Monday, April 14, 2008

Attacking Obama On Campaign Financing?


For the second time, the Washington Post has an unsigned editorial attacking Barack Obama for declining to take full federal funding for the general election. There's plenty of room for criticism, given Obama's history of statements in favor of campaign finance reform and public funding. But talk about a free pass for John McCain....
We praised Mr. Obama last year when he asked the Federal Election Commission to let him raise private money for the general election but later give the money back and decide to participate in the public financing system if he were able to persuade the Republican nominee to do the same. In that circumstance, Mr. Obama's spokesman vowed, he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." Well, the Republican nominee turns out to be John McCain, who agreed way back when to Mr. Obama's challenge. Where's Mr. Obama's aggressive pursuit now?
Um... that would be the same John "McCain-Feingold" McCain who accepted federal money for his faltering primary campaign, used it to secure a loan for his campaign, and then flip-flopped the moment he discovered that his pledge would limit his spending?

It's also flat-out false that McCain has agreed to use only federal funding for his presidential campaign. Or, more accurately, he did make that pledge but then repudidiated it, adding a new condition that Obama has to commit to public funding first.
“It was very clear to me that Senator Obama had agreed to having public financing of the general election campaign if I did the same thing,” he said after a town hall meeting here. “I made the commitment to the American people that if I was the nominee of my party, I would go the route of public financing. I expect Senator Obama to keep his word to the American people as well.”

Asked if he would use public financing even if Mr. Obama did not, he said: “If Senator Obama goes back on his commitment to the American people, then obviously we have to rethink our position. Our whole agreement was we would take public financing if he made that commitment as well...."
As for Obama,
Mr. Obama did not rule out the possibility of accepting public financing, but declared on Friday, “I’m not the nominee yet.”

“If I am the nominee, I will make sure our people talk to John McCain’s people to find out if we are willing to abide by the same rules and regulations with respect to the general election going forward,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a news conference in Milwaukee. “It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I am locking into something when I don’t even know if the other side will agree to it.”
Do the members of the Post's editorial board read their own paper? Or does this fall into the category of the mendacious, embarrassing brand of editorial that is unsigned because nobody wants to associate their name with it?

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