- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 28, 2007

In announcing his presidential candidacy on Feb. 10, freshman Barack Obama acknowledged the obvious, while portraying his campaign as the reincarnation of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

“I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington,” the Illinois Democrat told his constituents in Springfield. “But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.” What are those “ways of Washington”? “As people have looked away in disillusionment and frustration,” Mr. Smith — err, Mr. Obama — said, “we know what’s filled the void — the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests, who’ve turned our government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks, and you get stuck with the bill,” he said. “They think they own this government. But we’re here today to take it back.”

To that end, Mr. Obama has portrayed himself as the paragon of virtue. Now that he is running for president, Mr. Obama refuses to accept PAC money from the “special interests” and contributions from “federal lobbyists.” On his way to Washington during his 2004 campaign, it is worth noting, Mr. Obama accepted more than $1 million from political action committees (PACs), including hundreds of thousands of dollars from Big Labor, and another $750,000 from lobbyists and law firms with big lobbying operations.

Mr. Obama also addressed the Democratic National Committee in February. He implored his fellow Democrats to “rise up out of the cynicism that’s become so pervasive and ask the people all across America to start believing again.” This, it seems, is what his “audacity of hope” is all about. Letting it be known that he would lead the campaign against the cynics and their cynicism, Mr. Obama said, “Over the next two years, that will be my call to you. I can’t do it on my own, but together, we can hope. I’m calling on you to hope,” Mr. Obama said to thunderous applause.

While declining contributions from “federal lobbyists,” Mr. Obama has been quick to take the cash of state lobbyists, including those whose clients, such as nuclear power companies, have huge interests before the federal government. However, even that distinction without a difference pales compared to the hypocrisy and cynicism that Mr. Obama has displayed in his attempts to circumvent his own standards. While declining money from federal lobbyists, Mr. Obama’s fund-raisers are seeking contributions from the wives of federal lobbyists, including checks written on joint accounts, according to a recent report by Jeanne Cummings in the Politico. After telling an Obama solicitor that his status as a current federal lobbyist precluded him from giving to Mr. Obama, the solicitor told the lobbyist that he was aware of that but “your spouse can contribute, and we want to reach out to your network,” Ms. Cummings reported.

Mr. Obama needs to take his own advice and “rise up out of the cynicism that’s become so pervasive” in his own campaign.

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