Hush Money

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Oh, the games we play. Candidates for President are working the fundraising circuit with feverish intensity, while doing everything they can to downplay how much money they'll raise -- all so that on April 15th, when the first campaign filings are due, they can awe and astound with the piles of money they've raked in, and get that one step closer to the White House.


With money the benchmark by which we measure which candidates are "serious" and which are just filling out the backfield, the Bloomberg article makes the comparison between overly conservative stock estimates and candidates' fundraising predictions. It's nice to start up a campaign on the bedrock of public deception over how much your raising (and, by extension, how much time you're spending raising it). This quote in particular draws out the faint absurdity of the enterprise:


"Fundraising has changed from a brute contact sport, wrestling as many dollars as possible, to the highest form of psychological warfare,'' said Jenny Backus, a Democratic political consultant. "Winners and losers will not be declared until the money is in the bank."


But it's this last bit that's a bit chilling, and gets to the guts of the real presidential race being one of checks, and not of votes:

The role model for presidential expectations-game players is probably George W. Bush. In 1999, his spokesman, David Beckwith, predicted the then-governor of Texas would raise $20 million between April and June. Instead, he almost doubled that amount, raising $35 million and helping propel himself to the Republican nomination.

"Candidates seek to replicate that phenomenon,'' said Republican political operative Juleanna Glover Weiss, a McCain supporter and adviser at former Attorney General John Ashcroft's Washington consulting firm. "Those numbers have the power to create the aura of inevitability.''