Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fundraising is a political skill, too

Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg argues that President Obama's supposedly formidable political skills are something of a myth:
Last year, President Barack Obama issued a warning to Republicans. They had been “politicking” instead of “governing,” he said. “Well, we can politick for three months,” he said. “They forgot I’m pretty good at politicking.” 
That was in August 2010. At the end of those three months, Republicans controlled the most seats in the U.S. House since the 1940s. Republicans did well for a lot of reasons. One of them was that the president is wrong: He isn’t all that good at politics.
To back up his claim, Ponnuru looks at Obama's history in political contests, noting that he's never really had to go looking for votes, outside of the people that would generally support him or oppose his opponent. And he has a fair point: Obama won a Presidential race that was always the Democrats to lose. And his Senate race was against some seriously weak competition. Seriously weak. And in the Oval Office, Obama made himself the center issue of a 2010 election season that saw some of the biggest losses in the history of his Party.

That's not--at first glance--a very impressive resume for someone often supposed to be a consummate politician. And interestingly enough, it parallels Obama's supposedly awesome oratory skills, which Ponnuru addresses, as well:
Even his most vaunted gift, that of oratory, has done him little good as president. He gave speech after speech about health care, including an address to a joint session of Congress. None of it made the public like the Democrats’ health- care plan more.
The praise for Obama's oratory prowess is indeed puzzling, since he's been something of a failure in swaying public opinion and has displayed quite mediocre skills when TOTUS is unavailable.

All that said, Obama raised a god-awful amount of cash for the 2008 Election, some 744 million dollars. And for 2012, it looks likely that Obama will easily eclipse that total. Granted, he does more fundraising events than even Bill Clinton, but he likely knows that he'll need the jingle.

And make no mistake: fundraising is a political skill, and not always an easy one to learn. Obama has it down pat.

Cheers, all.

No comments:

Post a Comment