Barack Obama

On Obama’s broken promise

In her daily commentary, Campbell Brown takes Barack Obama to task (moderately, as she always does) on his broken promise to accept public financing. Her comments are relevant, particularly in the final week of a long campaign, but especially today, being the day that Obama launches his half-hour prime-time infomercial.

As is obvious to anyone who has read any of my posts on the topic, I have been on the Obama wagon for some time, dating officially back to March (I think) when he made his brilliant speech on race during the Jeremiah Wright affair. Bias declared, I agree with Brown’s statement (I paraphrase) that Obama broke his spending promise, and breaking promises is bad.

For most politicians, the breaking of a promise is commonplace enough to go without notice. However, when one wraps themselves in a cloak of honour, as Obama has done throughout the campaign, it is noteworthy. That this single promise stands out is as more a testament to how clean a campaign Obama has run, especially when compared to the clusterfuck of vectoring, slander, and lies of his opponent. Considering how negative this campaign has been (steered directly into the ditch by McCain), that this broken promise and a handfull of references to McCain’s age are all the “slime” and negativity that can be pinned on him, Obama has done a remarkable job.

When he announced the decision to not accept public financing, Obama released a video explaining that his reason for doing so was to be better able to fight off the 527’s and other attack groups that operate outside traditional campaign financing (not to mention, moral) constraints. (Under Karl Rove, the Republicans had mastered the use of these groups. Sure the Democrats dabbled, but like Bill Clinton, they didn’t inhale – 527’s operate best when they slime the opponent, and by and large, Democrats are leery of too much of that.) However, what the Democrats were beginning to understand was the lesson Howard Dean taught them in 2004 – big donors are passe when the internet can provide the advertisement and revenue base for a groundswell of small donations should a candidate be able to mobilize the masses. By the time of the announcement, the Obama campaign had already raised enough money, and the machinery was in place to raise much more, that it looked like they would be able to defend themselves against the 527-style attacks without having to get dragged too far into the mud.

To say the least, Barack Obama mobilized the masses.

(Revelatory aside: We used to play a game called Star Fleet Battles, in which you would create Star Trek warships and create battles with your friends’ ships. In almost every case, given the same amount of build money, the person that built a massive warship, well armed and armoured, would lose to the one with a half dozen speedy little frigates. Election campaigns are big, armoured ships, and 527’s the frigates. The Democrats have proven unable to use the frigates very well, so they have been forced to put more and more money into armour. Not only does this explain why the Democrats need all this money, but is should also explain why I never got laid until I was in university.)

To be sure, the decision to counter 527’s with campaign funds could (and should) have been made before promising to accept public funding, but I don’t think that even Obama understood the wave that was beginning to form, fanned by his campaign.

It was a stupid promise to make, and a smart one to break. If you’re going to break any, break the stupid ones – not all of them as John McCain has.

-kvd out


7 thoughts on “On Obama’s broken promise

  1. It’s an interesting column – I do take exception, however, to her statement:

    “He argued he would need all that cash to fight the ruthless attacks of 527s, those independent groups like the Swift Boat Veterans. It’s funny though, those attacks never really materialized”

    That, to me, smacks a bit of Monday-morning quarterbacking – at the time everyone was expecting Swift Boat-type attacks, part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was that she was a better choice than Obama because she was Swift-Boat proof.


  2. First it was defending Sarah Palins Wardrobe of $150K…. then it was time to defend the ‘DIVA’….
    and now Campbell is raking up something that happened 6 months ago…..Since when has Campbell Brown become a GOP sympathizer…….. Just lame journalism at its best….maybe her show’s ratings are at an all time low….The name of her show should be chnged to ‘All Bull !! GOP Biased’


  3. Ryan,
    I actually kind of agree with Brown on the clothing comments – women are treated substantially differently than men, and they had to make a big first impression. It worked, however briefly.

    Why would CNN bring this up now? I think they are getting nervous about ratings. With MSNBC grabbing more and more of the lefty market and FoxNews holding the right, they want to carve out a space in the middle. They have been pretty open with their love of Obama in recent months, so they have to dredge up some slime now and again.

    That said, my point is that he broke it, fair and square, and I’m glad he did.


  4. Ww – that must have been what McCain was on about last night in his foot massage interview with Larry King. He mentioned something about “hundreds of millions” in donations. The fact that it’s coming out this late in the campaign indicates that the donations and the system are aboveboard, but that McCain is hoping there will be little time to prove it before election day.

    I still think, deep down in the pit of my stomach, that McCain is going to win this thing.


  5. Heh. Those idiots playing ‘gotch’ journalism by “testing” Obama’s donation system have given him an accumulated amount that probably helped by a radio spot in a swing state. Thanks for the 1% vote share! Keep on giving! Next time try the name “Ima Dunce”.


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