Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Going (For) Broke

Trump was supposed to be the guy who had all the money.  Turns out his campaign is hurting.

Money was supposed to have been one of the great advantages of incumbency for President Trump, much as it was for President Barack Obama in 2012 and George W. Bush in 2004. After getting outspent in 2016, Mr. Trump filed for re-election on the day of his inauguration — earlier than any other modern president — betting that the head start would deliver him a decisive financial advantage this year.

It seemed to have worked. His rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., was relatively broke when he emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee this spring, and Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee had a nearly $200 million cash advantage.

Five months later, Mr. Trump’s financial supremacy has evaporated. Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter.

Where did it go?

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager, liked to call Mr. Trump’s re-election war machine an “unstoppable juggernaut.” But interviews with more than a dozen current and former campaign aides and Trump allies, and a review of thousands of items in federal campaign filings, show that the president’s campaign and the R.N.C. developed some profligate habits as they burned through hundreds of millions of dollars. Since Bill Stepien replaced Mr. Parscale in July, the campaign has imposed a series of belt-tightening measures that have reshaped initiatives, including hiring practices, travel and the advertising budget.

Under Mr. Parscale, more than $350 million — almost half of the $800 million spent — went to fund-raising operations, as no expense was spared in finding new donors online. The campaign assembled a big and well-paid staff and housed the team at a cavernous, well-appointed office in the Virginia suburbs; outsize legal bills were treated as campaign costs; and more than $100 million was spent on a television advertising blitz before the party convention, the point when most of the electorate historically begins to pay close attention to the race.

Way back in 1996, Sen. Phil Gramm (R) announced his run for the presidency, bragging that he had the biggest advantage over all the other GOP candidates: “Ready money.” That, however, didn’t help; neither did his prior investments in porn films (nowadays that would probably win him the GOP nomination) and he got run over by the Dole campaign. So even having a lot of money at the start doesn’t guarantee anything except a lot paperwork for the FEC.

It’s not how much you have, it’s how you spend it.

It’s also a part of the long con of conservative politics, according to Paul Campos at LGM:

Right wing politics in this country is basically just a series of elaborate con games, designed to separate frightened old white people from their money.

Yet it’s a sign of what an incredibly powerful force white supremacy remains in America that a malignant buffoon like Trump can spend his entire presidency stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, and a lot of stuff that is, and yet he still has a chance to actually get elected, despite openly turning the presidency into just another of his unending series of brazen grifts and rackets.

And while Trump and his enablers should all go to prison for the rest of their lives, it’s also true that everybody he is now ripping off absolutely deserves to get ripped off, given how utterly transparent his bottomless corruption has been for so very long.

Basically it comes down to the reason all those calls from “Microsoft” and “Apple” and the “extended warranty” keep ringing your phone: there’s always someone out there who will fall for it.