He's an ardent believer in money-out-of-politics good government, you see, except when those lofty principles complicate the all-surpassing goal of attaining and fortifying political power:
On a conference call with members of President Obama’s 2012 reelection committee Monday evening, campaign manager Jim Messina announced that donors should start funding Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC run by two former White House staffers, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney. The move was a remarkable shift in approach toward the independent political expenditure groups, whose role in the political process Obama has criticized and from which his campaign had sought to keep distance. Just seven months earlier, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt assured, “Neither the President nor his campaign staff or aides will fundraise for super PACs,” according to the LA Times.
Not only has our pious president "criticized" these independent groups, he's actually labeled them "a threat to our democracy." Indeed, these Super PACS are such a mortal threat to the American Way that Obama supporters are now compelled to embrace them. Funny how that works. The impetus for this "remarkable shift"? The Koch Brothers, natch:
Messina noted that “the President, Vice President, and First Lady will not be a part of this effort; their political activity will remain focused on the President’s campaign.” “As has become evident in the past month, the only enthusiasm in the Republican Party is among oil company billionaires and investment bankers on Wall Street looking to defeat President Obama,” Burton said in a statement. “We’re committed to providing a balance to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers who have pledged more than half a billion dollars to their effort.”
Ah yes. Blame a few Lefty betes noires and those devious Wall Street types -- who, you may recall, generously bankrolled Obama's 2008 campaign. Messina and company claim they have no choice but to fight back against the building tidal wave of right-wing cash that could (heaven forbid!) "buy the election." This ignores the fact that Democrats out-spent Republicans in 2008 and 2010 by hundreds of millions of dollars, and that Team Obama set out to raise one billion dollars for 2012. In order to fight back against the well-oiled Democrat Money Machine, the Right has embraced Super PACs as a mechanism to begin to level the playing field. Don't misunderstand, there's nothing wrong with liberals recognizing an emerging disadvantage in this realm and counter-punching. But spare us the sanctimonious garbage about how your noble aspirations were sullied by nasty conservatives who "forced" you to abandon your "principles." The truth is that when push comes to shove, the Left has zero objections to raising and spending towering mountains of greenbacks to help elect their people. Everything else is self-congratulatory window dressing. One liberal hero who genuinely believes this stuff is former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who is blasting Team Obama for selling out:
Liberal ex-Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) is ripping President Obama's decision to embrace super-PACs. Feingold, who co-authored landmark campaign finance legislation with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to regulate campaigns, said Obama is "dancing with the devil" by deciding to fully support Priorities USA, a Democratic political action committee. He also said it would turn Democrats into "corporate-lite." "This is dancing with the devil. I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don’t agree, and I understand the desire to do everything possible to win," Feingold said in a statement. "But this decision will push Democrats to become corporate-lite, and will send us head-on into a battle we know we will lose, because Republicans like Mitt Romney and his friends have and will spend more money."
Here, Feingold repeats the canard that Republicans are the Big Money party who can overwhelm "little guy" Democrats by purchasing elections. I'd simply direct him to the links in my previous paragraph for the dirty reality. Sorry, Russ; this ship sailed years ago. I'll leave you with two clips. The first is the MSNBC set wringing their hands over Obama's "cynical" decision. Enjoy the indignation while it lasts, folks, because tomorrow it'll back to screaming about Moneybags Mormon Mitt. The second is a fun flashback to Obama's first major foray into campaign financing hypocrisy. John Heilemann lays out the background nicely in the first video, so I thought I'd provide 2008's shameless follow-through, which Obama has reprised this week:
It galls me every time I watch Obama cheerfully abandon this particular pledge while wrapping himself in the banner of electoral rectitude. The ends always justify the means with this guy. Always.
UPDATE II - A great catch by the RNC research team. Here's The One waxing poetic in 2007 about sticking to principle, especially when it conflicts with one's own self interest. Note the context -- he's talking about outside groups' electoral expenditures. The really rich hypocrisy begins roughly one minute into the clip. Remember, guys, "you can't just talk the talk:"
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography