Friday, June 20, 2008

Disappointed in Obama

Barack Obama has deeply disappointed me by deciding to forgo engagement in the public financing system. Not only does this go back (or "flip flop") on a pledge he made last year, but it also cedes the issue and the political and moral high ground to John McCain.

The most resonant criticism of Hillary Clinton that many Obama supporters and other Clinton critics brought to bear during the primary was the fact that it seemed like she'd do anything to win. That attitude that the means justify the ends is exactly what turns so many people off from politics.
So, to argue that forgoing public financing gives him a better shot to win because of his superior fundraising abilities is - for me - to miss the point entirely. It's not about winning at all costs -- it's about changing the system.

Obama is right that the campaign finance system needs deep change. But he is deeply misleading to characterize his decision to depend entirely on private money as a "declaration of independence" from a broken system. I do applaud his continued refusal to take money from PACs and lobbyists but the fact remains that he is hauling in more $2,300 checks than anyone. The fact that he also is getting hundreds of thousands of $25 and $50 checks doesn't mean that private money should stay in politics.

Hopefully this is not a first step in the morphing of Obama into just another Democratic presidential candidate. We shall see.


Betty & Bimbo said...

Bimbo appreciates Koko's comments. It's been a bad week for Obama in many ways -- his support for the FISA amnesty "compromise" was just as disheartening.

If we believe that "the ends justify the means" mentality is damaging - that changing the system is as important as one electoral victory, then Obama's recent campaign ad is also a throwback to the tired playbook he said he would be rejecting. His first ad of the general election - key points: family values and faith are the bedrock of America, Kansas heartland values are supreme, America is about working hard and self-reliance, "moving people from welfare to work" is one of three career accomplishments to be proud of - is an embarassment. It's one thing to respond to rumors (the whole Muslim thing) and another to play by the terms of your opponents.

Doesn't it seem like Obama supporters should be holding his feet to the fire a little more? Holding him accountable? If Hillary had said and done the same things, progressives would be flipping out.

Obama has always been just another Democratic presidential candidate. Simply minus an identifiable track record. Of course I will vote for him in November, but for this progressive he has been a perpetual disappointment -- with more disappointments to come, I fear.

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

We should always be skeptical of anyone claiming to be a "different kind of politician" because politicians are nothing more than products of the political process. It takes so much time, money, and unholy alliances to be successful in politics that no one, and certainly no one who won the presidential nomination of a major political party, can be free from corrupting influences. (See today's New York Times story about Obama and ethanol.) This is why I never really got the vitriol over Clinton--she's a politician like any other, as is Obama.

Koko the Clown said...

Though I don't think "vitriol" describes my own criticisms of Hillary Clinton, I don't want my disappointment to be taken as some acknowledgement that Obama's flaws have sunk him in my estimation to the low in which I hold Sen. Clinton.

Nancy D is largely right, I think, that political figures are a product of the process. And there is no denying that we have a perverse and ugly process. But Obama's appeal has always been for me his desire to move outside of some elements of it. The temptation now in a general election to be sucked in will surely be great. But I still do have some hope that he will just by the presence of his campaign and the new political activism it has engendered create the space for some positive change to occur.