Kaine uses Irene as a fundraising hook

Following in the tradition of never letting a crisis go to waste, Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine has latched onto the controversy surrounding Rep. Eric Cantor’s remarks that federal funds spent on disaster relief should be offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget.

In an email missive to supporters and, for whatever reason, folks like me, Kaine’s copywriter thunders:

Eric Cantor and other members of Congress said they would only approve disaster relief assistance IF they could force through more spending cuts in Washington. This is the same kind of inappropriate negotiating tactics that nearly caused America to default on its financial obligations earlier this month.

Putting aside the canard that a default was likely during last month’s debt ceiling tussle, and whether the possibility of more cuts in federal spending aren’t just needed, but essential (perhaps Mr. Kaine should consult the remarks of his would-be senior Senator, Mark Warner, on that topic), what’s the real goal of this email?

To raise money.

The ask is soft, but the large, red “CONTRIBUTE” button at the bottom of the form shows that Kaine is far less interested in sending Eric Cantor a message than he is in using Hurricane Irene’s aftermath as a fundraising hook.

That borders upon the despicable.

Here’s a bit of free copywriting advice to the Kaine campaign: a much stronger appeal would have linked readers to one of several charities currently conducting disaster relief operations. If raising the dreaded specter of private response is too much, it could have directed those in need to one of several government entities — local, state and federal, that are also trying to provide assistance. It scores political points both against Cantor and the GOP (so it’s good for the base) and scores big personal points for Kaine, by showing he’s more concerned about those in need than he is in padding his campaign treasury.