Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Doubling down

Check this out:
California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R) "contributed an additional $20 million to her campaign this week -- bringing the total she has spent so far on her run to $141.5 million," California Beat reports.

"The contribution only adds to an already record-shattering total -- no other American candidate has ever spent so much of his or own wealth in an attempt to get elected as the former eBay executive has."
I suppose this is a reminder that campaign finance laws can only go so far, as self-funders will always exist and will likely not be restricted from doing stuff like this. Then again, that she's spent over $100 million and can't capitalize on a good Republican year in the polls might well prove the axiom that self-funding is vastly overrated, since it tamps down donor involvement and volunteer enthusiasm. I guess we'll see.

$20 million is a big number, to be sure, but it's like a few hundred bucks to most people so why not spend it? Whitman is down in the polls partly because of some controversies of her own making but mostly because her message is a thin gloss over standard-issue Republicanism in a state that simply has little affection for it. Read this and tell me it doesn't reek of desperation. Had Brown personally called Whitman a whore she might have a point, but a five week-old voicemail by some aide is weak sauce indeed. Brown had already apologized already. If this is their "October Surprise" then they might as well throw in the towel. And the thing about Wilson using the term himself seems to negate the whole thing. Whitman seems to be under the impression that voters are deeply offended by nasty words, which might have been reality in 1987 or so, but even conservatives don't care any more since Fox News's biggest personality drops bleeped F-bombs quite frequently.

I guess in the end I don't get why Whitman is doing this. Her bold new direction for California is anything but, an amalgamation of yesteryear's buzzwords and Republican pablum. It mostly reflects someone who isn't terribly interested in policy and doesn't want to change much of anything too much. I guess she's conservative, so the latter is fair enough. But either this is a vanity campaign, or Whitman just wants to run for president and wants to use the California governorship as merely a stepping stone. She wouldn't be the first (most notably see Nixon, Richard M.), but at least people like Pete Wilson and, well, Brown himself circa 1975 actually bothered to show an interest in policy and act like they cared about the job. Whitman clearly doesn't, so maybe Whitman's candidacy is bolder than I thought!

Oh, and TPM commenter Rich in NJ has a pretty clever comment: "If Whitman would be willing to balance CA's budget with her own money, I might support her, otherwise, no." She probably couldn't do it by herself, but a gesture in this direction might have helped, who knows?

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.