As expected, Obama broke his pledge to accept public financing of his campaign. But in a fit of chutzpah, he presented his opportunistic reversal as a matter of principle. As the Washington Post put it:
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. . .
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 . . . Instead, he cast his abandonment of the system as a bold good-government move. . .
Fine. Politicians do what politicians need to do. But they ought to spare us the self-congratulatory back-patting while they’re doing it.
And that’s not the end to the hypocrisy:
“John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs,” Obama said in his message to supporters yesterday. “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.”
To date, no conservative 527 groups have materialized.
The Washington Post also reports that Obama has rejected McCain’s proposal for a series of town hall debates:
Although campaign finance issues rank low on lists of voter concerns, the McCain team pounced on Obama’s move, along with his rejection of the 10 town hall meetings that McCain has proposed, as evidence that his claim to represent a “new politics” is empty rhetoric.
There is some potential good news here; this stuff was all reported and editorialized. As Glenn Reynolds put it, the media bloom may be off the Obama rose. Obama has benefited from breathtakingly positive coverage, and if he loses that, he may find that it was worth more than he’s gaining.