March 21, 2007

Obama: Against The Funding Before He Was For It

Do you want to know why we don't elect Senators and Congressmen to the Presidency? Mainly, they have to cast votes that appear contradictory, or in some cases, actually are contradictory. In 2004, John Kerry got hoist on that particular petard when he told reporters that he "voted for the $87 billion [war supplemental] before I voted against it". Now Barack Obama might have the same problem in reverse, after ABC News uncovered a video of Obama insisting in 2003 that Congress should not have approved that supplemental -- before he voted four times for Iraq war funding himself:

In video obtained by ABC News of a Winnetka, Ill., Democratic event from Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, then-state senator Obama told a cheering crowd that it was wrong to vote to fund the war.

"Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion dollars, I said 'No,'" Obama said to applause as he referred to a bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I said no unequivocally because, at a certain point, we have to say 'No' to George Bush," Obama said. "If we keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance."

Obama's campaign has started to put out the fire, but they're not terribly convincing. They claim that Obama opposed $20 billion of that bill that funded no-bid contracts, but that hardly matches the rhetoric in the video ABC News also provides. In a press release at the time, Obama insisted that Congress should hold the funding until George Bush presented a plan for withdrawal and also funds for investment in American schools and infrastructure at least comparable to what the US wanted to spend in Iraq.

This opposition came at the beginning of the effort to stabilize Iraq, shortly before the first elections were held that created the transitional government. If it seems a little strange to have been talking retreat at that time, remember that Obama has used that to claim consistency in his position over the entire four years. At the same time, however, he has voted four times to continue funding the war without any of the preconditions he demanded in 2003 -- and he's only been in the Senate two years.

This wouldn't sting nearly so badly had Obama not made consistency such an issue with Hillary Clinton. Obama, and to a lesser extent John Edwards, have hammered her for her vote to support the Iraq war and her refusal to apologize for it. This makes Obama look even less consistent than Hillary; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if ABC got the video from the Clinton machine.

Obama has experienced what all legislators suffer -- the need to compromise to get business completed. It makes for good legislators, but it makes for poor ground on which to run for executive office. It's why only a handful of legislators have been directly elected to the Presidency, and why even with only two years of experience in national office, Obama has the same problem as every other Senator and Congressman in the race.


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Comments (4)

Posted by Jim [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 7:13 PM

I understand your point Captain. In fact, I agree with you. What stuns me though is that the Obama camp didn't see this coming. You'd think that one of the first things anyone running for President would do is to make sure that their record matched their rhetoric.

Jim C

Posted by Only_One_Cannoli [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 7:47 PM

It's interesting - to me at least - how democrats are on track to make a congress creature their presidential nominee for the second time in a row. To hell with the odds? I wonder, does it show a little contempt for the voters? Why nominate a candidate with proven executive experience when you've got the democratic agenda to offer to the people.

Whatever Obama's chances are they're better than Hillary's. I don't hate the woman but she's a boring candidate in an election where personality matters a little more than usual. Phony too, but hey that's just my opinion.

Posted by Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 8:17 PM

Wow, what a silly season. We have an entire year of this kind of stuff ahead of us.

On the other hand, I challenge any Left Wing Blog to cover the infighting of the Republicans with as much style as the Captain is covering the Democrats. Sure we thrill to the demise of our opponents, but as the Captain rightly points out, sometimes there is a perfectly valid reason to have contradicted yourself over time on even the most important issue put before you.

Whether it is a Republican's change of heart on Abortion or their voting record on the Budget... there is a lot more to a decision or viewpoint than any soundbite can convey. Let's all agree to be as smart as the Captain about this as the year progresses...

Posted by Dymphna [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 21, 2007 10:45 PM

I don't think I've ever voted for a current legislator -- legislation is not the same as an executor's role is not the same as the judiciary.

In times past, the switch might have worked, but with the current situation -- an Imperial Congress -- those who populate the Halls of the Senate and House don't belong in the Oval Office. In fact, if they'd swear off running for awhile, they might create better legislation.

As banged up, bruised and hung about the neck with his various albatrosses as Giuliani is, he looks better than any of the legislative branch.

Remember the amendment limiting the terms of the presidency? I think another might be in order to limit those in Congress from running for President for at least six years after they leave office.

Man, wouldn't that leave a lot of empty air time?? Ah, blessed silence.