Well, there sort of is. People on both sides of the aisle perennially love to complain about how the political discourse is reaching new lows. Jon Stewart has built a career on it. But the same outré comments from politicians that get passed around on blogs and roundly criticized for being unnecessarily inflammatory are often, in fact, quite necessary for fund-raising — and all the criticism helps rake in the cash.
The Washington Post has dubbed this “the money blurt”: When a candidate makes a crazy-sounding comment, he or she often immediately gets an influx of cash. The more it bounces around the blogosphere, the bigger the bump. For instance, when Michele Bachmann called President Obama anti-American, she was rewarded with nearly a million bucks in new contributions. (Bachmann seems to make a specialty of money blurts.) Congressman Joe Wilson got $2 million after he shouted “You lie!” at President Obama during an address to Congress. Sometimes money blurts just happen off the cuff, but other times they’re a more calculated ploy. Cash doesn’t always equal votes, though; money blurts by nature make an appeal to voters further out on the political fringe. As one consultant told the Post, “You can turn on the money spigot but still end up digging your own grave.” With a very expensive, very ugly tombstone.