Obama, McCain public finance: Hypocrite versus Hypocritical Law Breaker

So Obama has opted out of the public financing of campaigns. Good move. I always thought it was a dumb idea and even dumber for Obama to make the pledge. So the move is hypocritical; no way on earth anyone is going to pass up the advantages his money making machine gives him. Obama’s point about the system being broken is true (see below as its co-author is currently in illegal violation of such statute) but still mostly a gambit to deflect hypocrisy charges. It was broken before he made the promise to “pursue” it. I guess we could have a what is the meaning of pursue (and did he do it), but mostly I just think this is some smoke and mirrors on their part.

On the other hand, John McCain actually broke the law that he himself wrote on the subject–and is now calling Obama a hypocrite on this point. That takes hypocrisy to a new level. Again poll after poll shows that public finance is a big deal for about 4% of the population. But anyway, here’s the thing with McCain:

The McCain campaign was broke last year as you may recall, he took out a loan the collateral of which was the promise that he would win the nomination and take public financing. So in other words,the collateral on his loan was your tax money (for the Americans reading this). As Mark Schmitt said this doesn’t violate the letter of the law but pushes the envelope (to put it mildly) on the spirit of the thing. Not to mention the guy you know sponsored the legislation and has built his media/pol image around this clean, reformer, do gooder image. Total crock but whatever.

The deal with the loan however was that he would be forced to have to take public financing. McCain massively exceeded his spending limit in the primaries and will not be taking p-f in the general. In other words McCain is forced by law to take public finance and is not doing so and therefore is in violation of his already shady loan and the law he actually wrote. Nor did McCain’s unilateral withdrawal from the p-f system receive approval from the Federal Election Commission. Not so fast Johnny you may be saying except that   he won’t be prosecuted on the matter (A) Because he’s McCain and it’s America B)Because there is not a quorum on the Commission because The President only nominates subservient hacks that the Democrats won’t correctly ratify).

Obama made a campaign promise he isn’t keeping. Not good but not on the same level as breaking your own legislation and convincing yourself you are such a reformer/purist that you can disregard little things like you know the law. As McCain has made clear throughout his political life (and would do more so as president) he will flaunt the law in order to push his reformist (so called) agenda.

Nobody looks particularly good out of this episode, but McCain’s actions are for me an order of magnitude worse than Obama’s.

Some Straight Talk for ya.

Of course the media will never actually bring any of this up.  It’ll all be is Obama a hypocrite?

Published in: on June 20, 2008 at 8:56 am  Comments (5)  
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  1. […] post of his calling Obama a liar on public finance.  The comment stated much of what I expanded on in this post I wrote.  In much shorter form but the basic argument was the […]

  2. Chris, just saw this post on FactCheck.org. looks like this is more complicated and technical than i had initially thought.



  3. C4,

    Thanks for the link.

    It’s true that on the first loan (4 million I believe) he appeared to stay (just barely) within the letter of the law. But as Mark Schmitt argues violated the spirit. That is the system is supposed to be: declare for public financing and take the funds or stay out and raise your own money unlimited.

    But McCain was kinda playing it both sides of the fence.

    Now, he also took a second loan (1 million) which promised future contributions (not excluding the public funds). The public funds were in his asset list, so it would seem whether or not he actually paid back the loan with the public money or not, he used it (in a broad asset sense) as collateral for the loan. Which according to the legal experts, means that he can not back out without FEC approval. ergo, He shouldn’t be raising and spending the money he is now.

    He may then also re-enter the public financing for the general, (post-convention) yet again playing both sides of the fence. Yuck iow.

    So the Factcheck article is in agreement with the first but I don’t think makes clear about the second loan.

    Even if isn’t in violation of his own law (and it’s at least fishy enough to warrant an investigation) he certainly can’t claim the political highground on this matter. Though he has and Obama has stupidly not called him on it, so I think McCain has actually won the scuffle politically.

    Here’s the Mark Schmitt article:
    <a href=”http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=02&year=2008&base_name=would_you_make_a_pledge_with_t”

  4. whoops, let me try that last part again:

    Link here Mark Schmitt

  5. […] over at Indistinct Union, carefully parses out the failures in judgement on both sides and chalks up the more significant infraction to McCain, […]

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