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Obama and Campaign Financing


It was rather incredible for Barack Obama to express outrage over the Supreme Court’s pruning of McCain-Feingold’s regulation of public financing and corporate campaign donations, since in June 2008 Obama became the first presidential candidate to forgo public financing in the general election, expecting that by doing so he could raise several millions more, much of it from the Wall Street and big-money interests that he now serially demonizes.

The problem with Obama’s hypocrisy is not just that, like most politicians, he does not do what he says, but that he fudges so vehemently and loudly and, to be candid, shamelessly. It was not enough just to say he would air the health-care debate on C-Span; he had to repeat that mythology ad nauseam, and use it as proof of his new hope-and-change politics — even as Democratic insiders soon crafted strategies behind closed doors and bought votes with multimillion-dollar public bribes. Guantanamo was to be closed this week, and tribunals and renditions were to be ended — we heard those boasts constantly over the past three years, as proof that Obama was not George Bush.

Now, stung by the Massachusetts rebuke, Obama apparently has begun his makeover with a rhetorical assault against the Court’s campaign-donation decision, as if he were a sort of “Fighting Bob” Lafollette in hot pursuit of “fat cat” bankers. 

Sorry, this is transparently manufactured. Let me repeat: No presidential candidate did more to destroy the idea of public campaign financing than Barack Obama, who set a record in private donations from Wall Street, ended a three-decade-long bipartisan tradition of curbing presidential campaign expenditures, and, once elected, proceeded to nominate a number of Wall Street insiders.


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