Barack Obama may find that overpromising and underdelivering will leave openings for political opponents to score real points, especially when the opponent has a clear record from which to punch. Obama has tried to argue that he has the most transparency between Hillary and himself on earmarking, but compared to John McCain, that sounds like damnation through faint praise:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is on track to become the Democratic presidential nominee, and he’s getting the attention his accomplishment deserves. Thursday, Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, and the Republican National Committee treated Obama like the front-runner he is and attacked him — for not being transparent when it comes to disclosing his earmark requests. …
In the year Obama has been running for president, he has made government transparency a central campaign pledge. That was his strategic decision. But there are consequences when you campaign saying you would do one thing as president, but don’t do it as a senator.
One might guess that Obama is a model of disclosure. He is not. He has been improving. But he has gaps, and Thursday’s blasts from the Republicans showed they have no reluctance to exploit an Obama weakness. … The Obama response has been that they disclose more than Clinton, a reply I think shows calculation, not conviction. The goal for Obama is not just to stay a step ahead of Clinton. Now he’s got to deal with McCain.
This will be a critical point in the upcoming election. Barack Obama has run on the message that he wants to change Washington politics. Indeed, “hope” and “change” have been almost all we’ve heard from the Obama campaign, and his success in these themes show just how much the American electorate agrees that DC has to change its methods of operation.
But who will be the candidate who can deliver that change? Will it be the Senator who promised transparency in earmarks but didn’t deliver, not even in the short time he’s been in Washington? Or will it be the Senator who doesn’t earmark at all and promises to veto any appropriations bills that have earmarks?
Obama promises a lot on transparency, and on occasion, he has delivered — as he did on the Coburn-Obama Act that created a federal database of government expenditures. McCain, on the other hand, has always delivered on earmarks, fighting them and eschewing them entirely. Obama may be better than Hillary Clinton, but that just puts him with 75% of his colleagues in the Senate. McCain provides a stark contrast to business as usual.