President Obama’s re-election campaign made an about-face late Monday in its opposition to super PACs, encouraging donors to send their unlimited contributions to one such group founded by a former administration spokesman.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina emailed supporters to formally endorse contributions to Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC founded by Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary.
“With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm,” Messina wrote on the campaign’s blog. “Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PAC.”
The claim of “unilateral disarmament” rings hollow when Obama’s fundraising is taken into account: While Mitt Romney has raised tens of millions in donations, he has had to spend heavily to fend off challengers while the president’s campaign has raised more money, and faces no primary challenger. Campaigns are barred by law from coordinating with super PACs, which doesn’t square very well with the Obama campaign’s obvious promotion of its super PAC.
In 2010, President Obama called super PACs a “threat to democracy.” Similar to the moral argument he used to promote US intervention in Libya — that we couldn’t wait until we saw images of the dead to act, images we are now seeing coming out of Syria yet he is not acting — that moral argument has been revealed as nothing more than an expedient. “Just words,” a younger Obama might say.