Obama alienates his media base
For most voters, Barack Obama’s shift away from public financing is not as big a deal as the mounting death toll in Iraq, surging gas prices — or even what they’re going to make for dinner tonight.The question is whether the guys with tingle in their leg will be feeling something different. I think they hate Republicans so much that they will swallow anything to get Obama and that is what he is counting on.
But Obama’s announcement Thursday that he would become the first candidate to opt out of the public financing program for the general election was a big deal for some of the nation’s most influential newspaper editorial boards, which have long been ardent champions of campaign finance reform and which had thought they’d found a kindred spirit on the issue.
Friday morning, scathing editorials in many top broadsheets characterized Obama’s move as a self-interested flip-flop, dismissed his efforts to cast it as a principled stand and charged that Obama wasn’t living up to the reformer image around which he has crafted his political identity.
The scolding could mark a turning point in what has been, on balance, fawning treatment of Obama, an Illinois Senator and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on editorial pages.
While the influence of editorial boards has diminished as the media has fragmented, they still carry weight with opinion leaders and undecided voters.
Obama’s Republican opponent, John McCain, will participate in the public financing system, which this year will provide $84 million in taxpayer funds to candidates who agree to limit their spending to that amount. Obama is expected to raise many times more than that.
Many of the same top editorial boards that have criticized McCain’s unwavering support for a long military presence in Iraq have also lauded his efforts to pass stricter campaign finance, ethics and lobbying laws.
“The fact that McCain has been willing over the years to take the lead on these issues, when it’s arguably not in his self-interest, is one measure of character that over the years we’ve respected,” said Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post.