Wednesday :: Nov 14, 2007

A Short History of Recent U.S. Presidential Politics - Part 3: Bringing Honesty and Integrity Back to the White House

by eriposte

[See Part 1 and Part 2]

We're going to focus in this post on Sen. Obama's positions on Social Security, Iraq and Iranian meddling in Iraq and his records as a State Senator - four areas where he has been very critical of Sen. Clinton. (Note that all emphasis in this post is mine, unless otherwise stated).


Let's pick up our discussion from Part 2, where Sen. Clinton was 'caught' red-handed 'ducking' a tough question (or was she was 'ducking' a tough answer? - see below - I can't keep track of this nonsense anymore):

BACON (continuing directly): To emphasize this theme, Obama, who trails Clinton (D-N.Y.) by a wide margin in national polls, was introduced at the event by Tod Bowman, a Democrat and high school teacher in Maquoketa, Iowa. He said Clinton ducked his question about Social Security at an event this month.

"It made me wonder: If a candidate won't answer a question on the campaign trail, how can we be sure she'll be honest with the American people when they're president?" Bowman said at an event at a senior citizen center in Des Moines.

Here is what is interesting about Bowman's claim. Here's the video where Bowman introduces Sen. Obama and talks about Sen. Clinton's response to his question on social security. Notice that he says Clinton:

  • Did answer his question with a long response (i.e., in Bowmanese this = she won't answer questions on the campaign trail)
  • He felt her response was not satisfactory
  • After the session ended, Clinton personally came to speak to him and further explained her position (i.e., in Bowmanese this = she won't answer questions on the campaign trail)
  • He felt Clinton's subsequent explanation was "conflicting" with her original response

To summarize, according to Valiant Truth-TellerTM Tod Bowman, all of the above meant that Sen. Clinton "won't answer a question on the campaign trail". Got it? That's Reality-Based Straight-TalkTM for you!

Just to educate ourselves, let's ask - what is Sen. Clinton's position on social security? She explained it to the Washington Post:

"Let me tell you where I stand on Social Security, and maybe that will explain where I stand on all the particulars," she said. "First of all, I reject the conventional wisdom and the Republican talking points that Social Security is in a crisis. I do not agree with that."

She said she would follow President Ronald Reagan's example by appointing a bipartisan commission to study the issue and avoid making her own recommendations until it reports back.

You can see clearly that her explanation is filled with such obnoxiously calculating, triangulating and conflicting double-talk that it is probably impenetrably confusing to certain "Democratic" high school teachers. So, let's instead focus on the position of Sen. Obama who said the following recently on Press The Meat:

MR. RUSSERT: You had an exchange with The New York Times. It says here, “In an interview, Obama said Hillary Clinton was deliberately obscuring her positions for political gain. Asked if she had been fully truthful with voters about what she should do as president, Mr. Obama replied, ‘No.’” On which issues has Hillary Clinton not been truthful?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that what Senator Clinton’s been doing is running what’s considered a textbook Washington campaign, and what that says is that you don’t answer directly tough questions. You don’t present tough choices directly to the American people for fear that your answers might not be popular, you might make yourself a target for Republicans in the general election. So on Social Security, for example, she has maintained, it appears, that if we just get our fiscal house in order that we can solve the problem of Social Security [As it turns out she is correct - eRiposte]. Now, we’ve got 78 million baby boomers that are going to be retiring, and every expert that looks at this problem says “There’s going to be a gap, and we’re going to have more money going out than we have coming in unless we make some adjustments now.” [The real issue is Medicare and Medicaid, not Social Security - eRiposte] Now, I think that Social Security is the single most important social program that we have in this country, and I want to make sure that it’s there not just for this generation, but for next generations. So that means that we’re going to have to make some decisions, and it’s not sufficient for us to just finesse the issue because we’re worried that, well, we might be attacked for the various options we present.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, you said last year—earlier this year that everything should be on the table for Social Security, including looking at raising retirement age, indexing benefits, and then suddenly you said, “No, no. Those aren’t off—on the table; I’m taking them off the table.”

SEN. OBAMA: Tim, that’s not—that’s not what I said. What I said was that I will convene a meeting as president where we discuss all of the options that are available. That doesn’t mean that as president I will not have strong opinions on how we should move forward. And when you look at how we should approach Social Security, I believe that cutting retire—cutting benefits is not the right answer. I meet too many seniors all across the country who are struggling with the limited Social Security benefits that they have. That raising the retirement age is not the best option, particularly when we’ve got people who are still in manufacturing. By the time they’re 67, their bodies, oftentimes...

Embedded below is a video of Sen. Obama talking earlier in the year to George Stephanopoulos (ABC) about the whole on-the-table business and the need for a bipartisan commission (the kind of bipartisan commission that Sen. Clinton has been talking about). By simply comparing this video below to Sen. Obama's comments to Tim Russert above, you can see why Valiant Truth-TellerTM and Reality-Based Straight-TalkerTM Tod Bowman worships Sen. Obama.



Here's Alegre at MyDD (emphasis hers):

Let's take a look, shall we?

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.

I'm sorry, but did he just say the only reason he refused to stand by his principles (opposing the war) was because his party's nominees had voted for the war resolution????  They got a pass because they were our nominees, but now that he's running against Hillary its full steam ahead with the attacks on her vote?

In other words, consistent with what I have been saying all along:

  • Sen. Obama was anti-Iraq-war back in 2002 when he was NOT in the Senate
  • In 2004, he made statements that (unless your name is Tod Bowman) could be interpreted to mean that he may have potentially supported the war resolution if he had been in the Senate in 2002
  • He also said, in 2004, that his position and that of George Bush was identical on the war at the time
  • When it came to Iraq, he voted in the Senate essentially exactly like Senator Clinton did


  • He felt that politics should trump principle in 2004

But he's always been anti-Iraq-war. Got it? That's Reality-Based Straight-TalkTM for you.

Let's get back to Alegre's post at MyDD (emphasis hers):

MR. RUSSERT:  Some involved in the anti-movement have said that in 2004, 2005, 2006 Barack Obama voted to fund the war.  Every time there was a proposal to have a fixed date withdrawal you said no, it would be a slap in the face to the American troops, it may create bloodshed and more division, that American credibility was at stake, that you were not a leader in trying to stop the war until you ran for president and got to Iowa and got to New Hampshire and had a sense of the anti-war, war fervor in the Democratic base.


MR. RUSSERT:  Where was the leadership?

SEN. OBAMA:  I, I, I disagree with that.  


MR. RUSSERT:  But you have changed in your support now of withdrawal.  You have changed now in your support of cutting off funding.

SEN. OBAMA:  But I haven't changed in my opposition to the war.  Look, you know, at the time when we were trying to convene a government in Iraq that would work, it was important, I think, for me and others who opposed the war to hope for the best possible outcome in Iraq.

That bolded bit up there...?  If that sounds familiar it's because it's the same position Hillary's held on this issue all along.  And that link above showing his voting record as compared to Hillary proves that out.

I think the point is clear (unless, of course, your name is Tod Bowman). So, let's move on to the next example.


I will borrow Taylor Marsh's observations to make this point (emphasis hers):

However, yesterday on "Meet the Press," Mr. Obama stumbled into Clintonian language that was worthy of the best of the triangulators.

MR. RUSSERT: I want to talk about Iran, because there’s been a discussion about a vote she cast that you mentioned earlier. Back in March there was a resolution in the Senate, and here’s what it said: “The Secretary of State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.” And you voted for that. Now, The Washington Post analyzed your position and Senator Clinton’s, and this is what they editorialized: “So is there any real difference between Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton on Iran? Mr. Obama contends that one distinction lies in Ms. Clinton’s acceptance of language in the September 26, ‘07” “resolution that ‘it is’” “‘critical national interest of the United States’ to stop Iran from creating a Hezbollah-like force in Iraq. Mr. Obama claims that such language is ‘saber-rattling’ that could be used by the Bush administration to justify an attack on Iran. This is hard to fathom. Not only is there no mention of the use of U.S.” forces “in the resolution, but last year Mr. Obama gave a speech in which he said it ‘is in our national interest to prevent’ Iran or Syrian from using Iraq as ‘a staging area from which to attack Israel or other countries.’”

So if you have the same concern about using—Iran using that as a staging area, you would have a position very similar to Senator Clinton’s.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, the, the previous quote was directed specifically at the issue of Israel, and I make no apologies for making sure that we are thinking about our security interests in Israel. The primary difference between myself and Senator Clinton is that she believes that our force structure inside Iraq should, in part, depend on how we can prevent Iran from having influence inside of Iraq. And I think that is a mistake, particularly at a time when we know this administration has been itching to escalate the tensions between Iran and the United States.

Look, the—there’s a broader issue at stake here, and that is how do we approach Iran? I have said, unlike Senator Clinton, that I would meet directly with the leadership in Iran. I believe that we have not exhausted the diplomatic efforts that could be required to resolve some of these problems—them developing nuclear weapons, them supporting terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. That does not mean that we take other options off the table, but it means that we move forward aggressively with a dialogue with them about not only the sticks that we’re willing to apply, but also the carrots. ... ..


MR. RUSSERT: In July, you were asked if you were willing to meet separately without pre-condition during your first year with Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez. You said yes. You stand by that?

SEN. OBAMA: I do. The—now, I did not say that I would be meeting with all of them. I said I’d be willing to. Obviously, there is a difference between pre-conditions and preparation. Pre-conditions, which was what the question was in that debate, means that we won’t meet with people unless they’ve already agreed to the very things that we expect to be meeting with them about. And obviously, when we say to Iran, “We won’t meet with you until you’ve agreed to all the terms that we’ve laid out,” from their perspective that’s not a negotiation, that’s not a meeting. Preparation means that we are sitting down ahead of time, various lower-level diplomats and envoys, are sorting out what’s the agenda going to be? Nuclear weapons has to be on the table. The issue of terrorism needs to be on the table. Incursions into Iraq that are affecting the safety of our troops, that needs to be on the table. ... ..

Let's summarize Sen. Obama's position then, shall we? Even though American troops inside Iraq are already responding to Iranian-supported terrorism within Iraq, Sen. Obama believes we should not be structuring our operations within Iraq to respond to Iranian-supported terrorism inside Iraq (I pointed out previously why this is a bad policy position which sounds like it has been devised mainly to pander to the base). But he also seems to be saying that we should prevent Iran from using Iraq to attack Israel, but not to prevent Iran from attacking American troops within Iraq! However, a few minutes later, he also believed that "Incursions into Iraq that are affecting the safety of our troops, that needs to be on the table." So, the very embodiment of Extreme Reality-Based Straight-TalkTM, the kind that Valiant Truth-TellerTM Tod Bowman loves!

As Taylor Marsh observed:

Obama stated the "primary difference" between Clinton and himself on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is that she wants troops in Iraq to prevent Iran from having an influence inside of Iraq, which Mr. Obama thinks "is a mistake."

According to Mr. Obama, the issue of terrorism must stay on the table, with "incursions into Iraq that are affecting the safety of our troops" needing to be -- say it with me -- "on the table." So what is he going to do about those "incursions" if Iran refuses to do anything about them? Will he need U.S. troops to deal with them? If not, how's he going to stop Iran's incursion that is affecting our troops, fairy dust?


Our last and final example is also something we will pick up from Part 2. Let me first reproduce the context. Recall the following incident from last week?

Here was an exchange from the Oct 30 Democratic Presidential debate (emphasis mine):

Russert: Senator Clinton, I'd like to follow up, because in terms of your experience as first lady, in order to give the American people an opportunity to make a judgment about your experience, would you allow the National Archives to release the documents about your communications with the president, the advice you gave? Because, as you well know, President Clinton has asked the National Archives not to do anything until 2012.

Clinton: Well, actually, Tim, the Archives is moving as rapidly as the Archives moves. There's about 20 million pieces of paper there. And they are move, and they are releasing as they do their process. And I am fully in favor of that. Now, all of the records, as far as I know, about what we did with health care, those are already available. Others are becoming available. And I think that, you know, the Archives will continue to move as rapidly as its circumstances and processes demand.

Russert: But there was a letter written by President Clinton specifically asking that any communication between you and the president not be made available to the public until 2012. Would you lift that ban?

Clinton: Well, that's not my decision to make, and I don't believe that any president or first lady ever has. But, certainly, we're move as quickly as our circumstances and the processes of the National Archives permits.

Associated Press:

"She was incidental to the letter, it was done five years ago, it was a letter to speed up presidential releases, not to slow them down," the former president [Bill Clinton] told reporters Friday. "And she didn't even, didn't know what he was talking about. And now that I've described to you what the letter said, you can readily understand why she didn't know what he was talking about."

Russert's question "was breathtakingly misleading," Bill Clinton said.

In response, Barbara L. Levin, spokeswoman for NBC, said: "Tim's question was entirely on the mark."

Clinton said that under the presidential documents law, he is not required to release any material until 2012.

"Unlike previous presidents, I have already released one million pages of documents, about half of which affect Hillary — the records of the health care task force," Clinton said.

Reuters has more on this completely fraudulent claim from Tim Russert. Is there a bigger wanker than Tim Russert (not to mention his stooge Barbara Levin)?

As it turns out, regrettably Sen. Obama's campaign is playing the Russert game. Here's what they are doing:

As Obama was campaigning in South Carolina, two of his leading supporters in Iowa released a letter calling on Clinton to expedite the release of thousands of pages of documents from her husband's presidential library that bear on her activities during his two terms in the White House.

"Throughout this campaign, you have repeatedly emphasized your experience as First Lady," wrote Tom Miller, the Iowa attorney general, and Lu Barron, a Linn County supervisor. "However, by refusing to authorize an expedited release of the records from your time in Washington, you are preventing the Iowa voters from thoroughly reviewing that experience."

Let's not forget where this pile of manure came from:

RNC officials acknowledged they've been encouraged to tap into the "stockpile" of opposition research they have amassed on Clinton more and more in recent days because of the senator's debate showing last Tuesday, combined with the upcoming Iowa caucuses and Clinton's continued leads in most polls.
Since last Tuesday, there has been a steady drumbeat of less than flattering stories promulgated by the RNC about the Clintons' role in releasing documents to the public.
Like many pundits, the RNC has seen Clinton as the presumptive nominee for much of the year, and one official in the RNC's research department said they have sought throughout the year to portray Clinton as "calculating.

So, as it turns out Tim Russert asked Sen. Obama about his records from his days in the Illinois State Senate. Taylor Marsh has his response (emphasis mine):

Oh, and then there's the whole records issue.

MR. RUSSERT: You talked about Senator Clinton having records released from the Clinton Library regarding her experience as first lady, and yet when you were asked about, “What about eight years in the state senate of Illinois,” you said, “I don’t know.” Where, where are the—where are your records?

SEN. OBAMA: Tim, we did not keep those records. I...

Somebody hand me a towel, because I'm starting to sweat for him.

A first lady must immediately produce her private conversations with her president husband, which Bill Clinton has already requested even though they can stay private for 12 years by law, but a state lawmaker whose only real experience is being a state lawmaker threw his records away and that's okay.

That's enough Valiant Truth-TellingTM and Reality-Based Straight-TalkTM for a day, don't you think?

eriposte :: 7:14 AM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!