McCain Opposed, Played Games with, then Quit Pub. Fin. System

I've said it before and I'll say it again: John McCain is one of the most cynical, conniving and excessively ambitious career politicians America has seen for a very long time. Today's evidence? McCain's machinations on public financing.

As you little doubt have seen, McCain has been desperately flailing at Barack Obama in recent days in the hopes of scoring some "maverick" points with the establishment media inside the Beltway (who always love that kind of stuff) by attacking Obama for not opting into the presidential public financing system for the general election even before he has won the Democratic nomination (if he ever does so). But who is McCain to talk on this issue?

Back in 1995, McCain voted with Strom Thurmond, Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms and Rick Santorum against an effort to save the public financing program. In effect, McCain voted with arch-conservatives -- the most reactionary wing of his party -- to help kill the program. Even 10 of his Republican colleagues voted for the measure, helping show McCain's true colors as an opportunist rather than someone willing to buck his party's leadership for the sake of principle. Said Common Cause of the vote, "This is not a matter of budget politics.  This is a matter of integrity." [1995 Senate Vote 194, Common Cause Statement, 5/25/1995]

When it finally suited him this year, McCain essentially pledged to be a part of the public financing system in order to secure a much needed loan for his campaign. The Washington Post today:

John McCain's cash-strapped campaign borrowed $1 million from a Bethesda bank two weeks before the New Hampshire primary by pledging to enter the public financing system if his bid for the presidency faltered, newly disclosed records show.

Then when it suited McCain, he pulled out of the public financing system rather than go through with his intention to be a part of the program. Yet now, when it suits McCain, he's hitting Obama for not opting in for a general election he is not yet (and may never be) a part of? McCain clearly has no credibility here, despite what the folks in the establishment press might think. No, McCain has shown time and time again that he is willing to play games with his perceived "principles" as it suited him. In this case, he voted against public financing before he opted into it before he opted out of it before he attacked Obama for doing so. I think there's a hyphenated pair of words used to describe people who waffle like that...

Tags: John McCain, public financing (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with, then Quit P

Yeah I really don't know why both democratic campaigns don't pound him into the ground on this issue.  It's like having Ted Haggard lecture me on my sex life.

by kasjogren 2008-02-16 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Didn't Obama promise to accept public financing if his opponent did?

I think it would be mad for Obama to voluntarily give up his fundraising advantage but doesn't McCain have a point?

If McCain offers to accept public financing, isn't Obama breaking a pledge if he doesn't?

McCain's obviously not been talking straight on the issue, but that doesn't mean Obama hasn't broken his promise or is going to break it.

by liberalj 2008-02-16 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

McCain is only using the system when it's convenient for him.  There is no principle here, and no reason for Obama to follow.

by Adam B 2008-02-16 01:52PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

i don't doubt that this isnt about McCain's deep committment to public financing.

But are you really saying Obama should go back on a pledge because its politically convenient?

Hasn't Obama just spent the last year talking about a new kind of politics?

Then he's going to break a pledge he made the moment it becomes politically convenient to do so, just like he broke the Florida campaigning pledge as soon as it was convenient to do so?

Obama has set a high standard, McCain is going to make a lot out of things like this. This sort of thing will help McCain undercut Obama's change message.

It was a dumb promise for Obama to make in the first place, but he made it and thats going to have consequences. Hopefully the Obama campaign will find some way to get round the appearance of a broken promise.

by liberalj 2008-02-16 01:59PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Obama had a television commercial that ran nationally in a number of states that had already voted, as well as in Florida.  That line of attack is simply dishonest.  

Here's a simple way to rebut McCain's attack: note the fact that McCain has lied about using public financing before, and state that Obama simply can't trust McCain to embrace public financing in the general.  Hence, he can't agree to McCain's terms.

by rfahey22 2008-02-16 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Its not dishonest, Obama promised not to air tv ads in Florida. He did. The pledge he signed was clear, it didn't make exceptions for national networks.

Obama's talk of hope, change and a new kind of politics is extremely powerful but its also very fragile. A few lies, broken pledges, any hint of corruption is going to totally undermine it. If you promise a lot, you risk letting people down a lot.

I totally understand why Obama is breaking this pledge, but it can't just be explained away by saying McCain is just as bad. McCain isn't going around the country claiming to be a new kind of politician.

Obama's already started attacking the double talk express, so i guess this is McCain trying to undermine the 'hope and change' message of Obama.

by liberalj 2008-02-16 02:09PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

It is dishonest.  No one claims that the technical violation had any effect on the Florida vote (not even Clinton herself), yet you are spreading it in an effort to discredit Obama.  The message is only fragile because partisans attempt to blow such small matters out of proportion.

With regards to campaign financing, Obama merely said that he would work to hammer out an agreement with the Republican nominee.  It's hard to agree when the other side is completely untrustworthy.

by rfahey22 2008-02-16 02:19PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

I don't want to discredit Obama. If he's the nominee, i want him to win.

If he pledged to take public financing if the Republican nominee did the same, then he's probably going to break that pledge. Is that the new kind of politics he's been promising? Isn't that the kind of thing we criticise McCain for?

If he just promised to come to some kind of arrangement thats different.

I hope it was the latter.

by liberalj 2008-02-16 02:31PM | 0 recs
by rfahey22 2008-02-16 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Actually, it wasn't equivocal at all. This is what Obama said in November:

"Senator John McCain has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, (i)(b)I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."(/i)(/b)

Wait until McCain starts running ads against Obama for saying that, if he breaks the agreement. This could be a huge issue, because it cuts right at the heart of Obama's appeal.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2008/0 2/obama_wont_pledge_to_take_publ_1.php

The NYT and Washington Post editorial boards are already pounding Obama on his as well.

by rayj 2008-02-16 03:58PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Let's look at that quote.  Obama said a) that he would work to pursue an agreement, based on the fact that b) McCain had agreed to public financing in the primary (that is what is being referred to here, not McCain's new GE "pledge").  In other words, Obama said that he would work towards an agreement (though he did not commit to an agreement), based on McCain's actions at that time (which McCain subsequently reneged upon).  There's no beef here.

This line of attack is not going to have legs for nine months, especially when McCain is being a hypocrite on this issue (it also won't have legs because no one actually cares about the issue and bigger issues of character will be raised on issues such as Iraq).

by rfahey22 2008-02-16 04:23PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Actually, I need to correct myself - it seems that the quote you cited may refer to McCain's GE "pledge."  However, again I think it's a very easy out to simply say that McCain backed out of public financing once before, and under those circumstances there can be no agreement about public financing in the GE.  You can't trust McCain when he's already broken his word once before.

by rfahey22 2008-02-16 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with

Clinton ran ads in Mobile, AL, before Florida voted, ads that reached into Pensacola and the panhandle.

by Adam B 2008-02-16 05:35PM | 0 recs
Possibly illegal

   It was possibly illegal for McCain to withdraw from public financing after pledging to apply for public funds if needed to repay the law. If not illegal, he at least perverted the meaning of the law. Obama should raise a million dollars a day from now until November and bury that mean little hypocrite.  

by MarvToler 2008-02-16 01:37PM | 0 recs
that is, If Obama wins the nomination

   I'm not assuming that Obama will win the nomination, but if he does, he shouldn't make any deals with McCain -neither should Clinton.

by MarvToler 2008-02-16 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with, then Quit P

Hey Jonathan, I just want to give you props for a fiercely written piece.

by JoeFelice 2008-02-16 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with, then Quit P

Are those two hyphenated words Super-Maverick?

by recusancy 2008-02-16 03:03PM | 0 recs
Straight Talk v. All Talk
McCain's been building his admittedly phony reputation as a straight talker for twenty years.
At a few points he actually did engage in some straight talk.  Omama's been around for about twenty minutes with no accomplishments and lots of rhetoric.  It's going to be very hard for him ever to win an argument like this. Live by the speech, die by the speech.
by Upstate Dem 2008-02-16 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with, then Quit P

We should also be examining his support of Bush's SS privatization scheme.

by Bob H 2008-02-17 01:45AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Opposed, Played Games with, then Quit P

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This was the point I was making to Jerome the moment that this was brought up.  It's so clear that McCain is the foulest of hypocrites on this issue that his claims should not be validated by Democrats, no matter which particular candidate they benefit or attack.

Unsurprising and sad, however, that the thread was hijacked.

by dday 2008-02-17 11:45AM | 0 recs

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