|Happy Valentines Day from Your Pretzel President (graphic by Kat Garcia)|
Not only will Priorities USA now accept unlimited cash for negative ads -- but Obama has given the go-ahead for members of his own cabinet to shill for him at SuperPac fundraisers. It is all perfectly legal, as long as they don't blatantly ask for money during their pay-to-play availabilities with wealthy lobbyists and CEOs. For example, when Energy Secretary Stephen Chu gives a speech in front of a group of oil tycoons about deepwater drilling safety at a SuperPac fund-raising event, he won't say a single word about campaign donations. This logic runs in tandem with the reasoning that it's okay for lobbyists to bundle campaign cash for the president as long as they are not registered lobbyists.
Chu and at least three other Cabinet officials are openly champing at the bit to get into the fund-raising that is not fund-raising sweepstakes. The reason? They already have histories of being champion political bundlers. It might even be safe to say they got their jobs in large part because of the wads of cash they raised for their boss in his first campaign.
According to the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News, one such expert bundler is Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a fellow Chicago pol from the old days, who is anxiously awaiting invitations to speaking gigs. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is an enthusiastic natural, having raised over $13 million for his own Senate campaign. Then there are U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk and the hundred grand he bundled for Obama's first campaign, and Chu, who even before the SuperPac decision, has "mingled" among donors at various political soirees.
That does it for the Cabinet officials -- so far. According to CPI, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta will not be shilling for campaign cash, nor will Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and former bundler Susan Rice, who is now UN ambassador.
Politico is running a pretty hilarious piece today on the various criticisms and rationales from both the left and the right about the Obama cave on anonymous fundraising. The funniest conservative gripe comes from David Bossie, chairman of the Koch Brothers' astroturfing Americans for Prosperity. He so hates the Obama hypocrisy of deploring Citizens United only to then start PrioritiesUSA that he has produced a video funded by SuperPac money to condemn SuperPac money.
Besides the critics, there are also defenders from both the left and the right. Former Republican Congressman Philip English quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson in defending Obama: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines", adding:
By robustly trolling for big money to fund the inevitable attack ads, the Obama campaign has demonstrated a predictable large-mindedness, free of hobgoblins. The only venue in which anyone should be shocked by this is Rick’s Place in Casablanca. One has to wonder - if a Republican incumbent displayed such ambidexterity, would the media be so placid?Hmm. If I were more cynical, I'd say English is trolling for a team of rivals-type appointment in Obama's second term.
Then there are the usual Democratic apologists twisting themselves into knots:
We may not like the rules, but we didn't choose them. So as Democrats fight for campaign finance reform - which Republicans have repeatedly blocked - we will play by the rules as they are, not as we wish they were. -- Bill Burton, founder of Priorities USA.Speaking of hilarity, I got an amusing email the other day from the Obama campaign. It gives instructions on how to slap down mean talk about the prez from my redneck friends and relatives. The Empire Strikes Back it is not, but there is more than a hint of Homeland Security-lite in what they are asking "supporters like me" to do. If I hear something, I should say something. There are even downloadable talking points for Obamabots to stash in their arsenals. Sign up now to be a worker bee for the
Playing by the rules as they exist, the same rules that apply to everyone else, while they work to change those rules for everyone, is not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the Republican expectation that Democrats hold themselves to a stricter standard than their opponent, when it was Republicans who stopped those standards from being put in place. -- Rodell Molineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century.
Unsurprisingly, the same Republicans who falsely claim the president is an appeaser expect him to unilaterally disarm his campaign. Thankfully he is too smart for that. President Obama knows that to change elections you have to win elections. -- Christine Pelosi, Democratic activist and daughter of Minority Leader Nancy.
There is no hypocrisy in working to change a system while following its rules as long as they are in place. In politics, acting like you are in a perfect system while your enemies kill you amounts to stupidity not idealism. The hypocrisy here is among those who are criticizing Obama for doing what they do. Also, I think this is a non-issue with Americans in general. For them, the dysfunction of the entire political system is the issue. -- Theda Skocpol, Harvard professor.
Obama's decision to tacitly support the super PAC set up to benefit him was just an acknowledgment of reality. With potentially hundreds of millions flowing to its anti-Obama counterparts, the president really had no choice but to act.
Don't think that this decision will drive a single vote away from Obama in the fall, however. In 2008, remember, Obama spurned public financing after promising he would accept it, and no one cared - except for John McCain, who sputtered around impotently about what an outrage it supposedly was. All of this is inside baseball that doesn't impact the behavior of real voters, who cynically and correctly assume that candidates are going to raise as much as they can no matter how they do it. Obama made the right decision. -- Garry South, Democratic consultant.
If we are ever going to right this political ship it will be the Democrats who do it not the McConnells and Boehners. There is no point of acting like lambs to the slaughter, and sacrificing the presidency and seats in Congress, if our ultimate goal is to have the votes to change the system. Obama made the only call possible. -- Peter Fenn, Democratic media consultant.
Comunicating about the President's record -- and that of our opponents -- is what I do full-time. But people don't just want to hear from campaign statements or ads -- they want to hear from the family and friends they trust.Stephanie has no idea what I am capable of doing. For one thing, most of my conservative family members and friends already despise Romney and the crew of wingnuts. And defending Obama against crony capitalism charges? Jeffrey Immelt, Timmy Geithner, Larry Summers, to name just a few.
The President needs folks on board to roll up their sleeves, stand with him, and get the truth out all over the country.
So the next time you hear Mitt Romney accusing the President of "crony capitalism" or someone asking, "What has President Obama really accomplished?" you'll know what to do.
Happy Valentines Day, fellow Sardonickists!