Obama's Super PAC Reversal Is Cash Trumping Principle

After criticizing the Supreme Court for its Citizen's United decision, Obama embraces Super PACs.

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President Barack Obama has reversed course, deciding to embrace the so-called "super PACs" arising out of the U. S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that he and his party have repeatedly denounced.

Super PACs can take unlimited amounts of money and do not have to disclose the identity of their donors but cannot coordinate their activities with official campaign organizations. They have already proven their effectiveness, helping former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney beat back a surging Newt Gingrich in both Iowa and Florida through a skillful but negative television ad campaign.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Are Super PACs Harming U.S. Politics?]

Liberals have attacked the super PACs as yet another opportunity for the corruption of the political system through the influx of money. Obama even went so far as to criticize the members of the nation's highest court to their face during his State of the Union address two years ago for the decision that allowed the creation of these new entities.

"With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said during the speech. "I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems."

[See a collection of political cartoons on Super PACs.]

Now, faced with GOP-aligned committees demonstrating they can have an impact on campaigns, Obama has apparently changed his mind. "We decided to do this because we can't afford for the work you're doing in your communities, and the grass-roots donations you give to support it, to be destroyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads," the president's re-election campaign manager Jim Messina told supporters in an E-mail Monday night according to Politico.

Apparently the requirements of the situation determine the proper course of behavior. Obama, who was the first major party presidential candidate to opt out of the federal campaign finance system since it was created in the aftermath of Watergate, has now decided he needs the money more than he needs to stick to principle.

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  • Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.