Ceci n'est pas une movement


Part MMCIV in an ongoing series on stupid distractions that Republicans think will save them from humiliating defeat

After Barack Obama finished the primaries with more delegates than Hillary Clinton, some media-savvy (and fat-walleted) Clinton supporters went off the deep end and created revanchist blogs and PACs aimed at installing Clinton at the Democratic convention. The catchall name for these groups was PUMA, short for "Party Unity My Ass," and a PUMA PAC and PUMA.com were launched in mid-June to steer the movement.

It was hard to tell, at first, how much pull these people had. Their every move draws media coverage; they've got a YouTube channel collecting all of their cable news appearances. As Robert Stacy McCain reports, they've announced an August conference in D.C. (with the caveat that they'll cancel it if fewer than 250 people register).

But the first evidence of their power has trickled in, and it's… yeah, it's pathetic. PUMA PAC (its acronym changed to "People United Means Action") has released its first FEC filing, which shows it raised $22,840 in the month of June. Of course, most of the PUMAs' effort is geared not toward funding a new PAC, but toward relieving Hillary Clinton's debt so she can triumphantly seize the Democratic nomination in Denver. How's that going?

On Sunday, Clinton reported having a $25.2 million debt at the end of June, including her own $13.2 million loan to the campaign… Clinton, who suspended her campaign on June 7, reported raising $2.7 million from donors during the month.

That doesn't jibe with what PUMAs have been saying. On July 10, PUMA founder Will Bower appeared on Fox News to announce that the group had raised $10 million to pay off Clinton's debts.

We at JustSayNoDeal.com, we started an initiative before the Fourth of July to raise money to put down her debt. And within that week leading up to the Fourth of July we raised approximately $10 million. Our most conservative estimates have it at six million but we're looking more at $10 million. Our sources tell us that the debt is now less than $5 million from being in the black… we believe that by this weekend that Hillary's debt will be finished.

Is it possible that Bower et al raised 400 percent as much as Clinton raised in June? It's hard to believe, since Bower had no idea of how much debt Clinton was carrying—she would have had to raise $20 million in 10 days to run it down to $5 million. And it doesn't help Bower's case that traffic to JustSayNoDeal.com actually declined during this week of frenzied fundraising. Yes, he claims that the hub site is one of 230 sites serving "2.5 million people." But if Clinton raised $2.7 million in June, what were all of those people doing? Did they all chip in $1.01? (The fundraising link at JustSayNoDeal goes straight to HillaryClinton.com.)

Is there any way of gauging how many PUMAs there are? Well, on June 14 Bower created a Facebook group for them. In a month and a week it's grown to 456 members. Is it so small because Clinton's salt-of-the-earth supporters don't waste their time online? Well, no. The still-active Hillary Clinton for President group has more than 22,000 members, although it's shedding dozens of them every day.

Are the PUMAs lying about their support, their numbers, or their fundraising just to get attention? We won't know for sure until July's fundraising numbers come out, as they can prove or disprove Bower's Fox News claims. Bower, in another interview where he made the "$10 million" claim, said that PUMAs give in increments of $20.08 so "they know it's from us." Anyone want to bet that 50,000 Clinton donors materialized in a week in early July? A long holiday week, no less? If you do, I've got an account at IndyMac I want to sell you.

In other stupid Obama news, a few bloggers revisited the issue of whether Obama forged his own birth certificate, based on a study by an expert who goes by the handle "TechDude." AJ Strata leaves them crawling around on the floor, looking for their teeth.