Opinion Brief

Obama's super PAC flip-flop: 'Hypocrisy or necessity'?

Faced with a potentially massive financial disadvantage, the president reluctantly embraces the same super PACs he once called a "threat to democracy"

In a stark reversal of President Obama's long-touted opposition to super PACs, the president's re-election campaign announced Monday that it would encourage deep-pocketed donors to send hefty checks to the Obama-aligned super PAC Priorities USA. Obama fiercely opposed the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which allowed super PACs to receive unlimited donations from individuals and organizations, and has called super PACs a "threat to democracy." (Read a quick primer on super PACs here.) But with GOP-friendly super PACs piling up mountains of cash, Obama is changing his tune. In a blog post, campaign manager Jim Messina writes, "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." Is Obama's decision "an act of hypocrisy or necessity?"

Absolute necessity. Obama is right to change his mind: Team Obama's announcement is, "at its core, about tactics, not philosophy," says Buzzfeed. Remember, Obama made a similarly smart (and criticized) decision in 2008, when he reneged "on a pledge to take public financing, accepting the hit on his reform credentials... in exchange for a serious financial advantage over John McCain." This time around, Obama will face a GOP opponent "whose rich friends really will pour tens of millions into outside groups." The president would be foolish to simply cede that advantage."Obama's latest money decision: Less control, but it matters less"

Are you kidding? This is "pure hypocrisy": Even in Team Obama's blog post announcing its cooperation with a super PAC, the president's campaign calls super PACs' very existence a "dangerous trend," says William Teach at Pirate's Cove. What does it say, then, that instead of staying the course and refusing to accept their help, the president is "going to capitulate and become part of that 'dangerous trend?'" Let's just sum up "Barack Obama in a nutshell: No principles.""Obama leads from behind, rationalizes why he needs a Super PAC"

This shouldn't come as a surprise: This is just the latest example of Obama "embracing pragmatism over principle," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. This is the same president who backed off his promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year of taking office, and who promised to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2009, but took an additional two years to do so. Once again, when faced with the tough reality of a situation, Obama is begrudgingly shifting his stance. It's quite "clear he would be ceding a major political advantage by continuing to shun super PACs." Is it really any surprise he's embracing them?"Obama picks pragmatism over principle on super PACs"

But it may not be the smartest move: This is no longer just an inside-politics debate, says Keyana Stevens at The Village Voice, largely thanks to Stephen Colbert's satirical super PAC and Occupy Wall Street's constant criticism of Citizens United. And just as many Americans are becoming aware of super PACs, "Obama's total about-face" on the issue gives Republicans "an easy opening to criticize him" as a flip-flopper. Ouch."Obama will support Super PAC, despite earlier opposition"

Recommended

Biden unveils new vaccination rules for federal workers
President Biden.
'it's about life and death'

Biden unveils new vaccination rules for federal workers

COVID's difficult debates
Yelling.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

COVID's difficult debates

House Republicans escalate mask revolt by walking to Senate
GOP representatives.
the grass is greener on the other side

House Republicans escalate mask revolt by walking to Senate

Marco Rubio self-owns after criticizing U.S. defense secretary's COVID precautions
Sen. Marco Rubio.
congratulations, you played yourself

Marco Rubio self-owns after criticizing U.S. defense secretary's COVID precautions

Most Popular

CNN airs threatening voicemail D.C. officer received during Jan. 6 testimony
Officer Michael Fanone.
Capitol riot aftermath

CNN airs threatening voicemail D.C. officer received during Jan. 6 testimony

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?
Tom Brady, Joe Biden
Quotables

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?

Democratic congressman makes 6 Fergie puns in 1 minute on House floor
Sean Casten.
uhhhh

Democratic congressman makes 6 Fergie puns in 1 minute on House floor