The View From 1776
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Power corrupts and gaining the nomination has corrupted Senator Obama absolutely.
The Washington Post is, along with the New York Times, one of the premier voices of liberal-porgressivism. It is all therefore surprising and gratifying to see that the Post recognizes the calculating cynicism and hypocrisy of The Democrat/Socialist Party’s apostate Christian, wholeheartedly secular and materialistic candidate for the presidency.
Post columnist Howard Kurtz, in Big Bucks Barack writes:
Liberals have been championing campaign finance reform since Richard Nixon’s bagmen were walking around with suitcases of cash.
It was Jimmy Carter, after his post-Watergate, I’ll-never-lie-to-you campaign, who pushed through the first law attempting to curtail the role of big money in politics.
So Barack Obama’s decision yesterday to become the first presidential candidate of the modern era to opt out of public financing flies in the face of that tradition. It also happens to contradict his own past assurances. And it poses a real test for the media.
First, Obama’s move may be the most important of the campaign—even bigger than the veep choice—because it will give him an enormous financial advantage over John McCain, which, of course, is why he’s doing it. That was the choice he faced: keep his word, or use his fundraising machine to blow McCain away on the financial front.
Second, the record makes clear that Obama is doing a 180 on his previous position. As Lynn Sweet notes in her Chicago Sun-Times blog, when the late Tim Russert told Obama in a Feb. 27 debate that “you may break your word” on public financing, Obama said that “at the point where I’m the nominee, at the point where it’s appropriate, I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that works for everybody.”
...You will not be shocked to hear that while most conservative bloggers are ripping Obama for hypocrisy, most liberal bloggers are defending the move. Had President Bush done this in 2004, there would have been at least five postings up on the Huffington Post accusing him of trying to buy the election.
NYT’s lead graf: “He argued that the system had collapsed, and would put him at a disadvantage running against Senator John McCain, his likely Republican opponent.” Fourth graf: It “represented a turnaround.”
LAT’s lead: “Freed from a serious fundraising constraint, Barack Obama is positioned to mount a general-election campaign on a scale the nation has never seen, fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars in private donations.” Seventh graf: McCain “accused Obama of breaking a promise.”
Add to this frank depiction of perfidy the Washington Post’s editorial on the event:
The Politics of Spare Change
Even $85 million wasn’t enough to get Barack Obama to keep his promise.
Friday, June 20, 2008; Page A18
BARACK OBAMA isn’t abandoning his pledge to take public financing for the general election campaign because it’s in his political interest. Certainly not. He isn’t about to become the first candidate since Watergate to run an election fueled entirely with private money because he will be able to raise far more that way than the mere $85 million he’d get if he stuck to his promise—and with which his Republican opponent, John McCain, will have to make do. No, Mr. Obama, or so he would have you believe, is forgoing the money because he is so committed to public financing. Really, it hurts him more than it hurts Fred Wertheimer.
Pardon the sarcasm. But given Mr. Obama’s earlier pledge to “aggressively pursue” an agreement with the Republican nominee to accept public financing, his effort to cloak his broken promise in the smug mantle of selfless dedication to the public good is a little hard to take. “It’s not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections,” Mr. Obama said in a video message to supporters.
Mr. Obama didn’t mention his previous proposal to take public financing if the Republican nominee agreed to do the same—the one for which he received heaps of praise from campaign finance reform advocates such as Mr. Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, and others, including us. He didn’t mention, as he told the Federal Election Commission last year in seeking to preserve the option, that “Congress concluded some thirty years ago that the public funding alternative . . . would serve core purposes in the public interest: limiting the escalation of campaign spending and the associated pressures on candidates to raise, at the expense of time devoted to public dialogue, ever vaster sums of money.”
Instead, he cast his abandonment of the system as a bold good-government move. “This is our moment, and our country is depending on us,” he said. “So join me, and declare your independence from this broken system and let’s build the first general election campaign that’s truly funded by the American people.” Sure, and if the Founding Fathers were around today, they’d have bundlers, too.
Mr. Obama had an opportunity here to demonstrate that he really is a different kind of politician, willing to put principles and the promises he has made above political calculation. He made a different choice, and anyone can understand why: He’s going to raise a ton of money. Mr. McCain played games with taking federal matching funds for the primaries until it turned out he didn’t need them, and he had a four-month head start in the general election while Mr. Obama was still battling for the nomination. Outside groups are going to come after him. He has thousands of small donors along with his big bundlers. And so on.
Fine. Politicians do what politicians need to do. But they ought to spare us the self-congratulatory back-patting while they’re doing it.