Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cut it out, David Plouffe

I like Barack Obama and I plan to vote for him in the general election. And because I donated to his campaign, I get mass mails from Barack and his campaign manager, David Plouffe, designed to convince me to give more and do more for the campaign. The language of emails signed by Obama, for the most part, tend to sound similar to his public statements. But sometimes Plouffe's emails use questionable statements to rile up supporters. A March 20 email stated:
Senator Clinton and Senator McCain are reading from the same political playbook as they attack Barack on foreign policy. They have both criticized Barack's commitment to act against top al Qaeda terrorists if others can't or won't act. And they have both dismissed his call for renewed diplomacy as naïve while mistakenly standing behind George Bush's policy of non-engagement that just isn't working.
Actually, both of them have a tendency to rephrase the other candidates' statements in their own words, without proving enough information for me to look up what they actually said. But surely McCain and Clinton didn't really criticize "Barack's commitment to act against top al Qaeda terrorists"? And consider this email of March 25:
In February alone, more than 94% of our donors gave in amounts of $200 or less. Meanwhile, campaign finance reports show that donations of $200 or less make up just 13% of Senator McCain's total campaign funds, and only 26% of Senator Clinton's.
Wow, it looks like Obama has 7 times as much grassroots support as McCain! That's what Mr. Plouffe would have supporters believe. But if you read closely, he's comparing two very different statistics: the McCain statistic does not measure the percent of donations $200 or less. It measures the percent of total campain funds from such donations, which is a totally different story. Since I don't know where to find the complete statistics, let us assume for the sake of argument that the average over-$200 donation to Barack's campaign is $1000, and that the average under-$200 donation is $100. Let us assume the same thing for McCain's campaign. Now, with some algebra, we can figure out the missing statistics:
  • On average, although 94% of Barack's supporters gave $100, 6% gave $1000. So donations under $200 make up 61% of his total campaign funds.
  • On average, although only 13% of McCain's funds come from $100 donations, 60% of donators gave $100.
If these assumptions are anywhere near correct, then it seems safe to conclude Obama is ahead in grassroots support: 61% of Barack's funds versus 26% of Hillary's and 13% of McCain's come from relatively small donations. And getting well over a million separate donations during the primaries is unprecedented. But let's try reversing Plouffe's statistics trick. Maybe the McCain camp could say this:
In February, more than 60% of our donors gave in amounts of $200 or less. In comparison, campaign finance reports show that donations of $200 or less make up 61% of Senator Obama's total campaign funds, and only 26% of Senator Clinton's. Yet the democrats claim to be ahead in grassroots support! What the hell are they smoking?
Look, I have no doubt that the other candidates use similar techniques. This sort of thing is precisely what I expect from politics. But Barack promised to be different. Barack promised a positive campaign that focuses on the issues. In many ways he has delivered on these promises; for example, Barack's speech "A more perfect union" not only proved his excellence as a speechwriter, but it proved that he could respond to a guilt-by-association smear campaign without crucifying his former pastor Reverend Wright. Had other candidates been attacked in a similar manner, no one would expect them to respond as Barack did. It was fun to read the Obama campaign's analysis of a Clinton press release, an email containing nonsense like this:

But the Obama campaign has just announced that it is turning its attention away from Pennsylvania. This is not a strategy that can beat John McCain in November. ... Why are so many voters turning away from Barack Obama in state after state?

My point is this. Just because Barack's opponents talk smack and twist the truth into falsehood, doesn't make it okay for Obama's campaign to do the same. David Plouffe needs to speak the truth, be fair, and take the moral high ground. Every time he doesn't, I am disappointed. Every time he doesn't, I wonder whether this campaign is really so different from Washington's status quo.

6 comments:

Apathi said...

I'm convinced that both parties are the same. Do you remember how Hillary and Barack Obama had [convieniently] removed John Edwards from the race? Look it up.

Qwertie said...

I never heard anything about why he dropped out. Post a link, not just a vague allegation.

NEMESIS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NEMESIS said...

When America’s new leader of “change” was informed of Israel’s massive air attack on the Gaza Ghetto, an area of 139 square miles where Israel confines 1.4 million Arabs and tightly controls the inflow of all resources--food, medicine, water, energy--America’s president-elect Obama had “no comment.”

What it means!? To me just this: Obama became the president in three weeks. After then he started to be accountable for everything what happen under his watch'. Until then he needs to use literally the same weaponry as his competitors. His stand and action toward Israel's 60 year old occupation of Palestine shows to us how he is serious about his changes in foreign policy. The same observation is valid for his stand toward influence of Israeli Lobby (AIPAC)on Washington.

PS: check this link:
http://johnmearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdfs/A0040.pdf

Qwertie said...

America's commitment to the "peace process" seems to be limited to funding the Israeli military. Obama never said he would change that particular status quo.... I don't know why, but Israel has never been up for debate. Perhaps opposition to the occupation is considered anti-semitic, or perhaps there are higher powers that we common folk can't see. I don't understand it at all.

Qwertie said...

I've read the first 28 pages of that document and it's been educational, but quite depressing. How can Israelis themselves be so much freer to criticize their government than American politicians and media commentators? Oh well.