"In a campaign of surprises," writes Daniel Henninger in a recent Wall Street Journal column, "none has been more breathtaking than the falling away of Clinton supporters, loyalists [and] friends. Why?"
The answer, of course -- after all, this is the WSJ -- is "Money."
Henninger explains. "Once Barack proved conclusively that he could raise big-time cash, the Clintons' strongest tie to their machine began to unravel."
Not the clearest writer, what he seems to mean is that big-money Democrats no longer feel compelled to donate large sums to the Clintons. That's because Obama has found a way to draw money for the Democrats without bleeding them dry. "It is hard to overstate how fatigued Democratic donors in Manhattan and L.A. got during the Clinton presidency to have Bill and Hillary fly in, repeatedly, to sweep checking accounts."
Henninger continues: "Bill's 60th birthday gala (tickets $60,000 to 500K) was a Clinton fund-raiser." Also: "The Lincoln Bedroom rental was cheesy." It's one thing to give at the office. But Clinton got donors to give to the office.
Then there are elements of the Clinton donor base, which Henninger calls "something else." To wit: "The 1996 John Huang-Lippo-China fund-raising scandal pushed Clinton contributors toward a milieu most didn't need in their lives." Then, "Hillary's 2007 Norman Hsu fund-raising scandal was an unsettling rerun of what the donor base could expect from another Clinton presidency."
"Barack Obama's Web-based fund-raising apparatus," in contrast, is "respectable." When "Obama proved he could perform this most basic function in politics," without constantly hitting them up or soliciting from corrupt types, it was a "get-out-of-jail-free card for many Democrats."
Jail in this case meant being held hostage by the Clintons. You can imagine what life has been like for big-money Democrats. . .
"Oh, no, here they come again. Turns off the lights and draw the curtains."
"No more answering the phone without checking caller I.D. first. I don't care if he is a former president."
"You know how it is, Bill. My damn hedge fund was overweighted in mortgage-backed securities."
"Why can't they work the Internet like Obama? Are they too proud to take $25 donations?"
"Sorry, Chelsea. Didn't get your email. Must have got caught in the Spam filter." (Yeah, they've got the former first daughter in on the act. "Why? Why?" she pleaded over the phone to a superdelegate who'd switched from her mother to Obama.)
"Thanks to you, Hillary, I've got earmarks coming out of my ears. Any more pork and I'll puke." (See "The Queen of Pork" by Matt Taibbi in the recent Rolling Stone.)