The Obama administration’s switch to the super PAC dark side
Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 7:00 pm
By SUSAN S. BROWN
During campaign appearances in 2008, Americans were swept off their feet (some quite literally if you take into account the swooning women) with the idea of “hope and change.” In almost childlike faith, people grabbed on to the promise that then Senator Barack Obama was a different kind of politician who promised to be the proverbial tie binding us together in unity. Red and Blue would fade away into purple as we laid down our individualism in pursuit of “the greater good.” Believing a new day had dawned on American politics, the awestruck responded to one of the greatest marketing ruses in American history with a hearty: “Dude, this whole hope and change thing is definit ely the way to go.”
Now let’s get real. Decision after reversed decision like the administration’s recent choice to ditch its (supposed) “core values” in support of the pro-Obama Super PAC, “Priorities USA Action” pretty much betrays everything that President Obama said he stood for. Liberals think this fundamental change of position is acceptable because “all is fair in love and war” — and Chicago politics.
To be fair, the GOP pretty much owns the whole Super PAC concept and the morality of Super PACs within the campaign fundraising system is another issue for another day. The matter at hand (literally) is that every time President Obama decides to point a finger at his opponents, there are three fingers pointing back in his direction.
To be clear, Obama was against Super PACs before he was for them, just like he was for public funding of campaigns before he was against it. In June 2008, Obama detached himself from his own words (and hoped we would as well) when he did an about-face regarding his campaign finance stance. He gave us a squeaky-clean window with which to peer through when, in a video message, he expressed his condolences for the necessity to change his position. Promising it was “not an easy decision” to make because he still supported “a robust system of public financing of elections,” Obama claimed it was a decision driven by necessity. The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken,” Obama complained, “and we face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system.”
After much bloviating, Obama stepped down from his soapbox and became part of what he described as the “broken system” when he opted out of public campaign financing – and the naÃ¯ve blindly followed in lockstep — because that is how Chicago rolls.
Everyone changes his or her mind on occasion, and it is acceptable for a politician’s stance on an issue to evolve over a period of years. It is quite another thing for one’s viewpoint to change on a dime for political convenience. To gain an understanding as to what this administration actually stands for, all one needs to do is figure out what it previously stood against.
During his 2010 State of the Union speech, Obama defiantly smacked-down the Supreme Court for its Citizen’s United v. Federal Elections Commission decision because it opened the “floodgates for special interests.” Obama said, “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests.”
In light of its newfound adulation of Super PACs, in fairness, Obama’s statement should be revised: “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests — unless you are a Democrat.”
This stark volte-face does not bode well for an administration which once promised to be different, superior –even transformational. It is dizzying to listen to the cacophony of disjointed explanations as to the administration’s recent move to the Super PAC “Dark Side.” Both senior campaign advisor David Axelrod and Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina implied it was acceptable to chuck core values and make this logic-defying and ethics-denying decision because the administration could not “afford to play by two sets of rules” meaning theirs and ours — and swapped them for something a bit more user-friendly, namely, “Ours and Ours.”
Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist, motivational speaker and military advocate who writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture.
This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.
Published in The Messenger 2.13.12