|Photograph by Jonathan Sprague|
History has a way of prizing timeless qualities like vision and oratory above temporal things like money. So if Barack Obama becomes our nation’s first black president, civics textbooks will probably never note his fund-raising prowess or the financial challenges he had to overcome simply to compete with the likes of Hillary Clinton. But Obama would not be where he is today if he did not possess a preternatural ability to elicit huge sums. Obama prompts an impulse in people to reach for historical antecedents when describing him—as a speaker, Martin Luther King Jr.; as an inspiration to young voters, Robert F. Kennedy. No one I’m aware of has suggested an apt comparison for Obama, the mighty fund-raiser. But whenever I think about the quarter billion dollars he has raised so far, the image that leaps to mind is Scrooge McDuck diving joyously into his piles of gold.
How would Obama's success in online campaigning translate into governing? By Marc Ambinder
The story of Obama’s success is very much a story about money. It provided his initial credibility. It paid for his impressive campaign operation. It allowed him first to compete with, and then to overwhelm, the most powerful Democratic family in a generation—one that understood the power of money in politics and commanded a network of wealthy donors that has financed the Democratic Party for years.
What’s intriguing to Democrats and worrisome to Republicans is how someone lacking these deep connections to traditional sources of wealth could raise so much money so quickly. How did he do it? The answer is that he built a fund-raising machine quite unlike anything seen before in national politics. Obama’s machine attracts large and small donors alike, those who want to give money and those who want to raise it, veteran activists and first-time contributors, and—especially—anyone who is wired to anything: computer, cell phone, PDA.