February 9, 2012 13 Comments
President Obama this week is under fire for his reversal on Super PAC’s. You’ll recall that during the 2010 elections Obama repeatedly criticized Super PAC’s, their super secret donors and their harmless sounding names. He whined that the super rich were trying to steal elections with secret PAC donations. In 2007 Obama declared that you can’t be against outside groups and then for them. Apparently that didn’t actually mean anything when he said it in 2007.
This is another strange political miscalculation by this President. It starts out as a miscalculation in 2007 when boxed himself into a corner in order to make a thinly veiled attack on Hillary Clinton. Obama made matters worse in 2010 when he tried to, unsuccessfully, score political points by criticizing Super PAC’s at campaign events. The Supreme Court had already issued the Citizen’s United decision, it was clear during the 2010 election that Super PAC’s were here to stay. Knowing that Obama attacked them anyway, even though he must have known that he would need their support in 2012.
Fast forward to today, Obama could have continued his opposition to Super PAC’s. He doesn’t need to send his Cabinet out to fundraise for these PAC’s. He could have winked and nodded at the liberal PAC’s while publicly opposing the Citizens United case. There’s nothing forcing the President to send members of his cabinet to fundraise. Did he think the public wouldn’t notice? It makes you wonder what this administration is thinking politically. Obama is going to run a $1 billion campaign. Does he really need to have his cabinet fundraise for outside PAC’s as well?
Obama’s opposition to PAC’s was always a fraud. Obama seemed to have no problem when SEIU spent $80 million on Obama’s election in 2008. Other unions spent millions as well. Apparently union money in politics is acceptable but PAC’s funded by conservatives are evil, shady and misleading. It’s this sort of absurd argument that makes you wonder about the sanity of Washington.
Meanwhile the administration that came into office attacking lobbyists, all before hiring one lobbyist after another, has been caught in another lobbying scandal. Robert Klein is a major Obama campaign bundler, he’s also a lobbyist for Spirit Airlines. Klein claims he was never a lobbyist and never intended to register as a lobbyist. I find myself constantly registering for things I have no intention of registering for, so I’m completely sympathetic. The Obama campaign is distancing itself from Klein but the damage is done. They’ve got a lobbyist bundling campaign donations, no one buys Klein or the campaign’s story.
There shouldn’t be any problem with having Super PAC’s back campaigns or having lobbyists fundraise. The idea that money in politics is evil, especially when spoken by a President running a $1 billion campaign, is absurd. But if you’re going to make the argument that Super PAC’s are terrible and that lobbyists have no place in your campaign or administration then as President you really need to stick to that.
Obama’s reversal on Super PAC’s is a major political miscalculation. It will hurt him in the credibility department. It makes you wonder why in the span of three weeks the President has arrogantly attacked religious faith and flip flopped on Super PAC’s, which he spent a considerably amount of time attacking as unethical. Is this an administration that is politically inept, do they think the election is in the bag or are they just taking a play out of the Alinsky playbook?