Parsing The Pledge

By Big Tent Democrat

Fierce Obama partisan Adam B. cites Mark Schmitt's parsing of the Obama pledge to public finance of the general election:
I described this a few weeks ago as a "pledge" to participate, but I should not have. Obama's precise statement was, and has always been, "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." That's an artful statement, and it's not artful in a "meaning of 'is'" sense -- it's exactly the right answer. A commitment to "preserve a publicly financed election" would have to mean much more than whether both participate in the system. It would require some significant agreement about how to handle outside money, 527s, "Swift Boat"-type attack groups, party money, etc., and other factors that have undermined the last two publicly financed elections, from both sides. It is hardly an evasion to describe this as an agreement to be negotiated, rather than a simple pledge.

How come this sounds so much like John "I voted for it before I voted against it" Kerry to me? As many properly said to Hillary Clinton on her Iraq vote, just bite the bullet - renounce the pledge. Do not parse it. It will not work against against a Media loving McCain. Do it now when your opponent is the Media despised Hillary Clinton. Do not become John Kerry.

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    Agreed. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by mindfulmission on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 10:59:28 AM EST
    I hate the roll that money plays in politics.  And I would love to see some kind of universal public financing plan.

    But it doesn't exist.

    And in turn what does exist is worthless.

    Break the pledge.  Renounce it.  And win.

    Renounce it, win, and give the (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:19:36 PM EST
    Republicans a strong desire for public finance too and then git'er done as they say down here ;)

    What nonsense (1.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Traven on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:38:39 AM EST
    This is ridiculous.  (a) It's February.  The general campaign doesn't start until September.  (b)  This complaint is coming from McCain, who has no prospect of money, and Hillary, who has raised oodles for the general but, thinking she'd have a coronation, didn't even plan on campaigning past Super Tuesday.  (c)  You know darn well that if Obama had reaffirmed this so-called "pledge" the Clintonistas would be all over him for "unilaterally disarming" in the general.  (d)  Obama will probably go ahead an take public financing for the general -- that's $85 million for two months, which is plenty, especially since the Dem convention isn't until the last week of August, which always him to keep spending from this primary funds up until the second he's nominated while McCain, nominated much earlier, will have to start using up his $85 million sooner.

    And the media?  Oh, they will squawk for about two days and then move on to something else, and most voters won't give a hoot.  This whole line of attack from Hillary is pathetic -- though not nearly as pathetic as all this crap about his "plagiarism" that's coming from them this morning.  They are just desperate for something -- anything -- to distract attention from the fact that they are now on the wrong side of the curve in the national polls, that they're going to lose Wisconsin tomorrow, and that the trends in Texas and Ohio are already moving against them.

    Foolish comment (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:01:45 PM EST
    I for one do not care one whit about this pledge.

    I KNOW the Media will push it to full effect against Obama if it is left to be a MCCain issue.

    Really silly stuff from you.


    And taking in the whole of your comment (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:02:40 PM EST
    My gawd, do you really believe all that?

    Believe what? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Traven on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:21:27 PM EST
    Believe what?  That the general election campaign doesn't start till September, after the convention; that Obama can spend his primary money until he's nominated, while McCain will have to start eating into his $85 million earlier; that Howard Wolfson and Lanny Davis and Ann Lewis wouldn't be on the air right now spinning that Obama had "disarmed" and shown he "doesn't know how to fight the GOP" if he'd reaffirmed this "pledge"; that the media have an attention span of about two days?  Yes, I believe all of that.  I live in a reality-based world.

    Better yet (none / 0) (#2)
    by eric on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:07:12 AM EST
    Better yet, pull a full-on Bushism.  Just say that you aren't using the public financing system because he can't secure the pledge of the republican.  It's just like "he wouldn't allow the inspectors in."  The media hasn't caught on to that yet.  Just keep saying it and it becomes true.

    Whatever, just say it NOW (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:08:18 AM EST
    a complete non issue (none / 0) (#4)
    by jdj on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:21:16 AM EST
    that general voters will not care about. But I guess this is all clinton supporters have to grasp to right now.

    The Media will (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:26:26 AM EST
    and it will very much effect his Media Darling status and open up the waffling/no principles line of attack.

    No one cared about Kerry' vote either.

    It was the line "I was for it before I was against it" that did him in.

    Your pronouncement is utterly foolish.

    And your comment is abusive. I suppose you would enjoy being called an Obama Cultist in repsonse.

    Do not do that again. I have discouraged and stopped references to commenters as Obama cultist. I am doing the same here with your similar charge.


    I agree (none / 0) (#18)
    by AF on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:31:55 PM EST
    This could be an issue.  I am not as sanguine, however, that breaking the pledge now solves the problem.  If nobody notices now, McCain will make a big issue of it later.  It will fit right in to the authenticity/timidity themes that the Republicans (following in the footsteps of the Clinton campaign) are going to throw at Obama.

    That's why not breaking the pledge, if possible, is worth pursuing.  BTD is right, it will be tough to pull off.  But this is the sort of tactical issue I'm comfortable leaving to the professionals.


    For it before against it (none / 0) (#7)
    by Virginian on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:47:58 AM EST
    Thats funny, that is EXACTLY what I thought too when I heard Obama's campaign explain this...

    You're right...renounce it now when the tide is in your favor and vet the issue early...when it comes up in the GE, which it will, you can say "I explained all this months ago guys, this is old old news..."

    I think Schmitt's post is foolish (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:00:41 PM EST
    Do it now when it will have no impact.

    GOP Playbook (none / 0) (#12)
    by judyo on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:15:08 PM EST
    like immigration, same sex marriage, flag burning and the like.
    Take an issue and build up the red meat.
    There are always ulterior motives.


    Seriously (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jgarza on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:28:02 PM EST
    It's not like this is an important issue to most people either.

    I have no idea (none / 0) (#15)
    by Tano on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:46:53 PM EST
    why it sounds Kerryesqe to you. That might, in fact, be a good question you should ask yourself.

    The "pledge" seems to me rather straightforward:
    " I will aggressively pursue an agreement..."

    What is so complicated about that?

    You are really a piece of work (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:46:40 PM EST
    BTD, have you been in a cave (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:48:20 PM EST
    for 4 years? sen. clinton has stated, on multiple occassions since 2004, that if she'd known then what she subsequently learned, she'd never have voted for the bill authorizing, as a final resort, the use of military arms against iraq.

    what else is there to say? please do elucidate.

    with respect to "the pledge", it would seem young mr. B is reading his own projected, "now that he appears to be the leader", interpretation into it. a plain reading gives rise to no such thing. but then, i'm big on just reading what something says.

    Sure (none / 0) (#21)
    by Alien Abductee on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:24:26 PM EST
    When Obama is the nominee he should "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." A framework that actually supports fair public financing of elections should be something the candidates discuss, and it should be pursued as policy in an Obama (or Clinton) administration.

    That can hardly be read as a promise to take public financing in this election, so even bringing up Kerry and flip-flopping is a real reach. A swiftboating almost...