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Will Democrats forgive Barack Obama for new money stance?

There are a lot of ways to look at Barack Obama's decision to forgo public financing of his campaign and, in essence, stick with what got him to where he is -- a massively successful grassroots fundraising organization.

In one view, he's dealing with the political realities of campaign finances and a broken system. Call this the "Kool-Aid" view -- essentially taking Obama's explanation at face value. Another view is that he just broke his word -- not unheard of in politics, to be sure, Barack_obama_in_preflood_iowabut it runs against the grain of his "new kind of politics" theme. Yet another view is that he's showing, as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said, that deep down he's just like any other politician.

And there's a fourth view, one that our colleagues at The Swamp go into in some depth (well, blog depth): that Obama is showing that he has the kind of political ruthlessness that it takes to win a presidential race. As The Swamp put it: "Under that laid-back, cool and buttoned down veneer appears to be a ruthlessness that observers and Obama's opponents have underestimated too often."

It's unclear how that will play with the independents, the folks who generally decide elections. But  Democrats will cut Obama a lot of slack if they feel he can win in the fall. Remember, since Lyndon Johnson left the White House after the 1968 election 40 years ago, there have been only two Democrats to sit behind the big desk in the Oval Office -- Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

That's a drought of epic proportions. And the Democrats are mighty thirsty.

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (15)

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The question isn't how Dems will react to another Obama flip-flop; it's how will the media react? As Howard Kurtz over at WaPo wrote, Will the media call him on it?

-Wm Tate,

"Will Democrats forgive Barack Obama for new money stance?"

We would not forgive if he didn't take this stance!

And, just to correct the MSM spin...

1) Obama did not break any promise. He made a conditional offer that included free TV air time and rejection of independent 527 activities. McCain never agreed to that.

2) His "new kind of politics" theme is intact. The purpose was always to transfer political power from wealthy individuals and organized special interests to the people. That's what he's done by generating the majority of his contributions from donors giving less than $200.00.

3) His rejection of PAC money is evidence that he is not "just like any other politician."

Fionally, why do you find it necessary to negatively characterize Obama's determination and resolve as "ruthlessness"? Since when is commitment to achieving a goal a vice and not a virtue?

Way to go Barack! I am glad that you are not playing the Republicans' game. You have to do what is best for you. The Republicans had a gameplan for you, by taking public financing; you threw a wrench into their plan(s). I will be sending you another donation in the near future. Keeping on going Barack and do not look back.

The system is already broken: Richard Nixon is laughing in his grave.
a half billion to run for president.
Obama did the right thing.

This is rediculous. Purportedly small-government (but mildly fascist) Republicans are complaining that this socialist Democrat isn't wasting enough taxpayer money before he's even elected to office.

Too bad we can't run our cars on irony the way our political system does...

Let's try keeping the Oval Office vacant for four years. The world would be a better place.

n. A person who attains power through democratic elections.

Unfortunately, everything that comes along with those elections is not always desirable. McCain will raise a ton of money, just not under his name. That's what Obama claims to be about changing through this move. It makes politics slightly more transparent to be able to tell who is really behind the political press. I don't know how much of a difference it will make. It may just be superficial.

But one thing is certain: John McCain WILL NOT be limited to spending $84 million dollars. He will find other people to raise and spend money for him, who will then claim to be "independent," who voices are more "objective" because they're not part of campaigns (the fact that we EXPECT campaigns to misrepresent is troubling, but another matter altogether) -- while they are partisan as any campaign (e.g. Swift-boat, anyone?).

Another thing is certain: the press will "call him" on this. Trumped up controversy to make people look at the TV just a bit longer. So the question, as you put it, is not whether they will call him on it, but rather whether *we will call *them* on it. That is, will we see through the presses false claim that McCain will be limited to his $84 million in public financing? As he wasN'T in the primaries?

Finally, even if this is a political maneuver, it is one that gestures to a real issue in politics -- rather than many political maneuvers whose intention is to distract people from the political process (like talk about "flip-flopping" as if it was about character, and not about the political process -- see how it avoids, or tires to avoid the process? Even when dealing with an essential element of it, it claims to be something else.).

Will Democrats forgive Barack Obama for new money stance? The question should be: does the average voter care about this story? Answer. No

FORGIVE him???? We're APPLAUDING him oh perceptive one. Obama is participating in public financing the right way. *We're* the public. Nice to meet you. And we've got no problem financing Obama all on our own thank you very much. I was asked by my tax prep guy at H&R Block this year if I wanted to contribute to public financing. My response was "hell no". I don't want McCain anywhere NEAR the white house, why the hell would I contribute to financing HIM? Spend my tax money on something useful for cripes sake, anyone heard we have a massive budget deficit?

As for the clean campaign financing angle, Obama is already taking *real* action to cut lobbyist and special interest influence and he has no need to opt into "public financing" to do it.

The average person doesn't give two poops about this story. I think the news sources think if they blow it up enough then people will.
Yeah, this is really going to affect my decision... You mean he's going to keep doing the same thing he did in the primaries? The horror, the horror.
You mean he's doing it despite mentioning the possibility of accepting public financing... assuming he and the Republican nominee could work out a deal that would limit the interest group smear campaigns that fuel Republican campaigns? Oh the humanity. Let's dedicate a memorial in D.C. for this, one of the greatest tragedies in our nation's history.

Obama's a political hack. He'll lie, cheat and steal to get his way and for that, he's not unlike any other person running for the office, McCain included. There's absolutely nothing special about this guy, other than what the media and Hollywood are shoving down everyone's throat.

Tell me you've actually looked at his record of voting. Tell me you've given more consideration for this fool than what you're being fed.

You can't. Face it...America has a dearth of real Americans running for the office because they actually give two shits about the country. That's because it's a freaking business now. Defense, Insurance, medical, industry...they all own the political system.

You freaking idealists who think you're making a change, guess what? 4 years from now it''l be EXACTLY the same, no matter who wins! Mark these words.

God really has Damned America, but not for what Rev. Wrong has said.

1) If Barack Obama committed homicide tomorrow and it was caught on tape, but through some magic of the legal system the case was thrown out due to a technicality, he would probably still pull 30-40% of his current supporters. Will the Democrats forgive him for flip-flopping? What a stupid question.

2) Will the media forgive him? With the exception of Fox News, another stupid question. 90% of the stories I've read so far spend the first 4 paragraphs talking about how he's not taking government money and how this is historic and groundbreaking... before they ever get to the main point of finance reform.

3) Will independents forgive him? Well... anyone who managed to convince themselves that Obama wasn't a politician deserves a rude awakening. He made a tactical move and he will benefit. The question is... will the fairytale image he was trying to sell to independents take enough of a hit that more commercials and posters and rallies won't be able to compensate? Time will tell.

"1) Obama did not break any promise. He made a conditional offer that included free TV air time and rejection of independent 527 activities. McCain never agreed to that.

2) His 'new kind of politics' theme is intact. The purpose was always to transfer political power from wealthy individuals and organized special interests to the people. That's what he's done by generating the majority of his contributions from donors giving less than $200.00.

3) His rejection of PAC money is evidence that he is not 'just like any other politician.'"

Let me just repeat the above, since the blowhards seem to be ignoring it. Please, all whinebags who can't stop bellyaching about Obama "lying". Get it through your thick heads that he did not lie. Repeating the actual lie, alleging Obama lied, over and over doesn't make it the truth. I understand as die-hard Regressives, you have to take your comfort where you can, but realize pushing your delusions loudly and proudly isn't going to convince any reasonable person that it's truth.

Yes the demos will forgive Barack Obama for everything he do.There's a lot of demons hidden behind his calm-cool phoney respect for everyone. I believe he shares some of the negative views about america as his radical friends, Rev.Wright and his church, Rezko, Father Pfleger, Ayers, Farrakhan and some others. After all of this and his 58 states, pushing the wrong button 6 times, no hand over his heart, etc., the demos still opened the way for him to be nominated. Obama and his radicals will change america to something few will like nor want.

Obama and his whiney loser followers don't get it. The more this pompous jackass walks and talks, along with his scary looking baby momma' the less many of us want to see him in the White House. He stumbled to the finish line of the primary campaign and is his own worst enemy, losing more than winning and engendering people to vote AGAINST him rather than voting FOR McCain. The best thing he did in the past few months is stop making appearances and stop talking (who is the "genius" that had him yelling, "I think someone just fainted over there," at his campaign rallies? "cough-loser-cough"). This guy is the consumate politician not the savior his stupid disciples claim him to be, he is the Brian in Monty Python's "Life of Brian," someone mistaken for who he isn't by his vapid followers. It's a travesty to the American people that this fool is the choice of a major party, along the lines of a George W. Bush. I truly believe if this clown attains the presidency it will accelerate the further slide of this country down the tubes since he has never run a business, has been in a national political office for less than one term and surrounds himself with the same political types he claims not to be. How is that, "change we can believe in?" Or does he mean like quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies akin to, "let them eat cake?"

There are two reasons that the Republicans are moaning as loudly as they are: (1) they didn't do it first, and (2) they didn't do it first!
The Republicans are the masters of lying, hypocrisy, deception and Dirty Tricks. Obama outsmarted them. He did an end run around them. HE DID THE RIGHT THING. Why would he deliberately limit himself when he would be absolutely foolish to do so? The only stupid thing he did was to make that pledge. Now he broke it, he's taking heat, and -- IT WAS THE RIGHT DECISION.
You want Change? HERE'S CHANGE! He broke away from a system full of loopholes and back doors where all kinds of over-the-limit money comes through under the table.
Now it's all out in the open. He's trusting his followers to finance his run for the presidency. That's REAL CHANGE, which he has promised all along. Sometimes really stupid promises need to be broken.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
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