June 20, 2008

And why do "Democratic strategists" -- who are supposedly on to balance them out -- let them do it? While discussing Barack Obama's decision to air his first national campaign ad in traditionally unfriendly states, Republican strategist Joe Watkins advises McCain just to be his McMavericky self, because people appreciate someone who won't go back on their word, obviously alluding to Obama's "broken promise" on accepting public financing. What Joe neglects to mention, and what David Shuster and Morris Reid forget to remind him of, is that John McCain is breaking his own campaign finance laws as we speak.

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To his credit, Reid mentioned McCain's flip flop on the Bush tax cuts, but calling out his blatant and perpetually ongoing hypocrisy and lawbreaking on his signature issue would be far, far more effective. Josh Marshall sums up the case against McCain quite nicely:

[...] McCain himself is at this moment breaking the law in continuing to spend over the spending limits he promised to abide by through the primary season in exchange for public financing. (By the FEC's rules, we're still in the primary phase of the election and will be until the conventions.)

I want to return to this subject though because this is not hyperbole or some throw away line. He's really doing it. McCain opting into public financing, accepted the spending limits and then profited from that opt-in by securing a campaign saving loan. And then he used some clever, but not clever enough lawyering, to opt back out. And the person charged with saying what flies and what doesn't -- the Republican head of the FEC -- said he's not allowed to do that. He can't opt out unilaterally unless the FEC says he can.

I understand that it's difficult to stay on top of every nuance of every issue, but this is undeniably McCain's biggest vulnerability right now. It's simply astounding that McCain is allowed to hold others up to standards (aka laws) that he himself is violating. Even worse, it's Democrats on TV who are letting him do it.

In other words, the media narrative is now that Barack Obama is a "flip-flopper" for opting out, and John McCain is a "straight-shooter" for opting in, then out, then in again, all the while breaking the law by spending more than he's allowed to. Damned liberal media.

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