FauxPolitik

Monday, May 24, 2004

TNR Spins: Noam Scheiber has a moment of vertigo as he rushes to defend Kerry's plan to defer the nomination in order to continue raising money:
The real reason Democrats want more time to raise money is so blindingly obvious it hardly needs pointing out--but apparently not quite that obvious, so here goes: The Republicans are raising well over $200 million for the re-election of George W. Bush. If Kerry doesn't try to establish some rough parity on this front, he's going to get blown out of the water.
This is the famous Clinton reasoning of the 1990s: financial parity justifies any number of fund-raising sins. Scheiber should recall that the critics of this move aren't calling it illegal (as some of Clinton's fund-raising irregularities might have been); they're calling it stupid. They're not complaining that the Kerry campaign will, to quote Scheiber, to buy "Jaguars for Kerry campaign staffers" or "[g]old-plated light fixtures at campaign headquarters"; they're complaining that this plays into Kerry's negatives in a bad, bad way. Even Boston Democrats are saying this.
"My hope and expectation is that he will come and accept the nomination here," said Paul Guzzi, a board member of Boston 2004, the local fund-raising arm of the convention.


. . . "My advice? Do what everybody else has done in the past," [Boston Mayor Thomas] Menino told reporters.

"Just do it. Just get it done."

Beyond the "we must fight" rhetoric, Scheiber's own colleague, Ryan Lizza, argued back in April that the very financial situation Kerry's camp is now sweating is actually more of a benefit to Kerry than to Bush. (Although Bush will have the post-convention advantage, Kerry has it now.) I disagreed with Lizza's analysis at the time -- as I still do -- and now, apparently, Scheiber has agreed.

But I don't think it will come down to the money. As I argued here, the pre- and post-convention landscape offers Bush a lot of near-zero-cost opportunities to use incumbency as a campaign tool, to look presidential. Besides, Kerry's attempt to stretch the literal meaning of the convention, for the sake of a few bucks, is a bad trade off: it makes Kerry look non-presidential, and it puts a decidedly negative spin on his convention bounce. I don't think he should do it, and I bet that -- in the end -- he won't.

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