Liberal Columnists Broder and Shields Turn on Obama
Is Barack Obama beginning to wear out his welcome with some of the mainstream media's old guard, or are the nation's more seasoned journalists just getting fed up with the obvious love affair most press members are having with the Democrat presidential nominee?
Before accusing me of drinking the Kool-Aid, consider that two of the country's most venerable and high-profile liberal pundits -- the Washington Post's David Broder and syndicated columnist Mark Shields -- turned on the junior senator from Illinois in a fashion that would have been unthinkable before Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race.
Barack Obama made history this week. He became the first presidential nominee since Richard Nixon in 1972 to state that his campaign will be funded totally by private donations with no limits on spending.
It was a flip-flop of epic proportions. It was one that he could not rationalize or justify. His video was unconvincing. He looked like someone who was being kept as a hostage somewhere he was so absolutely unconvincing in it. It could not have passed a polygraph test.
I mean, coming up with this bogus argument the Republicans have so much more money -- the Republicans don't have so much more money. He's raised three times as much as John McCain has.
He has every possible committee, except Republican National Committee, Democrats at the Senate level, congressional level have this lopsided edge over Republicans. They spent three times as much, did Democratic leaning 527s, in the last election as did Republicans.
So what Obama didn't admit was, up until February of this year, when he told Tim Russert that not only would he aggressively seek an agreement on public financing, that he personally would sit down with John McCain and work it out, then, all of a sudden, they realized that all these small contributions were coming in and he was going to have a financial advantage in the fall against the Republican, and they grabbed it. [...]
But I really do think that Obama has made this so central to his mission, which is, "I'm going to change Washington, and you can't change Washington until you change the money, until you change the way we raise the money and who we raise it from." And he just basically went back on that.
And I think, in that sense, it can become a character issue against him, and I think that's potentially a problem.
McCain benefits from a long-established reputation as a man who says what he believes. His shifts in position that have occurred in this campaign seem not to have damaged that aura. Obama is much newer to most voters, less familiar and more dependent on the impressions he is only now creating.
That is why a pair of strategy decisions made in the past two weeks could prove troublesome for him. The first was Obama's turning down McCain's invitation to join him in a series of town hall meetings where they would appear together and answer questions from real voters -- without a formal agenda, press panel or professional interviewers. [...]
At the same briefing, [Obama spokesman Robert] Gibbs and campaign counsel Bob Bauer defended Obama's decision to become the first presidential candidate since the Watergate reforms to decline public financing of his general election campaign.
Gibbs and Bauer in effect blamed McCain, saying repeatedly that he was "gaming the system" by pledging to accept public funds while saying he could not "referee" spending by outside independent groups if it occurred. In fact, McCain had been far more vocal in denouncing such groups on the GOP side than Obama was in criticizing their counterparts playing Democratic presidential politics -- even though Obama has claimed the mantle of campaign finance reformer that McCain has long enjoyed.
Obama supporters note that town halls are McCain's favorite campaign settings, so it's no surprise he prefers them to formal speeches, where Obama excels. They point out that public financing helps McCain, who has lagged all year in his private fundraising, while it would inhibit Obama, who has tapped into a rich vein of small contributors using the Internet. [...]
By refusing to join McCain in these initiatives in order to protect his own interests, Obama raises an important question: Has he built sufficient trust so that his motives will be accepted by the voters who are only now starting to figure out what makes him tick?
Readers should be advised that Broder's column followed a Friday editorial by his paper that raised a lot of eyebrows (emphasis added):
[G]iven Mr. Obama's earlier pledge to "aggressively pursue" an agreement with the Republican nominee to accept public financing, his effort to cloak his broken promise in the smug mantle of selfless dedication to the public good is a little hard to take. [...]
Mr. Obama didn't mention his previous proposal to take public financing if the Republican nominee agreed to do the same -- the one for which he received heaps of praise from campaign finance reform advocates such as [Fred] Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, and others, including us. He didn't mention, as he told the Federal Election Commission last year in seeking to preserve the option, that "Congress concluded some thirty years ago that the public funding alternative . . . would serve core purposes in the public interest: limiting the escalation of campaign spending and the associated pressures on candidates to raise, at the expense of time devoted to public dialogue, ever vaster sums of money."
Instead, he cast his abandonment of the system as a bold good-government move. [...]
Mr. Obama had an opportunity here to demonstrate that he really is a different kind of politician, willing to put principles and the promises he has made above political calculation. He made a different choice, and anyone can understand why: He's going to raise a ton of money.
Certainly, these are but a few examples of media disgruntlement surrounded largely by Obama sycophancy. However, assume for a moment the disappointment expressed in these three items is real. Might this be telling us something altogether unpredictable?
For instance, is it possible the love affair some media members have going on with Obama is their belief that he really is a different candidate that can change politics in a way that many who have been covering Washington all of their adult lives have hoped for since getting into journalism?
Now, as the veneer being stripped away exposes just another power-hungry charlatan willing to do and say anything to attain the office being sought, maybe the disappointment being expressed is not only that Obama isn't what he's pretended, but that folks who have been around the block so many times could be so easily duped.