Barack Obama has decided to forgo public campaign financing, despite saying earlier that he wanted to preserve the public campaign financing system. The rich irony is that now the Republicans are all over Obama for going back on his promise to take public campaign financing.For years the Republicans have been rallying against campaign finance reform. They have spoken against, voted against, filibustered against, and campaigned against campaign financing reform. In fact, it was John McCain's support for the McCain-Feingold bill that created much of the bad blood within his own party. Now that for the first time in decades Democrats have a fundraising advantage, many Republicans are crying crocodile tears.
The irony does not stop there. The numerous campaign reform activists on the left are remaining conspicuously silent while Barack Obama becomes the first candidate since Watergate to back out of the public finance system. In a single day, Obama has done more to undermine the public campaign financing than all the PAC's and 527's combined, and the silence on the left is deafening.
The greatest irony of all is the reaction of John McCain. McCain is taking public financing not because of some deep-seated principle; if that were the case, he would not have opted out of public financing (in a legally questionable manner) during the primary. John McCain is taking public financing because he needs to. There is no way that McCain can match Obama's fundraising, so he needs to take a government handout. That is the rich irony. John McCain, a hardcore free trade capitalist, needs the government to intervene to even the playing field.