Today's David Brooks column is a real head scratcher. Somehow he's trying to undercut the fundraising talents of the Obama campaign by saying things like this:
When he is swept up in rhetorical fervor, Obama occasionally says that his campaign is 90 percent funded by small donors. He has indeed had great success with small donors, but only about 45 percent of his money comes from donations of $200 or less.
Did he take math? Only 45%? I think it's still a remarkable figure, considering that we're talking about donations of $200 or less. And I imagine that this figure means 90% of his donors are small donors. (If someone else has those numbers, feel free to share).
Early on he mentions that
When you break it out by individual companies, you find that employees of Goldman Sachs gave more to Obama than workers of any other employer.
And then by the end of the piece, he says that Goldman Sachs is poised to take over government. I mean, how many employers are we talking about? Nothing holds together. Brooks is off his rocker.
But this is a mere distraction from the figure he mentions that I signed on to write about:
Professors and other people who work in education have given Obama roughly $7 million, compared with $700,000 for McCain.
And not only that, but two universities (California and Harvard) were among the top eight employers of Obama donors. It doesn't surprise me, really. There was widespread disappointment among the faculty ranks after 2004 (Lauren Berlant calls it a kind of "unfeeling," a political numbness or depression), and despite the fact that most faculty don't earn what Goldman Sachs employees do, I'd be willing to bet that more of us are giving than ever before. 7 million vs. $700,000.00 is (by my maths) the largest ratio of the ones he covers: those who work in securities and investments are 8 to 4.5 million in Obama's favor and communications and electronics employees gave 10 and 2 million to O and M respectively.
But seven million versus seven hundred thousand: whoa. That says something. One of my cherished colleagues was in my office the other day ranting about our crappy state government and how on earth we have reached a point where so many people think taxes are just flat-out bad. He was shouting about how people ought to remember Lincoln. It was awesome. Sharon Crowley used to ask her Penn State undergrads why they think so many people with higher degrees are democrats, which would stun them into silent introspection. It's not an elitist thing. It's a smart thing.
Brooks needs to rethink his claim about Goldman Sachs. University employees, while not taking over government, are indeed making a statement. And a loud one.