June 20th, 2008

On campaign financing pledge, Obama throws his former self under the bus

Yesterday Obama channeled Emily Litella and said “never mind,” taking back his earlier promise to accept public financing for his campaign if his opponent would as well. In November of 2007 he not only made this pledge, but added “I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.” He has not (see description of those negotiations here), and today he stopped even pretending that he would.

Well, so what? Promises, shmomises.

You might say it’s no big deal. After all, almost every other politician on earth has gone back on a pledge at one point or other, sometimes on many. It’s business as usual, and why should Obama be any different?

But Obama’s been running as the business-as-unusual candidate, not just another hypocritical, lying pol who, as Obama’s former mentor the Rev. Wright said, “does what politicians do.” And yet as soon as Obama saw that the money flowing his way was far beyond what he could get if he adhered to his agreement, he reneged.

It’s not just that he reneged, either–it’s how he reneged. Who’s to blame, according to Obama? Why, John McCain and the nasty Republicans, that’s who. James Joyner writes that this charge of Obama’s does take “a bit of gall.” I’d say it takes substantially more than a bit, as well as a heavy dose of the whining, blaming, audacity in which the holier-than-thou Obama tends to specialize:

The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system,” Mr. Obama said. “John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we’ve already seen that he’s not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.”

As they used to say in the schoolyard, takes one to know one. Actually, it’s Obama’s campaign that’s been doing virtually all of the latter, as Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP points out:

Despite that claim, few Republican-leaning groups have weighed into the presidential contest so far. In fact, Obama allies such as MoveOn.org are the ones that have been spending money on advertising against McCain.

But Obama doesn’t want to let a little thing like this fact get in the way of a good argument, or at least an argument that sounds good. And once again, he’s relying on the American people not to know or care—and, if the comments by his supporters are any indication, he could be right (scroll down here for many such comments).

There are two ways in which this act of Obama’s shows that he’s the candidate of change, after all. He’s changed his mind, for one thing. And he will now become the very first presidential candidate from a major party to opt out since the public funding system—with its spending limits—was created in the post-Watergate reform climate of 1976. This means that he will be the first candidate in over thirty years to have more money under his control than his opponent:

“It’ll be like George Steinbrenner’s Yankees in the ’90s—an All-Star at every position—against the ’90s Kansas City Royals, barely able to meet their payroll,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant who worked for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004….”He’s going to be able to raise almost unimaginable amount of money,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist…”This is an incredible advantage for him and his campaign. He’ll be able to dictate the terms of this election….[H]e can be the aggressor…”

Obama is no doubt betting that few people will know, remember, or care what a hypocrite he looks like at the moment, because now he’s got the money (and the control of it, unlike the RNC funds McCain will have some access to) to mount an unmatchable media blitz of ads from now till November. It just might work; he’s wasting no time:

Within hours, Obama showed his financial might by rolling out a 60-second television ad in 18 states, including several that have been reliable GOP strongholds.

Obama made the money announcement in a video message to supporters—and sought to empower them to give more….

“Let’s build the first general election campaign that’s truly funded by the American people,” Obama said—ignoring the fact that the system he’s opting out of is paid for by taxpayers who donate $3 to the fund when they file their tax returns.

It’s hardly the only fact Obama is ignoring. The sad thing is that it may not matter.

Change you can believe in.

13 Responses to “On campaign financing pledge, Obama throws his former self under the bus”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    trough playing superior hauty games, he hopes to select or induce mccain to make the same moves, which would favor obama by decimating the money on mccains side. its not a smart game.

  2. randy Ayn Says:

    the fact that the system he’s opting out of is paid for by taxpayers who donate $3 to the fund when they file their tax returns.

    I never understood how checking that box on my tax return did not make my taxes go up three dollars to ‘pay’ for it. Does the Fed just print the extra money?
    But to get back to the topic, it appears Obama is no fool. A record number of donors has funded his campaign thus far, and I have no doubt that there will be a few well funded 527 groups eager to swiftboat him. The swifties of 2004 did not do much before the Democratic Convention was over. It would be naive for Obama to assume there would be no major attack effort this time just because it hasn’t happend yet.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    No, randy Ayn, Obama’s certainly no fool—he’s a lying, self-serving, hypocritical politician. No surprise there, but it certainly runs counter to his “narrative” about himself.

  4. Daveg Says:

    he’s a lying, self-serving, hypocritical politician.

    Which are, of course, the necessary ingredients for a “swiftboating,” using its actual definition of “an inconvenient truth about the candidate brought forth by those that would best know.”

    I’m unfamiliar with randy’s normal compositions, but it seems that the intent in that comment was to use the incorrect, self-serving Democratic definition of “a well-orchestrated series of vile, unfounded lies.” If I’ve interpreted that incorrectly, please accept my apologies in advance.

  5. SteveH Says:

    I would be interested to know just what Obama could do to raise the eyebrows of his supporters. I’m guessing he could proclaim the old Soviet Union as his ideal model and wouldn’t lose 3% of these idiots. Probably wouldn’t lose any after his “clarification”.

  6. markg8 Says:

    John McCain is currently breaking campaign finance law and has been for months according to the Republican head of the FEC.

    Today MoveOn.org announced it’s shutting down it’s 527 operation in response to Obama’s request. McCain won’t even try to discourage such Republican third party operations.

    The only promise Obama made was to try to work out a deal with the Republican nominee for them both to stick to public financing and rein in outside groups. McCain refused to negotiate in any meaningful way with Obama on public financing.

    Complain all you want but McCain is breaking the law and his campaign wouldn’t have survived 2007 if he hadn’t gamed the system. If he wants to compete he should get millions of people to give him $25 donations as Obama has. He can’t so he tries to make a big deal out of this.

    Oh and that $3 dollar check off on your tax return for public financing of presidential elections? It’s your own personal earmark. John McCain hates earmarks.

  7. Fred Says:

    Let’s take a moment to sum up: the anti-torture candidate supports torture. The pro-immigration candidate opposes immigration. The candidate who opposes tax cuts for the rich supports them. The pro-campaign finance reform candidate has a campaign that is run almost exclusively by lobbyists, and exploits loopholes in the law to skirt spending limits–even the laws the candidate wrote. The candidate who opposes “agents of intolerance” in the Republican Party embraces them. The candidate with the foreign policy experience frequently confuses Sunnis and Shiites and misreads Iranian influence in the region, but is proposing permanent war. The candidate who claims to be a fiscal conservative wants to bust the budget. The candidate who claims to take global warming seriously does not want to take any serious action to address it.

  8. FredHjr Says:

    Of course, “change” is what Obonga is all about. “Change” means some very specific things to his base of support. Most of them know EXACTLY what he means by it. However, he needs more than just the socialist/Marxist base. He has to run a campaign to win over the Middle Muddle in the country and he’s just realized that he has a problem there. The re-packaging that has to happen after what faux pas and problems he’s had to date will require more money to be paid to political consultants and media consultants. Reality has set in, and that long-legged mack daddy knows it. His early ads featuring that big chested white woman in a tight t-shirt has run its course. Now, he has to convince the Middle Muddle that he is a serious candidate after all. He’ll find ways which for him will be palatable to present himself in a patriotic meme. It’s all going to cost money, folks.

    McCain has left his options open, so his relationship to some 527 organizations gets jumped on by the people who are working for Obonga’s campaign. I don’t blame John McCain for doing this. I suspect he knew things were going to go south on that pledge of honor. He’s running against a man who knows nothing of honor. Now THAT’S a theme McCain should pound away with. Besides foreign policy (really plaster that Mr. Danzig comment about the way to deal with rogue states and terror organizations – THE MUPPETS! LOL! and our warriors from our movies! LOL!)

    I would hammer him about his conception of what constitutes an energy policy. The dunce does not understand supply and demand, and other basic concepts of the capitalist system. Ooops! He never studied economics and has mainly been schooled in Marxist economics.

    Just getting some things off my chest here. I don’t have anything personal against Obonga. It’s just that I expect more from someone who is applying to occupy the highest office in the land, the job of protecting the nation and implementing policy. He is not qualified for the job. Period.

  9. expat Says:

    Neo: I would add ignorant and arrogant to your list of adjectives.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    markg8:

    Did you bother to follow the link in the first paragraph of my post that dealt with the way in which Obama failed to pursue these “negotiations” with McCain?

    And that bit about the MoveOn 527 shutting down—it wasn’t exceedingly “up” in the first place. If Obama in fact did make this request that MoveOn cease operating its 527 for the rest of the campaign, however, then he probably violated the rule governing 527s, as follows:

    “A 527′s activities cannot be coordinated—as defined by FEC rules—with any federal candidate or party committee.”

  11. Vivian Berryhill Says:

    08 … Is All About Character, Judgment and Transparency

    One irrefutable lesson learned from the Clinton/Obama Democratic primary is that in this election cycle the American public care more about “character, judgment and tranparency” than “Experience”.

    The mood in the nation now is who–– between McCain and Obama–– has, and will, demonstrate true character, judgment and transparency. Voters on both sides of the political fence are tired of its leaders lying to them… pretending to be one way when they are not… saying one thing to a particular group, then, act or say something totally different to another crowd. People––especially those in bread-basket America––are weary of these behaviors and want to know which nominee is who he says he is… before they feel comfortable giving their trust.
    http://www.vberryhill-soulvoice.blogspot.com

  12. OmegaPaladin Says:

    Vivian,

    If those criteria are applied, Obama is sunk. McCain has him beat or matched on each issue.

    Character – McCain is known for being his own man. He’s gone through hell and survived. Obama is just a nice guy. His story features few tests of character, and he has illusive principles.

    Judgment – McCain and Obama have both made some questionable calls, though many of McCain’s are in the past. Obama’s past is popping up, and he is seeing every scandal come to light. I don’t know how this will play with voters

    Transparency – McCain is a known quantity. He is completely documented, warts and all. As for Obama, he often seems deliberately obscure, a blank slate for people to project their ideas onto.

  13. Vince P Says:

    I agree with Vivian and Omega… I can not see how people will choose Obama, not in this day and age.

    Perhaps now , months before the election they can indulge in their wishful thinking, but as the time come I can not possibly see more people voting for the shrill, brittle, angry, lying , Marxist Obama than McCain.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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