Marc Ambinder has the latest reversal from the Chicago distributor of New Politics. Barack Obama has spent the past two years railing against the influence of 527 groups in election cycles, and has insisted that he will not tolerate their presence on his behalf in the general-election campaign. Just like his pledge not to bail out of the public-financing system and his promise not to raise soft money from lobbyists, though, it appears this commitment has expired, thanks to his sinking fortunes:
There’s been a spurt of 527 activity on behalf of Sen. John McCain, but Barack Obama campaign has suddenly gone silent on the subject.
That’s because, after of year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama’s Democratic Party, Obama’s strategists have changed their approach.
An Obama adviser privy to the campaign’s internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies — what another campaign aide termed “the cavalry” — with come to Obama’s aid.
Obama’s campaign points to Republican-supporting 527s as their excuse. Ambinder lists the collected efforts, which have raised all of $15 million — a rather paltry sum, and much of it focused on regional efforts. Two-thirds of it come from Vets for Freedom, which will defend the Bush administration on Iraq and Afghanistan.
In comparison, the SEIU and AFL-CIO have already raised tens of millions of dollars for GOTV efforts. Those funds can easily get moved into advertising campaigns, although Obama probably had counted on those GOTV efforts rather than funding his own. With the AFL-CIO alone banking $53 million already, though, robbing Peter to pay Paul probably won’t result in much of a shortage for either.
Of course, this also shows how hypocritical Obama’s entire sanctimony about “politics as usual” was in the first place. People with principles stick to them even when it makes life tough. Hypocrites mouth platitudes but dump the pretty speeches for political expediency at the first sign of trouble.