Conventional wisdom's a funny thing because conventional wisdom is by definition based upon the past. And in the ever-evolving world of politics in the modern world, the past is a dangerous thing to believe in. But lemmings will be lemmings and follow it our friends in D.C. will.
Today's example: the cash on hand race. Not for this year's Senate or House races but looking ahead to 2008. It works like this. Everyone inside the beltway wants to make money off of a candidate, by consulting, advising, marking up media dollars, traveling, lobbying, flying around in private planes with, you name it - they'll mark it up and make money off of it.
Ergo, who on earth would support a candidate that doesn't have any money? That would be so stupid and so naïve. It would reek of passion, emotion, involvement and desire for the best Democratic candidate to emerge and win. Can you imagine the horror?
So when the candidates, none of whom are officially running because conventional wisdom also says that you can't declare now, but have to wait till after this year's elections, filed their fundraising totals for either non-existent Senate races (Hillary Clinton) or for their PACS (John Kerry, Evan Bayh etc) the lemmings peered closely and begin to punditize about who is a serious contender and who is just seriously pretending.
Money's great. Money helps get you elected. But if you take a glance at the top ten contenders on the Democratic side, there really isn't one for whom money is the core issue. Just look at the top of the pile for proof.
If Hillary had $100 million in the bank, would it silence her critics and the opposition to her that exists within the party? Would it make her a less polarizing figure? Would her Iraq policy be any more palatable? No. In fact, the further ahead she gets in the fundraising race, the more she is seen as the favorite and the more people will continue and in fact step up their search for the anti-Hillary candidate.
Another important point to remember - Howard Dean, the former governor of one of our nation's smallest states, raised over $50 million when he ran- virtually all of it BEFORE the Iowa Primary. $50 million dollars.
Wouldn't conventional wisdom therefore also say that all top Democratic contenders all are starting from an equal or better place than Howard Dean was? So don't they all have the ability to raise that much and more? Absolutely.
In fact, the online / grassroots fundraising mechanism that drove the Dean campaign is light years ahead of where it was in 2003 - witness the $350,000 raised for Paul Hackett in two weeks in a special election last fall. Whoever emerges as the candidate of that group will raise more money than you and I can even imagine right now.
So if cash on hand doesn't matter right now, what does? Winning the House and the Senate back. I want to see CASH GIVEN AWAY FOR THE RIGHT REASONS numbers. The potential 08 candidates need to be spending that money helping candidates like Tim Dunn in North Carolina. Tim's a Fighting Democrat lawyer who has a good shot at winning the Congressional race down there. He has the passion, the intelligence, the time spent in the Marines in Iraq and the desire to win and to serve again. He needs money.
And guess what? I know a few people that have plenty to spare.