Barack Obama's campaign is experiencing a wee bit of trouble lately. Here's a quick rundown:
Campaign finance violations
This is pretty minor stuff, which you can read about in the link. It's difficult to run a campaign while occupying a political office without overlap between the two operations. The plain fact is that the candidate and the officeholder are the same person. So while Obama's Senate office and his campaign need to be far more careful about the boundaries between the two, this seems to be yet another example of our campaign finance laws, to quote another person accused of improper politicking, "straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel."
This ties into the campaign finance problems, since it was one of the items improperly sent from his Senate office equipment. This fax is full of advice, talking points, all the usual stuff that politicians have to deal with. It's interesting, but not all that consequential. So what if Obama was advised to not promise Russ Carnahan a specific leadership title in his campaign? Carnahan is a US Representative. His father was Governor of Missouri, his mother a Senator. His sister is Missouri's Secretary of State. I'm quite sure that Rep. Carnahan has received the exact same advice, and has heard members of his family receive and follow advice of that type many times. Howard Fineman, in particular, wants to make Carnahan some sort of injured party. If Rep. Carnahan can't handle what that fax says about him, then his endorsement isn't really going to mean much.
The real problem Obama faces is after the fold.
MySpace? No, MYSpace
This is what's going to hurt Obama. Joe Anthony, a big Obama fan, started up a plainly-labeled unofficial MySpace page dedicated to Obama. It garnered quite a bit of attention - for example, when the media started to report on how many MySpace friends each candidate had, it was Anthony's page that was the source for Obama's numbers. Anthony and the campaign were cooperating, but ceased to do so when Anthony asked to be compensated for the work he had done.
Perhaps Anthony shouldn't have asked for money. However, it does seem clear that he didn't do it until the campaign's requests to him became financially burdensome. Whether or no Anthony should have asked for compensation is nothing, though, compared to the campaign's actions after that. Long story short, the Obama campaign bullied MySpace into transferring ownership of the page from its creator to them.
This isn't about technology. As Atrios points out, this is about the way volunteers are treated. With both the Kerry/Edwards campaign in 2004 and the Claire McCaskill campaign last fall, it was clear that they were overjoyed to have volunteers like me come down and help them in exactly the way they instructed me to help with no deviation whatsoever. Or input. Or questions, really. You know, I'm busy, and could you just get on with it while I talk to someone important?
The technological aspect of this becomes important because the liberal blogosphere has latched onto this and will not let go of it. This is for a primary, and Obama's campaign is alienating a rather large group of activists, people who not only will vote but will contribute and volunteer. The liberal blogosphere can't guarantee an Obama nomination, but I believe it can block one. In other words, he'll still want friends besides us, but we're all the enemy he needs. It will be interesting to see if Obama's campaign sees the light with this, and how long it will take.