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I get the sense that somebody had fun writing this New York Times editorial chiding presidential candidates John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton -- along with the extravagantly expensive campaign process -- for not doing more to preserve the presidential public financing system and get a tighter reign on out of control raising and spending.

It's pretty clear where they stand on the first presidential race expected to cost in excess of $1 billion:

The raising and doling out of lavish sums has been dispiriting to watch, a muddle of incompetence, avarice and special pleading, only vaguely restrained by the nation’s campaign finance laws. We sincerely hope that things improve before the general election onslaught.

Recent disclosures of campaign spending habits, and the equivocation around opting in to the presidential public financing program have the Times calling for more committed leadership from each of the candidates that looks beyond their own best interests as politicians and towards preserving the principles at the heart of the public financing program:

Americans deserve better.

Congress could put the public financing system on firmer footing by updating campaign subsidies to meet inflation. The voters, for their part, should insist that the candidates accept public money and operate within the rules of the system.