Every so often, we get a revealing glimpse into just how important money is in our political system, and in Congress in particular. And Thursday morning, we got a particularly amusing one, when the New York Times had to run a correction because it vastly understated how much time the speaker of the House has to spend fundraising:
It's amusing to think about a world where the speaker of the House would only have to spend three weekends a year fundraising. The reality, of course, is far different. Hauling in money from wealthy donors is a key part of the job description and a constant, unceasing pressure. For instance, in the first half of this year alone, John Boehner raised a staggering $28 million for Republicans in his chamber.
Indeed, fundraising for colleagues is the quickest and most concrete way an ambitious member of Congress can build a loyal following among his or her colleagues. Current and recent House leaders in both parties — Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Cantor, Steny Hoyer — all rose above hundreds of other Congressmen with similar views largely due to their prodigious abilities to raise money from rich people. Someone who spent a mere three weekends a year fundraising could never lead a major political party in our system.
(Hat tip: Every Voice's Adam Smith, who runs an excellent email newsletter on money in politics issues.)