The Cash and Carry Politics of Obama
With a week to go, former Democratic Senator Bob Kerry, CNN’s Campbell Brown and the Washington Post have decided to pipe up about the gobs of cash Barack Obama has raised. Kerry notes the Democratic Party’s hypocrisy on the subject:
On the question of public funding of presidential campaigns, we Democrats who strongly support Sen. Barack Obama’s candidacy and who previously supported limits on campaign spending and who haven’t objected to Obama’s opting out of the presidential funding system face an awkward fact: Either we are hypocrites, or we were wrong to support such limitations in the first place.
For now, Kerry says he’s probably a hypocrite but that he’s also changed his mind. Heh. Funny how that works. For her part Brown, possibly inspired by Kerry, notes that Obama broke a campaign promise regarding campaign finance and takes issue with one line of his reasoning:
Without question, Obama has set the bar at new height with a truly staggering sum of cash. And that is why as we approach this November, it is worth reminding ourselves what Barack Obama said last November. One year ago, he made a promise. He pledged to accept public financing and to work with the Republican nominee to ensure that they both operated within those limits.
Then it became clear to Sen. Obama and his campaign that he was going to be able to raise on his own far more cash than he would get with public financing. So Obama went back on his word.
He broke his promise and he explained it by arguing that the system is broken and that Republicans know how to work the system to their advantage. He argued he would need all that cash to fight the ruthless attacks of 527s, those independent groups like the Swift Boat Veterans. It’s funny though, those attacks never really materialized.
The Post report on the questionable on-line donations coming into the Obama campaign made Page 2 (why not Page 1?):
Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity, campaign officials confirmed.
Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.
The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations….
“They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in,” said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. “I think they’ve made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn’t outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront.”
There is an element of art to these calculations: The Obamatron editors in the media want to be able to cover themselves by saying they raised the story, but the trick is to do so at a time and place that prevents it going anywhere before November 4th.