21 June 2008

Obama's Funding Gambit

Originally posted on the American Thinker website.

The day after Sen. Obama announced that he would not take public financing for the general election, part of his overall plan for the general election came into focus. MoveOn-dot-org announced that “it's time to close [their] 527 forever”. The stated reason is their belief that small, individual donations are the way to go in this election. MoveOn endorsed Mr. Obama in February.

There is some fine political maneuvering in this Obama shift away from public financing – which he assured everyone he would take. First and most obvious, Mr. Obama will be able to personally spend as much money as he can pull in, and he has shown the ability to pull in plenty.

With MoveOn leading the way in closing their 527, one can reasonably expect the Obama campaign to gain that money as well. That will end up being a boatload of centralized cash.

And that centralization is important for Mr. Obama. His is a carefully crafted brand that needs protection and preservation. Groups like MoveOn have a history of creating ads that offend Americans of various political stripes. Transferring its ad buying dollars to the Obama campaign, MoveOn also relieves the campaign of worrying about the political impact of another “Gen. Betray-Us” type ad. This, however, may only be a half-measure, as MoveOn’s political action committee has recently aired another “100-years” ad targeting Sen. McCain. Time will tell if MoveOn can be kept on the Obama Campaign’s leash.

Lastly, and most importantly, MoveOn is one of the more readily recognized political “not-for-profit” groups anywhere on the political continuum. If they chose, surely in consultation with the Obama campaign, to close their 527 shop, then Mr. Obama can more realistically refer to 527’s in a one-sided manner. Ironically, from Mr. Obama’s newly discovered paradigm, 527 groups become a tactic of “old Washington” – though they are a rather recent creation of McCain-Feingold.

So once again, Mr. Obama will attempt to have his cake (and the cake of others), eat it, too. He’ll attempt to demonstrate just how well centralized control and execution can propel a brand name – his own. He is creating a political safe zone for his brand, his campaign. What’s more, he has the audacity to sell the spin that his opposition is forcing him into this situation, thus deflecting blame onto his opponent. Time will tell if Mr. Obama’s spin sticks and if his centrally controlled bubble can hold together until after the general election.

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