Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The Swift-Boating of Obama?

How ugly could it get as the empire crumbles?

Possibly very ugly according to Tom Edsall:
[S]ome top independent expenditure groups supporting Clinton have been exploring the creation of an anti-Obama "527 committee" that would take unlimited contributions from a few of Clinton's super-rich backers and from a handful of unions to finance television ads and direct mail designed to tarnish the Illinois Senator's image.

Three groups conducting independent expenditure campaigns in behalf of Clinton - Emily's List, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - have explored
the possibility of trying to put together a multi-million dollar effort privately dubbed the Anybody-But-Obama 527 Committee, but they have run into problems finding any Democratic operative willing to become the director of a campaign against the man who now is the odds-on favorite to become the party's nominee.

"You might make some good money in the short term, but your chances of getting any Democratic contracts in the future, especially if Obama wins, would be zilch," said one operative. "I wouldn't go there."

The effectiveness of a 527 that goes negative was demonstrated by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked John Kerry's war record in the 2004 campaign. Spokespersons for both Emily's List and the AFT both adamantly denied to the Huffington Post any involvement with plans to create an anti-Obama 527 group.

But in fact, the complexities of federal election law have made it illegal for them to be involved. The discussions about the possible creation of such a 527 committee were held among people active in the separate independent expenditure (IE) campaigns conducted by AFT, Emily's List and AFSCME. By law, there can be no communication between those working on an IE campaign and officials of the parent organization putting the cash into the campaign. Officials of AFT and Emily's list acknowledged that they have had no contact with the staff members running their IE drives.

AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee declared: "We're not about the business of swift-boating any Democratic candidate. We will not be party to any kind of effort of this type. Our campaign is about promoting Hillary Clinton - not tearing down any other candidate. Our number one priority is having the strongest Democratic candidate to take back the White House in November."

Sources familiar with the discussions about the creation of an anti-Obama 527 said that some of the Clinton campaign's major fundraisers have separately been exploring another similar proposal, but have not gotten very far yet.

"These things (527s) are not that easy to get rolling. There is a long way between talking and doing," said one source familiar with setting up 527 operations.
Federal tax law requires regular disclosure of both the donors to 527 organizations and the expenditures they make, so it is not possible for such committees to keep secret the identity of supporters and staff.

Talk about lose-lose: If a Hillary-connected 527 launches a search-and-destroy mission against Obama and tears him down enough to allow Hillary to come back, it would be the end of her. Even if she got the nomination, black voters would be so turned off, she could forget any hope of winning the election. She would then be doubly villified among Democrats -- for denying a viable black candidate the nomination and giving a winnable election to Republicans. And that's not even counting an even scarier scenario -- that an enterprising billionaire independent might approach a disgruntled Obama as a potential running mate. And, yeah, under that circumstance, it would indeed be possible for a Hillary-led ticket to finish third.

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