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Sunday, June 22, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Polimom notes the followng:

…and Polimom agrees just as fully with the third [paragraph in this post by John Cole on the media's treatment of Obama's decision to opt out of public financing].

[L]iberal media bias may be the biggest fraud the right-wing has ever gotten away with. It is absurd.

If you disagree with John Cole’s post after reading it, then I hope you can help me understand why the media is beside themselves with rage at Obama on public financing, but there’s been nary a mention of McCain’s shenanigans?

I will give it a go.

But first, for context’s sake, I should note that “McCain’s shenanigans” have to do with his own change of course on partial public financing in the primary phase of the campaign and the fact that he secured a loan that helped him stay in the race, a loan that was predicated on matching funds (i.e., public monies) being used as a means of repayment. From the NYT:

Mr. McCain drew criticism of his own earlier this year when he backed away from public financing for the primary elections. He initially sought those public matching funds, which come with limits of their own, after his
campaign nearly ran out of money, but decided to bypass them after donations started coming in.

In other words, McCain hasn’t exactly been Mr. Consistent on the question of the campaign finance system. Indeed, like Obama, is willing to change his mind in public if it suits him politically. (A real shocker, I know).

In regards to the charge of media bias leveled by both John and Polimom: I think that this is all a case more of normal laziness than any case of bias. It is easier to say “Obama made a pledge and changed his mind” than it is to try and explain McCain’s pledge, the loan and his reversal. Further, the general election campaign issue is quite straightforward: take the ~$84 million or don’t, while the process during the primary has to do with matching funds that are given only when contributions are of a certain size are obtained and then there’s the whole spending cap issue (not to mention the per state caps) and so forth. Further, since Obama is campaigning on the idea that “words matter” and all that “change” business, it is hardly surprising that the media, in general, have latched onto the story.

And, in all honesty, I haven’t seen any “rage” over the issue, but I have seen a lot of Republicans guests and pundits trying to make hay out of the whole situation.

At any rate, I never assume bias with laziness can explain the situation.

One thing I will whole-heartedly agree with John and Polimom about: the reaction by conservatives over Obama’s refusal to take public funds in lieu of private ones is ironic at best. In short: he is saving the taxpayer $84 million, which isn’t exactly chump change. It is a move that one would think that any fiscal conservative would applaud, and yet it has resulted instead in scorn. Of course, c’est la politique.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (6)|
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6 Responses to “Obama, McCain, Campaign Finance and Media Bias?”

  1. Dwight - San Bernardino, CA Says:

    wrote this in hope to clairify the issue of Public Campaign Financing, against Obama.

    Obama, made a promise to the American people to keep big money out of his campaign contributions. By opting out of excepting public campaign financing is keeping that promise. Because of 527s, if he had excepted public campaign financing, he would have had to break the most important promise.

    Obama, is keeping big money and major influences out of his campaign contributions, which IS campaign reform. Obama, being a realist, deciding to refuse public campaign financing and continuing to only receive small contributions. I think that he had to go back on a small promise to keep a bigger promise of a bigger picture, is making real change in campaign reform. Serious problems exist in both the law and the disclosure system, established by the Internal Revenue Service.

    There are still loop holes in the current Internal Revenue Code 527, such as the 527 political groups or 527 committees and if members of Congress set up a Politician 527, they will be able to raise unlimited soft money from individuals, corporations and unions, to directly support a candidate. Obama doesn’t want to get caught up in this.

    Vote for Obama for REAL Change.

  2. Max Lybbert Says:

    I don’t think it’s scorn so much as hypocrisy.

    In most other years Republican contributions outpace Democratic contributions. And that has resulted in Democrats complaining that political donations lead to an unfair playing field.

    This year, Obama’s fundraising completely dwarfs the old records. Suddenly having several times the money of the competition isn’t “unfair” and doesn’t lead to inevitable corruption.

    For the record, Obama’s free to fund his campaign any way that’s legal. Likewise for John McCain.

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    How about “scornfully hypocritical”? or, perhaps “hypocritically scornful”?

    ;)

  4. Max Lybbert Says:

    I’ll admit the Republican reaction (“he’s accepting legal contributions!”) is as hypocritical as Obama’s (“let’s get money out of politics, unless that money happens to go to my bank account”).

    In previous years the Republicans have been more than happy to have the upper hand in fundraising, especially after McCain-Feingold banned a lot of traditionally-Democratic sources of money.

    And in previous years the Democrats have enjoyed both bemoaning the amount of money in politics and talking about the unstoppable Republican machine, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, or some other boogeyman. Obama’s “here’s why I’m accepting your money” statement even mentions the Republican boogeyman that will stop at nothing to get McCain elected. A party trying to get its candidate elected, what a scandal! That’s similar to a company that’s “only in it for the money”!

  5. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Personally, I would have preferred (and think it would have been smarter) if Obama had simply stated that he had looked at the situation and determined that eschewing public financing was the better route to victory and forget more complicated arguments.

  6. Polimom Says:

    Dr. Taylor,

    Thank you for taking up my question (and I’m sorry the trackback function is still “buggy” — been that way for awhile).

    Laziness on the part of the MSM may indeed be part of the problem, since as you say, McCain’s footwork was / is far more complex. Hard to hit his antics with the screaming headline and one-liners the American public’s attention span requires.

    OTOH, I think the overarching argument — that the claim of “liberal media bias is a farce — is not necessarily irrelevant. I’ve noticed for some time that the media are fickle, and react strongly to criticism. In the case of Barack Obama, they (the MSM) have been furiously accused of having created “Teh Messiah”, and they remind me very much of reformed non-smokers: having broken the habit, they’re determined to prove themselves now.

    :>


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