Politico is up today– running in the lede position– with a couple of stories I wonder about; if perhaps they begin to show increasing Democrat desperation. The first describes the President’s new-found appreciation for the White House Press Corps. Mr. Obama has been (Gasp!) taking questions from the floor. Not many, 2 or 3 per appearance, and that only once a week. Why this is notable is the President never did that before. He’d go on “Between Two Ferns,” he’d do one-on-ones with favored reporters, but take questions from the peanut gallery? No, not hardly.
“Presidents cannot control the climate in a big formal news conference, the way he can dominate in a one-on-one interview with a reporter,” Compton [Ann Compton, ABC Radio News White House Correspondent] said. “It appears President Obama is willing to take a handful of short questions when there is real news breaking and, so far, seems to have gotten solid news-based questions, not weird off-the-wall or ‘Why are you failing at everything?’ questions.”
There has to be something significant in that. Part of it, undoubtedly, is the replacement of Carney by Earnest. But part of it also appears, to my eyes, to be awareness of the deleterious effect the President’s sagging approval numbers are likely to have on Democrat electoral results come November, and an attempt to do something about them. This administration likes to bill themselves as the most transparent in history, and appears to think releasing the WH guest list– redacted, of course– occasionally qualifies them. But this meme is hard to sustain when they are also the administration who has prosecuted the most whistle blowers in history; when they are in court, by my count, no less than three times to keep from releasing information to Congress for oversight purposes; and when the President never appears in public without a teleprompter.
The second story is about the Republican State Leadership Committee allegedly being caught in fundraising shenanigans down Alabama way. The general story is the RSLC had a local Alabama pol, Mike Hubbard (presently Speaker of the Alabama House), raise “toxic” money for RSLC from a certain Alabama tribe of Native Americans, who got their money from gambling, with the proviso RSLC would spend 100% of it in Alabama. This may be a violation of an Alabama law forbidding raising political money from one person in the name of another. Maybe not, nobody’s even been charged, never mind having the case tried. Even if it is, it’s a misdemeanor, not a felony, and does not violate US campaign law at all. RLSC disclosed the donations from the tribe (two of them, totaling $550k) on their IRS reports in the approved manner back in 2010 and nobody said a word. This all comes down now because of the publication of a memo from the DC law firm BakerHostetler:
But the group’s swift ascent has not come without controversy — or lingering legal hazard. At the height of its political emergence, the RSLC was implicated in a risky campaign finance scheme that an internal report warned could trigger “possible criminal penalties” and “ultimately threaten the organization’s continued existence,” according to a confidential document POLITICO obtained from a source.
“If these events are made public, the resulting media frenzy will be a political disaster for Alabama Republicans, a disaster with which RSLC will forever be associated,” the report concluded of the alleged plot in Alabama.
Now, it is true Alabama is pretty much the buckle of the Bible belt, and gambling is held in about as much public esteem as Demon Rum. But it is also true the same tribe made direct contributions to nearly thirty pols and no such disaster occurred. It may be this is in violation of the Alabama law, but they have not been charged and it isn’t easy to see how they can be accused of hiding donations given RSLC disclosed it. And it’s not too easy to say there was 1 for 1 correspondence with the money as electoral records show RSLC spent about 130% of Alabama contributions in Alabama. Talk about your smoking gun!
RSLC explains all this by saying the lawdog memo was part of a power struggle at the top of the RSLC. It may be significant all the persons therein named are no longer associated with the organization. Oh by the way, the head honcho at RSLC when all this went down was none other than Ed Gillespie, currently Republican nominee for US Senate in Virginia, running against incumbent Mark Warner. So this might be just Politico doing their bit for campaign finance restrictions, good little lefties they are. Or, given even left wing media outlets– NYT, WaPo, Vox, you name it– are now predicting a likely R takeover of the Senate, which would drive just about the last nail in the President’s lame duckification coffin, maybe Warner’s internal polls are showing the race a bit tighter than the 17 points RCP has him up. Really, if it’s campaign related, why do something so iffy if the race isn’t pretty tight?
So, as I say, I am wondering if Democrat desperation is becoming more visible. They have a lot to be desperate about, not even counting the predictions. Real unemployment still exceeds 15%, the economy hasn’t gotten out of dead low gear despite 4+ years of “recovery,” they still can’t move the public approval needle on Obamacare, Dodd-Frank is still destroying community banks right and left, we’ve become an international laughing stock, the President doesn’t appear to care what the law might actually read, and on and on. Is any of this proof? No, not hardly. Is it a straw in the wind? Well, I think so.