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Will Democrats forgive Barack Obama for new money stance?

June 20, 2008 |  8:52 am

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