Friday, November 9, 2012

Axelrod: Maybe Super PACs Aren't So Bad After All

    Late on election night, after the race was called for Barack Obama, I tweeted:

    Now The Hill reports that the still-mustachioed David Axelrod concurs:
Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod said Thursday that if he were a Republican billionaire who donated to a conservative super-PACs during this election, he would want his money back.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call two days after Obama won reelection, Axelrod said one key takeaway of the presidential race and other congressional races, is the ineffectiveness of the super-PACs.
“If I were one of these billionaires, I'd be wanting to talk to someone and asking where my refund is, because they didn't get much for their money,” Axelrod said. “Just looking at the heartening news is that you can't buy the White House. You can't overwhelm the Congress with these super-PAC dollars.”
    This is quite a change from the tune Axelrod was singing back in June. Politico reported at the time:
Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod said Thursday that free-spending super PACs are hurting the fabric of democracy — and that President Barack Obama's administration would move to reform the campaign finance system in a possible second term.
"It's a great concern," Axelrod said in an interview with WJLA ABC 7, a station owned by POLITICO's corporate parent. "People are writing $10 million checks in one fell swoop to these super PACs — in many cases, they're undisclosed."
     Since it now appears the "fabric of democracy" was in no more danger than Axelrod's mustache, it will be interesting to see if the Obama administration follows through on the promised "reforms":
Axelrod said a second term Obama administration would bring about reforms in the campaign finance system.
"I hope that when we win this election, one thing we can do is bring some common sense back to our system," Axelrod said.
    I am more than a little skeptical that these reforms will be pursued with much vigor, especially given what Axelrod left out of his super PAC comments in June:
Left unsaid is the fact that Obama also has a super PAC — Priorities USA Action — run by two former White House staffers. The group has struggled to keep pace with efforts on the GOP side — with many wealthy Obama donors recoiling at what the super PAC represents.
    The ultimate irony would be Axelrod himself jumping into the super PAC arena as his time with the Obama administration and campaign winds down over the next several years.  With Axelrod's background and with a fairly secure future as a political guru for years to come, this scenario seems to me to be almost a certainty.  I am tempted to grow a mustache myself just so I can promise to shave it off if I am wrong.

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