For nonbelievers the Winter solstice brings the scientific fact of spaceship earth returning to the Sun’s ascent and the promise of longer hours of lifegiving light. The alignment of bright stars in Orion’s belt with the massive dogstar Sirius in northern skies brings the promise of rebirth with the eventual Spring embrace.
For believers, various celebrations are observed and encapsulated in the circular wreaths of evergreen.
It was therefore, during this Season of Peace, discouraging to see open warfare has blasted forth, dogs of war let loose, among partisans of Obama and Edwards. Therefore we rouse ourselves as peacemakers, ready with a modest proposal to bring peace to these warring camps.
Fellas, just admit that you are both hypocrites and stop the fighting.
* * *
The warfare started with perplexing statements from Obama. Obama after failed wooing of national labor unions now professes shock that organized labor leverages workers and financing to those candidates it deems worthy of endorsement.
Is Obama stating that if he were ever to get the Democratic nomination he would forgo assistance from organized labor and other Democratic allies? No more meetings in labor union halls? No phone banks communicating to Americans in favor of the Democratic nominee? We are perplexed.
This was the sad Obama statement denouncing Democratic allies:
“Right now groups supporting Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are flooding Iowa and the other early states with millions of dollars in paid ads, phone calls, and mailings. Some of it is negative and even deceptive, and a lot of it is paid for by huge, unregulated contributions from special interests. Taking on these groups isn’t just a matter of setting the record straight about me or my positions. It’s about proving that a new kind of campaign — funded by ordinary people who want something better for all of us — can defeat the same tired, old political textbook that so many Americans just don’t trust anymore.”
Those “groups” Obama bemoans for action in support of Democrats are the strongest of Democratic allies – labor unions and organizations such as EMILY’s List. What did Obama think endorsements are for? Is Obama telling the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada to shove off? We are perplexed.
Things became sadder still when a dreaded “527” group, announced a big advertising push in Iowa for Edwards.
An independent group linked to Senator John Edwards is planning a burst of more than $750,000 in planned television spending, according to details from a rival campaign. [snip]
The “Alliance for a New America” is said to be funded by the Service Employees International Union and is run by a longtime close aide to John Edwards, Nick Baldick.
It’s one of several 527s playing in Iowa this cycle, and while the groups can compromise a candidate’s reformer status, the money is basically too good to turn down.
That’s certainly the case with Edwards, who has based his campaign on a kind of fierce purity, particularly with relationship to his own campaign’s finances: He refuses to take money from lobbyists or PACs.
He also disapproves, officially, of the outside spending on his behalf.
”The way the law exists today is you have no control,” Edwards said Thursday. ”You’re not allowed by law to have contact or to coordinate with 527s. So can you discourage it? Yes, and I do.” [snip]
Indeed, two the Edwards 527s chip away a bit more at his clean money focus, because they involve current or past registered lobbyists, the target of much of Edwards’ criticism. Baldick — though he’s not currently registered — has been registered as a lobbyist in the past, with clients including Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield. [See below.]*
The other main Edwards 527, the Carpenters-backed Working for Working Americans, lists as its contact (.pdf), another registered lobbyist, Dave Frulla, whose clients are largely in the fisheries industry. A spokesman for the group said he’s a 527 expert who did the legal work of setting it up.
The back and forth was too demoralizing for us to delve too deeply into. But it was very sad to witness any part of it, bringing down our Christmas cheer. We recalled then recoiled at Obama’s hire of 527 honcho Robert Gibbs who produced ads in 2004 morphing the face of Osama Bin Laden with Howard Dean, and denouncing Dean as “inexperienced”. Obama denounced Edwards as a hypocrite:
“I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk; I’ve been doing this all my life, and John has not had that same record,” he said.
“John yesterday said that he didn’t believe in 527s,” he said. “We found out today that there’s an outside group spending $750,000 … and the individual who’s running the group used to be John Edwards’ campaign manager.”
“You can’t say yesterday you don’t believe in them and today you’re having three-quarters of a million dollars being spent for you,” he said.
We tried to avert our eyes but the conflict grew uglier and increasingly hypocritical. Edwards then called Obama a hypocrite:
Sen. Obama’s attacks seem to increase as momentum for our campaign grows. The truth is I am the only candidate in this race who has never taken a dime of PAC or Washington lobbyist money — ever. And, it’s why I support public financing of federal elections.
As for outside groups, unfortunately, you can’t control them, but let me make it clear: I think money has corrupted our politics and these groups should not be a part of the political process.
It got uglier still as Politico tried to keep up with the hypocrisy charges:
Edwards is sticking with his statement that he “can’t control” the 527 — less a “group,” as it’s often described, than a pass-through for money — but this isn’t the first time an Edwards adviser has left his campaign to a 527. At this point in the previous cycle, Jonathan Prince — now Edwards’ deputy campaign manager — had departed the campaign to run a similar group, funded by trial lawyers and unions, two people familiar with that episode said.
Edwards supporters have also made the point that Obama — now taking the moral high ground — sought and failed to get the support of the labor groups behind much of the 527 spending he’s now denouncing, and I asked Obama about that at a stop in a coffee shop earlier this afternoon.
“I love labor,” he responded. “It’s just important not to say that you oppose” 527 spending “the day before” the spending begins.
In other words, this is at its core a question of Edwards’ character, not campaign finance.
We, as peacemakers, as uniters not dividers, agree with both Obama and Edwards.
Edwards eventually issued a statement decrying 525s. “I would prefer that all 527s — not just this one — stay out of Iowa, but I have no legal authority over that,” he said. Obama’s fighters were not satisfied. It’s not change when you decry the influence of money in politics but then stay silent when your former campaign manager exploits the biggest loophole in the law to benefit the Edwards’ campaign with millions of dollars in ads from an unregulated political fund whose donors are undisclosed. John Edwards can and should call on his former advisor to stop this effort.
The 527 added its lovely touch of levity:
A creative response from a source close to the pro-Edwards 527: They can’t shut down in response to Edwards’ preference that they do so — because that could be an instance of illegal coordination!
Nick Baldick, the former Edwards aide behind the Alliance for a New America, wouldn’t comment on John Edwards’ preference that the group shut down. But a person close to the group offered a reminder of how fun campaign finance law can be (and how little it matters, short term, whether the FEC’s modest policing power is intact next year).
“Legally speaking, we can’t take guidance from Sen. Edwards, or Sen. Obama, or Gov. Romney, or Gov. Huckabee, or any federal candidate,” the source said.
Also, the source insisted, the group isn’t pro-Edwards: “We’re an issue advocacy group.”
Politico, mud boots firmly on, summed up the battle of hypocrisy.
The Obama/Edwards hypocrisy extended to the issue of lobbyists too:
Three political aides on Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) payroll were registered lobbyists for dozens of corporations, including Wal-Mart, British Petroleum and Lockheed Martin, while they received payments from his campaign, according to public documents.
The presence of political operatives with long client lists on Obama’s campaign contrasts with his long-held stand of campaigning against the influence of special interests. Obama has even refused to accept contributions from lobbyists or political action committees (PACs).
John Edwards does not fare well on the lobbyist issue either:
Two members of former Sen. John Edwards’s (D-N.C.) staff were registered as lobbyists for the first six months of this year. Adam Jentleson lobbied on behalf of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank headed by John Podesta, the White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration. Matthew Morrison registered as a lobbyist for the American Federation of Teachers in 2007.
Now we love the Center for American Progress and we love the American Federation of Teachers. Nothing wrong with CAP nor AFT. But that is not the attitude displayed by Obama and Edwards when Hillary said at YearlyKooks:
“A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans.” “They represent nurses, they represent social workers, yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people.” “I don’t think, based on my 35 years of fighting for what I believe in, I don’t think anybody seriously believes I’m going to be influenced by a lobbyist.”
It was sad when Hillary was attacked at YearlyKooks for mentioning that many working Americans depend on groups such as labor unions and lobbyists (AARP anyone?) to defend their interests. Yes, there are bad 527s and good 527s and good labor unions and bad labor unions and good people and bad people. But can’t we all get along?
In this Season of Peace, can’t we all get along?
Fellas, just admit you are both hypocrites, and move on.
It’s the Season of Peace.