January 21, 2008

When looking ahead to November, one of the advantages Democrats enjoy over Republicans is financial — for the first time in modern political history, Dems are raising quite a bit more money than Republicans. The DCCC, for example, already has $31 million on hand for the cycle, while the NRCC has less than $3 million.

Great news, right? Well, yes, except “independent” right-wing entities are going to pick up the slack — and then some. Out in front will be our old friends at Freedom’s Watch.

When a group of former White House aides formed a political advocacy group called Freedom’s Watch last summer, its initial wave of ads featured battered Iraq war veterans pleading for support for President Bush’s “surge” of troops.

Last month, the theme changed dramatically as the same group splashed dark, grainy images of illegal immigrants across television screens in northern Ohio, attacking a Democratic candidate’s position on the divisive domestic issue.

Freedom’s Watch has loudly announced that there will be no limits to what it might do…. While initial reports suggested a budget of $200 million, people who have talked to the group in recent weeks say the figure is closer to $250 million, more than double the amount spent by the largest independent liberal groups in the 2004 election cycle.

The “no limits” phrase probably wasn’t intended this way, but it has two meanings. First, with a quarter-billion dollars, Freedom’s Watch will be able to do what it pleases. Second, driven by contemporary Republican norms, the range of Freedom’s Watch attacks with know “no limits,” because they’re unlikely to be concerned about pesky details (like decency and accuracy).

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