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Friday, June 20, 2008

Promises, Promises: Why PUMAs Don't Trust Barack Obama

One of the things I often hear when I say I won't vote for Barack Obama is:

"But-but-but he and Hillary are identical on the issues!"

This mistaken belief, I feel, is one of the reasons people who ARE voting for Obama feel comfortable doing so. Maybe they didn't get their first choice - or maybe they did - but either way, Clinton and Obama are both Democrats, right? And they both say the same things on most issues, right?


Well, here's the rub. Hillary Clinton is credible when she says things like, "I believe in health care for every American." Barack Obama, sadly, is not.

Several factors inform my faith in the promises of Hillary Clinton, but the main one is that she has a record of doing what she claims she would do as President.

For example, on health care, Senator Clinton is unassailable. She tried to push Universal Health Care through the Congress in 1993, but being "only" a First Lady, did not have the clout to hack through the jungle of Blue Dog Democrats and hundreds of millions of dollars of "Harry and Louise" swiftboating from the insurance industry. Even when HillaryCare failed, she still made lemonade from lemons, and was instrumental in getting SCHIP through Congress. Millions of children owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Clinton for that program.

As for Barack Obama, well...his plan is fundamentally weaker than Hillary's. However, it's still better than what we have now. Sure, he doesn't have a record of accomplishment like Hillary, but it's POSSIBLE he could get it done, right?


Here is the epicenter of the problem. Throughout the primary season, Barack Obama has lied so often that a veritable fog of cynicism surrounds his every pronouncement. And for Jeebus' sake, don't bring up Tuzla to me. Just listen to the IMPORTANT things Obama has lied about.

How about Iraq?
Obama has promised to get us completely out of Iraq in 16 months. Hillary's hawkishness on Iraq was one of the main reasons that many lefties supported Obama. In fact, he hammered her constantly on her poor judgment in voting for the AUMF, which he successfully equated with "authorizing the war in Iraq." (It did, but only if Bush met certain conditions, which he didn't meet at all. Didn't even come close.)

Unfortunately, Samantha Power, Obama's top national security advisor, made it clear that Obama had no intentions of sticking to his promises:
"What he’s actually said, after meting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you – at best case scenario – will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That’s what they’re telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president," Power says.

The host, Stephen Sackur, challenged her:"So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment isn't it?"

"You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009," she said. "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan – an operational plan – that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn’t have daily access now, as a result of not being the president. So to think – it would be the height of ideology to sort of say, 'Well, I said it, therefore I’m going to impose it on whatever reality greets me.'"

"It’s a best-case scenario," she said again.
And now, McCain and Obama are basically indistinguishable on Iraq, or so says the Iraqi Foreign Minister in the Washington Post.

It would be "the height of ideology" to stick to a campaign promise that you used to win the anti-war left to your side? Seems to me that it is the height of cynicism to pretend you are something you're not.

If Senator Obama will pull back from his campaign position on Iraq, what else will he "change" his mind about?

Public financing, perhaps? Jerusalem? Iran? NAFTA?

How about FISA?
Back when the issue of telecom immunity came up in 2007, Chris Dodd stated he would filibuster it in the Senate. Barack Obama offered his support, along with other Presidential contenders Biden and Clinton. Now, the issue of telecom immunity is on the table again, for reasons no one outside of Nancy Pelosi's living room can adequately understand (although I have my thoughts - tune in tomorrow...). Barack Obama has coronated himself king of the Democratic, er, Obama for America Party. Where is his commitment to stopping telecom immunity now?

His latest statement shows that he supports the so-called "compromise":
"It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people."
Translation: He will do nothing to back up his rhetoric. How utterly...unsurprising. Is this the change we can believe in - we can believe he will change his mind, any time he feels it is politically expedient?

Obama cannot even tell the truth about his own record. Oh, and remember that email that was going around saying that Obama had MORE legislative accomplishments than Senator Clinton? A complete and total fabrication.

Have I demonstrated sufficiently that Barack Obama has a massive credibility problem on the issues?

So no, please don't tell me that he and Hillary Clinton believe in the same things and would fight the same fights as President. The fact is, I don't have any idea what Barack Obama believes in. I have no sense of what his goals are. He would have to actually do something - pass a law, take a stand, make something happen in the Senate - in order to push aside that fog of cynicism even the eensiest little bit.

Otherwise, all I hear is "Promises, Promises" whenever he speaks. And that's not good enough to earn my vote.

(cross-posted at The Confluence)


Flying Junior said...

Thank you for this informative argument. I learned alot following the links. Clearly Hillary has a superior plan for healthcare reform and universal coverage. She is the heart candidate for all true believers. Still, I do not share your mistrust of Obama. I realize that you back up your claim of Obama's untruthfulness with good documentation. The reference to the passage of the Defense Authorization Act of 2008, in which Obama was a no-show, is irrefutable. And his assertion is troubling. I don't see a widespread pattern of lying. It certainly is not fair to say that his position on Iraq is indistinguishable from that of McCain based upon the words of the Iraqi foreign minister. Similarly, he can't be held fully responsible for every e-mail his campaign generates, although he has shown a lack of leadership in the management of his campaign. There are concerns, but no one can really say today what Obama will or will not do as president. I am willing to take a chance and pray that he will become the man that he needs to be to lead our nation.

AD said...

As an Obama supporter (please don’t write me off immediately), I am interested in getting supporters of Hillary Clinton (I went from Edwards to Hillary to Obama) behind Barack. What I’m trying to understand from individuals such as yourself is why you would sit out this election, write-in Hillary, or vote for John McCain.

I can understand your concern about Obama and his flip-flopping (I’m not happy about public financing not to mention FISA), but I’ve never considered any candidate for president to be perfect. After all, it IS the presidency we’re talking about. This is politics we’re talking about - we learn in kindergarten we can never please everyone.

I guess my logic with voting is that since no politician is ever perfect, I cast my vote in the direction I want the country to move. I think the country is too far right in terms of “values” and economics, and I want it to move left. I also don’t want to cede my right to choose which direction to point the country to someone else by not voting. I have no illusions about Obama doing exactly what he says, but I doubt he’s going to suddenly swing to the far right after being elected. By my logic, I wouldn’t sit out, I wouldn’t write-in Hillary because I believe that’s equivalent to sitting out (though I can appreciate taking a stand) and I won’t vote for McCain because he’s over to the right of where I want America to end up (and I won’t vote out of spite - my country is worth more than that).

According to your writings, though, there’s something missing in my logic. Where’s the rub?

-A Dave