The Political Dance, Obama and McCain running to the Middle
Slow to disclose funding when both candidates agreed to be transparent
We can see right through them!
July 12, 2008 0001 GMT
By Albert N. Milliron, Editor, Politisite.com
Many voters thought that this campaign for the Presidency would be different. Both Parties picked out of the main stream candidates hoping that the 2008 election would not be the status quo or politics as usual. Democrats picked Barack Obama because he talked about change. A change that declared there would be no negative campaigning. A Change that would get us out of Iraq in 2009. A change that would work across party lines to get real legislation passed in Washington. He was billed as a new kind of politician, one that had not been marred by years of touting the line in Washington.
John McCain was chosen because he was a Maverick, a man who would go against the grain and do what was unpopular in his party. He worked with Democrats on McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy and others. Some times enraging his own party. He was once on John Kerry’s short list for Vice-President, a dream ticket as it were.
During the Primaries, both candidates were living up to their rhetoric. Both refused to attack the other side and it appeared that those who longed for a fight where going to end in dis-satisfaction.
But Along came the General Election.
Almost daily there is press releases, and within moments of one candidate making a statement, the other side is ready for the counter-punch. Both candidates are now being called flip-flopper’s from the opposing side. The right is complaining that McCain is not Right enough. The Left is screaming in the Daily Kos or the Huffington Post that Obama is becoming a moderate.
It is the political dance that occurs every 4 years. Each side campaigns in the primaries to their base and then in the general election move toward the middle. It is like a marriage where each party has been separated but come back together for the kids. Both sides, the parents of the party are angry that they have gotten back together. Before long each candidate looks and talks like each other.
Those who hoped for Change and a Maverick are getting what we get each election season, Politicians.
Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have long been among the most outspoken critics of the influence of money in politics.
Yet records show that in their presidential campaigns, neither has lived up to his promise to fully disclose the identities of his top money collectors who bundle millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
Since November, Mr. Obama had added just two new names to a list of 326 fund-raisers who have bundled contributions of $50,000 or more for him, despite the campaign’s taking in more than $180 million during that time.
After receiving an inquiry from The New York Times, the campaign scrambled on Thursday evening to update its list of bundlers, adding 181 names, a jump of more than 50 percent, and increasing the amounts some were credited with raising. The number of bundlers who have collected $200,000 or more increased to 138 from 78.
Mr. Obama, in particular, has made transparency a cornerstone of his campaign, even introducing a bill in the Senate last year that would mandate that presidential candidates identify their bundlers. But Senator John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, has also railed against the influence of money on politics and been lax on the issue of bundler disclosure as well.
With individual contributions limited to $2,300, bundlers fuel the fund-raising of presidential campaigns by collecting piles of checks from wealthy acquaintances in a practice that critics say gives them excessive influence. While Mr. Obama has collected unprecedented amounts in small donations over the Internet, he also has a formidable high-dollar fund-raising apparatus.
A number of members of Mr. Obama’s National Finance Committee, who have each committed to raising at least $250,000 for him, were not on the publicly available bundler list on the campaign’s Web site as of Thursday afternoon. Several of the missing members said in interviews that they began raising money for Mr. Obama in early to mid-2007 and already exceeded their $250,000 goal. More than two dozen were added to the list on Thursday evening.
The spotty disclosure records of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, despite repeated entreaties from watchdog groups, compare unfavorably with that of George W. Bush in his two runs for president.
“Obama was saying he was the most transparent, but it wasn’t even on par with Bush and Cheney,” said Alexander Cohen, senior researcher at Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group that recently sent letters to Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain with seven other organizations calling for them to disclose more information about their donors. Obama campaign officials acknowledged on Thursday that they had fallen behind on their plan to update their list quarterly and that they had not added any names since January. They said about 100 of the names added Thursday should have been put on at the end of this year’s first quarter.
“Keeping track of how much our bundlers have raised is not an exact science, and we will be vigilant in updating those names and figures,” Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. Despite promising early on to disclose bundlers, it was only in April that the McCain campaign released a list of just over 100 top fund-raisers, who had brought in $100,000 or more. Since then, Mr. McCain has added only one name to his list of bundlers, who earn the title Trailblazer if they raise more than $100,000 and Innovator if they exceed $250,000.
It is unclear how many bundlers might be missing from Mr. McCain’s list. He has enjoyed a surge in fund-raising in recent months, after struggling much of last year, and absorbed many former fund-raisers for Mitt Romney, Rudolph W. Giuliani and other Republican rivals who were not on his initial list.
Brian Rogers, a spokesman for Mr. McCain, said on Thursday that staff members were in the process of updating their bundler list. He said he believed it was “reasonable” to expect the campaign would add to it “every couple months.”
“It’ll be updated in the next week or so,” Mr. Rogers said. “This is something Senator McCain believes in. He’s committed to being open and transparent.”
Highlighting his commitment to beating back special interests in politics, Mr. Obama makes a point of declining contributions from lobbyists and political action committees. And he often cites as his signal accomplishment in the Senate his role in the passage of another bill last year that required lobbyists to disclose their bundled donations, a law that has not yet gone into effect. He also posted a list of his top fund-raisers early last year.
At a debate in South Carolina last year, Mr. Obama boasted of his campaign’s level of disclosure and his efforts on the issue in the Senate.