Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Clinton Should Not Get Help for Her Campaign Debt

The NYTimes reported today that Clinton has a debt of about $21 million and talks about her options for retiring it, one of which was raising more money from her supporters, another of which was having Obama's supporters help raise money. Both options strike me as ridiculous.

First off, the Clintons' net worth was more than $100 million before the campaign started. Why should people struggling to make ends meet give them a dime? (I'd presume most people who aren't struggling gave the $2300 maximum). The Clintons can retire the debt personally and still have $75 million or so in the bank, with plenty more to come now that Bill's free to continue speaking and having other undisclosed business dealings.

The idea of Obama supporters giving Clinton money is laughable. Clinton was throwing good money at bad long after her only hope for winning was an Obama meltdown. While people have given her credit for "grit" and "determination," in most other endeavors this would just be considered poor judgment - racking up debt in pursuit of a lost cause. And that's fine if she's going to take responsibility for that poor judgment and pay for it out of pocket. But to ask people for money in a bad economy to free her from its consequences is bad form.

The one option not discussed that I'd find reasonable is not to pay Mark Penn the millions he's owed, and when he sues her, to countersue for malpractice - after all, not only did he run a terrible campaign, he was on the Columbian government's payroll, lobbying for a trade deal that Clinton was criticizing. That's a conflict of interest that might void the obligation.

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