Over the course of this too long campaign the press as been so very enamored with Senator Barack Obama that you would think that they were taking some mind control drugs. It looks as if the Senator’s broken promise about federal matching funds has the press moving a little “baby step” back toward sanity. The liberal press is very upset with their Messiah:
Obama alienates the editors By: Kenneth P. Vogel For most voters, Barack Obama’s shift away from public financing is not as big a deal as the mounting death toll in Iraq, surging gas prices — or even what they’re going to make for dinner tonight. But Obama’s announcement Thursday that he would become the first candidate to opt out of the public financing program for the general election was a big deal for some of the nation’s most influential newspaper editorial boards, which have long been ardent champions of campaign finance reform and which had thought they’d found a kindred spirit on the issue. Friday morning, scathing editorials in many top broadsheets characterized Obama’s move as a self-interested flip-flop, dismissed his efforts to cast it as a principled stand and charged that Obama wasn’t living up to the reformer image around which he has crafted his political identity. The scolding could mark a turning point in what has been, on balance, fawning treatment of Obama, an Illinois Senator and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on editorial pages. While the influence of editorial boards has diminished as the media has fragmented, they still carry weight with opinion leaders and undecided voters. Obama’s Republican opponent, John McCain, will participate in the public financing system, which this year will provide $84 million in taxpayer funds to candidates who agree to limit their spending to that amount. Obama is expected to raise many times more than that. Many of the same top editorial boards that have criticized McCain’s unwavering support for a long military presence in Iraq have also lauded his efforts to pass stricter campaign finance, ethics and lobbying laws. “The fact that McCain has been willing over the years to take the lead on these issues, when it’s arguably not in his self-interest, is one measure of character that over the years we’ve respected,” said Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post. In deciding which candidates to support, Hiatt told Politico that the Post’s editorial board looks at campaign finance reform issues as “a significant factor, but among many factors that we would consider.” The board viewed Obama’s backtrack on public financing “as an important issue and also as a test of whether he would put principles he said were important to him above political calculation. And he didn’t. That tells us something. It doesn’t tell us everything.” The Post didn’t endorse candidates in the presidential primaries, but by some counts Obama racked up as many as 120 daily newspaper endorsements, compared to around 40 for his main rival, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. McCain racked up more than 30 such endorsements during the Republican primary. Obama’s leadership in passing a yet-to-be-implemented provision requiring disclosure of contributions bundled by lobbyists likely appealed to editorial boards enamored with clean governance issues. Several editorial boards had praised his earlier pledge to take public financing in the general election if his opponent agreed to do the same. Of the editorial boards that opined Friday about his breaking the pledge, most of those that endorsed him during the primary were aggressive in their criticism. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board called the decision “as disappointing as it is disingenuous,” while The Boston Globe’s board wrote that it “deals a body blow … to his own reputation as a reform candidate.” And The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board called it “a major disappointment for those struggling to restrain the pernicious influence of special interests in American politics.” The New York Times’ editorial board, which endorsed Clinton after allegedly leaning toward Obama, wrote that “Obama has come up short” of “his evocative vows to depart from self-interested politics.” Obama attempted a preemptive defense of his new position by arguing that his massive base of small online donors constitute a “parallel public financing,” and that he needed to exit the program to defend himself from the independent spending of 527 groups, long a bugaboo of campaign finance reformers. Many editorial boards, though, have been outright dismissive of this argument. The Washington Post opined that Obama’s “effort to cloak his broken promise in the smug mantle of selfless dedication to the public good is a little hard to take.” And USA Today, which also did not endorse any candidates, said Obama put “expediency over principle,” was “disingenuous about his reasons for opting out of public financing” and proved he’s not a “real reformer.” There was hardly the same level of indignation when McCain came under fire from Democrats for using the promise of receiving public financing in the primary election to secure a loan before deciding not to take the funds. The Post’s Friday editorial asserted that McCain “played games with taking federal matching funds for the primaries until it turned out he didn’t need them.” But Hiatt told Politico that he doesn’t count McCain’s move as “in quite the same category” as Obama’s broken pledge. “To be the first candidate to reject public financing in a general campaign, particularly after having argued that that wouldn’t be a good thing, is a fairly significant development,” he said.