There have been many lies by Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign that he has tried to mask by shifting his recollections over time. These include the extent of his relationship with Bill Ayers, what he heard Reverend Wright say during his near 20 year membership in Trinity Church, and his relationship with the vote fraud enterprise, otherwise known as ACORN. Barack Obama has made history and then "remade" it -- and he has done so numerous times.
But two lies in particular have been especially consequential: Obama's pledge not to run for President in 2008, and his commitment to participate in federal financing for his general election campaign, with its consequent spending limits. The news this past Sunday that Obama raised $150 million for his campaign in September shows the significance of the second lie.
The First Big Lie: Running For the Presidency
When Obama was elected a US Senator in 2004 he pledged to the voters of Illinois that he would not run for President in 2008. This is what Obama said on that subject in 2004: "Look, I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years."
Obama gave a similar response to a question from a reporter that he dismissed as "silly": "Guys, I'm a state senator. I was elected yesterday. I have never set foot in the U.S. Senate. I've never worked in Washington. And the notion that somehow I'm immediately going to start running for higher office, it just doesn't make sense."
This lie has not been given much currency in the media. There have been plenty of other politicians who have promised not to run for higher office and then decided otherwise. The same holds true for some elected officials who pledged to observe a term limit on their years in Congress or the Senate, but later decided "the people still needed them".
Barack Obama, since he first ran for office in 1996, has followed a pattern: he always looked-up for the next elected job to seek. One colleague from his Illinois State Senate days in Illinois said he saw "the positions he held as stepping stones to other things"
After election to the State Senate in 1996, Obama ran (and lost) a race for Congress in 2000 against incumbent Bobby Rush. In 2002, Obama began his run for the open US Senate seat in Illinois to be contested in 2004. In 2006, he began his run for President. In fact, for more than half of the time since he has held public office, Obama has been AWOL from the job to which he has been elected, instead campaigning for higher office. There must have been a "calling" which he heard. Or perhaps it is merely unbridled personal ambition.
It should have been no surprise when Obama broke his pledge to the voters of Illinois and ran for President. If Obama is elected, it will be a new experience for him to actually have to do the job for which he was elected, with no higher office available, at least in the temporal realm. Of course, he could begin his re-election campaign ( and the fundraising for it), on Inauguration Day. It is hard to imagine, after all, that there may be a day soon with no Obama ads on TV or radio.
One safe bet is that the same media which has been enthralled with Obama's candidacy will cover for him and serve as free public relations agents during his Presidency. When problems arise, the media will continue to blame George Bush for having created "intractable problems." With a Democrat-controlled Congress with big majorities in both the Senate and House backstopping a Democratic President, this excuse may wear thin with voters.
The Second Big Lie: Accepting Federal Funding For the General Election
The more consequential lie of the 2008 Obama campaign, and the one that may determine the outcome of the election, was Obama's promise to accept federal funds for the general election if his opponent did. It was a given that John McCain, the co-author of campaign finance reform legislation with liberal Democrat Russ Feingold, was going to observe the federal spending limit of $84 million that accompanied the funds. Obama, on the other hand, never had any intention of limiting his spending to that amount.
The contest for the Democratic nomination showed Obama's fundraising prowess; in several months he raised more than $50 million in that month alone. In September, Obama raised more than $150 million, a stunning amount, bringing his total fundraising for the year to $605 million. Obama has raised almost twice as much money in September as McCain received for his entire general election campaign. Since federal financing of Presidential elections began in 1976, no candidate had ever opted out of the system before Barack Obama. Obama's excuse for doing so was, to put it gently, pretty lame. In reality, the rationale he provided for his action, was a lie. Obama argued that he feared an infusion of special interest group money paying for attack ads against him. Hence, Obama needed to be armed for battle, and $84 million in federal campaign money for the general election, was not enough. This was hogwash. Ads by independent groups and so-called 527s this cycle have heavily favored Democrats, just as they did in 2004. Obama was advantaged on that front. Obama opted out because he knew it would pay off -- that he could raise much more than $84 million, and that he then could bury McCain by ratios of 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 in spending on ads and organizers down the stretch. That is exactly what is now occurring and a major reason why Obama has opened up leads in the key battleground states. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media have been unconcerned about Obama's backtracking and dishonesty on his pledge to participate in federal financing of the general election campaign. For a day or two, some journalists and pundits made it sound like Obama had let them down. But shortly thereafter, the move was viewed as smart, strategic, and necessary -- the obvious thing to do when winning is everything. And of course, the coverage of this campaign by the national media (including late night "comedians") has shown that they believe Obama's winning is everything. Why should the media expect Obama to behave any differently than they have in their own reporting? They have delivered the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars in free advertising for Obama with puff piece reporting on his campaign, and far less favorable coverage of the McCain campaign.
For the McCain Palin team, it really must seem like they are facing a campaign with all the money in the world. For all practical purposes, they are. And if you think Barack Obama would have had it any other way, then you don't understand Barack Obama. Do you think when Obama met with his advisors to discuss how to sell his breaking a pledge to participate in federal financing of the general election, that anyone said: "But Senator, you would be breaking your word"?
Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.