[Note: We will examine the role of Arriana Huffington and other Big Blog owners and kooks on our 2008 election, hopefully later today, in a post called “Nobody’s Friend”. Tomorrow we will address another David Yepsen article published yesterday concerning the integrity of the Iowa caucuses. Tomorrow afternoon we will “live blog” the Democratic Party debate.]
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At a recent Reporter’s Rountable in Iowa David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register said:
“What has to happen in a primary fight in either party, you’ve got to vet the candidates. The activists in both parties better understand the pluses and minuses of each candidate. [snip] … because you can bet in November the opposition party is going to be probing those weaknesses. [snip] Democrats better understand all about Barack Obama’s past and what he said in his positions, because you can bet the attack ads will start on him.”
Yepsen is right. Both political parties will soon perform the political equivalent of a proctology exam on the opposition. Mike Huckabee, recently annointed as a legitimate front runner for the Republican nomination by dint of his increasingly dominant strength in national and early voting state polls, is just now beginning to undergo an examination of his record. Hillary Clinton, throughly vetted for at least the past 20 years by endless politically motivated Republican congressional investigations, also passed through the political fire in two Senate campaigns.
Little however, is known about Barack Obama. We have had little examination of Obama other than the history he himself has so creatively crafted in the two autobiographies he published before reaching the age of 45. With a few notable exceptions, Big Media outlets have mostly accepted Obama’s “facts” and allowed his hagiographies to go effectively unexamined and unchallenged. Obama, unlike Hillary, has never been subjected to a full out assault by the opposition party nor by Big Media.
The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, two newspapers well versed in detecting the many and varied corruptions of Chicago politics have produced some good questions regarding Obama’s history. But, national Big Media have either ignored those news reports or merely mentioned them in passing. Yesterday, Politico continued to uncover some of Obama’s past.
Politico reported on a 1996 voter questionnaire that Obama, then a state senate candidate, answered. The responses on the questionnaire call into question Obama’s electability and consistency and politically convenient flip-floppery. Obama who thrives on attacking the record of his opponents, most recently poor John Edwards, responded with typical “Who Me?” feigned innocence. Obama denied authorship of responses on a questionnaire directed to him and filled out in language which “includes first-person comments such as: “I have not previously been a candidate.”
We will get to the 1996 questionaire shortly. But first we must point out that the 1996 questionnaire is not the first questionnaire Obama has had difficulty explaining. We wrote – last May – about a 1998 questionnaire, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times:
Obama spent the next eight years serving in the Illinois Senate and continued to work for the Davis law firm.
Through its partnerships, Rezmar remained a client of the firm, according to ethics statements Obama filed while a state senator.
Davis said he didn’t remember Obama working on the Rezmar projects.
“I don’t recall Barack having any involvement in real estate transactions,” Davis said. “Barack was a litigator. His area of focus was litigation, class-action suits.”
But Obama did legal work on real estate deals while at Davis’ firm, according to biographical information he submitted to the Sun-Times in 1998. Obama specialized “in civil rights litigation, real estate financing, acquisition, construction and/or redevelopment of low-and moderate income housing,” according to his “biographical sketch.”
Why the Davis law firm states Obama was an innocent in real estate matters, to the wary eye, is not a mystery. The Chicago Sun-Times has been trying to unravel the Obama, Antoin “Tony” Rezko puzzle for some time and the connection to Obama and the Davis law firm. The Sun-Times has requested records from the Davis company about what work Obama did for Rezmar but the Davis law firm, after promising to produce the records has thus far failed to do so.
Obama has likewise feigned innocence regarding the purchase of his home even going so far as to answer a George Stephanoupoulos question about his mansion purchase with deception about his real estate skills. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times was not fooled:
“Well said, except that this was not the first time Obama went through the process of buying a residence. Obama and his wife bought a condominium in Hyde Park before purchasing their mansion in Kenwood. Perhaps Obama was making a distinction between buying a condo and a stand-alone home. But Obama was not the first-time residential purchaser he portrayed in the interview.”
Why do we place such emphasis on Obama’s myriad real estate deceptions and transactions. Ask Yepsen. The Republicans will rip this real estate story apart in countless ads if Obama is on the ticket.
If Obama supporters don’t believe us, maybe they need to listen to Tucker Carlson and Andrew Ferguson
FERGUSON: You know, and we are just getting to know him, that‘s the point of this time story and why it‘s so interesting. It shows why there has not been a serious presidential candidate from Illinois since 1956, Adlai Stevenson. Illinois politics is uniquely corrupt and anybody who succeeds in it is go going to, sooner or later, wind up in bed with a man like this Rezko fellow. Politics in Illinois keep guys like him around to help with a real estate deal here, or maybe to give their cousin a job, or you know, fill up a board seat there. You know, this is—you can‘t get away from this in Illinois politics and nobody has. And sure enough, Barack Obama is one of them.
CARLSON: I think his opponents are definitely banking on this. It actually doesn‘t look that great, Tom. This Rezko helped the Obamas‘ buy their house, a very expensive house. The “Times” reports, quote, “the land sale occurred after it had been reported that Mr. Rezko was under federal investigation.” Now this is odd behavior for anybody but particularly a politician who is running on his own personal ethics. What explains this?
ANDREWS: Well, we need to get a up-front explanation that is consistent. I think what Barak Obama has done is fallen in the track where you sort of try to dismiss the story before it takes hold. He says, well, he was a one time fundraiser, I really didn‘t know him very well. It turns out he has been involved in more than one campaign, in terms of fundraising.
CARLSON: Oh, yes, for years.
ANDREWS: He has had an on going relationship with him. So people will find out, obviously, it‘s going to get reported and the story is going to keep going and you are going to be backtracking and you are going to look like you‘ve got something to hide. That is the problem. I don‘t know if …
CARLSON: Well he is hiding! He is—already the campaign said, we never did—Barak Obama never did any favors for Mr. Rezko. According to the “New York Times,” the state legislature, Mr. Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting Mr. Rezko‘s business efforts from which he profited close to a million dollars. So he did do favors for the guy.
ANDREWS: Well, what Barak Obama has to do is address this particular story, that particular allegation. I mean, up to this point, if I—the story in today‘s “Times” says look, there was nothing improper here but the questions that it raises need to be addressed and it … [snip]
FERGUSON: But of course, I guess he means is he hasn‘t really made the killing that he might have been able to make as some Illinois politicians have been able to do.
His problem here now is now a second order problem, which is, how do you explain this sort of thing? And he hasn‘t explained it very well well. Partly there is a hypocrisy problem, but he also has come out and said my mistake was allowing this guy to help me with a real estate deal and do something that appeared to be a favor. Well, it didn‘t appear to be a favor, it was a favor. If this guy had hadn‘t interceded they wouldn‘t have been able to guy his $1.6 million house. And so now he finds himself, pretty soon he will have a third order problem which is to explain what he said in the second time—that the problem came around. So, you know, it is becomes a tar baby—
CARLSON: It is definitely bad judgment. I mean there‘s no doubt, it‘s like, buy your own house. You know what I mean? I think a normal person would have concluded that.
Since April we have been writing that Obama needs to explain, in detail and with documentary evidence, all aspects of his mansion purchase and his relationship with Rezko. Instead of explaining, Obama is trying to run out the clock and create excuses as to why he cannot produce his own papers. Instead of producing the documents stored at the Davis law firm and in boxes only Obama knows the location of, Obama is trying to run out the primary clock by demanding everyone else produce their records which are out of their control.
The Office of Scooter Libby Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will go to trial against Obama friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko on February 25, 2008. Obama must answer all Rezko related questions well before January 3, 2008 when voting in Iowa starts. Will Big Media hold Obama ethically accountable?
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Joe Scarborough recently discussed how against Obama the Republicans would not have to say a thing. Obama would be destroyed by Republicans. If Obama could answer all the Rezko questions, Republicans would still have a field day demolishing Obama.
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When Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was seeking state office a dozen years ago, he took unabashedly liberal positions: flatly opposed to capital punishment, in support of a federal single-payer health plan, against any restrictions on abortion, and in support of state laws to ban the manufacture, sale and even possession of handguns.
Filling out a 12-page questionnaire from an Illinois voter group as he sought a state Senate seat in 1996, Obama answered “yes” or “no” — without using the available space to calibrate his views — on some of the most emotional and politically potent issues that a public official can confront.
“Do you support … capital punishment?” one question asked.
“No,” the 1996 Obama campaign typed, without explaining his answer in the space provided.
“Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” asked one of the three dozen questions.
“Yes,” was Obama’s entire answer.
Obama said he would support a single-payer health plan for Illinois “in principal” [sic], “although such a program will probably have to be instituted at a federal level; the long-term objective would be a universal care system that does not differentiate between the unemployed, the disabled, and so on.” The campaign says Obama has consistently supported single payer health care in principle.
Obama as with the Chicago Sun-Times questions about Rezko, received a questionnaire, waited until the last minute to respond to the questions, then “blamed the staff”.
A week after Politico provided the questionnaire to the Obama campaign for comment, an aide called Monday night to say that Obama had said he did not fill out the form, and provided a contact for his campaign manager at the time, who said she filled it out. It includes first-person comments such as: “I have not previously been a candidate.”
The campaign said his views have been consistent, and points out that his positions have always been more nuanced than can be conveyed in yes-or-no answers.
Obama, who makes an issue of his opponents’ consistency in the presidential race, has tempered many of those 1996 views during his quick rise to the pinnacle of American politics. He now takes less dogmatic positions many of those hot-button issues — in the view of some Democrats, he abandoned the stands as he rose through the ranks.
For instance, Obama says he supports the death penalty in limited circumstances, such as an especially heinous crime. The campaign says Obama has consistently supported the death penalty “in principle” and opposed it “in practice.”
On handguns, his campaign said he has consistently been for “common-sense limits, but not banning” throughout his 11-year political career.
Regardless, the blunt statements of his earlier views, preserved on a questionnaire he filled out for an Illinois voter group that later endorsed him, would allow a Republican opponent to paint him as being way to the left of the nation’s electorate on questions that have historically been potent wedge issues.
Finally, a Big Media outlet states what we have been writing for many months:
But Obama has never faced a serious Republican electoral challenge. And as the reality that he could be the Democratic nominee sinks in, party analysts are assessing the risks of a career that — unlike that of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the nomination — has not been spent carefully anticipating and avoiding GOP attacks.
So electability questions that once were directed at Clinton may now be asked about Obama.
Put more bluntly, Republicans think his high-minded approach to issues could make him a sitting duck as he tries to attract the vast middle that determines American elections.
Nevertheless, Obama’s campaign is about his story, his narrative, and the idea that he can foster transformative change, while Clinton’s reflects a realism that twice won her husband the White House. Clinton chooses her battles, ceding small issues to win on big ones.
Other Obama vulnerabilities which can be exploited by Republicans (we won’t mention the ex-Taliban spokesman endorsement which the Republicans would use ad nauseam):
He supports state plans to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, a position shared by roughly 20 percent of his fellow citizens. He’s committed to raising billions from wealthier Americans’ Social Security tax — a stance Clinton, perhaps previewing Republican attacks, described as a “trillion-dollar tax hike.” And in Iowa recently, he came out for a plan that would ultimately grant 19,500 convicted drug dealers early release, and has been criticized by Second Amendment groups.
(Obama’s campaign says it would allow those charged with crack cocaine possession to apply for early release, which would have to be approved by a federal judge.)
As a result, Republican officials say that, depending on how Obama plays his cards, they will be able to torpedo him in a general election either as a flip-flopper or a lefty. [snip]
Indeed, rivals and critics in both parties are preparing to paint Obama as an opportunist who once took non-mainstream positions that have evolved in concert with his political stature.
In fact, Republicans already are licking their chops. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said conservatives are planning ways to make an issue of Obama’s plan to eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes for taxpayers making more than $97,000 a year.
Norquist predicted that “dramatic tax increases are going to be more important than the ‘The Audacity of Hope.’”
Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times also discussed the questionnaire. Lynn Sweet notes the two major differences from Obama’s positions now and then – Obama then opposed repealing the vile Defense of Marriage Act and back then Obama also favored normalized relations with Cuba.
As Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas said:
“I don’t understand a candidate who seems to think he can offer one position in the early stages of his career and then when he reaches a position of national election he can change a position.”
Obama already has a problem with his “lies” and that is not too strong a word regarding the 15 million Americans Obama abandons to the land of the uninsured.
Obama won’t be there when we need him. Hillary will.
Obama will be devoured by the Republicans. Hillary will fight and win.