As I’ve said, I’m a bit skeptical of some of these “Clinton campaign is full of screwups” stories. An election is a tough, zero-sum competition and you can do the overwhelming majority of things right and still lose. In other words, I have a lot of sympathy for what Jim Jordan says at the end of this article on people second-guessing the Clinton campaign’s spending decisions:
“Obviously, some campaigns are more careful and wise with their money than others,” Jim Jordan, a Democratic consultant who ran John Kerry’s presidential campaign until November 2003. “But these budgetary post-mortems tend to follow a familiar pattern; winners are by definition smart, and losers are dumb and wasteful. In truth, campaign budgeting is hard and complicated and three-dimensional and just impossible to understand without the full time-and-place context of the whole race.”
That said, some of this stuff simply isn’t a question of mistakes or not mistakes:
Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. [...] The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.
That just sounds like self-dealing by the people running the campaign. Obviously, once the money’s been handed over to them, they’re allowed to spend it however they see fit. But if you’re a working person thinking of sending $50 or $150 over to her campaign, you’ve got to wonder if that’s just going to wind up going to rooms at the Four Seasons or as part of some kind of million dollar payday for Mark Penn.