Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mark Shields -- Obama couldn't pass a polygraph test

HT to Captain Ed

That's the gist of this exchange between Mark Shields and David Brooks on PBS's Newshour. Shields is rightly indignant at Obama's decision to back out of public financing:

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. ...

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.

David Brooks his level best to blunt the assertions made by Shields, but they don't even come close to passing the smell test:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David, would it have helped Obama if he had just come out and said, "Look, I think I'm raising more money, and I'm raising small contributions, and I've just changed my mind?"

DAVID BROOKS: It would have at least been honest, as opposed to sort of operatic, which that video was. He treated it as if some noble decision to finalize democracy. It was ludicrous.

I do think it's the low point of the Obama candidacy, and I think it for this reason. His entire career he has put political reform at the center of it. In the Illinois legislature, in the Senate, political reform has been the essence of who he has been. And so for him to betray this, to sell out this issue, what won't he sell out?

And it really reveals something about his conscience. It reveals that he has this idealistic side, which is a serious policy side, but he also has a tough Machiavellian side, a political hack side, and he wants to win.

And so, in some ways, this is terrible because it's epic hypocrisy. In some ways, if you want a tough SOB to be your president, he's shown he is a tough S.O.B.

Obama is a "tough SOB?" You've got to be kidding me. Brooks wants Obama to cover the spectrum that the lists. He's a Machiavellian hack? Oh please. I'll put money down that Brooks probably hasn't read as much by Machiavelli as he portends. And Obama clearly hasn't studied him enough to even be equated with him.

Obama bowed out of the public financing for exactly the reason that Shields gave, and it's the same point I made on Hugh's show: He saw how much money was rolling in, and didn't want to be constrained by the limits that public funding would've demanded. There was nothing noble about the decision. It came down to simple numbers.

So what Obama did was sell himself out for the almighty dollar -- the same dollar he has railed on and on about. He was outed earlier this week regarding his ties to lobbyist money and kudos to FactCheck for nailing him on it. By opting out of the public funding program, he's show n himself to be just another politician from DC that uses flowery rhetoric to convince people he's "different." He's not different. He just has covered up his stripes because he can't change them.

Publius II


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