The first quarter of 2007 is over, which means the presidential candidates are reporting their fundraising numbers. If you’re a person whose presidential ambitions had been widely-discussed by the time George W. Bush was sworn in, the news isn’t good. John McCain came in an underwhelming third in the Republican money race; Mitt Romney came in first, followed by Rudy Giuliani. And Hillary Clinton just barely beat out Barack Obama on the Democratic side; counting only cash raised for spending in the primary campaign, Obama actually came in first.
McCain’s mission to take the money out of politics was never meant to be a unilateral effort, and his campaign has vowed to refocus its fundraising efforts by more closely following the playbook of the Bush-Cheney campaigns. “This is clearly a moment in the campaign that says, ‘Hello? Wake up!’” McCain’s finance chairman, Tom Loeffer, told The Politico. Team Hillary has taken a different tack, putting on a happy face. “We are thrilled with our historic fundraising success,” declared Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, “and congratulate Senator Obama and the entire Democratic field on their fundraising, which demonstrates the overwhelming desire for change in our country.” Of course, an overwhelming desire for change isn’t necessarily a good thing if your candidate has been in the national spotlight since 1992.
Beyond the disappointment for McCain and Clinton — and the boost to Romney and Obama — the money race highlights a partisan disparity: Democratic candidates raised about $80 million, all told, while Republicans only raised around $50 million. Given the momentum from the ’06 election and the lack of a clear conservative standard bearer, the contrast between Democrats’ enthusiasm and Republicans’ reticence isn’t too surprising.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been touring the Middle East. Bucking the Bush administration’s diplomatic freeze-out of high-level contacts with Bashar Assad’s regime, Pelosi made a stop in Syria this week and ended regional tensions once and for all.
“We were very pleased with the reassurances we received from the president that he was ready to resume the peace process,” Pelosi said after meeting with Assad. “He was ready to engage in negotiations for peace with Israel.” Pelosi added that the meeting “enabled us to communicate a message from Prime Minister Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks as well.”
Of course, the breakthrough only existed in Pelosi’s imagination. The Israeli PM issued a statement clarifying that he had sent no such message with Pelosi, and that Israeli policy continues to hold that Damascus must “cease its support of terror, cease its sponsoring of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, refrain from providing weapons to Hezbollah and bringing about the destabilizing of Lebanon, cease its support of terror in Iraq, and relinquish the strategic ties it is building with the extremist regime in Iran” before any peace talks would be considered. The Syrian regime, of course, is interested in doing none of that; Olmert added that “a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel.” Pelosi was pretty much the only one naive enough to take Assad’s words at face value.
White House spokesmen, in their arguments against Democratic efforts to micromanage the Iraq War by attaching conditions to funding amount to playing, have adopted the slogan “Petraeus, not Pelosi.” Perhaps they should add “Rice, not Pelosi;” the Speaker is no more credible as a Secretary of State than as a general.
Finally, in media news, Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell bought the Tribune Company this week, beating out rival billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle for ownership of a couple dozen TV stations, the Chicago Cubs (slated to be sold off later this year), and a newspaper empire that includes the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, and Newsday, among other rags. Word is, the bloated LA Times newsroom was rooting for Angelenos Broad and Burkle; the Times has resisted pressure from Chicago to cut costs and wanted a local team on their side. But it just wouldn’t be right for a Chicago institution like the Tribune Company to be owned in LA, would it? Zell’s reputation for turning around faltering companies rattles the nerves of a nationwide army of pampered hacks, worried that someone might realize, say, that among the four editors that LA Times media critic David Shaw once bragged had worked on his column, three are superfluous. (Full disclosure: Sam Zell and my father were teenage pals, though in recent years they’ve only been in touch sporadically.)
Since the deal went through, movie and music mogul David Geffen has approached Zell about buying the LA Times. This may be Geffen’s worst business move since he gave The Island the green light.
John Tabin is a Maryland-based writer.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire