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Breaking Records with Obama

Sometimes it’s hard to be a cynic.

For years we’ve watched Democrats roll over for their GOP Daddies, cowed into jumping through Republican hoops and frames, either unable or unwilling to go out, grab the populace by the shirt and say, “Follow me!” This lack of spine and, more importantly, ability to be proactive has kept Democratic support uninspired and, therefore, manageable by the GOP. Democrats insist on playing by Republican rules, tempering their actions based on what mean things might be said about them on the teevee. After a while, one gets comfortable with Democratic impotence, like an old pair of slippers that you don’t particularly like, but at least they’re broken in. Democrats are expected to run a certain kind of campaign in certain states and to appeal only to certain types of people. Thinking outside the box might get them accused of being “socialist” or “anti-American,” so more often than not, Democrats come across as Republican Lite, despite evidence that the country is further to the left than Congress on most issues. That Democrats suck less than Republicans is the only thing that keeps them in business. But they do suck, and we’ve gotten used to that.

So, just when my inner cynic starts to raise a ruckus about the potential for Dems to still come up short in a year the Republican brand is as popular colon cancer, Barack Obama goes and breaks a couple of records that make even my jaded jaw scrape the carpet. Like raising $150 million in September [thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com].

To echo Joe Biden, let me repeat that: $150,000,000. One Hundred and Fifty Million Dollars. Ciento y cincuenta millones de dolares. Take the largest monthly fundraising total Obama has had to date – $66 million in August – then double it. Then add several million more. McCain is, naturally, suggesting there’s some scandal afoot, or could be, with all that money coming in. Not that his argument makes any sense. Given McCain’s own gaming of the system he helped create, asking Obama to remain in public financing was like asking him to fight with one hand tied behind his back. With the multitudes of small donors outweighing the large money bundlers, Obama is running the kind of fundraising operation that campaign finance reform was meant to encourage. He’s less beholden to a smaller number of big donors – and therefore less likely to have to do any favors for contributions – because he’s got gobs of cash rolling in from huge numbers of small donors. A corporation or PAC dangling a big check can’t expect a pro quo from someone who can get the quid from hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Speaking of which, there’s that other personal best Obama outdid this weekend when he had a few friends get together in St. Louis, MO.

Police put the crowd estimate at 100,000 people listening to Obama speak on Saturday from under the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi, in the shadow of the courthouse where, in 1857, Dred Scott was told a black man had no rights. A more intimate gathering in Kansas City later that evening had 75,000 people.

No one has to tell me it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. I don’t need to be reminded about Republican efforts to purge millions of people from voter rolls, or the backlash of generational racism, or the desperation of the McCain campaign’s tactics going into the last two weeks. Republicans are on the hunt, and they may well capture their prey.

But $150,000,000? 100,000 people?

Like Sheriff Brody told Cap’n Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

– Michael Turner