Sometimes a coffee is just a coffee.

Loony Fundraising Works -- for Loony Candidates

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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Democrats are outraged today because Republicans are using President Barack Obama's latte salute to raise money.

Hey, political parties: Raise money with whatever works.

So what if the president's coffee-cup hoist as he stepped off Marine One is a stupid "issue?" I'll also defend Democrats who use an unlikely impeachment threat or even school shootings to seek donations. And I'll stick up for Republicans who raise money on the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. Or, for that matter, Democrats who raise money by evoking Republican efforts to leverage the Benghazi incident. It's all fair game.

Nonetheless, donors ought to think about what they're doing. When you give money to a party, you're not just (figuratively) writing a check; you're taking political action. If you don't want your party to be in the business of producing over-the-top reactions to nonsense, then don't click the donate button at or If that's the kind of appeal you respond to, then that's the kind of party and candidates you'll get. If you want a party that supports a substantive policy program or ideological preferences, then you should respond to appeals that emphasize those qualities.

If you act like a rube, you're creating a party of rubes.

But the people making those appeals? If it works, they're going to do it, and I don't see why they shouldn't.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at