Monday, February 11, 2008

Is Barack Obama An Empty Suit?

US Senator Barack Obama campaigning in New Ham...Image via Wikipedia
The race is nearing the end and it's getting nasty. Chris Matthews nailed an Obama supporter who wasn't ready to talk about Senator Obama's record and the Clinton campaign is jumping all over it.  One of my fellow bloggers asked (challenged?) Obama supporters to answer Matthews' questions.  Apparently, the Obama campaign did make a mistake by sending the wrong representative to speak for him (they should have sent Derrick Ashong).  The spokesperson from Ohio mopped the floor with the guy representing Obama.

Comparing senate records is looking at the past.  Barack Obama has detailed plans available on his website for how he will tackle a number of important issues, if elected.  But, when you have a strength (as Senator Clinton's experience is supposed to be), you play to it.  She wants to talk about the past. I've  been in marketing/sales my whole career. I know how this game is played.  Senator Clinton is trying to get the public to focus on what she perceives as Senator Obama's weakness.  Instead of wanting to compare the potential to actually enact significant change going forward (and beating McCain to get elected in the first place), she'd rather talk about their records.  Why? Simply because she's been around longer. She should have a more substantial record.  So, let's compare records.

First Hillary Clinton

Senator Clinton, who has served only one full term (6yrs.), and another year campaigning, has managed to author and pass into law, (20) twenty pieces of legislation in her first six years.  You be the judge of how they have impacted your life.

1. Establish the Kate Mullany National Historic Site.
2. Support the goals and ideals of Better Hearing and Speech Month.
3. Recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor
4. Name courthouse after Thurgood Marshall.
5. Name courthouse after James L. Watson.
6. Name post office after Jonn A. O'Shea.
7. Designate Aug. 7, 2003, as National Purple Heart Recognition Day.
8. Support the goals and ideals of National Purple Heart Recognition Day .
9. Honor the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton on the bicentennial of his death.
10. Congratulate the Syracuse Univ. Orange MenĂ¢€™s Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.
11. Congratulate the Le Moyne College Dolphins MenĂ¢€™s Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.
12. Establish the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemorative Program.
13. Name post office after Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda.
14. Honor Shirley Chisholm for her service to the nation and express condolences on her death.
15. Honor John J. Downing, Brian Fahey, and Harry Ford, firefighters who lost their lives on duty.

These five of Clinton's bills are more substantive:

16. Extend period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11.
17. Pay for city projects in response to 9/11
18. Assist landmine victims in other countries.
19. Assist family caregivers in accessing affordable respite care.
20. Designate part of the National Forest System in Puerto Rico as protected in the wilderness preservation system.

Now Barack Obama

Here are some representative accomplishments of Senator Obama's.  Let's not forget he was in the Illinois senate prior to being elected to the United States senate.  Should those accomplishments be dismissed?

During the first (8) eight years of his elected service he sponsored over 820 bills. He introduced:

  • 233 regarding health care reform
  • 125 on poverty and public assistance
  • 112 crime fighting bills
  • 97 economic bills
  • 60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills
  • 21 ethics reform bills
  • 15 gun control bills
  • 6 veterans affairs bills and others

His first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored 152 bills and co-sponsored another 427. These included:

  • The Coburn-Obama Government Transparency Act of 2006 (became law)
  • The Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act (became law)
  • The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed the Senate
  • The 2007 Government Ethics Bill, (became law)
  • The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill ( In committee) and many more

Let's focus on a few things that he's done tackling issues of importance to the American people.

  • In the Illinois State Senate, Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state (economic accomplishment).
  • He also pushed through an expansion of early childhood education (educational accomplishment), and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases (social justice accomplishment).
  • In the U.S. Senate, he has focused on tackling the challenges of a globalized, 21st century world with fresh thinking and a politics that no longer settles for the lowest common denominator. His first law was passed with Republican Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in government by allowing every American to go online and see how and where every dime of their tax dollars is spent (government accountability).
  • He has also been the lead voice in championing ethics reform that would root out Jack Abramoff-style corruption in Congress (government accountability).
  • As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has fought to help Illinois veterans get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the VA for the return of the thousands of veterans who will need care after Iraq and Afghanistan (social justice)
  • Recognizing the terrorist threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, he traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin a new generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and secure deadly weapons around the world (national security).
  • And knowing the threat we face to our economy and our security from America's addiction to oil, he's working to bring auto companies, unions, farmers, businesses and politicians of both parties together to promote the greater use of alternative fuels and higher fuel standards in our cars. (national security and economic)

Now, let's look at the charge that he lacks a detailed plan.  Several months ago Obama was being criticized as being too intellectual and not able to relate to people.  Since he's turned on the charm  and ratcheted up his public appeal, the complaint has become since he's so articulate he must lack any detail or substance behind the flowery words.   

I went to his website to check out his positions on the issues, expecting a few soundbites here and there.  Instead I found extremely detailed position papers on the economy, civil rights, healthcare, etc. Don't believe me?  Look for yourself : Barack Obama Issues

As I said, it's going to get ugly coming down the stretch. So, keep your B.S. Meters turned on.

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