It is not every election that Republicans complain that the Democrats are out to buy an election, but this is no ordinary year and Karl Rove does just that. After observing Barack Obama’s money advantage (but also the vast sums already spent by Obama), Rove observes:
Mr. Obama’s ads show he’s aware of his vulnerability on two fronts: his liberal values and his meager achievements. Yet he should be more cautious with these weaknesses. His bio ad says he was raised with “values straight from the Kansas heartland,” though he grew up in Hawaii. He claims to have passed three bills, but fails to mention that two were in the Illinois state Senate and that he didn’t vote on the third in the U.S. Senate. His new ad praises welfare reform, yet he opposed the legislation when a Republican Congress passed and President Clinton signed it.
While that is true (and it is equally true that running political ads in July may not be optimal use of Obama’s funds), it is worth observing that Obama can get away with a number of these inconsistencies and untruths because even a critical media fact checker doesn’t reach as many eyes as the original ads. Moreover, McCain doesn’t have the funds to run counter-ads pointing all this out. It is up to McCain to do more with less and use free media more effectively. So while it is true, as Rove notes, that “Cash matters, but being a good candidate and right on the issues matters even more,” people don’t always figure out on their own who is right on the issues.
More importantly, just as Republicans used to roll their eyes and the public yawned when Democrats complained that their opponents were out to “buy voters,” the complaint about an imbalance in funding isn’t likely to engender any sympathy or interest when Republicans do it. And the funding imbalance, let’s face it, also bespeaks an enthusiasm imbalance. That’s something Steve Schmidt might put on his “things to work on” list.