After Pledging to Accept Public Financing, Senator Obama Flip-Flops for Pure Political Gain
Here at the Center for Individual Freedom, our unwavering opposition to public campaign financing is well-established. Indeed, along with campaign finance reform generally, it is one of the issues that has most animated our organization since its founding. The First Amendment explicitly states that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech," but campaign-finance laws do precisely that.
Accordingly, we will continue to fight public financing, as well as campaign-finance reform generally, until the Supreme Court declares its unconstitutionality once and for all.
In the interim, however, we consider unmitigated political hypocrisy equally despicable. Such gamesmanship is particularly repugnant when politicians running for our nation's highest elected office manipulate unconstitutional schemes such as campaign finance laws for immediate political advantage.
And this month, American voters were treated to exactly that. In one of the most blatant and distasteful examples of political hypocrisy in recent memory, Senator Barack Obama threw under the proverbial bus his original promise to stay inside the public financing system if he won the Democrat nomination.
That would be the same bus under which he also threw his grandmother, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, his church and Tony Rezko when they suddenly became politically-inconvenient.
Back when the current Presidential campaign began, Hillary Clinton was the candidate raking endless amounts of campaign contributions into her coffers, and Senator Obama was the scrappy underdog. Capitalizing upon that disparity, he solemnly pledged to accept public financing for the general campaign if nominated.
In fact, Senator Obama restated his support for public financing on several occasions, and even went so far as to criticize Senator Clinton in January 2007 for opting out of public financing for the primary season. Back then, this was obviously the politically-expedient thing for him to do.
Fast forward to this month. Having raised unprecedented amounts of campaign contributions, Senator Obama suddenly sang a different tune. Through April of this year, he had accumulated a staggering $265 million, which is three times the public financing amount. This also dwarfs the $96 million that Senator John McCain had raised. All said, Obama outraised every one of his competitors in every single major category.
Thus facing the prospect of either (a) adhering to his pledge and making good on his self-professed "post-partisan" image on the one hand, or (b) cynically flip-flopping in order to capitalize on his huge monetary advantage on the other hand, Obama pounced on the latter.
By doing so, Obama becomes the first major candidate to eschew public financing for his general election campaign, allowing him to spend without limit in his race against McCain.
Predictably, Senator Obama had a ready-made excuse on hand to rationalize his utter hypocrisy.
According to him, "John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special-interest PACs." Apparently lacking any sense of irony, he added that, "we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system," and argued that his donations have come from small individuals.
Does MoveOn.org, which introduced television ads this week targeting Senator McCain, constitute a "small individual?" And how does Senator Obama's rationalization square with meeting with the "Hillraisers," Senator Clinton's wealthy army of top-dollar fundraisers, at Washington D.C.'s posh Mayflower Hotel?
We're not sure how this fits within Senator Obama's definition of "change we can believe in," or "post-partisan" leadership, but Americans will ultimately have to decide for themselves.
Again, we maintain our opposition to public campaign financing, and will continue to fight it at every opportunity. At the same time, however, we will not stand silent when politicians manipulate this pernicious system to their cynical political advantage.Month 26, 2008
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