Originally Posted By: oenophore
He voted yea on the latest FISA amendment. He reneged on a pledge to accept public funding.


I would have liked to have seen different actions from Obama in these areas too. But I understand his decisions in both cases.

They both go back to Obama as a pragmatist. Obama didn't want telecom immunity, but concluded that holding out for it would have led to a worse outcome both in practical and political terms: without the FISA compromise, conservative Democrats in the House were threatening to join Republicans and vote for the Senate bill. I suppose he concluded that allowing FISA to revert to it's original state and continuing the stalemate was not a better option. Not the outcome I would have preferred, but one has to operate in the political realities of the day and do the best one can.

There is no greater proponent of public campaign financing than myself. But the present presidential system is simply insufficient to the task. It doesn't provide enough funding, and it doesn't take into account vast amounts of independent expenditures (if anyone thinks McCain spending consists solely of his public funds, I've got about $100 million in RNC and 527 organization money to show you). The present system has public funds, but it doesn't guarantee a fair fight.

Maine and Arizona have good systems on the state level that I believe do not infringe on free speech while providing money for publicly financed candidates to answer back to independent expenditures and privately financed opponents. Obama is a cosponsor of legislation that would institute such a system for congressional elections, so I think he does believe in the principle. But I can't really blame him for not participating in a presidential funding system that doesn't really work. His mistake was probably indicating that he would accept the funds in the first place.

But again, as a pragmatist, the public system has to offer enough money to provide an incentive not to raise it privately. If more of us did the $3 check-off on our income taxes, maybe the system would be more robust. And he's still ahead of McCain on this issue, who has not endorsed the public campaign finance system in effect in his own state since 2000. (Plus I think aspects of McCain-Feingold violate the First Amendment.)