Walker donors thought they knew better than his staff how to run a campaign. In retrospect, they were probably right. http://t.co/348dgZIL8k
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 29, 2015
It’s like borrowing money from your in-laws — once you’ve accepted their generosity, they feel compelled to give you advice on how you’re spending “their” hard-earned cash. The NYTimes chronicles the gradual breakdown of civilities, as “Big Donors Seek Larger Roles in Presidential Campaigns“:
… In an election cycle that is already on track to break spending records, and with few limits on contributions to “super PACs” and other outside groups, big donors have never been more important. No longer satisfied with sitting on the sidelines and writing big checks, many of them are eager to play larger roles in the campaigns.
They expect their views to be heard quickly and their concerns taken seriously, sometimes creating headaches and potential awkwardness for the campaigns and super PACs, which must tend to the contributors and their seemingly endless suggestions and questions.
On one hand, the campaigns and their affiliated groups rely on the financial support and appreciate the occasional insights that come from people who have been successful in other fields.
On the other hand, they find themselves devoting more and more time to stroking donors’ egos, weighing their ideas, and soothing supporters whose panicked phone calls can be prompted by anything from an alarming Twitter post to a small stumble on a morning show.
“Donors are demanding a lot these days, man, and they want answers and they want results, and a lot of them hit the panic button a lot,” said Theresa Kostrzewa, a Republican lobbyist and donor based in North Carolina, who is supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. “This is a new day. Donors consider a contribution like, ‘Well, wait, I just invested in you. Now I need to have my say; you need to answer to me.’ ”
Referring to the maximum direct donation to a candidate that the Federal Election Commission allows, she described the sentiment as: “I gave $2,700. I’m entitled to 2,700 opinions.”…
As handling concerns from contributors has become a crucial job for campaigns and super PACs, many have devoted at least one person, in part, to donor maintenance. Austin Barbour, a senior adviser to the super PAC that supported former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, said he would regularly receive a flurry of calls from worried donors — “What’s the plan? What are you putting on TV? Why are you doing that? Why are you not saying this?”
But Mr. Barbour, who is now joining Mr. Bush’s campaign, said he was happy to field the complaints: “If they wanted to talk to me for an hour, I’d talk to them for an hour,” he said. “They were the ones who were funding what we were doing, so goodness gracious, the least thing I could do is answer whatever questions they had.”…
One might suspect that the Grey Lady was less worried about “donor input” than about the fact that, in this fallen era, every jumped-up thousandaire feels entitled to copious face time with the candidate. It used to be that an elite coterie of Serious Money Men could handle such matters with discretion, in quiet rooms. In the good old days, you just needed to tongue-bath movers and shakers like… Charles Koch, as described in this long star-struck Forbes piece:
… Q. What are your goals in this election?
A: My view of the political realm, not just now but for many decades, is that the Democrats are taking us down the road to serfdom over the cliff at 100 miles an hour and the Republicans are going around 70 miles an hour. What I want is to reverse the trajectory of this country…
Q. So will this presidential election decide anything? It doesn’t sound like you’re enthusiastic about anybody.
A. My ideal candidates would be Calvin Coolidge or a William Gladstone. I mean, you look at what they did… Look what Calvin Coolidge did. He cut government expenditures in half. Cut tax rates by two- thirds, reduced the national debt by a third and cut unemployment from 12% to 2.4%. Now the only thing I hold against him is he didn’t run again so we got Herbert Hoover, who turned a recession into a great depression with his policies.
Q. You mentioned a white knight. What about Trump?
A. Yeah, I mean, he’s… I’m not the only one person who’s frustrated with what’s going on in both parties. But I would hope there would be somebody who would capture that frustration, and what’s behind that frustration, and do what Calvin Coolidge or William Gladstone did and change the trajectory of the country. Now it’s not likely, because I’ve got to go back to Calvin Coolidge to find somebody who did that. I’ve got to go back to Gladstone in 1846…
The tragedy is that, given his access to the very best health care, this bitter old man is liable to outlive us all, doing his best to destroy the whole planet as he goes.