The Obama campaign’s most recent fundraising e-mail points, somewhat embarrassingly, to the gulf between the promises of the 2008 campaign and the reality of the Obama presidency (emphasis added):
My favorite campaign tradition started five years ago — check out the email below. . . .
From: Barack Obama
Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 at 6:23 p.m.
Subject: Re: Dinner with Barack?
When we launched this campaign, we decided not to take the easy money offered by Washington lobbyists and special interest political action committees.
Instead, we put our faith in you, and we couldn’t have made a better choice. . . .
The Obama campaign still maintains a policy of not accepting donations from registered federal lobbyists (though they’ve not done a great job of enforcing it), but this is a narrowly defined group, and hardly means they’re not being funded by lobbyists. As the Times reported last October, persons active in the lobbying industry had (at the time) raised more than $5 million for the president. Romney’s willingness to accept contributions from registered federal lobbyists and their PACs has netted him only $1.87 million, according to the Huffington Post. And, of course, the revolving door of lobbyists Obama promised to halt is spinning as quickly as ever.
And what about the pledge to reject donations from “special interest political action committees”? Again, technically Obama’s continued to eschew donations from PACs specifically, but that’s basically meaningless, and doesn’t mean he’s not flush with special-interest money. The Romney campaign, on the other hand, has received a grand total of $901,524 from PACs, or 0.34 percent of his fundraising — his presidency has pretty much been wrapped up and sold to the highest bidder among them, surely. Meanwhile, just to take one special-interest group, trial lawyers: They’ve donated $18.6 million to the Obama campaign so far. It should be bittersweet indeed for the president’s supporters to look at how his airy promises have reconciled with reality.