Kerry’s Chutzpah

Let’s remind John Kerry that his cash hoard consists of our money, given to him to beat George Bush, and that it’s his obligation to use it now to ensure a big win two weeks from now.

Since I’m one of John Kerry’s three million best friends in the entire world, he sends me email all the time. Here’s the latest mass email from “Friends of John Kerry”:

Dear Mark Kleiman:

This is it. The Republicans have circled their wagons and decided that control of the Senate is down to four states. They are going to throw every desperate, lying, misleading, dirty tactic they have left in the Republican playbook at our candidates.

It’s going to be a long two weeks. But even the Republicans know that if we win in Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, and New Jersey, then Democrats will take back the Senate. It’s that simple.

Together, we have given to or raised more than $11 million dollars for Democratic candidates and committees since the end of 2004. Every day we are spending and giving more to elect Democrats. Every day. But we can’t stop now.

In two weeks, Election Day will be here. But to win, we need to make a final push starting right now.

The cash that candidates have on hand by this Friday will determine how large their final media buys can be. And these four Senate races are so close that the size of Friday’s media buys may be the difference between victory and defeat.

Will you join us in lending your immediate support to four must-win Senate candidates?

Well, if your friends won’t tell you the truth about yourself, who will? So I wrote back to the “support” email address on the Kerry website

Dear Friends of John Kerry:

Just got your email asking for contributions to the Final Four.

You’re kidding, right?

You’re sitting on $14 million, including a chunk of the $2k I contributed in 2004 that was supposed to help re-defeat George W. Bush. That $14 million is enough to elect Webb and a two dozen House candidates in second- and third-tier races. (I doubt NJ/Tenn/Missouri are going to be decided by money.) And you’re asking me to pony up even more?

Unless the Senator spends a big piece of the money we gave him to run for President two years ago to help wrap this thing up, he can count me, and no doubt thousands of others, among his former friends.

If someone knows a better email address to use, please let me know. In the meantime, I suggest that you send the same note, or one adapted to your situation and taste, today. Kerry needs to hear that he can’t sit on that hoard of money and still expect to campaign for President again.

And of course similar messages to the Hillary Clinton machine, from those who can claim (as I cannot) to be former contributors, would be even more helpful. Her obligation to give money away isn’t as obvious, since she didn’t raise it for a general election campaign for President, but her hoard is even larger.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

9 thoughts on “Kerry’s Chutzpah”

  1. Does anyone out there know if Kerry has ever accounted for why held onto that $14 million? The speculation I heard at the time — that he knew he was going to lose, and wanted to save it for his next presidential run — is so nasty I don't want to believe it.

  2. I probably don't know enough about campaigns, but I am guessing that money flows in on a continuous basis and it's not possible to know with precision in advance what will be left (or how much debt you might be in). I give Kerry a little bit of slack because he put so much of his own and his wife's resources into the mix, but I am with others in thinking that he should be more generous now. It's put up or shut up time.

  3. Why is Kerry not permitted to save his money for his next presidential run? Why is he supposed to undercut his chances in '08 by giving his money away now? Why should that be expected of Hilary Clinton either? If a candidate is insufficiently viable to raise enough money for his or her own campaign on their own, why are Kerry and Clinton and others with presidential aspirations expected to bail them out? I don't understand why we should be weakening the chances of our Democratic presidential candidates during this midterm election when Republicans are not giving their money away.

  4. > Why is Kerry not permitted to save
    > his money for his next presidential
    > run? Why is he supposed to undercut
    > his chances in '08 by giving his
    > money away now?
    Becuase I didn't take money out of my children's college fund and send it to be squirrled away for the Kerry 08 Campaign: I sent it to be used to _win_ the 2004 election. I didn't much care for Kerry but after the primaries I swallowed my concern, put on a happy face, sent in more money than my family could afford, and we worked our butts off for him. At which point he turned away under fire.
    My favorite was the e-mail appeal for more donations the day after Election Day, when it was clear to me that Kerry had already made the decision to give up in Ohio.
    Cranky

  5. Nancy
    It's more important for the Democrats to retake the House and Senate than the Presidency.
    The Democrats need to steal a leaf from the Republicans book on this. The Republicans spent 25 years after 1964 building a strong legislative organisation.
    The House and Senate are much more persistent– most incumbents keep their seats, and party changes tend to take place at retirements– hence the persistence of Southern Democrats and Northeastern Republicans. The power of incumbency has grown enormously, its very hard to overturn an incumbent except at 'break point' years like 1974, 1994 and ???2006? where there is a proximate issue (Watergate, various Democrat scandals like the S&Ls, Iraq). And they have enormous power to influence policy and legislation in the long term.
    Typically the Party in power in the White House loses seats in the legislative.
    Presidents are powerful for only a short time– typically the first term, and only occasionally the second term (second terms tend to be disastrous– think Watergate, think LBJ in Vietnam (or JFK in Vietnam if he had gotten there), Truman in Korea, FDR and the Supreme Court, Reagan and Iran-Contra, GWB and Social Security and now Iraq).
    Congress is powerful forever. Presidents propose, but Congress disposes.
    The only greater prize than the Congress is the Supreme Court. And history shows it tends to bend with the wind of popular current and historical inevitability (thinking Roe v. Wade or the reintroduction of the Death Penalty but obviously not Dredd Scott!).
    I would add a strong Democratic Party in the state houses is just as important because that controls districting.

  6. I would add that hanging on to money for your own personal elective goals at the expense of helping advance the principles of your party in a co-equal branch of government is too transparently egotistical even for a presidential candidate.

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