Obama to spread the Philly street money around.

Funny how that works out, though: both Ed Morrissey and I gave the campaign props for refusing to play the money game in Philly.

“We’ve heard directly from the Obama organizer who organizes our ward, and he told us it’s an entirely volunteer organization and that I should not expect to see anything from the Obama campaign other than ads on TV and the support that volunteers are giving us,” said Greg Paulmier, a ward leader in the northwest part of the city.

Neither the Clinton nor the Obama campaign would say publicly whether it would comply with Philadelphia’s street money customs. But an Obama aide said Thursday that it had never been the campaign’s practice to make such payments. Rather, the campaign’s focus is to recruit new people drawn to Obama’s message, the aide said.

The field operation “hasn’t been about tapping long-standing political machinery,” the aide said.

That was then. Guess what? “Now” is a completely different world.

Obama to pony up street money in November By CATHERINE LUCEY

REST ASSURED, Philadelphia. Come Election Day, there will be street money.

According to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the local Democratic Party chairman, Sen. Barack Obama’s general-election presidential campaign in Philadelphia will be run different from his primary operation, which relied more on volunteers than on Democratic ward leaders and did not provide street money on Election Day.

The article gives the electoral math, which is brutally simple. Obama must win Pennsylvania: to win Pennsylvania he needs to win Philadelphia by about half a million votes{*}; to win Philadelphia he needs the Philly Democratic machine; and the Philly Democratic machine will be needing that money now. A lot of money, actually – it reinforces the lesson. I’m impressed that it only took one, in fact: usually Obama needs a little more time before he’ll abandon a moral principle. I suppose that someone drew little diagrams this time.

It’s a shame, really. I’m not really enamored of this system: I recognize that it gives street-level operatives an incentive and some welcome cash for elections, but when you throw money like this around some of it’s going to stick in the wrong people’s pockets. Even garden-variety corruption isn’t really all that good for the Republic, and it would have been nice to see it start being squelched. That would have required the intervention of a truly inspiring candidate who would have been sufficiently eloquent, charismatic, and compelling to gently but firmly propel the Philly Democratic machine into doing the right thing, whether or not it was in their best short-term interest. In other words, a leader.

Instead, the Democrats seem prone to nominate Barack Obama, who merely plays one on TV.

Moe Lane

{*}This is why. He’s not really likely to count on the same support as Kerry or Gore from all those bitter, clingy counties.