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Sun

16

Dec

2007

Obama Talks the Talk, But Where’s the Walk?
Sunday, 16 December 2007 12:05
by Larry C. Johnson

At the Sunday rally in Manchester, NH, Oprah Winfrey stirred the crowd:
“Ain’t you tired of the old way of politics,” Winfrey asked. The crowd responded “Yes.”
Barack Obama recently said:
”We’ve had enough of … triangulation and poll-driven politics,” he said. ”That’s not what we need right now.’
Obama is rising in the polls because he’s expressing FEELINGS that people WANT to hear. People are worn down by the last seven years, and they want to believe what they’re hearing from a hopeful, fresh candidate. The problem is, it’s just talk. Here are some pithy examples of (1) Obama as the triangulator extraordinaire, and (2) Obama as a do-nothing — yes, a do-nothing.

A do-nothing? You can’t even find it listed at his Senate Web site, but Sen. Obama is the chairman of the Subcommittee on European Affairs for the Senate Foreign Relations committee. That subcommittee oversees “U.S. involvement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), relations with the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Matters relating to Greenland and the northern polar region are also the responsibility of this subcommittee.”

Shockingly — although his campaign has tried to beef up his thin international experience by citing his chairmanship of the subcommittee on European affairs — according to Congressional Quarterly, Sen. Obama has not held a single hearing since he assumed the chairmanship nearly a year ago. It’s little wonder, then, that Sen. Obama’s Senate site doesn’t list his chairmanship.

Then there’s IRAQ, and Obama’s (and Oprah’s) incessant claim– as Oprah told the Des Moines crowd on Saturday, “long before it was the popular thing to do, he stood with clarity and conviction against this war in Iraq.”
In July of `04, Barack Obama, “I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don’t know,” in terms of how you would have voted on the war. And then this: “There’s not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage.” That was July of `04. And this: “I think” there’s “some room for disagreement in that initial decision to vote for authorization of the war.” It doesn’t seem that you are firmly wedded against the war, and that you left some wiggle room that, if you had been in the Senate, you may have voted for it. (”Meet the Press,” 2004, via MyDD, Nov. 11, 2007)
“What would I have done? I don’t know” … “There’s not much of a difference” between him and George W. Bush … “some room for disagreement in that initial decision. …” If that’s not triangulation, I don’t know what is.

What about Obama’s speeches on Iraq in the U.S. Senate? “[H]e did not give a speech devoted to Iraq for 11 months, and waited 16 months to give his first floor speech dedicated to Iraq, which happened to express his opposition to Senator John Kerry’s troop withdrawal plan. …”

What about Obama’s voting record in the U.S. Senate on Iraq? TPM Election Central painstakingly compared every single vote on Iraq by Sens. Clinton and Obama, since Obama entered the Senate. Senators Clinton and Obama voted identically, except once: On the confirmation of “General George Casey to be Chief of Staff for the Army, held just this past February. Hillary voted against confirmation, while Obama voted to confirm.” Why did Sen. Clinton vote against Gen. Casey’s confirmation?
During his nomination hearing to be Army Chief of Staff, I questioned General Casey about recent reports, both by the Department of Defense Inspector General and press accounts, that units and personnel lacked the necessary equipment. General Casey responded that was not aware of the problems cited in these reports and actually quite surprised at the reported shortcomings. In the Inspector General report’s summary, the equipment shortages were attributed to basic management failures among military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. General Casey was not aware of this investigation or its recommendations that oversight must immediately improve to ensure proper distribution of equipment; as a result units and personnel are not able to perform assign missions. — From “Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Vote on Confirmation of General George W. Casey to be Army Chief of Staff,” Feb. 8, 2007
How did Sen. Obama defend his vote for Gen. Casey?
“It is a bit unseemly that General Casey is being made the scapegoat for a war that never should have been fought and for a failed strategy dictated by the civilian leadership in the White House. The President, Vice President and other civilian officials set forth an unworkable strategy with inadequate resources and did not listen to the advice of generals on the ground. They are the ones ultimately responsible for the current situation in Iraq. I hope General Casey will get more support for his new mission, which is so important to the country. I want to see General Casey use his experience in Iraq to ensure that the civilian leadership in Washington understands the challenges faced and resources needed by today’s Army.”
That’s it. That’s the entire press release. Not a word about Gen. Casey’s failure to know about the crisis in equipment shortages or the “basic management failures” during Gen. Casey’s own time in Iraq or the Inspector General’s shocking report.

What about the senators’ trips to Iraq? In his three years in the U.S. Senate, Obama has visited Iraq once. Sen. Clinton has visited Iraq and Afghanistan three times.


We Americans all love good orators. We yearn to feel our hearts soar with optimism. We flock to the “sunny” candidates like Ronald Reagan. We want to feel better about our country but — when we’re sober and reflective — don’t we really want the candidate who’s walked the walk.

Sen. Clinton has stuck her neck out — by voting against Gen. Casey’s confirmation, by voting against the attack-dog resolution against MoveOn.org and by voting on the Iran resolution. (Yes, the last was controversial, but remember that she was the first senator to warn Pres. Bush against taking military action against Iran and that she partnered with Sen. Jim Webb’s resolution to require Congressional authorization before any military action against Iran.)

Sen. Obama failed to show up for the MoveOn or Iran votes, and in effect lied when he lamely told Wolf Blitzer that he didn’t know the Iran vote was coming up and didn’t have time to get back from campaigning in New Hampshire. (In fact, all senators were informed the day before that the Iran resolution vote was to come up the next day.)

There’s more to say, but I’ll close for now with this from “Hillary Clinton: More Than Just Talk” at Huffington Post:
In an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that Senator Obama served in the Illinois state senate just three years ago and would have less experience than any president since World War II, Senator Obama and his advisors have gone on the attack. They have criticized the role Senator Clinton has played in promoting American interests during her eight years as First Lady, seven years in the Senate, and four years as a member of the Senator Armed Services Committee.

Senator Clinton as First Lady was “America’s finest ambassador abroad,” Madeleine Albright’s office said at the time. Hillary Clinton did much more than “get picked up at the airport by a state convoy and security detail . . . . and get lunch” with an ambassador, as Senator Obama implied recently. As Newsweek reported about Senator Clinton’s diplomatic missions as First Lady, “She often travels to remote regions where no presidential motorcade would venture and where no secretary of state would have time to go.” Her 1995 speech at the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, where she famously proclaimed “women’s rights are human rights,” remains an inspiration to leaders of the fight for women’s equality around the world. Long before others, she visited countries stricken by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria throughout the world, urging better prevention and treatment strategies, and returned to Washington to push for greater action within the US government. Her 1995 trip to India helped open the door to the transformation in relations between the world’s two largest democracies. She raised awareness on mine issues in the Balkans and led humanitarian efforts on behalf of Kosovar refugees.

As Senator, Hillary has fought to ensure our troops have the body armor they need while in combat, and she has passed laws so that returning soldiers are treated with dignity when they return home. She has placed education at the center of U.S. international assistance. She has been a leader in combating nuclear proliferation and the threat of nuclear terrorism. She has championed efforts to end the genocide in Darfur and been a leading voice in calling for action to end global warming. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she has visited our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan three times.

By contrast Senator Obama has been in the U.S. Senate under three years. His campaign has touted his experience as chairman of a subcommittee on European affairs, which, according to Congressional Quarterly, has not held a hearing since he assumed the chairmanship nearly a year ago. Senator Obama has traveled to Iraq once, 23 months ago.

We respect Senator Obama’s opposition to the war as a state senator in Illinois. But when he was actually in a position to influence policy from the U.S. Senate, he did not give a speech devoted to Iraq for 11 months, and waited 16 months to give his first floor speech dedicated to Iraq, which happened to express his opposition to Senator John Kerry’s troop withdrawal plan. … READ ALL.
People want change. But change from Obama? It’s illusory. Hillary Clinton has brought change for decades, fighting for women’s rights in the 1960s and 1970s when it was far, far tougher than it is these days. Fighting for children’s rights long before it was a common practice.

Obama is infamous for voting “present” on too many tough votes when he was in the Illinois state senate. He has skipped tough votes in the U.S. Senate. How can he possibly be that “the-buck-stops-here” tough leader we’ll need in the White House?
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chris986 said:

0
Great article but be ready to get swarmed
This is a great article. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Obama has so much less oif anything to show for to run as a president. I mean, I could run as a president too since I have no experience in washington and have awesome academic record. glad you exposed for what he is.

on a sidenote though, be prepared for onslought of obama supporters. they hate anyone who writes negative on him.
 
December 16, 2007
Votes: +0

Orikinla Osinachi said:

0
The Empty Barrel Makes The Loudest Noise
Senator Barack Obama is an empty barrel making the loudest noise and "Oprahullabaloo" only made the noise worse.
 
December 16, 2007
Votes: +0

Erik Reppen said:

0
Not exactly a swarm but maybe I'll do.
I think there are lots of legitimate issues surrounding Obama, but this editorial reads more like propaganda that exceeds its own grasp than an informed opinion.

Enough of the quotes regarding Barak's stance on the war are taken so far out of context I don't even feel the need to rebutt them. For instance, what was Bush's take on the war at that time? That it was time to talk about leaving but that we couldn't simply abandon Iraq to chaos? This cutup in particular makes it hard to see where his words end and yours begin when it breaks out of quotes three times and doesn't even attempt to make sense of itself:

[“What would I have done? I don’t know” … “There’s not much of a difference” between him and George W. Bush … “some room for disagreement in that initial decision. …” If that’s not triangulation, I don’t know what is.]

Huh? I'm not sure WHAT you know and that mess certainly didn't help.

On Obama as a do-nothing:

Are subcommittees expected to have hearings regularly or just when an important issue comes up? The last hearing I could find dealt with the rise of extremist Islam in Europe. If there's been any big issues aside from that in Europe or Greenland in the last year, color me ignorant. This would be more relevant if there were people calling for a hearing and not getting one but I couldn't find anything on that either. Has Obama been doing nothing while not holding hearings for the benefit of critics like yourself? Last I heard, he had a campaign to run.

37 Democrats voted in favor of General Casey's nomination. I guess they don't walk the walk either. I mean, who is this guy, a Republican stooge or a wrongly accused Republican scapegoat? We can't seem to decide. Also, your suggestion that Obama's own press releases are at fault for not listing reasons he shouldn't have voted the way he did are patently absurd.

As for the senate vote to publicly condemn MoveOn.org for their cheesy 'Petraeus Betrayed Us' ad, Obama had voted only minutes earlier and stayed out of it as his own condemnation of what he called "empty politics" something I personally applaud him for. According to the NYT he in fact canceled a campaign appearance to be there for other votes that day. If the vote had been to rightly ban such organizations outright rather than save face with voters who support or condemn the message, I think it's highly probable Obama would have voted against MoveOn, which I would also applaud given it's SwiftVets-like approach to attacking candidates with malinformation.

Anyway, I don't have time to look into your accusations that he intentionally skipped the Iran vote, but if two skipped votes was the best you could do and at least one of those votes was intentionally ignored in protest, I'm pretty sure the only reason you aren't writing for a more "Fair and Balanced" news agency is the party affiliation you chose when you flipped a coin and got heads.

For a guy who is quick to put people in bed with Rove, you've got some real nerve putting out an editorial like this.
 
December 16, 2007
Votes: +0

Mr. Unite Us said:

0
Obama showed foresight in opposing the war in Iraq back in 2002, and wisdom...
Obama showed foresight in opposing the war in Iraq, back in 2002, and wisdom in answering Russerts question at the 2004 convention again last month in 2007.

Perhaps you missed Meet the Press

Nov. 11 2007

MR. RUSSERT: You were not in the Senate in October of 2002. You did give a speech opposing the war. But Senator Clinton's campaign will say since you've been a senator there's been no difference in your record. And other critics will say that you've not been a leader against the war, and they point to this: In July of '04, Barack Obama, "I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don't know," in terms of how you would have voted on the war. And then this: "There's not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush's position at this stage." That was July of '04. And this: "I think" there's "some room for disagreement in that initial decision to vote for authorization of the war." It doesn't seem that you are firmly wedded against the war, and that you left some wiggle room that, if you had been in the Senate, you may have voted for it.

SEN. OBAMA: Now, Tim, that first quote was made with an interview with a guy named Tim Russert on MEET THE PRESS during the convention when we had a nominee for the presidency and a vice president, both of whom had voted for the war. And so it, it probably was the wrong time for me to be making a strong case against our party's nominees' decisions when it came to Iraq.

Look, I was opposed to this war in 2002, 2003, four, five, six and seven. What I was very clear about, even in 2002 in my original opposition, was once we were in, we were going to have to make some decisions to see how we could stabilize the situation and act responsibly. And that's what I did through 2004, five and six, try to see can we create a workable government in Iraq? Can we make sure that we are minimizing the humanitarian costs in Iraq? Can we make sure that our troops are safe in Iraq? And that's what I have done. Finally, in 2006, 2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled down and initiated the surge. And at that stage, I said, very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there. And since that time I've been absolutely clear in terms of the approach that I would take. I would end this war, and I would have our troops out within 16 months.

*******************
 
December 17, 2007
Votes: +0

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