There's a piece in the Washington Post this morning--I got it via MSNBC--about Barack Obama's fundraising prowess, and the basic claim is that he's not as grassroots as he seems, at least in terms of where he's getting his cash. Okay, I'm willing to listen--he's raised a lot of money, after all, and it certainly isn't all coming from people who can barely rub two nickels together.

Here's the second paragraph in the piece:

But those with wealth and power also have played a critical role in creating Obama's record-breaking fundraising machine, and their generosity has earned them a prominent voice in shaping his campaign. Seventy-nine "bundlers," five of them billionaires, have tapped their personal networks to raise at least $200,000 each. They have helped the campaign recruit more than 27,000 donors to write checks for $2,300, the maximum allowed. Donors who have given more than $200 account for about half of Obama's total haul, which stands at nearly $240 million.
Check out the last sentence again and tell me what it's doing in this paragraph. Everything about this paragraph is about billionaires and people who are maxing out with a single check--and some, one would assume, with two checks, one for the primary and one for the general. So why fudge the numbers to make it seem like they're having an inordinate affect on Obama's fundraising?

Let's be real here--$200 over the course of a campaign that's lasted this long is nothing. If you were an early supporter and set up a recurring contribution of just $10 a month, you passed $200 a ways back. Back in 2004, that's how I wound up contributing at least twice that to Howard Dean's campaign--by giving a little here and a little there, and it quickly added up. And there's every indication that Obama has raised his money much the same way. But writers of this piece want us to think that anyone who's given over $200 is a high roller. Wonder why that is?

The claim may be accurate--I don't think it is, but I don't have the time this morning to find out, and I don't really know where to start looking--but one thing is clear: the conclusion these writers are trying to get us to draw is not one that logically follows from the proof they provide, and it makes me question the purpose of the piece. Why not give us the percentage of people who maxed out with a single donation? That's typically how bundlers work, isn't it? Or how about simply giving us the percentage of people who've maxed out overall? Or even who've given half the max? $200 is a low bar to clear, in my opinion, less than 10% of the allowed max for primary contributions--hardly enough to call someone a high roller in the party.

Buried in the piece, by the way, is the comparison any reasonable reader would expect:
The campaign maintains that its fundraising success among average Americans has lessened its reliance on big donors. Donations of less than $200 account for nearly half of Obama's contributions, compared with a third of Clinton's and a quarter of Sen. John McCain's, according to the Campaign Finance Institute. More than 1 million people have given money to Obama's campaign.
Even given that ridiculous standard, Obama still wins going away when it comes to looking at who's getting money from grassroots campaign folks. I like to give the benefit of the doubt, but this smells more and more like a hit piece to me.

Here's the Random Ten--put the iTunes on party shuffle and post the next ten songs to pop up. No skipping songs that make you feel stupid. You knew what you were doing when you downloaded "Apache" by the Sugarhill Gang. Jump on it!
1. Le Souk--Dave Brubeck
2. If You Wanna Be Happy--Jimmy Soul
3. Desperately Wanting--Better Than Ezra
4. Jesus, Etc.--Wilco
5. Lonesome Train Whistle--Reverend Horton Heat
6. Tom & Sally Drake--Taj Mahal
7. I Love L.A.--Randy Newman
8. Till I Hear It From You--Gin Blossoms (must have been hammered when I downloaded that)
9. Walkin' Boss--Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
10. Caroline--Paul Brill
So, by the above standard, have you ever been a presidential high dollar donor? And for which candidate?

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