For your consideration, two thoughts about the presidential election I had when I should have been at the gym:
• One of the most common attacks you’ll hear on Barack Obama is that he’ll raise your taxes. So why is he getting attacked for turning down $85 million in taxpayer money?
That’s the amount Obama would have received if he accepted public financing for the presidential election. Obama passed it up because he’d only be allowed to spend a match of $85 million in campaign contributions, and he’s already raised nearly $300 million over his 18 months of campaigning.
Obama promised he would “aggressively pursue” an agreement with John McCain on public financing, but aides couldn’t reach an agreement on shutting down outside political advertising groups. Moveon.org has shut down its advertising since Obama took control of the Democratic Party, while McCain has insisted he can’t referee every outside group. Obama would be foolish to leave millions on the table if it could fight smear campaigns that stung McCain in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
Before you criticize the big money in Obama’s campaign, take a look at public financing again. The rules that put public financing in place also create maximum contribution amounts so campaigns aren’t entirely financed by corporations and special interest groups.
Let’s hear what an expert on campaign finance said on the subject:
“The Internet is generating more and more people involved in the political process with relatively small campaign contributions, $50, $75. That’s wonderful. No longer can an office holder call up a CEO or a trial lawyer or a union leader and say, I need $1 million.”
The expert would be pleased the average Obama donation is $95. That means for every maximum contribution of $2,300, 49 other people donate $50. We should reward a candidate who raises $300 million by inspiring Americans who choose to donate, not demand that candidate spend $85 million from taxpayers who have no choice but to give.
And the expert? That is John McCain, who said that in 2004.
• There’s a reason the staff of First Lady-hopeful Cindy McCain took recipes from The Food Network and posted them on her husband’s campaign site. The reason is, duh...
Cindy McCain is the chair of Hensley & Co., a Phoenix-based beer distribution company that nets more than $300 million a year in profits. Her family owns a 68 percent share in the company. The part of her 2006 tax return she did release shows she took in more than $6 million that year. Her net worth is estimated at more than $100 million.
Does this sound like somebody who has to get home and dust off the old 3-by-5 recipe cards so the family can eat? I’ll probably never be worth $100 million, but I can assure you I would copy Cindy McCain and pay other people to prepare food so I could spend time with my job, family and charitable organizations.
Staff could have done a better job in disclosing the recipes’ source, but it’s still a non-story. Instead of opening up Cindy McCain’s recipe book, wouldn’t it be a better use of resources to insist she release her full tax returns, as media outlets pressed Teresa Heinz-Kerry to do in 2004? Or maybe report, as the Los Angeles Times alone has done, about the possible conflicts of interest when a First Lady runs an alcohol distribution company.
Honest discussion of those issues, and not her favorite recipe for chocolate mousse, would allow Cindy McCain to build trust with voters. The country owes the McCains those opportunities.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: email@example.com