The Blog

The Never Mind Candidate: Public Financing Wrap-Up

8:32 AM, Jun 20, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Remember when Barack Obama claimed he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election?" Once again, never mind. The Politico reports:

Obama said he'd pursue public financing "aggressively." He committed to it in a written questionnaire. He even said, repeatedly, that he would meet personally with Senator John McCain to discuss a deal.

Instead, his campaign never even asked the Republican's aides for a meeting on the subject. And Obama, both campaigns said, never asked for a face-to-face meeting with McCain.

"It was clear that there was no point," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

Goodness. I'm disillusioned. What ever happened to the "We should never be afraid to negotiate" mantra that Obama so regularly trotted out to defend his aggressive summiting plans with the world's despots?

Elsewhere on the admittedly tedious campaign finance front, even the Boston Globe senses some of the Hope/Change magic dissipating. In an editorial on Obama's public financing reversal, the Globe comments, "His decision deals a body blow both to the system of campaign finance and to his own reputation as a reform candidate."

The New York Times editorial board is also wandering around in a state of stunned disillusionment:

The excitement underpinning Senator Barack Obama's campaign rests considerably on his evocative vows to depart from self-interested politics. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has come up short of that standard with his decision to reject public spending limitations and opt instead for unlimited private financing in the general election.

Of course, the swooningest of Obamaphiles can process neither their hero's feet of clay nor his forked tongue. The American Prospect's Ezra Klein commented yesterday, "Well played, Obama campaign. Well played." Indeed. It was a real stroke of genius the way Barack Obama either made a highly public promise whose repercussions he didn't understand or that he never intended to keep.