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Thursday, June 19, 2008

McCain Mad at Obama, Forgets Own History

You can add outrage over opting out of public financing of campaigns to all the list of things on which McCain has flip-flopped. Barack Obama announced today that he was opting out of public financing for the general election. This sparked outrage from Senator John McCain, primarily because Obama had said he would pledge with McCain to take public financing. McCain said:
he would reevaluate whether he's staying in the system but would likely take the public money.

"This is a big deal, a big deal," McCain added. "He has completely reversed himself and gone back, not on his word to me, but the commitment he made to the American people."
The outrage might carry more weight, John, if you had always felt this way. However, the McCain of June 2008 is different than the McCain of, oh, say, March 2008, 1998, 1995, 2006, and 2007. He's flip-flopped on this issue so many times he looks like a fish out of water. Here now, the many positions of John McCain, from the Boston Globe:
In 1988, McCain spoke against public financing of campaigns, and wondered aloud during a floor debate on campaign finance reform how much taxpayer money was wasted on subsidizing losing presidential bids.
By that rational, Barack Obama has just saved taxpayers $80 million!! (Not to mention the fact that $80 million would be wasted on McCain's "losing presidential" bid.)

The article continues:
In 1995, McCain voted to eliminate the public financing system that gives matching funds to presidential campaigns. But by 2003, McCain, having won presidential approval the year before of his sweeping campaign finance reform bill, was supportive of the public matching funds system, and co-sponsored a bill to fix the program.

But in 2006 and 2007, McCain declined to cosponsor similar bills. Obama was an original cosponsor of the recent bill, and Clinton later added her name as one of seven cosponsors as of late January. The current version, which was introduced in December, has stalled in Congress with no hearings or votes scheduled.Brooke Buchanan, a McCain spokeswoman, said the Arizona senator "supports in general the concept of a matching fund financing system for the presidency, but believes the current system - in place since 1976 - is outdated and needs to be updated and reformed."
He is not, however helping Obama to pass the new legislation designed to fix the system. McCain, as always, wants to have it both ways. Nothing demonstrates this more than this item from the National Review in February of 2000, during the heated campaign against George W. Bush:
Bush Charge # 1: McCain favors public financing of political campaigns. The McCain campaign hotly disputes this, but the Bush campaign dredged up 5 votes by McCain for bills including public financing. McCain spokesman Howard Opinsky told the Associated Press, "This is the same old Washington Clintonian politics that voters have become so cynical about, trying to twist John McCain's 17-year record of reform and consistent opposition to public financing to Governor Bush's advantage." McCain's votes were all on procedural motions, he said, to keep debate on campaign-finance reform going. According to the Senate records, however, Opinsky is wrong: McCain was voting for bills, not motions. Whatever McCain's theoretical opposition to public financing, it stopped well short of making him actually vote against it. Moreover, McCain has just endorsed Ron Unz's campaign-finance initiative in California, which includes public financing.
I think the record is clear: Senator McCain has no consistent position on public financing of Presidential elections except to be consistently opportunistic to whatever mood he thinks his party is in.

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