Obama did not make a Public Financing pledge

First I need to state that this is not a call out diary.  I'm including statements by Jerome Armstrong and myself only to bring people up to date on the disucssion.  Others made similar statements; I wasn't the only one.

Jerome made the following statement in his front page diary today.

Obama would be re-writing the rules with the above claims that the RNC and 527's be counted or ended. I'm sure he's not going to accept public financing, but his previous pledge to do so, and attempt to change the rules midway through the game, doesn't seem like as clear a way as him to wiggle out of it.

I responded with the following statement

Here's Obama's full stand on public financing, what Jerome falsely calls a pledge to accept.

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/p olitics/content/Questionnaire_Midwest_De mocracy_Network_Obama_02192008.pdf

Question I-B:
If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?

Yes

Comments (please limit to 250 words or less):

I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. I introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and am the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill to reform the presidential public financing system. In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.

You know, I expect false accusation against Obama from McCain and MSM, not from progressive bloggers.

Jerome responded

Sure, thats the second or third revision, lol.

and
I don't know where to start with this sort of revisionist stuff on Obama's pledge (he called it that) to accept public financing. Yes, he revised it, and continues to revise it along the way. I guess we'll take it up in another post with all the quotes.

I've checked Nexis/Lexis records of all newspaper and wire stories using the query 'Obama w/5 "public financing"' and found that the earliest reference to the "pledge" was a NY Times story in March of 2007.  My previous link, the one that was called the 2nd or 3rd revision, was from October 2007.  

So... what was said in March?

The exact same thing that was said in October.  There was no change.  None.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/us/pol itics/02fec.html

Mr. Obama laid out his proposal last month to the Federal Election Commission, seeking an opinion on its legality. The commissioners formally approved it on Thursday.

The manager of Mr. McCain's campaign, Terry Nelson, said he welcomed the decision.

"Should John McCain win the Republican nomination, we will agree to accept public financing in the general election, if the Democratic nominee agrees to do the same," Mr. Nelson said.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, Bill Burton, said, "We hope that each of the Republican candidates pledges to do the same."

Mr. Burton added that if nominated Mr. Obama would "aggressively pursue an agreement" with whoever was his opponent.

Obama is not trying to change the rules or wiggle out of a "pledge".  It is a republican and MSM talking point that an unconditional pledge was made.  As progressives we need to stop catapulting the propoganda against our likely nominee.

Tags: Barack Obama, public financing, Republican talking points (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

not surprising

I think many HRC supporters would rather see Obama lay down and be bullied into disarming himself, rather than put up a fight to win.

Even if HRC herself doesn't buy into a "2012" strategy, I'd be willing to bet a good 75% of the Hillbots on MyDD are thinking about it.

by highgrade 2008-04-27 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: not surprising

I think you miss the point that McCain is less scarey to many of us than Obama.

McCain never attacked democracy

by DTaylor 2008-04-27 11:12AM | 0 recs
Hypocrisy 101

"It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything," Clinton said Thursday during an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio's call-in program, "The Exchange."

Also, don't worry - the delegates will be seated.

by highgrade 2008-04-27 11:17AM | 0 recs
really???

McCain never attacked democracy?

by kindthoughts 2008-04-27 11:42AM | 0 recs
OMG its 1984

BILL CLINTON was NOT a good president.
You don't have memories of him being a good president.
He wasn't a popular president.

Its like animal farm and 1984 decided to back Obama.

Obama didn't promise to do public funding
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-chec ker/2008/02/the_obama_pledge_1.html

Duh Team Obama you forgot about the internet...

by DTaylor 2008-04-27 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

That story doesn't match what the campaign originally said in March 2007.  

If you need a refresher course on how the MSM makes up narratives against our candidates I'd direct you to DailyHowler.com

by map 2008-04-27 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

The story doesn't focus on a single statement the campaign said.

The campaign made several statements and when the press tried to clarify Obama said he would try to persuade the GOP to accept a pledge.

McCain being an honerable man thought that Obama was being honest and honorable himself.

But it turns out Obama is not an honorable man who keeps his word.

Hillary kept her word to serve a full term before running for president.

Obama didnt' keep his.  Why?  Because he fundamentally isn't a man of his word.

by DTaylor 2008-04-27 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

Your admiration for McCain and disdain for obama aside, please offer some proof.  I linked the original article about the "pledge" from March 2007 that includes the same "pursue an agreement" language he uses now.

Please back up your claim that Obama pledged to accept public financing with no pre-conditions or stop spamming this diary.

by map 2008-04-27 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

Actually, I take that back about the article you posted.  It does a fine job showing that Obama did not make a pledge.  

Thanks for posting it and I highly recommend everyone read it.

by map 2008-04-27 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

Jesus, you can't read anything without Obama colored glasses, can you?

The article says:

Many newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, interpreted this Burton statement as a commitment to accept public financing in the event of an Obama-McCain race. As far as I can tell, the Obama campaign made no effort to dispel this impression. His enthusiasm for public financing was a way of distinguishing himself from his rival Hillary Clinton, who was raising much more private money at the time.

Yeah, Obama will just reap the praise that an apparent commitment to public financing can get him while it's convenient, then, when it's not, suddenly claim that everyone misunderstood the poor man.

Love your new politics, Obama. But haven't I seen them before? Oh yeah -- back when they were the old politics.

by frankly0 2008-04-27 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

Let me see if I'm understanding you...

An article saying Obama made no effort to dispel a false impression means that he really did make the pledge?

by map 2008-04-27 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: OMG its 1984

His campaign made a pledge he was challenged with a question about it and answered consistent with the pledge.

by DTaylor 2008-04-27 12:05PM | 0 recs
Obama's rationale

Barack Obama and John Edwards made campaign finance a critical element of their critique of Hilary Clinton. Obama's deal with McCain, referred to in that NY Times story, was Obama's attempt to further his attack on Hillary Clinton as corrupt and to one up John Edwards, who took public financing in the primary.

At the time Hillary Clinton argued that while she supports public financing no Democrat should unilaterally disarm financially, and that she could not make such a deal in the face of likely attacks from 527 groups. At the time Obama and his supporters attacked her reasoning as furthering a corrupt system.

Now, of course, all of that history is forgotten by Obama and his supporters. But this is par for the course for Barack Obama, he regularly makes strong claims on principle that collapse into equivocation on closer examination. At this point I have no idea what Obama's position on public financing is. He claimed he would fight hard for a publicly financed general election, used that claim to attack his opponents, but when faced with a Republican opponent in the general who plans to limit himself to public financing Obama decides that the fight is not worth it.

I do know Hillary Clinton's position, she said that while she supports public financing the current system is broken and she would not make a commitment she could not keep. As I said here when Obama was touting his pledge Clinton is the one showing integrity.

by souvarine 2008-04-27 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's rationale

Obama just set McCain up to clobber him with the integrity issue all GE long.

by DTaylor 2008-04-27 12:07PM | 0 recs
Not a legal pledge, but a lawyered up lie

Question asked of Sen. Obama in a signed questionnaire:

"If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?"

Answer:

"Yes"

In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.

So, does he make a pledge ? "Yes" and No.  

He does say "Yes", in response to the question...which is a pledge.  But then he goes on to use some weasel words:

(a) he points to Sen. McCain's pledge
(b) next sentence is about "aggressively pursuing" an agreement
(c) thus, the "yes, I will accept public financing if my opponents also do so", is watered down to "I will pursue an agreement to preserve a publicly financed general election"

My conclusion:

(1) Sen. Obama's response was written up by a team of very smart lawyers
(2) He is lying !!

by SevenStrings 2008-04-27 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Not a legal pledge, but a lawyered up lie

Interesting that the response quoted in this diary leaves out the very first word and the most important word in Obama's response:

Yes.

That's y-e-s, followed by a full stop.

by markjay 2008-04-27 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Not a legal pledge, but a lawyered up lie

A yes with conditions does not equal a yes with no conditions.  His statement about public financing in March 2007 is the same as his statement in Oct 2007 and Feb 2008 and now. I know nuance is lost on republicans but it should not be lost on progressives.

by map 2008-04-27 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Not a legal pledge, but a lawyered up lie

It was a response to a yes and no question.  He said yes, and then tried to weasel out.

So, it is not a pledge, but a lawyered up lie.

by SevenStrings 2008-04-27 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama did not make a Public Financing pledge

I do not agree with you one bit on this, map.

This whole thing began at a time when Barack saw himself as the underdog.  He was not raising nearly as much money as Clinton.  So he (like Joe Biden and others) decided to incorporate public financing into his stump speeches.

He made a major point out of the notion that the only way we could ever truly cut ties with special interests was to move to public financing.  He was very clear on this.  He believed that anything less than public financing was tantamount to corruption.

It was in this context that he made his pledge, or very-strong-suggestion if you prefer to think of it in those terms.

At that time, we did not know Barack Obama very well, so the question was raised: is he just saying this because he doesn't have a lot of money?  Or is he truly the reformer he is proporting to be?

Once he got a taste of special interest dollars, we got our answer.  It was just Barack, the shrewd politician looking for a way to turn a weakness (lack of funding) into a strength (image of reformer).

When McCain agreed to take Barack up on his offer, the Obama campaign did not say "now wait a minute folks, we never pledged we would do that!"  On the contrary, they said that they hoped other candidates would take up the pledge too.

So..

I have respect for you and enjoy our conversations, and I understand that Obama is your man and so you have to make some cover for him by parsing the words.  We all need to do this for the politicians we love, from time to time.  But in this case history and context are everything.  I have absolutely no doubt that he made a pledge to accept public financing, at a time when it was politically expedient for him to do so.  Was it a legally binding, swear-before-god oath?  I guess not.  But it was pretty darn clear.

by bobbank 2008-04-28 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama did not make a Public Financing pledge

Thanks for the thoughtful post.  

I can agree that they gave the impression of a blanket pledge to take public financing with no conditions, but the truth is they did not actually make that pledge.

I think you are wrong in your point about what the campaign said to McCain.  From the article I posted which was from March 2007.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama, Bill Burton, said, "We hope that each of the Republican candidates pledges to do the same."

Mr. Burton added that if nominated Mr. Obama would "aggressively pursue an agreement" with whoever was his opponent.

Was it political maneuvering?  Sure.  A pledge? Not so much.

by map 2008-04-28 06:25PM | 0 recs

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