Sen. Barack Obama's decision to go back on his word and reject federal campaign financing is being hailed by fellow Democrats as a brilliant move. It is anything but.
Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said Friday on Washington all-news radio station WTOP that Obama is doing the "right thing" by rejecting federal financing because his campaign has generated small donations from more than 1 million small donors.
This party-line flim-flammery is unprecedented in recent Democratic presidential campaigns. Obama's decision is emblematic of his uncanny ability to renege on promises, brush off transgressions as if they were unimportant, and prevaricate with an ease that inspires marvel.
For example, Obama claims he does not accept contributions from lobbyists. He does, however, accept large donations from high-level corporate executives who are lobbying him on issues associated with the industries in which they work. For example, WTOP political analyst Mark Plotkin pointed out to Cardin that Obama accepted $570,000 in contributions from Goldman Sachs executives. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Obama accepted more than $225,000 in contributions from Exelon executives while watering down an antinuclear bill he had introduced in the Senate. Exelon is the nation's largest provider of nuclear power.
Claiming that Obama does not accept money from lobbyists is a distinction without a difference. A campaign that accepts huge donations from corporate executives while claiming it rejects lobbying money is bending semantics to the breaking point.
Will Obama's slick manipulation of the rules cause his supporters to reconsider? Probably not. The problem is, Sen. John McCain is hardly a viable alternative for voters seeking an honest, reliable, credible presidential candidate. McCain's past ethical transgressions are well known and will continue to haunt him until November. The 2008 campaign will go down in history as the campaign of "no choice" for voters seeking a moderate president who delivers on his/her promises, who does not lie or change positions, and who walks the middle political road.
By Bonnie Erbe