I posted this comment in the open thread, but felt it was important enough for a diary entry. No matter who the candidate you support, this truly affects us all. For next time, it may not be your candidate in the driver's seat. Please take a long-term perspective as you review what follows.
Here is a link to an article by Ron Brownstein in the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/2004/la-011804spending_lat,1,3242472.story?coll=la-home-headlin
The article states, in pertinent part:
just the seven days from Saturday, Jan. 10 through Friday, Jan. 16, Howard Dean spent $530,000 on television in Iowa-an astounding amount in a state so small. Indeed, Dean spent more than twice as much on television last week as he spent just the week before.
The huge final barrage pushed Dean's total television spending in the state to $3.3 million, by all indications the most any candidate has ever spent on television here.
For Dean, that translated into 8,920 total commercials aired in the four major media markets reaching Iowa that CMAG tracks. John Kerry, the next heaviest advertiser, bought only 6,045 commercials in the state.
Kerry, who has also opted out of the public finance system, spent $458,000 on television in Iowa last week, pushing his campaign-to-date total to $2.73 million. Kerry's spending last week nearly doubled his spending from the week before.
Dick Gephardt, who the other campaigns have said is strapped for cash, matched Kerry, spending $461,000 in the week before the vote-also a significant increase from the roughly $294,000 he had spent the first week of January. The final push put Gephardt's total at $2.34 million.
John Edwards, who has been rising in the polls, lagged significantly in his television investment: he spent $282,000 last week, raising his total to $1.7 million overall.
Additional spending over last weekend will swell these final totals even higher, guaranteeing that the candidates as a group establish a new record for total television spending in the state.
... According to the ad tracking, Dean spent $242,000 in just four days to air the ad he unveiled last week attacking Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards for supporting the war in Iraq; Gephardt fired back with $52,000 to air an ad attacking Dean over comments he made in the 1990s indicating support for cuts in Medicare spending.
I care little for who you may support. The money being spent is simply absurd! As I recall, the limit in Iowa was about $1.6 or $1.7 million. By opting out, ostensibly to get more money to fight Bush, spending limits in the nominating process have been destroyed. You can justify it all you like, but to me, that is a bad thing. And there will only be more of the same as the nominating process continues. We all know that when the leader spends, the followers must spend. It's a vicious cycle.
When limits are ignored, it makes it easier to spend opponents into oblivion. To me, outspending opponents does not seem the best way to win. It can prevent an otherwise superior candidate from competing further into the process. Again, I'm only talking about the nominating stage. Maybe in the next cycle there can be some true limits that keep the playing field more or less equal.
I am for public financing of all federal campaigns. That is further away than ever. It seems that this war has been lost unless we, the people, decide that we want a fairer, better way to select our candidates.