I don't generally put much stock in fundraising numbers this far in advance of presidential primary voting, and haven't ever since 1995. I remember, as a senior in college in the first half of that year, reading that Phil Gramm, Republican Senator of Texas, was shattering every money record on the books, and being terrified over the prospect that this rabidly evil little shit would be running the country. (Yes, I was five years early--except that Gramm's delusions might at some point have been countered by the fact that he has a working brain, unlike the little Texan shit we did eventually install.) The point is that Gramm was such a miserable human being that he'd blown through his money, and ended his candidacy in defeat, before the primaries even began. At best, you can say that money is necessary but nothing close to sufficient.
That said, there have been some interesting developments stemming from the release of the contenders' first-quarter fundraising numbers.
- Barack Obama delayed the release of his numbers because, apparently, they needed extra days to count the haul from house parties on the last day of the quarter. With that in, he evidently raised $25 million--about the same as Hillary Clinton. This reinforces my suspicion that if, as I've long held, the Democratic contest is going to come down to Hillary vs. Not-Hillary, Obama is the most viable Not-Hillary of the people currently in the race, and maybe of anyone in the party.
- John McCain's evidently disappointing total has prompted him to revise his whole fundraising apparatus. He's now wholeheartedly embracing the big-donor strategy Bush used to beat him in 2000. Campaign finance reform? Nah, never heard of it. It's not nice to say, but nothing McCain has done since about 2003 is going to serve his historical reputation very well.
- Not a money thing, but it's interesting to me that the Bush White House is praising New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's trip to North Korea as head of a bipartisan delegation trying to bring home the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War. If Richardson somehow won the Democratic nomination--and I still think he'd be, by far, the strongest general-election candidate for the Dems--his Republican opponent inevitably will try to paint his negotiations with the world's bad guys as limp-wristed appeasement. Having the support of the Bushistas for this one could blunt that attack.
- Richardson also signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. I'm telling you, this guy's the man...
- My longtime dark horse Republican contender, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, has serious money problems. He raised only about $500,000 in the first quarter. Huckabee's path to the nomination--win over social conservatives with his religious background and blameless personal life while appealing to moderates by virtue of his non-hate-addled personality--is probably blocked by the actual or potential entrance of the Two Thompsons, Fred and Tommy, who can make the same case but are better able to raise money.
- Huckabee's great sin? He raised taxes at a few points in his ten years as governor. Burn him! He's a witch!!