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Hope, Handbags, and Hypocrisy

This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports on Obama’s “Runway to Win” fashion fundraiser tonight, where the campaign will begin hawking campaign-themed apparel and accessories from high-end designers. The article also raises some serious issues about potential campaign finance law violations:

“Jan Baran, an election lawyer with Wiley Rein LLP, said designers can’t ask employees to work on political projects unless they willingly volunteered their time. ‘Someone who is paid to do campaign work is not a volunteer,’ he said. If the designer or staff are paid by anyone other than the campaign, it would be considered a campaign contribution from a company to a candidate.”

These are serious questions and deserve a serious investigation—and an honest answer from the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history.”

But visitors to www.RunwaytoWin.com may find themselves asking yet another question: Is the Obama campaign promoting a president or a product?

The high-priced T-shirts ($45), totes ($75), and scarves ($95) are designed by the likes of Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, and Beyoncé, and feature logos (the Obama ‘O’), slogans (“Greater Together”), and images (of the president himself).

While the products’ prices are high by conventional standards, it all speaks to a certain cheapening of the commander-in-chief. It underscores yet again the Obama campaign’s desire to run on something—anything!—other than the president’s record.

In 2008, Barack Obama had no record, so he ran on empty slogans. In 2012, he has a record, but because that record is so abysmal, the campaign has calculated that they must run a campaign that deliberately avoids mentioning it.

The campaign has new slogans, old logos, and equally vapid platitudes—all meant to distract from high unemployment, rising debt, and the overwhelming sense that America is headed in the wrong direction.

The American people won’t be distracted, but the Obama campaign has managed to distract themselves from reality. Team Obama talks about “fighting” for the middle class and about vague notions of “fairness”—and then they peddle a $95 scarf.  In the Obama economy, few can realistically afford to be campaign-chic—even if these are supposed to be discounted prices. (See the RNC’s video, “The Obama 2012 Fashion Show”)

This tone-deafness comes on the same day that Team Obama took hypocrisy to a new level—embracing the very Super PACs that the president once called a “threat to democracy.” It’s just the latest broken promise from Barack Obama and, like the fashion fundraising, directly undermines the administration’s own rhetoric.

Seeing an opportunity for millions of dollars of pro-Obama cash, the campaign decided politics trumped principle and reversed their own position on Super PACs, encouraging donors to support the third party group Priorities USA.

Barack Obama once declared that as a result of Super PACs, “every American might end up suffering.” Now, the Obama campaign has decided that, in the words of a $50 pin designed by Eddie Borgo, Barack Obama and his Super PAC could be “greater together.” Never mind the effect on “every American.”

It really is all about “Priorities.” Obama now prioritizes fundraising over fighting supposed “suffering.” It doesn’t take a fashion designer to see that’s a bad look on him.

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