I’m sad to say that I’ve seen more than one of my fellow liberals decrying Obama’s “broken promise” or “flip-flop” on public financing for the campaign.
Sadly, this is another one of those media-driven narratives that doesn’t quite match the reality of the situation — and I’m sad to see that otherwise intelligent progressives are allowing the debate to be framed in this way, and buying into the line.
Back when he was asked about public financing, Obama said “Yes” — and then went on to say:
“My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election… If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”
By all accounts, he did pursue that agreement, but no agreement was reached. Whether he did so “aggressively” can be questioned, but not that it was not tried.
McCain, on the other hand, was locked into public financing by some extremely shady (and technically illegal) manuevering, whereby he took out a loan for his campaign, using his eventual later public financing as collateral.
One of Obama’s conditions for public financing was a pledge to reign in the 527s — groups who could spend unlimited money in advertising in support of their candidate. He got MoveOn to close down their 527 group, for example. McCain, however, refused on this point, saying he had “no control over such groups.”
So Obama said “screw you, then.”
I have no problem with this.
The media-created tempest in a teapot, where they’re all blustering about how terrible this is, how he’s going to “buy the Presidency,” etc. — ignores one basic fact:
Obama is funded by 1.5 million donors — each giving an average donation of $91.
Which source of funding do you find more harmful to the process?
This is just another example of the double-standard that we’re going to see growing. It’s OK for Republicans, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s a horrible injustice that must be covered in the news 24-7. If Obama wins, expect there to be huge scandals about overreaching Executive authority, too — from the same folks who stayed silent –or actively helped– during the Bush power grab.
The only way they don’t get away with it is if the American people are smarter than that, and refuse to fall for it. Do your part. Make people smarter.