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For Prez, winning still trumps civility (NEW YORK POST OP-ED) By MICHAEL BARONE 05/05/12)Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/for_prez_winning_still_trumps_civility_WzXLhJMu4g5YlsksUBn37I NEW YORK POST NEW YORK POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
News reports say that the Obama campaign this year, as in 2008, has disabled or chosen not to use AVS in screening credit-card contributions.

That doesn’t sound important. But it’s evidence of a thuggish modus operandi.

AVS (Address Verification System) is the software that checks whether the name of the cardholder matches his or her address. If a campaign doesn’t use AVS, it can wind up accepting contributions from phony names or foreigners, both of which are illegal.

In 2008, the Obama campaign pocketed money from “John Galt, 1957 Ayn Rand Lane, Galts Gulch CO 99999” and $174,000 from a woman in Missouri who told reporters she had given nothing and had never been billed. Presumably, she’d have noticed an extra charge of $174,000.

The Obama campaign is evidently happy to pocket the money. After all, the president, according to political scientist Brendan Doherty, has appeared at more fund-raisers in three-and-a-half years than his six predecessors did in 35 years — at least two just in my Washington apartment building.

Obama talks a good game about transparency and openness, but he’s ready to flout the law by avoiding AVS and to break his high-minded campaign promises.

In the 2008 campaign cycle, he promised to take public financing for the general election. He broke that promise when it became apparent that he could raise far more money on his own.

During much of this cycle, he’s been criticizing Republican super PACs as a perversion of the political process. But when he saw that Republicans might be able to raise as much money as Democrats, he broke that promise, too, and authorized Cabinet members to appear at fund-raisers for the super PAC headed by his former deputy press secretary.

Democrats outraised Republicans in 2004 and 2008. Evidently, Obama considers it unfair that they might not do so this year. That’s not how things work in Chicago.

The “campaigner in chief,” as The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has dubbed him, also has a nasty habit of denouncing Republican and conservative contributors by name. He’s followed lefty bloggers in trying to demonize the Koch brothers.

This, coupled with a propensity to make jokes about siccing the Internal Revenue Service on people, looks like an attempt to chill opposition political speech — especially when there are reports that the IRS is hassling Tea Party groups.

Obama also indulges often in reckless rhetoric — for example, saying that Republicans want no regulations on financial institutions and businesses. It would be more politically astute and would look less thuggish to draw intellectually defensible distinctions between his own regulatory policies and the opposition’s. Attacks like this sound like debates late at night in the dorm.

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said during the 2008 cycle. That sounds like something you might hear from a community organizer. Or a Chicago pol.

Obama’s chosen political venue, Chicago, helps to explain this behavior. The mayor of Chicago — the job he once aspired to before greater opportunity beckoned — is an utterly dominant figure.

Chicago pols assume they can plunder the local private sector without penalty. Business leaders quickly catch on that it’s good to be known as a personal friend of the mayor. Campaign money flows accordingly.

The local rule is “don’t back no losers.” Those who do are well advised to do business elsewhere. You never know when the assessor is going to raise your assessment. And don’t appeal in court unless you hire the lawyer with the right connections.

The mayor also gets all the credit for all good things that happen on his watch, as Obama is attempting to do on the killing of Osama bin Laden — even though he opposed the interrogation methods that produced the information that led our special forces to Abbottabad.

Other campaigns haven’t disabled their AVS systems. But, then, their candidates aren’t from Chicago.

Obama likes to talk about the need for civility; he just doesn’t like to practice it. (Copyright 2012 NYP Holdings, Inc. 05/05/12)


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