The Sad Spectacle of Obama’s Super PAC, by Robert Reich: It has been said there is no high ground in American politics since any politician who claims it is likely to be gunned down by those firing from the trenches. That’s how the Obama team justifies its decision to endorse a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums for his campaign.
Baloney. Good ends don’t justify corrupt means.
I understand the White House’s concerns. ... The White House was surprised that super PACs outspent the GOP candidates themselves in several of the early primary contests, and noted how easily Romney’s super PAC delivered Florida to him and pushed Newt Gingrich from first-place to fourth-place in Iowa.
Romney’s friends on Wall Street and in the executive suites of the nation’s biggest corporations have the deepest pockets in America. ... “With so much at stake” wrote Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on the Obama campaign’s blog, Obama couldn’t “unilaterally disarm.”
But would refusing to be corrupted this way really amount to unilateral disarmament? To the contrary, I think it would have given the President a rallying cry that nearly all Americans would get behind: “More of the nation’s wealth and political power is now in the hands of fewer people and large corporations than since the era of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. I will not allow our democracy to be corrupted by this! I will fight to take back our government!”
Small donations would have flooded the Obama campaign, overwhelming Romney’s billionaire super PACs. The people would have been given a chance to be heard. ...
One Obama adviser says Obama’s decision to endorse his super PAC has had an immediate effect. “Our donors get it,” the official said, adding that they now want to “go fight the other side.”
Exactly. So now a relative handful of super-rich Democrats want fight a relative handful of super-rich Republicans. And we call that a democracy.
The rules on campaign finance need to change. Political influence and power is too concentrated already and as noted in a part of Reich's post that I left out, president Obama hasn't done much to encourage reform. But given the rules that are in place, and my doubts that a surge of small donations would really overwhelm PACs, I'm not so sure this is a bad decision. I'd be curious to hear what you think.