The Bottom Line
Published 8:46 am Monday, June 23, 2008
Change Barack Obama has demonstrated
By Tray Smith
Hillary Clinton, who, as the better half of America’s most political political family, was never suppose to lose the Democratic primary, may do her party less harm from her own bitterness than from the self confidence she has inspired in her former opponent. In the two weeks since she abandoned her quest for her party’s presidential nomination, that opponent, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, has allowed euphoria over his intra-party triumph to morph into outward cockiness in his current multiparty campaign. As a result, Obama has become increasingly dependent on his ability to hoodwink American voters to achieve victory in November.
Thursday, after promising to discuss a financial agreement with his Republican rival on several previous occasions, Obama declined participation in the public financing system for presidential campaigns.
Decrying the system as “broken,” Obama asked his supporters to declare ”independence from a broken system, and run the type of campaign that reflects the grassroots values that have already changed our politics and brought us this far.” As evidence, Obama labeled his opponents masters at “gaming this…system,” and declared that, “John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.”
But if Barack Obama’s true goal was to deny John McCain the ability to collect money from lobbyist, he should have opted for public financing, because the public system grants each candidate an equal amount of taxpayer funding for campaign operations in return for the candidate’s pledging to discontinue fundraising operations. Had John McCain opted to participate in such a system, as he had committed he would if Obama agreed to follow suit, he could not collect campaign funds from any other third party.
However, Barack Obama never even discussed the issue with the McCain campaign, denying both candidates the opportunity to agree to standards for their fundraising operations. The candidate who wants to negotiate unconditionally with the anti-Semitic dictator of Iran will not talk to John McCain about how much money lobbyist should be permitted to spend on Presidential campaigns.
Indeed, Barack Obama’s decision is not a result of his concern for the state of the public financing system, which has undergone few changes since Watergate, which was the last time a Presidential candidate decided to forgo government campaign support. Instead, his decision is a result of his realization that he can raise more money outside the system than inside it. However, that same realization has been reached by many previous Presidential candidates, who have nevertheless agreed to spend public campaign money in the interest of preserving the integrity of their campaigns.
This latest announcement is part of a reoccurring trend with Barack Obama, who left the church he attended for twenty years after its former pastor posed a deliberate threat to his campaign, falsely derided John McCain for running for George Bush’s third term while he protested Senator McCain’s “smear tactics,” and abandoned the public campaign finance system he pledged to use after he realized he could raise more money from independent donors. While these careless flip-flops may legitimately qualify Senator Obama as the “change” candidate, they have shredded his honor. Honor which is necessary in a race against a man as worthy as John McCain.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@ hotmail.com.