Here is what Obama said with respect to public financing:
If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.
Here is what the “liberal” New York Times said he said:
If he won the nomination, he would limit himself to spending only the $85 million available in public financing between the convention and Election Day as long as his Republican opponent did the same.
The Times article does not quote Obama’s actual statement, nor does it link to it. Instead, it continually mischaracterizes it.
The authors are David Kirkpatrick and Jeff Zeleny. Kirkpatrick, you may remember, “covered” conservatives for the Times for several years.
The slant of the article is pure McCain spin, for example, stating that Obama’s statement constituted a “pledge” to spend only the $85 million public financing if his opponent would do the same. This is not what Obama said. Saying that he would “aggressively pursue a publicly financed general election” clearly can encompass, for example, limits on Section 527 Swift Boat type groups. But instead, the Times characterizes these as “new conditions,” which Obama is now adding to his initial “pledge.”
On the other hand, the article whitewashes McCain’s clear violations (e.g, using the pledge as collateral for a loan) as “technicalities.” The impression is therefore created that Obama is the one with the real problem of “reneging” on a “pledge” to support public financing.
Kirkpatrick & Zeleny absurdly state that:
The issue may be more sensitive for Mr. Obama, though, because has run in part on his record as an advocate of stricter government integrity rules, including the public financing system.
I guess they haven’t heard that one of McCain’s raisons d’etre for being the straight-talkin’ “maverick” is his supposed commitment to public financing.
Finally, the Times rolls out the usual “reform” suspects, who have not been troubled by McCain’s blatant shenanigans, but are deeply concerned about Obama: The very serious Fred Werthheimer states:
This whole idea started with Senator Obama, and we think he and whoever the Republican nominee is ought to follow through, said Fred Wertheimer, founder of the advocacy group Democracy 21.
Yes, Fred. The “whole idea” is to have real public financing that would not permit Ari Fleischer’s quarter billion dollar smear group to relentlessly go after Obama.
Either now, or shortly after he gets the nomination, Obama should consider laying out his entire conditions for true public financing (which would include muzzling Ari’s 2008 version of the Swift Boat liars).