It’s official: Barack Obama has decided — not for the first time — that leading by example is just too risky.
On January 27, 2010, in one of the most celebrated moments of his presidency, Obama stood in the rostrum of the U.S. House and called out to their faces the five members of the Supreme Court who had ruled six days earlier that the federal government has no authority to limit the independent political activity of corporations and unions.***
But all of that abruptly changed last night, with word that Obama has decided to give in and play the Super PAC game just as aggressively as his Republican opponents. As the New York Times reports:
Aides said the president had signed off on a plan to dispatch cabinet officials, senior advisers at the White House and top campaign staff members to make clear to donors that they should support Priorities USA Action, the leading Democratic “super PAC,” whose fund-raising has been dwarfed by Republican groups. The new policy was presented to the campaign’s National Finance Committee in a call Monday evening and was set to be announced Tuesday.
“Dwarfed” is definitely the right word. Fund-raising reports released last week showed that the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Restoring Our Future has outraised Priorities USA by more than seven-to-one. And that’s just one component of the Republican Super PAC arsenal. Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who has given $10 million to a Newt Gingrich-aligned group, is sending signals that he’ll move his support to Romney if the former Massachusetts governor is Obama’s fall opponent, while a Super PAC launched by Karl Rove has taken in more than $50 million.
It’s not good enough that Obama win re-election, he has to do it with one hand tied behind his back. We went through this crap in 2008 with public financing, and I imagine we will be hearing kvetching from the usual suspects for a while about this.
Look- I wish Super PACS didn’t exist. I wish politicians weren’t as beholden to monied interests and slaves to raising campaign cash. I really do. But that is the reality we live in, and I’m not going to hamstring my candidate and demand he play by different, tougher rules.