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Flip-flopper-in-chief

Published time: February 07, 2012 19:51
Edited time: February 07, 2012 23:51
US President Barack Obama speaks about the White House Science Fair in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 7, 2012. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

US President Barack Obama speaks about the White House Science Fair in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 7, 2012. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

It’s election season, and you know what that means: President Obama has changed his mind about something.

This time the commander-in-chief has flip-flopped on the subject of super PACs, with the White House now saying that they will support campaign contributions made by wealthy corporations.

He called them a “threat to Democrats” and a “threat to democracy” barely a year ago. But now 16 months after he had those harsh words for the corporate sponsorship of political campaigns, US President Barack Obama is changing his stance. As the November elections come closer day by day, the president will now be in favor of supporters who make donations to outside committees that will back him as he runs for reelection.

A Supreme Court decision in 2010 made it legal for outside organizations to raise funds for candidates seeking office. Since then, super Pacs, or super Political Action Committees, have materialized left and right.

Well, they mostly materialized on the right.

President Obama had by-and-large discredited the court ruling and warned that US elections would be “bankrolled by America's most powerful interests” and insisted that he would not support them. Now Jim Messina, the manager of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, says that the deep pockets being purchased by Republican Party candidates leaves the current administration with little choice. Republican committees have managed to bring in tens of millions of dollars in anticipation of the November presidential election, and while the incumbent did not seem concerned, his stance has now changed.

“Due to unlimited and unprecedented super Pac spending, we may have no spending advantage (as we did in 2008) and could in fact get outspent,” writes Messina in a recent email to top Democrat donors. “I thought this might help you put the other side’s efforts into some context as you talk to friends and supporters about why we need their help and we need it now.”

“We’re not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind our back,” Messina adds in an interview with The New York Times. “With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules. Democrats can’t be unilaterally disarmed.”

Also at stake, however, is what’s left of the president’s reputation. While his change in stance might be a call to arms in preparation for November, it is certainly also the latest chapter in an ongoing series of flip-flopping by way of the commander-in-chief. The president has back-tracked on promises before, insisting on opening up “a new era of responsibility” during his inaugural address, but has since changed his stance on countless issues. There’s the broken promise of closing Guantanamo and the vow to veto the NDAA that he later rescinded, not to mention his failing to initiate a number of the promises of hope and change that fueled his 2008 campaign.

Broken promises aside though, the latest flip-flop out of the White House might be more than just another change of heart from Obama. Recent polls have put the current president neck-and-neck with Republican Party contenders Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, and with tens of millions of dollars going towards GOP-geared campaigns, corporate sponsorship might be the best bet for Barack Obama as he readies for November.

Priorities USA Action, one of the largest of Democratic-minded super Pacs, has brought in $19 million so far this campaign season. The largest Republican super Pacs, by comparison, have doubled that. American Crossroads, a Republican-aligned super Pac aided by former George W Bush adviser Karl Rove expects to pull in hundreds of millions of dollars by November.

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