May 19th, 2016

Campaign funding hypocrisy: Obama and Trump

I clearly remember when I first became truly alarmed during Obama’s 2008 campaign. Originally I didn’t know much about Obama, and slowly but surely began to notice warning signs that he might be worse than the garden-variety liberal Democratic candidate he was trying to present himself as being. But the real red flag occurred in June of 2008 when he abruptly changed his mind about public campaign financing.

Now, that incident probably doesn’t stick in the minds of many people now. Nor did it then. But I wrote at the time:

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…

Well, so what? Promises, shmomises…

…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 most important thing about it, though, was that his supporters made excuses for what he did, or praised it. I noticed that they did not seem the least bit perturbed:

…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…

In early July of 2009, after just a few months of President Obama, I revisited this turning point and added the following:

[Right after Obama’s switch on campaign financing]…something even more perturbing to me than what Obama was doing or even how he was doing it…was the reaction to him. The mainstream press (with only a few exceptions) seemed to take it in stride, mentioning it but not making a fuss about it, seeing it as a pragmatic decision. But what of Obama’s supporters? Would they not feel betrayed by his hypocrisy on campaign financing? After all, wasn’t his perceived trustworthiness, his business-as-unusual persona, a great part of what attracted them to him in the first place? Would this lack of integrity not make the scales fall from their eyes?

Once again, with just a few exceptions, the answer was a resounding “no.” It was merely seen as a clever move, a sign that Obama was a winner rather than a loser.

Yet another thought then came to me—the idea that this action of Obama’s had been a sort of test—not of him, but of us. In weighing whether to go ahead and refuse public financing, he had probably calculated that the extra money he’d have access to if he broke his pledge might be the key to his winning. So, although it would give his opponents further ammunition with which to criticize him, and might offend his base by showing that he was just a pol like any other after all, he felt it was probably worth the gamble. But his public’s reaction told him that there had been virtually no risk at all, and gave him a green light for future reversals and other cynical moves.

From this experience, Obama learned to his pleasure (I don’t know whether it was to his surprise) that the press was so thoroughly behind him, and his many supporters so hypnotized by his spellbinding charisma, that he no longer had to be quite as careful as before. Audacity was going to pay off, big time.

So, why am I going on and on about something that happened all those years ago? As you might imagine, something Donald Trump did recently made me think of it:

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, it’s almost shocking how quickly his tune has changed on the corrupting influence of big money donors. SURPRISINGLY (to Trump voters), it turns out that he doesn’t mind them at all and places no value on being independent from them. After all the railing he did about how the other candidates were “owned” by their financiers and special interests, he finds zero problem with the whole system now.

That’s from Leon H. Wolf at RedState. And in the comments section there we have this:

This amounts to a sociological experiment where the question posed is, “What if I abandoned any pretense of Honor or Shame, and behaved in an entirely pragmatic manner, saying whatever will move me forward in any given moment without regard for past statements, actions or any hypocrisy to be proved thereby?”

If Trump has a business plan for this election, this would be part of it. He has clearly decided not to care about anything a decent human being would value. He is taking a completely amoral approach, and believes the Media will continue to allow it because he brings them ratings.

I assume I don’t have to point out the parallels to Obama. I would only add to that comment the fact that Trump believes (correctly, it seems) that his supporters will continue to allow it—and even praise it—because they see him as the only alternative to the even-more-hated Hillary, or because they actually applaud the approach itself.

In other words, it’s okay because he’s our audaciously lying hypocrite with a sycophantic following. And in this act of Trump’s he’s a hypocrite and/or liar in more ways than Obama was when he broke his finance pledge, such as:

(1) Trump’s acceptance of Adelson’s enormous sum of money is an indication (and not the first one) that Trump may also have been lying about the extent of his own financial assets

(2) Trump’s trashing of other candidates for accepting donations and therefore being the puppets of their donors was apparently just so much empty propagandist blather on his part (and as one of the major talking points used early on by his most activist supporters, their apparent silence on this matter now speaks volumes about their own hypocrisy, too)

Obama paved the way for a man like Trump to get as far as he has. People sometimes say that, and they often mean a number of things—including the idea that Trump is needed now as a corrective to Obama. But I think that Obama demonstrated something to any candidate who will follow, which is that the American people will now accept things they wouldn’t accept in a candidate just a short while ago.

Some of these changes have been apparent for a while. For example, I can remember (and it wasn’t all that many years ago) when a divorced candidate was impossible or highly unlikely (Reagan broke that mold, and he’s the only one till now). I can also remember when a candidate who admitted to taking illegal drugs was going nowhere (Bill Clinton tiptoed up to that line but didn’t cross it; Obama crossed it). The first is relevant to Trump; the second is not (he has never used drugs or alcohol). And I can remember when, although candidates certainly lied and/or made promises they couldn’t or wouldn’t keep, they were wary of breaking those promises so unapologetically and so obviously during the campaign itself, because they thought the American people wanted a president with more integrity than that—or at the very least, one who appeared to have more integrity than that.

In 2008 Obama demonstrated that with enough chutzpah a candidate could say up is down and 2+2 is 5, do it during the campaign itself, could go back and forth and reverse what he’d said previously, and it didn’t necessarily matter. The American people had become cynical enough, hardened enough, uninformed enough, amoral/immoral enough (some or all of the above), that it would praised as a clever move.

We have reaped what was sowed.

And even Obama did not create this situation in the electorate. He merely exposed it, and showed those who would come after him how to exploit it.

28 Responses to “Campaign funding hypocrisy: Obama and Trump”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Costs are about to skyrocket. Why should he pay for it all by himself? Didn’t he have outside investors for his real estate projects? The rich get rich by knowing when and how to use OPM. Letting others invest in a start-up past the angel/family /seed money stage of fundraising can sometimes be known as “going public.”

  2. Big Maq Says:

    This is the source of the chaos. Too many seem to think somehow that Trump won’t be that bad.

    According to what?

    Trump supporters are projecting all kinds of positive things onto him.

    The rest of us who might on the fence thinking about voting for him are also projecting some grounding decency in him.

    Based on what?

    Thus far, Trump has not provided anything that should give anyone any objective comfort that he won’t be the cause of some major crisis while in office.

  3. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    This is part of the con-man aspect of both Obama and Trump. Trump has spent his life creating publicity for himself and plumping up his image. However I have to laugh when the Trumpkins boast of Donalds business acumen. My dad was in commercial real estate for years developing department stores and shopping centers. I worked for him a couple of summers scouting sites in smaller cities in Northern Michigan. My dad had no where near the start up capital Trump had and was crushed in the Carter economy. I know a bit about real estate. NO successful developer who wanted to make real money would piss around with buying multi-level marketing health food companies, beauty pageants, or airlines. His time and organization would be serious about their real estate ventures. His financial bonafides would be open to any partner or bank in minute detail. Perhaps that’s why few will work with him more than once once they know the truth.

    Donald is a con man albeit a somewhat entertaining con man that most Americans know of from The Apprentice. These shows are staged and scripted but pitched as reality. A trump presidency will be an utter disaster.

  4. neo-neocon Says:


    You seem to have missed the point of the article.

  5. Jim Doherty Says:

    Humbug. I do not come in second to even Neo on my distaste for Trump. I even predicted he would be out of the race after getting his ass handed to him in SC. Oh well. The point going forward for me was if I vote for him, does my party pay the price for decades to come.

    At this point it is no longer my party anymore, it is his, he won. So now I am just another strategic voter, and I will vote for whomever is against HRC. I see her as President as an existential threat. Trump is a threat to the republican party, but not as much to my country as a whole. I think he will crawfish on all his promises and after 4 years, he will lose, because everyone will point at the fence-less border. But he had proven me wrong so far, HRC has not.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Jim Doherty:

    As I’ve written elsewhere, I may also end up voting for the abominable Trump.

    A revolting development.

  7. blert Says:

    This was foreseen.

    As I posted weeks back, Trump is hopelessly out classed, war chest to war chest.

    HRCGS would simply suck all the media into her orbit — twice…

    Once, as paid platforms.

    Twice, as ideologically aligned shills.

    I move his odds up to 25:1 underdog.

    Trump needs ISIS to up their game.

    I would not put it past Putin to false flag an ISIS attack to get his boy into the White House.

  8. expat Says:

    I only hope that Ryan and the other Republicans Trump has talked to are aware of Trump’s deal making and are letting him know that he will have to give some if he wants to get anything done with congress. I know Ryan is a quiet sort of guy, but I hope he shows some backbone in talking with Trump about where the limits are.

    I also hope that Kissinger was able to show him a bit about the complexity of dealing with international politics. Somehow Trump’s comment about terrorism WRT to downed plane says he still has a lot to learn. Will we ever have a decent person as president again?

  9. Ann Says:

    I keep thinking about how Pat Buchanan is probably doing a little victory dance in his living room. Buchanan is all in for Trump, and Trump, who once said Buchanan was a neo-Nazi, has returned the favor and now says good old Pat was a man ahead of his time.

    Beyond disgusting, all of this.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Perhaps above all else, the greatest similarity between Obama and Trump is their embrace of the proposition, that the end justifies the means.

    Trump is not the antidote to Obama’s lawlessness, that would have been Ted Cruz. Trump is the other side of the same pendulum as Obama.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Rasmussen has Trump up 5+ over Hillary. Trump’s going after Bill Clinton’s serial molestations of women. ABC tonight asserted that Juanity Broddericks’ accusation of rape has been “discredited”, an impossibility since it’s his word against hers. While the details of what she relates have the resonance of believably. LOts of other accusers out there and this just after Cosby’s crucifixion… And Trump still has Bill Clinton’s 25+ trips on an accused billionaire pedophile’s private jet… on its way to ‘Lolita Island’.

    All of this ensures that Trump is going to get plenty of air time and all the MSM slanted reportage is just going to pour fuel on the fire. Even LIVs get that where there’s enough smoke, there’s fire.

    ISIS is planning attacks upon American soil and assets, it is IMO probable that they will attack again before the election, despite the obvious counter-productive nature of an attack for them, which will boost Trump while hurting Hillary.

  12. Big Maq Says:

    “their embrace of the proposition, that the end justifies the means”

    Right, and very well said.

    But, it is the media’s and ultimately the voters’ acceptance of this all, as THEY are the ones, by default enabling, or by intention endorsing, T’s and O’s behavior.

  13. Big Maq Says:

    @Neo – you asked if we remember, I remember it clearly.

    McCain was trapped by his “ownership” of that issue and the legislation he pushed through. He couldn’t say no, and, in fact, was the first to sign on to the limitations.

    Obama may, or may not have seen the bounty on its way, but the Dems have not had any shortage of donors all along. There was only upside for them to not sign on to the limitations.

    I also remember clearly the donation funnel from China, where hyperlinks from a website over there pointed to Obama’s, where visitors were prompted for a small donation.

    The kicker was that the campaign accepted through this funnel a massive volume of small dollar donations (below the threshold for identification reporting).

    AND, the process did not require the credit card’s three digit security code (CVC/CVV) – a fraud control measure (indicates payer has card in possession).

    There is some debate about the additional bank processing fees involved by accepting payment without the code.

    But, there were plenty of questions of why link through China (illegal, but unprovable since threshold was not met)? Why such a massive amount? And, why not use extra fraud protection, given the location?

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I had already written the draft of a post saying essentially what you just said at 7:23 PM.

    Great minds and all that 🙂 .

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    The rich get rich by knowing when and how to use OPM. Letting others invest in a start-up past the angel/family /seed money stage of fundraising can sometimes be known as “going public.”

    Of course. And insurgents know how to setup elections such that two enemies kill themselves while us insurgents plan something else entirely.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I didn’t see the piece by ABC on Broaddrick, but the “discrediting” to which they may be referring is by Broaddrick herself.

    I’ve noticed most people are unfamiliar with the history of Broaddrick’s accusations, but I think this is a good summary of the pros and cons of her story.

  17. Ymarsakar Says:

    I often did push the line that enemies of the Left will learn to defeat the Left by becoming more like the Left. In order to win against enemies stronger than you, ultimately you become more like your enemies to compensate. It happens a lot to people who win.

    It’s not a coincidence, but a pattern, that the Alt Right and Trump’s 3 main pillars of support in this country have learned a lot from Leftist strategies and tactics, and are using them to counter strike and push back.

    That is not going to save the country, of course. Because the fundamental problem with the Left were their tactics, since their tactics involve sacrificing life forms for power. And anything else for that matter, including kids in toilets and humans oversea. They will gladly execute white biker club members at Waco 2, if they feel it benefits them. Then they will get away with. The IRS will also get away with it.

    None of that is going to save the country even if people become better at Leftist tactics than the Left, and gain control of the IRS or occupy Waco 2’s police union.

    They need a better strategy, on top of adopting Leftist tactics. Better tactics than the Left even, is needed to defeat the Left.

    One of the problems with the GOP against the Left, was that the GOP had too many moral hang ups about deception and what not, to defeat the Left in the Left’s war against humanity and America. Every time something came up, individual GOP people would resign or protest, like Nixon’s cabinet or Congress. Every time a Leftist raped children and sold sex slaves, all Democrats crowded around and protected them, like they did for that Hollywood director. There’s strength in numbers.

    So now, the GOP no longer has that problem. They have another problem, of course.

  18. Eric Says:

    “or because they actually applaud the approach itself.”

    Or because they’re applauding themselves for a playbook that worked for them twice in a row against the same target.

    Trump-front alt-Right activists obviously mimicked Democrat-front Left activists to exploit the same inviting self-induced competitive flaws of the Right and GOP marked by the Democrat-front Left.

    Maybe they’re more than ‘jayvee’ mimics. Maybe they’re the same activists who are using the 2016 general election to play the same bigger game.

    “In 2008 Obama demonstrated that with enough chutzpah a candidate could say up is down and 2+2 is 5, do it during the campaign itself, could go back and forth and reverse what he’d said previously, and it didn’t necessarily matter.”

    And Obama’s tactics and “chutzpah” didn’t end with his inauguration. He carried over what worked for him in the election into his presidency and campaign indicators turned into executive policy and behavior.

    It’s a warning.

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    The US has had lots of questionable leaders
    Ultimately, the end does justify the means if that works over alternatives, and few if any of us will be known to have existed in a few hundred years or less.

    Cruz was never brash enough to reverse much or make progress far. At best he may have held the line… No one knows that Trump will meet any of these insane fantasies the people come up with that I have rarely come close to happening… Because most substitute a personally picked set of things they think are the points that causationally steer reality, when no one really knows what those points really are. Few of the ideas have much to do with how the majority of people think of politics or even care.

    The office is not like a rubber band. It doesn’t snap back once distorted by newly created precidents… Funny thing is that whomever runs for office there is always a dissatisfied group in opposition to another group each with erudite wrong reasons

    And regardless… que sera sera…
    And we are always stuck for the ride

  20. parker Says:

    Djt/hrc versus ISIS, ISIS wins. My idea of an October surprise is 2008. Banks totter, markets crash; and who will the voters turn to: a crony capitalist or a crony capitalist?

  21. Tom G Says:

    Trump will win in November.

    ” It was merely seen as a clever move, a sign that Obama was a winner rather than a loser.”

    This is the key statement, and please remember Patton’s words (or GC Scott’s scriptwriter):
    Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
    Recall, the Dems voted to Lose the Peace in Vietnam in '75, after Paris Peace in '73.

    Obama & the Dems decided to run away and Lose the Peace in Iraq before the 2012 election — enabling the genocide of Christians and other chaos all the Bush-hate folk knew was inevitable in Iraq.

    Americans, like most normal folk, love a winner. They prefer to win without cheating, but probably most prefer to cheat & win at war or politics, rather than lose.

    Elite Reps, like Libertarians, prefer honor.

    Does "the end justify the means"? When people feel their survival, or the survival of their way of life, is "the end" if they lose, and cheating is the only means to save themselves for a win, a majority of folks would cheat. When it's a "game", where the other side has successfully won by what seems to be "cheating", the vast majority will accept that the "rules" have changed to allow the cheating — so as to win.

    That's the tragedy of Obama's victory and behavior.

    Nobody knows, not even Trump, what Pres. Trump will really do — tho I strongly believe he'll find a big budget allocation to go to friends of rich Reps for building the Fence.

    His list of SCOTUS nominees is a reminder of how America loses if Hillary gets in.

    Avoiding that end justifies quite a wide range of means.

  22. Bill Says:

    Ends don’t justify means. Ends are just a nice rationale for unethical means.

    The more we lose our election process, when it take over a BILLION dollars to be elected, when somehow a trust fund baby millionaire/billionaire who’s been living the playboy life in NYC for 70 years is the voice of the common man. . .

  23. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo @ 8:35,

    I read the piece in Slate that you linked to with its citing that;

    “In 1997, Broaddrick filed an affadavit with Paula Jones’ lawyers saying Clinton did not assault her.”

    Here’s a fuller explanation;
    “The only thing that has ever been used against Juanita is the fact that she did sign an affidavit denying she’d experienced unwanted sexual advances from Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s, in an effort to keep her name out of the Paula Jones lawsuit.

    “She admitted to Ken Starr in 1998 that she’d lied in that affidavit (that rape had in fact occurred), and she has told the same consistent version of events ever since.”

    Her signing that affidavit did keep Broaddrick’s name out of the Paula Jones case. There’s also no doubt that in a civil lawsuit where the legal standard is a preponderance of the evidence, that Broaddrick would win.

    “Where there’s enough smoke, there’s fire” still holds true. And in the political arena, where the civil lawsuit standard prevails and with a Trump unrestrained by convention, Broaddrick’s accusation along with all the other accusers and circumstantial evidence will have a significant impact.

  24. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Djt/hrc versus ISIS, ISIS wins. My idea of an October surprise is 2008. Banks totter, markets crash; and who will the voters turn to: a crony capitalist or a crony capitalist?” parker

    Djt versus ISIS, ISIS wins? Are you suggesting that America cannot beat ISIS? What specifically would Cruz do in regard to ISIS that DJT cannot?

    Suggesting that Trump vs Hillary is simply a choice of, “a crony capitalist or a crony capitalist” completely ignores Hillary’s ideological commitment and the massive network of ‘progressive’ organizations that both support her and will greatly assist her (Eric’s activist movement) in further implementing the Left’s agenda.

  25. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Off topic but Camille Paglia has something worthwhile to say about the NYT’s attack on Trump and a “fearful, fossilized media”;

    “Camille Paglia: PC feminists misfire again, as fearful elite media can’t touch Donald Trump”
    “A boastful, millionaire New Yorker liked the company of beautiful women? This is why NYT can’t lay a glove on Trump

    Paglia is implicitly making an argument that media attacks on Trump will be futile. And of course, Trump just happens to have the truth about Hillary Clinton on his side. Things like this video are going viral; “Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight”

  26. junior Says:

    I remember the Obama funding mess back in 2008. I also remember the rationale that Obama’s campaign used to justify it – the Obama campaign was receiving funds from the public, so it was public money, just like he’d promised.

    That was apparently good enough for his supporters, though he likely wouldn’t have even needed that.

    A little while back, a friend of a friend was whining on Facebook about the GOP’s focus on Benghazi. He was a Hillary supporter, and thought that asking further about it was a waste of time. The possibility that people had been abandoned to die there didn’t phase him in the least. Nor did the possibility that Hillary had lied about the events there. Given that there was no further use in discussing things with him at that point, I ended by pointing out that we (the public) claim that we’re angry at politicians for lying. And then we don’t care about politicians – like HRC – actually going out and lying. I didn’t bother following up to see if he posted a response. He’d already made it clear that the truth had no real value to him when his candidate was the one being dishonest.

    And I’ll mention that Trump is very much aware that his followers don’t particularly care what he does. He indicated as much way back during the early stages of the primary when he made his comment about shooting someone in public, and not losing any support as a result.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    The possibility that people had been abandoned to die there didn’t phase him in the least.

    The possibility that the Left are giving kids to be raped by child molestors, doesn’t faze him either, if you look at what orders the Left have been giving lately and how many of them have been obeyed on the subject of toilet room rules and false rape charges.

    Child Protective Services in Waco and other places with Democrats in power, have been rumored to allow and authorize rapists and crims to have custody of children or access to them. The Left has also been known to defend a rapist director or two. And a rapist politician or dozen. As for false rape charges, the Left uses them to promote their Social Justice Whoredom too, the SJWs.

    Then there’s Planned Profit’s attempt to get rid of parental notification. Which was useful to them, since some of PP’s clients are underage girls who have been abused and used by male sex predators. They would prefer that no parents were notified of those convenient abortions.

    He’d already made it clear that the truth had no real value to him when his candidate was the one being dishonest.

    And I’ll mention that Trump is very much aware that his followers don’t particularly care what he does.

    The “he” in question never cared about politicians being dishonest. It was just a con job, an order to obey, nothing more.

    Once Trump figured out that many of his 3 pillars of support were Democrats, Trump started testing the water to see what he could get away with. Surpsingly, about the same Hussein did with the same Democrat demographic. They were programmed to Obey AUthority, almost.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    The good thing about picking up “voters” from a party that has so much effective brainwashing is that you don’t need to gain the loyalty of your fellow converts or voters. You just need to “trigger” them, and they will Obey.

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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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