Why the Shift?

John Schneider, the man behind Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington, a documentary about the influence of special interest money in Washington, writes in The Huffington Post about what he sees as Sen. John McCain's increasingly convoluted position on campaign finance issues -- one one hand he's a champion of contribution limits and other reforms, on the other he's resisted backing a federal Clean Elections program to publicly fund congressional campaigns, despite having supported Clean Elections for states.

It's an interesting reflection on what the race for campaign cash can do to shake the commitment of an elected official to pursue a given reform:


I continued to be baffled until I learned that Senator McCain would prefer to be called President McCain. In a Washington sort of way this made complete sense. You can stand up for what you believe in as long as it doesn't keep you from being elected.

In the ensuing months, not only did the Senator rescind his support for or remained silent on various election/lobbying reforms he once considered critical, but he also has enlisted more lobbyist-bundlers to raise money for his campaign (a former pet peeve of his) then any other candidate, Democrat or Republican.

In perhaps the most ironic twist of all, Senator McCain, who himself opted out of the Presidential Public Funding System in the primaries, recently criticized Senator Obama for hedging on his commitment to accept public funding for the general election.

In principle I absolutely agree. Every presidential candidate should participate in our public funding system for both the primary and general elections (especially if they claim support clean elections). But, given Senator Obama's enormous success in raising campaign contributions it seems obvious that Senator McCain's only real concern is not being able to raise as much money as Senator Obama (who, along with Senator Clinton, hasn't yet opted into the Presidential Public Financing System).