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Susan Estrich
12 Feb 2016
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10 Feb 2016
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5 Feb 2016
Donald Trump: Sore Loser

It was the shortest speech anyone can remember him giving. He was clearly in a state of disbelief. How could … Read More.

Enough Mother's Milk


There was something ironic about the latest headlines detailing President Barack Obama's record fundraising success. His gigantic haul in September — some $181 million — was a big step up from the record pace set by both campaigns in August, when the president and his "affiliates" took in $114 million while Gov. Mitt Romney and his affiliate team took in $111 million.

If those numbers don't get your attention, consider this: As of August, Obama's fundraising total was $742 million, and Romney's was $638 million. Of course, that doesn't count the Super-Duper PACs, which, thanks to the Supreme Court, are raising and spending untold hundreds of millions — and in many cases without even disclosing their donors. Another loophole.

To be sure, for some of those ponying up the big bucks, it's a drop in the bucket, not only because they are really that rich — call it the .001 percent — but also because, from a business point of view, the next administration will be making many billions of dollars worth of decisions on everything from tax policy to loophole closing to trade to environmental regulation. Investing in campaigns, more than one big-shot businessperson has told me over the years, just makes sense. The return on investment if you win (and you always win if you bet both sides, as many do) in terms of access to decision-makers alone is a huge multiple over the dollar investment.

But here's the funny part: Even as Obama once again clogs up traffic in my hometown of Los Angeles, where the dominant sound, if not helicopters overhead, is the suction-like noise of a vacuum cleaner inhaling money from here to spend somewhere else, all the fundraising seems to have little to do with what's happening in the race right now.

Obama may be raising money hand over fist, but he's struggling because he did just that for 90 minutes. Whether or not Romney bests him this month (he probably won't) or GOP Super PACs do (they probably will), it is the first debate that is driving the numbers that matter. And what seems to have slowed Romney's momentum since the first debate is not Obama's ads, but the other number: the drop below 8 percent in unemployment.

Of course money matters, in politics as in life. Having none, or nowhere near enough, can be or feel deadly. At the same time, in politics as in life, having enough, even having way more than enough, is no guarantee of success or happiness.

The race for cash in politics continues to wreck the system in all kinds of ways. It drives decent people who don't want to spend their lives cozying up to rich people and lobbyists into other lines of work. I remember deciding decades ago, when I moved out of the district I grew up in (and had returned to thinking I might run), that I just couldn't see myself spending the rest of my life asking people to give me money. I loved policy. I have always been happy to raise money for good causes. But for me? A life of pretending a bad idea is a good idea because of the size of someone's wallet? A life in which "friends" and "funders" are — of necessity, not choice — one and the same? Nah. Money distorts the debate about important ideas because access is influence, and as Bob Dole once famously remarked, there are no PACs for poor kids.

What money definitely buys are television advertisements, almost all of which are negative. We who live in California may pay the price of the system in the never-ending traffic jams caused by candidates who come calling. But being a true-blue state (if a Democrat can't win California, he simply isn't going to win, period), we are spared most of the political ads that drive our fellow citizens in states like Ohio and Florida to make more visits to the kitchen than might be good for their waistlines.

Even so, I try to collect the ads for my students to watch each week, and what surprises me most — and this is on a bipartisan basis — is how unerringly forgettable they are. We have an informal competition going for the best political ad of the season, and so far, all we have are losers. To think of all the handshakes and traffic jams and filet mignon dinners that went into making such blather. Is anyone really persuaded by any of it?

Money may be the mother's milk of politics, but sometimes, enough is enough.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



17 Comments | Post Comment
Money may be the mother's milk of politics but votes are the steak and potatoes. Each of us has only one vote. It is just a matter of going to the polls and making that vote count.
Many years ago when I was in college I had a date with a beautiful girl and we stopped by a college bar for their famous open-faced steak sandwich. The place was closed tighter than a drum because it was election day. (An Off-year) My friend was not registered to vote but I was and she suggested that we go over to the polling place so that I could vote. I told her that I only knew one person on the ballot and I went in and cast just one vote for him and no one else. We went back to the restaurant and waited til it opened. The nextr moring, I woke up to discover that the young man I voted for had deadlocked with his opponent. A flat out tie. Two weeks later they went down to the courthouse and drew pills from a billiard bottle. The guy I voted for won and served for 12 years after being re-elcted twice more before he reitred from politics. I have never forgotten how important that one vote of mine was. If I had not gone and voted he never would have won and probably never have run again. Never underestimate the power of your vote.
Comment: #1
Posted by: robert lipka
Tue Oct 9, 2012 4:24 PM
This is a topic that hardcore reps and dems steer clear of because they are both big time losers when it comes to being beholden to corperate interests and lobbying groups. Any candidate that takes hundreds of millions of dollars from corperations, unions, and special interest groups will NEVER do whats best for the people. This is a topic where 3rd party candidates SHINE. You won't hear this brought up in the debates or much within the lamestream media. So CU ruffled a few feathers amounst us slaves. What can we do about it? Nothing. The justices aren't playing nice re re-election, cause they are in for life. A true shut-up slave ruling.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Oct 9, 2012 6:02 PM
Re: robert lipka
The citizen generally casts 1 vote unless it is a Democrat or a member of ACORN or SEIU or other leftist trash in which case the mantra is vote early and vote often, vote if you are dead, vote if you are illegal, vort if you are a felon, it matters little just vote Democrat, just vote obama whether entitled to or not.
Voter fraud on a massive scale is coming, It is the Chicago thug way.
As to Estrich's take on campaign money, see that barry boy is at it again, soliciting and receiving numerous illicit untraceable sums from abroad particularly from Korea and China and all under $200 making them free from reporting requirements. Its the gansta way again.
Comment: #3
Posted by: joseph wright
Tue Oct 9, 2012 6:33 PM
Re: robert lipka
In a prevoius post Lipka described barry boy's foreign policy as "flawless". LOL !
The truth has now emerged. After a weeks of knowingly lying directly to the people of this Republic about a movie causing the attacks on our embassy in Libya and throughout the middle east, of directly lying about a movie causing the murder of our Ambassador and three other gallant Americans, of directly lying about Al Qaeda being depleted and out of business, the foreign policy liar in chief obama has been found out.
The State Department has spilled the beans. The intelligence services have spilled the beans. Even CBS has spilled the beans.
It was never about the movie and the liar obama knew it all along. It was the obama blame America first and always routine.
Why did he lie? Easy, the real story did not sit well with the other big lie, to wit, that barry boy's foreign policy was working,that democracy is flourishing in the Middle East, that al Quaeda was on the run, that the Taliban was defeated, that Islamist terror was being defeated.
All utter and complete BS.
Al quaeda is on the move again, it is rising rapidly as is the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood, and all due to the "weakness" and apeasement of the islam panderer in chief. Barry boy knew he was going to let that happen when he reluctantly threw his brother in hatred for America, Osama under the bus all for the "cause". He is letting Iran become nuclear, for Gods sake!
But perhaps this is what the "ememy within" desired all along. A Middle East, and North Africa dominated by Islamists, dominated by those that would destroy Isreal and all Americans.
This coupled with barry boy's fixing of the job numbers, with his lies about fund raising, with his lies about his mother and her insurance problems, his lies about obamcare not being a tax, his lies about keeping your own insurance and doctor, his lies about not taxing the middle class, his lies about domestic energy production increasing under his watch, his lies about the deficit spending all lead one to a single objective conclusion.
Namely that obama is a serial and pathological liar, for whom truth is a stranger and who cannot be trusted, not for a second.
The facts are out and they are clear that barry, Hillary, Carney, Rice, the media et al are all lying coniving dishonest deceiving ........................
Comment: #4
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:19 AM
Re: "...drop below 8 percent in unemployment." How soon do we find out that "oops" we made a mistake in the numbers for the umpteenth month in a row and unemployment didn't really drop?
Comment: #5
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:53 AM
Whoever believes this new job number is clearly an idiot. If you look more closely at the number of jobs created, jobs lost, and new people in the workforce, its easy to see that these numbers are cooked. This is the last real unemployment report before the election and the people that cook them up are working for Obama. They probably just thought "hey lets just make this up and maybe some people will believe it". Not many took the bait.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:07 AM
obama, clinton, rice, carney, mathews, lib media LIARS ! LIARS ! AMERICAN EMBASSIES ON FIRE!!!
Comment: #7
Posted by: joseph wright
Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:55 AM
If you want money out of politics, you have to take money away from the politicians to spend. Right now, they are spending like drunken sailors. A good solution would be to cap absolute government expenditures for 5 years at this year's levels. No built-in "base-line" increases. No cost-of-living increases.Make the Congress and Executive do their jobs and live with what we've given them for a while.
Susan, if you believe in yourself, then you shouldn't be afraid to ask others to believe in you and support you.
Comment: #8
Posted by: pb1222
Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:01 AM
Only one party is conducting a massive conspiracy to disenfranchise voters in many states with the new Voter ID laws which are CLEARLY designed to stop many poor people from voting. This party knows that they will never win over these people based on the issues of the day. They know that poor people cannot afford to travel many hundreds of miles (as in Texas) or even to go many miles to get Photo IDs without producing two forms of Identification, Etc. to get them. they think it is a joke to get people off the voter rolls. There are tactics straight out of the 1870s and Jim Crow South when poll taxes and bogus IQ tests were required for people to vote. Only the poor or the Blacks had to take the IQ tests and they always included questions that even Einstein could not have answered.
It was such an issue back in those days that Mark Twain wrote a short story about voting entitled THE CURIOUS STATE OF GONDOUR which is very relevant today. In it, Twain makes fun in a rather mean-spirited way of those who would call their peers Idiots or other such inflammatory names and who want to protect THEIR right to vote or even enhance it in an attempt to force THEIR particular political bent on that now disenfranchised class. That is not democracy, and anyone who advocates the disenfranchisment of another is not a believer in democracy....Read Twain's story. It is on-line and just a couple of pages, but it has profound meaning.
Comment: #9
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:03 PM
You've done this same song and dance before Robert. Romney was clearly winning on the issues in the debate. And we'll see tomorrow if ol man Biden has the issues on his side. Now that the O-team has been challenged in these debates instead of coddled by the lamestream media, its become apparent that the facts are all against them.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:48 PM
Re: robert lipka

Said another way, the truthful way, Lipka while disengenuously upholding a legitimate right to vote ( a right which is not being denied in any way by voter laws) is nevertheless content and indeed happy to aid libs, dems, progressives, union thugs and such other leftist trash commit voter fraud on a massive scale and thereby actually and in the real world disenfranchise legitimate honest voters.

Comment: #11
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:41 AM
Interesting how this article about campaign fundraising has developed a comments section about voter ID laws. There are very few cases where you could actually prove and procecute voter fraud, but fraud is like jaywalking. You're not going to catch nearly everyone who does it, and it happens all the time.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:00 AM
Re: Chris McCoy

Not just happens all the time it is the Democratic Party standard operating procedure assisted by ACORN, SEIU, et al. It is no coincidence that libs and dems are the only entities that will require identification for all manner of transactions but not to vote.

That is fact that has been proven time and again.
Comment: #13
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:00 AM
I just finished sending off an e-mail to my Congressman asking him how he voted on each of the last two security funding requests by the State Department. For those who are not aware, The Obama administration asked for additional funding for security for our embassies and consulates around the world not once but twice in the last two years but BOTH times the REPUBLICAN controlld House voted not only to deny that funding but to cut that secrity funding by millions of dollars. When and if, my Congressman replies to my e-mail about his votes I will share it with you. I am sure it will be an eye-opener. I also asked John Boehner and Darryl Issa to email me as to how THEY voted on the State Department security funding bills. I also emailed Congressman Paul Ryan and asked him how he voted on the embassy security funding bills. I suggest that any of you who are interested whould also e-mail your Congreeman or woman and ask the same simple question. Four Americans are dead because this funding was not only denied but cut back because it was deemed to be adding to the deficit. That blood is on the hands of EVERY Congressmen who voted to reduce that security funding and I dont care if they were Democrats or Republicans. They share in the blame for what happened in Libya.
Comment: #14
Posted by: robert lipka
Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:23 AM
Robert, your efforts are in vein. You are addressing the symptoms and not the problem. We can beef up security and it will not make a difference until we figure out WHY people want to bomb our embassies. Our foreign intervention is at an all time high, and so is extremism. These things are related. Intervening in other countries, making threats, and droning innocent people are what create terrorists and we sure have been making a lot of them. If we stop the foreign meddeling and focus on the myraid of problems we have back home, we take away peoples reasons to hate this country. The regimes we arm today will be our enemies tomorrow. Its happened so many times before yet we keep making the same bad choices. Instead of adding bills to spend more money to beef up security, try asking your congressman to support a non-intervention policy and spend the money here at home.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:09 AM
Re: robert lipka
The dumbass, blame America first Lipka was seemingly not listening to the hearings yesterday when it was revealed clearly by the otherwise disgusting crapweasels of the State Department that Congressional funding was absolutely not an issue in the lack of security provided for those who were savagely murdered by Islamist terrorist scum.

Like the good unthinking foot soldier for barry boy that he is, Lipka, like barry boy, is clearly hell bent, in continuing to blame America first, just as he did in one of his previous posts when he posited that the American maker of the "video" which has now been proven to have had nothing to do with the attacks, was complicit in said murders and ought to be tried as an accessory.

Lipka and his ilk probably approved of barry's appeasment of murderous Islamic scum by barry boy's advertizing around the Islamic world apologizing for America and denigrating the First Amendment and approved of his lies at the UN..

What hs been absolutely and conspicuously absent in any of Lipka's posts is any comment by upon the actual multiple lies and multiple deliberate deceptions purpetrated upon America by the lying liar obama, all designed to cover up the big lie of his foreign policy mega failure.

After the first presidential debate, in which barry boy was trounced and shown up for the dimwit he really is, Lipka was quick to pronounce Governor Romney a liar, based on a now proven lie by obama as told by him in that debate, but will not so much as broach the outright lies of obama and clinton about the brutal murder of Americans.

Lipkas's rabid anti Americanism is revealed more and more with each blunder by barry boy and by each post Lipka makes.

While on the dubious topic of funding of security coupled with the saving of the car industry ( a favorite of Lipka's and incidentally which for Lipka's benefit, since he is clearly unaware of the fact, was set in motion by President Bush) it now comes out that obama was content to buy Chevy volts and content to construct a charging station for the Embassy in Norway rather than protect our embassy in Libya and rather than protect the Americans who lost their lives.

Seems that propping up Chevrolet's dud volt is more important to barry boy than national security and more important to barry boy than the life of an American Ambassador or the lives of his fellow Americans . No surprise there.
Comment: #16
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Oct 11, 2012 2:39 PM
Back to the original issue of money in politics...

Big money is spent in politics because activist government wields great power. That great power, when used, can either provide an individual with a new avenue to make a great deal of money, or it can destroy or hobble an individuals business (Even though they may not have really built that...).

ObamaCare is a prime example. The government took it upon itself to reorganize how about 15% of the economy is run. Does anyone think the potential winners and losers in such a great game are not going to defend themselves and their interests? In a Democracy, this means getting your candidates elected so the outcome is the what you want (Or can at least tolerate). Getting elected takes lots and lots of money in this age of high salaries and electronic advertisement. If you don't compete in that fashion, you will lose no matter how good your message is.

If the government were not so activist, this money would just dry up. I suspect that if a 10 year moratorium on new regulations could be put in place, you would see the amount of political money crash for about nine years. Why would anyone spend the dollars to no effect?

Simply put, if you simultaneously want a robust, activist government and a democracy, you have to accept that big money will be part of it. That is at least if you are going to respect the intent of the Bill of Rights regarding free speech and the ability of citizens to petition the government for a redress of grievances. If you throw that out (as Progressives often appear to want to do with campaign finance laws), you no longer have a democracy.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Old Navy
Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:31 AM
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