Public-private partnerships

Apparently, John McCain has found a creative way to finance his campaign:

As The Washington Post reported on Saturday, John McCain's campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there'd be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.

It's an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system.

Federal funding of elections has suffered some body blows this season; first Obama went back on his pledge to accept public funding, and now John McCain has discovered that public funding can serve as a loan guarantee for the banks. I suspect this will not be the last time we see this sort of arrangement; public funding is becoming a fallback for losers, rather than a credible committment for front-runners.