Obama's decision to opt out of public financing

I need to understand this. From what I gather, Obama agreed to do the public financing thing, and then found that the republican party was getting tons of funds through some loophole. So Obama decided to turn down the 82 mil and go for private grass-roots funds, which so far has worked out well for him.

  1. Why should McCain care if Obama changed his mind, as long as it’s legal?
  2. Should this change of mind on Obama’s part be viewed as “dirty pool” or in any way negative? If it’s legal, shouldn’t it be viewed as a good business move?
  3. Couldn’t McCain do the same thing? If so, and it is advantageous to do so, why wouldn’t he?

Help me understand what all the ruckus is about. Discuss.

Take a look at this recent thread. I’m not sure of the whole debate myself, but it seems you may find some answers there.

This is politics. If he can make a stink about it and get people riled up, then whether or not he cares is besides the point.

Yeah, it may be a good move for him to make, but the fact is he’s doing it out of expediency and pretty clearly breaking a pledge he made to the American people. What else is he going to change his mind about for expediency purposes?

His claim that the public financing system is broken could have been made before he said he’d use it. Nothing has changed in the system since then, so it’s hard to believe that he just now discovered this broken aspect.

Well, he could and he kinda already did in the last few months even though he seems to intend to go back to public financing after the convention.

Obama figured out that he can raise more money than McCain and forego the public financing route. He thinks it helps him politically more than it hurts him. McCain wants to make sure it hurts him as much as possible. We can’t know for sure, but I suspect we’d be seeing the same thing played out if the tables were turned. Maybe not, though, since McCain was one of the authors of the recent campaign finance bill and it would be much harder for him to say the system was broken.

Also, this is the first time a major candidate went this route since public funding was initiated after Watergate. That alone makes it a big deal. From my perspective, it’s a small black mark against Obama. He’s sort of going back on a promise, but no one is really hurt by it. Still, McCain will have an excuse to turn a blind eye to any Swift Boat type group that comes along after Obama-- part of the deal on using public financing was that both candidates would discourage that sort of thing.

And keep in mind that while Obama can raise more money than McCain, the Republican party can raise more money than the Democrats, so they can (and almost certainly will) use those funds to amp up McCain’s campaign.

Thanks. Interesting thread over there.

He didn’t agree to the public financing thing. He agreed to a condition which McCain did not meet.

The only reason he cares is because he doesn’t know how to raise money as effectively as Obama does.

There’s nothing dirty about it. He said he’d take public money if McCain would meet his conditions. McCain failed to do so.

McCain already has done it. He promised to use publc financing so he could get a loan. Then he tried to opt out, but when the bank didn’t take kindly to that, he opted back in.

See this video of Keith Olbermann, who explains it thoroughly.

There was no pledge. Even I got taken in by that rhetoric at first, but the reality is that all he ever said was that he would talk to McCain about establishing an agreement. McCain wan’t interested. That’s that. Obama made no “pledge to the American people” whatsoever.

McCain is crying like a bitch about it only because Obama is out-raising him by more than a 2-1 margin. McCain is also being disingenuous since he still intends to benefit from 527 ads (and especially since they’ve said they’re going to swiftboat Obama’s wife). McCain has no right to complain about anything. This is a loser’s lament on his part.

Pffft. He said he would aggressively pursue negotiations, and all that happened was a 40 minute meeting with the lawyers from both sides. He signed a simple statment with a “yes” that he would use public financing if his Republican opponent would also. He broke the pledge.

Sure, he left himself some wiggle room, but he clearly wanted people to think he was signed on to public financing. And his lame excuse about the system being broken is just that – lame. He didn’t even have the courage to announce this VERY BIG decision in person, instead sending out a video clip. Hard to ask questions in that kind of one-way communication.

At any rate, I’m sure FactCheck.Org will have an analysis of this out next week. In the meantime, here’s the editorial take on this by the strongly Obama-supporting San Jose Merc:

Hmmm… I can’t link to the editorial, and get a “server error” instead. I’ll check back later today and see if it’s up.

It would be so *great * if the biggest thing to worry about was campaign finance, if that was the biggest issue in picking a candidate. Silver lining: a sure cure for constipation, just sit yourself down, think “President John McCain” and totally shit.

That’s not a pledge and McCain was not cooperative.

That’s what I thought too, but it turns out it didn’t really happen. Shayna debunked that in the other thread. There was a questionaire, but there was no no checkbox for a “pledge.”

He said he would support it if McCain did, but he never made a pledge.

How so? Do you think the loopholes don’t really exist?

Now THIS is a lame complaint.

Here’s the relevant part from Shayna’s post, and there sure is “no” checkbox. Did they use the word pledge? No. But he wrote “yes” followed by some long, campaign-like spiel about how wonderful his proposed legislation is:

*If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?

Yes ___ No ___

CLINTON: No response.
HUCKABEE: No response.
MCCAIN: No response.
OBAMA: Yes.* [long explanation follows]

He should not have said “Yes” if he meant “maybe”.

Here’s the editorial from the Merc. They claim that his not taking public funds will doom the legislation that he says is so important:

So you agree, there was no pledge. The rest is irrelevant. You tried to gloss the caveat on the questionnaire answer but here it is:

That’s not a pledge.

Oh, and speaking of “lame”, here’s what FactCheck has to say so far about the decision:

Factcheck is being disingenuous. It’s not counting the 527 stuff.

I don’t agree that the word “pledge” has to be in there for it to be a pledge. He said he would do it. That’s enough for me. If you really want to say he simply went back on his word instead of breaking a pledge, that’s OK with me. But I see no difference between those two statements. I certainly hope I don’t have to expect him to “pledge” every time he makes a commitment to us in order for us to expect him to keep that commitment. If that is the case, then I’ll vote for McCain.

How is it Obama sort of changes his mind on public financing (which is no surprise to anyone) and everyone jumps on the, “OMG! Flip flopper!” bandwagon when we can all easily point to numerous instances of McCain reversing himself all over the place?

How is it McCain plays rather fast and loose with the decision to go with public financing (I’m in, I’m out, ok I’m back in again) and yet it is Obama who is some pledge breaker?

How is it Obama being the only one to even answer that question is getting busted for it where the other candidates avoided it completely (which I can only see as a way to not take a stance so they can do what suits them down the road)?

He did NOT say he would do it. He said he would pursue an agreement. He said that on the questionnaire. There was no "committment. You are making things up.

I continue to be floored by the elementary shool grasp your posts have shown of some of these concepts which, by any historical measure, are not above you. There was no maybe; hence, the qualified response. If you disagreed with his reasoning, it would be one thing, but you don’t even acknowledge his reasoning. That’s just … bizarre.

Oh, yeah, the sky is falling and we can depend on the vaunted opinionaters of editorial boards to set us straight — like the Mercury News, which told us in 2003 that Colin Powell, made the case on behalf of the Bush administration for invading Iraq “without resorting to exaggeration, a rhetorical tool he didn’t need.” (Cite.)

if McCain was the one raising all the private money, there’s no way he would agree to public funding. It’s a complete, self-serving jerk-off on his part. He screwed himself with dishonest attempt to game the system and now he has the nerve to cry foul and appeal to fictional “broken pledges.”

And this is a guy who has reversed more positions than a tantric yoga instructor.

Can someone define the 527 thing for me?

The doldrums was a good place to drop this. It’s sort of confusing, nobody really understands what the hubbub is beyond close followers of the process (most of whom have likely made up their minds).

Eventually it will drop back and there’s not much hay to be made from it in the long run.

That all said, it seems non-kosher to me, he’s violating the spirit of the statement he wrote on that questionnaire, on account of he had no idea that he’d be able to fund-raise like he has. I think he’d be dumb to limit himself to public funding, and I don’t want him to, but it’s still a little slippery and he’s not really facing it head on, he’s being squirrelly about the causes for his decision, when it’s really all about the sheer amount of money he’d sacrifice by going with public financing.