Obama's decision to become the first presidential candidate to opt out of the public financing system resulted in some of the most negative media coverage Obama has received during the campaign.
NBC Nightly News said the decision "created a firestorm," looked Obama's at pledge to "observe the limits if his opponent did," and showed excerpts from a February interview with Tim Russert in which he indicated he would seek to participate in the system. Watch Andrea Mitchell's video report:
ABC World News called the move "a direct contradiction" of Obama's early promises. CBS Evening News said Obama "abandoned a campaign pledge," adding, "it is a big reversal. Only months ago, Obama was signaling a willingness to preserve public financing. No wonder John McCain smelled a flip-flop."
Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press, said Obama "tarnished his carefully honed image as a different kind of politician -- one who means what he says and says what he means -- while undercutting his call for 'a new kind of politics.'"
Sidoti also blasted Obama's argument that he had to make the move to defend himself against independent groups running ads:
But he failed to mention that the only outside groups running ads in earnest so far are those aligned with Obama — and running commercials against McCain.
So much for being a straight shooter.
McClatchy's David Lightman, said the decision "is not only a huge blow to the Watergate-era campaign finance system, but it could hurt the Democratic nominee's effort to paint himself as a reformer:"
But the Illinois senator, whose campaign mantra has been reform and change, has now put himself in the position of being the candidate who lit the match that allowed the ailing public financing system to finally implode.Lightman quoted Brad Coker, managing partner of the Mason-Dixon Research polling firm:
"For him to go outside this framework leaves him open to charges of hypocrisy."
Even the New York Times saw fit to criticize Obama in an editorial:
The excitement underpinning Senator Barack Obama’s campaign rests considerably on his evocative vows to depart from self-interested politics. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has come up short of that standard with his decision to reject public spending limitations and opt instead for unlimited private financing in the general election.The Times also pointed out that "Obama’s description of public financing as 'broken' is only half true."
According to Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, "while the primary cycle’s public matching subsidies are 'broken' and need updating for inflation, 'the system for the general election is not.'"
The Washington Post also took Obama to task, editorializing, that Obama "had an opportunity here to demonstrate that he really is a different kind of politician, willing to put principles and the promises he has made above political calculation." Politicians "do what politicians need to do. But they ought to spare us the self-congratulatory back-patting while they're doing it:"
Pardon the sarcasm. But given Mr. Obama's earlier pledge to "aggressively pursue" an agreement with the Republican nominee to accept public financing, his effort to cloak his broken promise in the smug mantle of selfless dedication to the public good is a little hard to take.
Obama is making a huge mistake here. Candidates frequently prove you can't buy an election. And as the Watergate scandals demonstrated, too much money can corrupt campaigns, despite the best of intentions and disciplined management. More important, when is Obama going to stop changing his mind whenever it is politically expedient and offer some change we can count on.