A couple of nights ago on CNN’s AC360, Anderson Cooper conducted an interview with Bill Burton, a former White House press secretary for President Obama, and Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President Bush and a CNN contributor. The topic was Mr. Obama’s flip flop on the matter of Super PACs. Not long ago the president was calling them a “threat to democracy;” now he’s now encouraging big donors to write checks in support of them.
Mr. Burton has a weak case to defend, and he defends it quite weakly. Ari Fleischer, on the other hand, has a strong case to prosecute it and he does so exceedingly well. Here’s what Fleischer said:
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Super PACS. That’s called free speech and everybody is entitled to it. Here’s the problem, though, with what Barack Obama has done. This is part of a pattern of behavior with Barack Obama that goes back to 2008. If you recall back then, he said he would accept public financing for the campaign, just as John McCain did. Then as soon as he figured out he could actually raise more money than public financing would get him, he flip-flopped on that issue and took unlimited money to fund his campaign. He also, because he wants to act as if he’s changing Washington as a reformer, said he wouldn’t allow any lobbyists at the White House, then he gave wavers for lobbyists. He said his staff wouldn’t be allowed to meet with lobbyists in the White House. So what did they do? They walked out the front door of the White House, across the park, and to the Caribou Coffee House where they met with lobbyists. And now this flip-flop on the Super PAC idea itself. This is a super flip-flop. But worse than that, it’s a president who has to act as if he is smarter, better, more moralistic than all his opponents, everybody else, while his pattern of behavior is to have words that are wind, but his actions are just like everybody’s else’s in Washington. There’s nothing reformist, nothing change-oriented about Barack Obama when you get to the heart of it.
Barack Obama has a similar flip flop problem. It’s not only on those issues. When he was a senator, he said that we shouldn’t raise the debt limit and then of course he voted against it. And then when he became president, he said we have to raise the debt limit. It’s a regular pattern with Barack Obama. Here is where thing gets even worse when you look at the president and the standard he sets for himself. He said in 2007 about John Edwards’s Super PAC, “You can’t just talk the talk … The easiest thing in the world is to talk about change during election time. Everybody talks about change at election time. You’ve got to look at how they do and how they act when it’s not convenient, when it’s harder.” That’s what he said, and that’s my problem with Barack Obama. He constantly tries to act as if he is somebody special and different when he really isn’t. And then to make it connect to policy, this is also why there’s such a sense of frustration when dealing with Barack Obama on the most important issue of the day, how to reform debt and spending and reduce debt… again, words are wind, making promises, saying things and his actions go 180 degrees against it. His entire presidency, it seems, is about maneuvering and tactical positions to protect and preserve his brand, not to follow through on reform.
Mr. Fleischer’s comprehensive case (which can be seen here) exposes the fundamental fraudulence at the core of the Obama presidency. It isn’t the most important thing to voters, but it matters. Hypocrisy on this scale always does.