[Today, Hillary Clinton will appear on ABC’s This Week and on Fox News with Chris Wallace.]
We repeat: Obama is a total unknown. Even this late into primary season we don’t know who he is or what he represents. The confusion as to who Obama really is has Obama himself and his circus of the ridiculous confused.
Barack Obama, the senatorial candidate of 2004, might have a bone to pick with Barack Obama, the presidential candidate of 2008.
Videotapes of debates and speeches that were obtained by The Washington Times show that Mr. Obama took positions during his Senate campaign on nearly a half-dozen issues ranging from the Cuba embargo to health care for illegal aliens that conflict with statements that he has made during his run for the White House.
For example, in MSNBC’s Oct. 30 presidential debate, Mr. Obama hesitantly raised his hand and joined with most of his Democratic rivals to declare he opposed decriminalizing marijuana. (See clip below.)
But as a U.S. Senate candidate, Mr. Obama told Illinois college students in January 2004 he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use or possession, a debate video shows.
“I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws,” Mr. Obama said during a debate at Northwestern University. “But I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana.”(See clip below.)
When confronted with the statements on the video, Obama’s campaign offered two explanations to The Times in less than 24 hours. At first, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said the candidate had “always” supported decriminalizing marijuana, suggesting that his 2004 statement was correct. Then after The Times posted copies of the video on its Web site, www.washingtontimes.com, yesterday, his campaign reversed course and declared he does not support eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession and use.
Assuming Obama can’t tell when he is lifting up his arm to vote (green “Yes” voting buttons and red “No” voting buttons also confuse Obama), why did he not bother to clarify his position the day after the debate? Who is this guy? Check out the videos.
And it’s not just confusion about pot smoking. There is more smoke coming out of Obama.
Mr. Obama’s differing answers on marijuana are among five conflicts between positions he took while running for Senate in 2004 and those he now articulates while running for president, a review of debate tapes shows. Experts said the likely reason for the changes was that Mr. Obama ran as a liberal during his Senate run but has become more centrist as he pursues the broad coalition required to win the White House. [snip]
In a 2003 forum on health care, Mr. Obama said he supported the children of illegal aliens’ receiving the same benefits as citizens, “whether it’s medical, whether it’s in-state tuition.” Asked specifically whether he included “undocumented” people, Mr. Obama replied, “Absolutely.”(See clip below.)
But in a CNN debate Jan. 21, when Mr. Obama was asked whether his health care proposal covers illegal aliens, he said “no” and that he first wants to cover the U.S. citizens and legal residents without health care.
In 2004, Mr. Obama told an audience at Southern Illinois University, “I think it’s time for us to end the embargo with Cuba. … It’s time for us to acknowledge that that particular policy has failed.”(See clip below.)
However, he stopped short of calling for an end to the embargo in a Miami Herald op-ed in August. He said he would rely on diplomacy, with a message that if a post-Fidel Castro government made democratic changes, the U.S. “is prepared to take steps to normalize relations and ease the embargo.”
“Senator Obama has consistently said that U.S. policy toward Cuba has failed,” Mr. Vietor said.
In an October 2003 NAACP debate, Mr. Obama said he would “vote to abolish” mandatory minimum sentences. “The mandatory minimums take too much discretion away from judges,” he said.(See clip below.)
Mr. Obama now says on his Web site, www.barackobama.com, that he would “immediately review sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the ineffective warehousing of nonviolent drug offenders.”
When shown transcripts of the videos, Mr. Vietor said: “The American people want a president who is going to be honest with them and talk about how we can tackle the challenges we face.”
The Times obtained the video footage of the public debates from a variety of sources, ranging from open sources such as YouTube to political operatives who oppose Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign or his Senate bid in Illinois. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, for instance, recently released footage on its Web site of a 2004 speech in which Mr. Obama spoke about universal health care, accusing him of a flip-flop.(See clip below.)
Mr. Obama told an AFL-CIO group in June 2003: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer, universal health care plan.” But in a recent debate he said he has never endorsed such a plan.
Just who is this guy? It’s like buying a nickle bag of pot and getting oregano.
Today, the New York Times (finally) bothers to examine (at this late date) Obama’s voting record and entanglements.
When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state’s freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.
Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.”
“I just did that last year,” he said, to murmurs of approval.
A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.
Do you believe this guy? He’s a flim-flam artist pure and simple. Obama is all flowery talk and an agent for Republicans.
Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate.
“Senator Obama’s staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft,” said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. “The teeth were just taken out of it.”
The history of the bill shows Mr. Obama navigating a home-state controversy that pitted two important constituencies against each other and tested his skills as a legislative infighter. On one side were neighbors of several nuclear plants upset that low-level radioactive leaks had gone unreported for years; on the other was Exelon, the country’s largest nuclear plant operator and one of Mr. Obama’s largest sources of campaign money.
Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.
Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industry’s lobbying group, based in Washington. Exelon’s support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other presidential candidate.
In addition, Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon. A spokeswoman for Exelon said Mr. Axelrod’s company had helped an Exelon subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, with communications strategy periodically since 2002, but had no involvement in the leak controversy or other nuclear issues.
The Obama campaign said in written responses to questions that Mr. Obama “never discussed this issue or this bill” with Mr. Axelrod. The campaign acknowledged that Exelon executives had met with Mr. Obama’s staff about the bill, as had concerned residents, environmentalists and regulators. It said the revisions resulted not from any influence by Exelon, but as a necessary response to a legislative roadblock put up by Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time. [snip]
Asked why Mr. Obama had cited it as an accomplishment while campaigning for president, the campaign noted that after the senator introduced his bill, nuclear plants started making such reports on a voluntary basis. The campaign did not directly address the question of why Mr. Obama had told Iowa voters that the legislation had passed.
Who is this flim-flam artist who has three-card monte’d some Democratic voters? Maybe the New York Times will begin to further examine Obama’s lobbyist masters.
Obama is always there with a thesaurus filtered, adjective laden flowery speech. But Obama is never there when you need him. Obama is there for his contributors like Rezko and Exelon.
Others say that turning the whole matter over to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as Mr. Obama’s revised bill would have done, played into the hands of the nuclear power industry, which they say has little to fear from the regulators. Mr. Obama seemed to share those concerns when he told a New Hampshire newspaper last year that the commission “is a moribund agency that needs to be revamped and has become a captive of the industry it regulates.”
Paul Gunter, an activist based in Maryland who assisted neighbors of the Exelon plants, said he was “disappointed in Senator Obama’s lack of follow-through,” which he said weakened the original bill. “The new legislation falls short” by failing to provide for mandatory reporting, said Mr. Gunter, whose group, Beyond Nuclear, opposes nuclear energy. [snip]
At least as disturbing for local residents was the revelation that Exelon believed the tritium came from millions of gallons of water that had leaked from the plant years earlier but went unreported at the time. Under nuclear commission rules, plants are required to tell state and local authorities only about radioactive discharges that rise to the level of an emergency. [snip]
In public statements, Mr. Obama dismissed the nuclear lobby’s arguments that the tritium leaks posed no health threat. [snip]
Almost immediately, the nuclear power industry and federal regulators raised objections to the bill. [snip]
But eventually, Mr. Obama agreed to rewrite the bill, and when the environment committee approved it in September 2006, he and his co-sponsors hailed it as a victory. [snip]
In place of the straightforward reporting requirements was new language giving the nuclear commission two years to come up with its own regulations. The bill said that the commission “shall consider” — not require — immediate public notification, and also take into account the findings of a task force it set up to study the tritium leaks.
By then, the task force had already concluded that “existing reporting requirements for abnormal spills and leaks are at a level that is risk-informed and appropriate.”
The rewritten bill also contained the new wording sought by Exelon making it clear that state and local authorities would have no regulatory oversight of nuclear power plants.
In interviews last week, representatives of Exelon and the nuclear commission said they were satisfied with the revised bill. The Nuclear Energy Institute said it no longer opposed it but wanted additional changes. [snip]
Still, the legislation has come in handy on the campaign trail. Last May, in response to questions about his ties to Exelon, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to a Nevada newspaper citing the bill as evidence that he stands up to powerful interests.
“When I learned that radioactive tritium had leaked out of an Exelon nuclear plant in Illinois,” he wrote, “I led an effort in the Senate to require utilities to notify the public of any unplanned release of radioactive substances.”
Last October, Mr. Obama reintroduced the bill, in its rewritten form.
Taylor Marsh has more. This is more Rezko style Obama judgment.
Paul Krugman this past week took Obama to task on more of Obama’s Rezko style judgment and priorities – on the Democratic core principle of health care.
The Obama campaign sends out an ugly mailer. Sorry, but this is just destructive — like the Obama plan, the Clinton plan offers subsidies to lower-income families. And BO himself has conceded that he might have to penalize people who don’t buy insurance until they need care. So this is just poisoning the well for health care reform. The politics of hope, indeed.
Update: Ezra Klein adds a screenshot of the original Harry and Louise ad — they’ve obviously deliberately copied it. Just to remind everyone, Harry and Louise were the center of the vile smear campaign the insurance lobby waged against health care reform in 1993 — and this time a Democratic candidate is doing the smearing for them.
Ezra also points us to an Urban Institute study that shows that yes, mandates are essential. The key passage:
Voluntary measures would tend to enroll disproportionate numbers of individuals with higher cost health problems, creating high premiums and instability in the insurance pools in which they are enrolled.
I know that Obama supporters want to hear no evil, but this is really, really bad.
Question: Who is this flim-flam artist from Chicago?
Answer: Obama is a tool of Big Media and flim-flam shill for the most retrograde forces in American life.