Saturday, August 16, 2008

Character & Principles

"Character" is the sum total of all the choices we make in life.

The real test of character comes when the choices are difficult. They come when acting in accordance with principles such as duty, honor, country, honesty, or loyalty, means foregoing some benefit.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who fail the test of character. These are the people who weigh each decision on the scales of expediency and in disregard of all but personal ambition or personal gain.

If you needed more evidence that Obama's sole defining characterisc is ambition and yet another example that he views the articulation of other principles as merely words on a teleprompter, here it is.

First, the soaring rhetoric and clear statement of principles from the One:

But that was two months ago, when pretending to hold these principles allowed Obama to claim the moral highground without suffering in the balance of expediencies. Today, the LA Times is reporting that the Obama campaign is now seeking precisely the types of donations he eschewed so stiringly above. His campaign is doing it on behalf of the DNC to fund his convention:

Facing a large deficit in the Democratic National Convention budget, officials from Barack Obama's campaign have begun personally soliciting labor unions and others for contributions of up to $1 million. In exchange, donors could get stadium skyboxes for Obama's acceptance speech and other perks.

Obama has regularly criticized politicians seeking large donations outside the framework of campaign finance regulations -- so-called soft money -- while touting the virtues of relying on small donations.

But campaign officials last month reluctantly decided they had to take a hand in raising large donations from individuals, unions and corporations. Some of the donors get special bundles of perks, including use of the party suites at Denver's Invesco Field, as well as special policy briefings by Obama advisors, choice hotel rooms and party invitations.

What caused the shift was evidence that the Denver Host Committee was having trouble raising the estimated $60 million in cash and in-kind contributions needed to fund the convention, which runs Aug. 24-29.

Partly as a result of the boost from Obama's campaign, most of the goal has now been met, said Steve Farber, the Denver lawyer helping to lead the effort. In mid-June, the Denver Host Committee's fundraising team reported that it was $11.6 million short of reaching a funding goal.

In an example of the campaign's late-innings effort, a very senior Obama campaign official called the political director of one of the largest labor unions about two weeks ago and asked for a $500,000 contribution on top of a similar amount that had been committed just a few weeks before, according to the union official.

. . . A spokesman for the campaign, Hari Sevugan, declined to say whether Obama himself had become involved in these fundraising efforts or to confirm any details of work done by others from the campaign.

"We are working together with the convention committee on many levels to ensure a successful convention this year," Sevugan said. "As we announced earlier, moving forward, one of Sen. Obama's reform priorities will include changes in the way party conventions are funded to assure they can be run without dependence" on soft money.

Donations made to convention host committees are not covered by federal donation limits. As a result, corporations and wealthy individuals can donate unlimited sums under the premise that the committee is promoting civic pride and economic growth, not a political cause.

However, the leadership ranks of these local fundraising committees are dominated by political partisans and elected officials.

. . . The Service Employees International Union has already committed $500,000 to the Democratic convention and an undisclosed sum to the Republicans.

In addition, a new labor consortium it belongs to, Change to Win, has been asked to donate. Other unions that are members of Change to Win, including New York-based Unite Here, have made unspecified donations to the Democrats' host committee. The American Federation of Teachers donated $750,000 last month.

. . . Use of Invesco Field skyboxes as a fundraising tool provides a positive ending to what was at first considered a financial headache. When Obama announced that he planned to deliver his acceptance speech at the outdoor stadium, campaign officials estimated that it would add about $6 million to the convention's cost. Since then, the sale of the $1-million packages has been highly successful, with many of the boxes selling out.

Those paying the $1-million price tag will get skybox tickets for 25 people and an additional 50 regular tickets to Invesco Field.

What's more, donors will get occasional access to skyboxes at the Pepsi Center, where the rest of the convention will take place. Donors will also have access to private parties and receptions.

Obama spokesman Sevugan insisted that none of the campaign's involvement with large-dollar convention funding indicated a weakening of Obama's resolve to reform the system.

Sevugan said: "In addition to his commitment to reform the convention funding process, Sen. Obama has also taken unprecedented steps to curb the influence of money on the political process in refusing contributions from PACs and Washington lobbyists, money raised by them, and asking the DNC to do the same -- all steps that John McCain refuses to take. . . .

Read the entire article. The hypocrisy of any claim to be honoring Obama's pledge after admitting to actively soliciting huge soft money donations is of such dimension as to transgress into obscenity. As Hot Air asks, "[c]an anyone remember a reform pledge Barack Obama hasn’t broken?"

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