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When Convictions and Campaigns Conflict
During his 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama startled America when he directed his displeasure directly at the black robed figures respectfully congregated a few yards in front of him and representing the Supreme Court of the United States and the third branch of government – the Judiciary. Showing his ire, Obama placed the Justices on a “Hot seat” from which they were neither invited nor expected to respond:
“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.”
Obama was addressing the issue of the so-called “Super PACs.” Later, at a 2010 Campaign rally in Philadelphia, Obama added to and clarified his State of the Union remarks, pronouncing:
“Now that’s not just a threat to Democrats, that’s a threat to our democracy.”[i]
Here was obviously a man of conviction. Recall that in a 2007 campaign rally, candidate Obama excoriated John Edwards for saying he was against 527s (PACs), but, then having such a group, headed by his former campaign manager, purchase $750,000 in television time. Obama righteously went on to say at that time:
“So, you can’t say yesterday, you don’t believe in them and today, you have ¾ of a million dollars being spent for you. You can’t just talk the talk. The easiest thing in the world is to talk about change during an election time. Everybody talks about change during election time. You’ve got to look at how do they act when it’s not convenient – when it’s hard…”[ii]
Still apparently protecting Democracy and standing on his convictions – even in hard times – oops! It seems a funny thing happened on the way to the 2012 election…Obama’s Campaign Manager – Jim Messina – stated in February, 2012, that:
“With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules. Democrats can’t be unilaterally disarmed.” [iii]
Unilateral disarmament in this administration, is apparently restricted to nuclear warheads and national defense – not for campaigns. And with that, the Super PACs were alive and well in the Obama campaign. Apparently, there was more at stake than walking the talk – more at stake than Democracy. Apparently, President Obama’s principled stand is largely contingent upon his re-election prospects.
What a surprise.
[i] President Barack Obama, quoted in My Fox Orlando web-site, (Feb. 7, 2012), Team Obama Wants Super PAC Spending… So Obama Can Stop Super PAC Spending; Romney Attacks Elevate, retrieved February 7, 2012 from http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/Team-Obama-Wants-Super-PAC-Spending-So-Obama-Can-Stop-Super-PAC-Spending-Romney-Attacks-Elevate-Santorum_67703630
[ii] FoxNation, (Feb. 9, 2012), video provided by TheRightScoop.com, Right Scoop: Obama Will Do and Say Anything to Get Reelected, retrieved February 9, 2012 from http://nation.foxnews.com/president-obama/2012/02/09/right-scoop-obama-will-do-and-say-anything-get-reelected
[iii] Jim Messina, quoted in My Fox Orlando web-site, (Feb. 7, 2012), Team Obama Wants Super PAC Spending… So Obama Can Stop Super PAC Spending; Romney Attacks Elevate, retrieved February 7, 2012 from http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/Team-Obama-Wants-Super-PAC-Spending-So-Obama-Can-Stop-Super-PAC-Spending-Romney-Attacks-Elevate-Santorum_67703630