor going into the 2008 elections, but one thing I don't think that's going to affect the swift-boating potential, since that's done with soft money, and there are some massive war chests sitting at the ready.


At 7:31 PM, Blogger gingerkayak said...

nobody, in my opinion, who's contributed to Obama's campaign should contemplate their money going to the excesses of Hillary's debt. I think it looks like pandering, and foolishness for him to consider doing this. this campaign isn't like past campaigns, and this is a custom that i think should not be continued. i would have trouble ever donating to obama again, if he gives any money to the multimillionaire clintons. they can afford the "loans" she gave to her campaign. She should just take it as a bad debt. And certainly no one wants to bail out mark penn. that's between him and the clintons.

At 11:29 PM, Blogger Scoop said...

Look, I've got 50 bucks for Hillary, if it means she gets out. How about a "goodbye and thanks" fundraiser for her? A little added incentive, hehe.

At 4:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neither candidate had anything to do with the fact that the two States decided to go against the party rules and vote early. They did this to themselves out of very selfish reasons - to be put on the map during the elections. Now I am not a registered Democrat and it wouldn't matter to Republicans whether they count the vote or not in those States. It appears Obama has steadily increased in this campaign while Clinton steadily decreased. I believe the bickering over this matter is only helping the Republican agenda. The Democratic Party heads need to sit down with the candidates, the two State leaders involved and resolve this issue amicably. I would suggest a revote as I believe Obama would do much better today than at the original time of voting. If I were Clinton, I would settle for a 50/50 split. Her negativism at this point is hurting the campaign. Having big money supporters 'pressure' to allow them to 'buy' the revote, only makes the case of Washington Special interest as usual, which Obama has effectively campaigned against. I don't think she can win this argument one way or the other.

At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Won't happen. It is against campaign finance law for the Obama campaign to give more than $2000 to the Clinton campaign.

At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clinton talks solutions to issues. Obama just talks. WHO IS THE BETTER PERSON TO LEAD OUR COUNTRY????

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that Clinton has gone so far to the Right via "Conservative Populism" that a faction of her supporters see the Democratic Party as their enemy, because they've followed her there. Clinton sounds a lot like George Bush now. In the future we may be calling these people, "Clinton Republicans."

At 8:59 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

I think everyone's made their points very nicely -- excellent discussion IMHO. Thanks, all!



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