Vetting our two Democratic presidential candidates has definitely been a mixed bag. On one hand, Hillary Clinton’s life and political history has been in the news and reported online for many years. Barack Obama is another deal. He has essentially gotten a free ride in the national media, only being questioned seriously when the news was so shocking that the mainstream media had no choice but to report it.
So I went hunting, and was often surprised at what I found. It amounts to a pattern that I find dismaying. There are a lot of links here, documenting sources for my conclusions, and there is a lot to read.
Here is my list, in no particular order. See if you agree with me, and answer the questions for yourself… did he really not know, or is it just that he didn’t mind?
1. He joined and remained active in a church where racism and anti-American hate is routinely preached. He and his family attended, and heavily contributed for about 20 years. This has received worldwide attention, as show in the link below.
Ten Must-See Videos from The Times Online
Obama first claimed not to know about Wright’s inflammatory statements. He later admitted he did.
OOPS… didn’t notice. Or else he forgot.
Rev Wright, one of the ministers, even promoted Obama and denigrated Hillary Clinton from the pulpit spurring an IRS investigation as to the validity of their non-profit status. The Obama campaign is also reported to have campaigned on at least one occasion at church events, furthering the curiosity of the IRS.
Obama Speech at General Synod of the United Church of Christ
But, OOPS… he didn’t know. Or didn’t mind.
2. Senator Obama bought stock in two companies whose investors included his 2004 campaign political donors. One, in fact, was developing medicine to treat avian flu — with the stock purchase coming right before Obama introduced legislation to increase funding to combat the virus.
The other company, SkyTerra, received government permission to build a national wireless network on the day Obama purchased his shares. Among the principal owners of this business were four people who had raised more than $150,000 for Obama. Attorney Obama claimed later that they were in a semi-blind trust, that just didn’t legally work out. When this became public, Obama sold the stock.
New York Times
Oops… he didn’t know. Or didn’t he mind?
3. Senator Obama came into politics through the famously corrupt Chicago political machine, with the help of some of the slimiest characters imaginable. (Several major players who helped him are have been indicted for graft, fraud, etc. Obama now keeps a rep at Rezko’s trial every day to monitor testimony.) Obama has had to donate to charity much of the money they gave him to get his start, though the admitted dollar amount keeps increasing as time goes on. It’s now up over $250,000. Tony Rezko, currently at trial on federal charges of attempted extortion, money laundering, and fraud, was also involved in the purchase of Obama’s home at well below market value.
New York Times
Not so well publicized is the fact that Obama wrote letters to the Illinois Dept of Housing, recommending Rezco’s company, North Kenwood, LLC, for the housing projects that soon became slums, causing inhumane hardship for their residents.
These slums, later repossessed, were in Obama’s district while he was an Illinois senator. In fact, some are about a mile from his home, and several are still boarded up. Obama professed to be unaware of any problems. During the Democratic debate on January 21, 2008, Obama, in fact, gave the impression that he had merely done about 5 hours of legal work for “this individual.”
The Rezko Foreclosed Properties
Chicago Tribune: Almost Believable
OOPS… he didn’t know. Or did he care?
4. According to the Sun-Times, Barack Obama, “allegedly decent guy and agent of change” in Washington, requested an earmark in 2006 for $1 million taxpayer dollars for the University of Chicago Hospitals, where is wife, Michelle Obama, was a vice president. Said hospital, by the way, gave Michelle Obama a huge raise (nearly $200,000, more than doubling her salary) in 2005 after Barack was elected to the United States Senate.
According to The Chicago Tribune, “Obama had a special connection to Maytag: Lester Crown, one of the company’s directors and biggest investors whose family, records show, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaigns since 2003.” Maytag closed its refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Ill during Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign, but Crown says Obama never raised the fate of the Galesburg plant with him. Obama’s campaign responded “that the senator did not know Crown sat on Maytag’s board until the Tribune noted it last September in a story about the closing of the Maytag headquarters in Newton, Iowa.”
Oops… he didn’t know? Or didn’t he care?
5. Obama took donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees for his House and Senate races and his own Hopefund political action committee. He only stopped taking this political money — and began speaking out against it — when he launched his presidential campaign in February 2007. However, he still takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from their high level employees.
Oops… he didn’t know? Or doesn’t mind?
6. Opponents have asked Senator Obama to release the records from his term of state office in Illinois. Since he has little other experience in politics (he did, after all, declare his presidential candidacy barely 2 years after election to the US Senate), this doesn’t seem an unreasonable request. The records might also shed light on his relationship with Rezko and some of the other corrupt individuals he rubbed shoulders with during his climb up through Chicago politics. But lo and behold, the records all seem to have mysteriously disappeared.
The Pantagraph, a central Illinois newspaper
Questions have also been raised about Obama-sponsored legislation during the last year he was in office there. It is alleged that, in the interest of making Obama appear more prolific, then Illinois Senate Majority Leader Emil Jones appointed Obama as sponsor of many pieces of legislation, even though other senior senators had spent many years working on the bills.
“I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen,” State Senator Rickey Hendon, the original sponsor of landmark racial profiling and videotaped confession legislation yanked away by Jones and given to Obama, complained to me at the time. “Barack didn’t have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit.”
“I don’t consider it bill jacking,” Hendon told me. “But no one wants to carry the ball 99 yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book.”
As a result, Todd Spivak of the Houston Press noted, “During his seventh and final year in the state Senate, Obama’s stats soared. He sponsored a whopping 26 bills passed into law — including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.”
Oops… he didn’t know? Or did he mind?
7. Obama’s website sported a page for the New Black Panthers organization until it was discovered and reported by the media. It was quickly removed. Obama denounced their support, but the New Black Panthers’ Winter 2008 newsletter still carries a full page ad for his campaign on page 36. Though the origin of the ad is not stated, it contains logos, graphics and quotes from the Obama website, which Obama could have ordered removed as a copyright violation.
The NBP page, before its deletion.
NBP Winter 2008 Newsletter
OOPs… he didn’t know.
8. In addition to the controversy concerning his numerous “present” votes while in the Illinois legislature, Obama also maintains that he just pushed the wrong button on 5 or 6 other votes. (Let’s not even go there!)
According to the New York Times, however, an examination of Illinois records shows at least 36 times when Mr. Obama was either the only state senator to vote present or was part of a group of six or fewer to vote that way, causing many to question whether he was really just trying to avoid taking a stand.
LA Times on Obama votes
Real Clear Politics
New Your Times
Obama also has an exceptionally high no-show ration for votes since coming to the Senate.
OOPS… he didn’t know? Or didn’t he care?
9. On Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008, CTV reported that a senior member of Obama’s campaign, Austan Goolsbee, spoke directly with the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago to assure them that if Obama publicly spoke about opting out of NAFTA, they should not take it seriously. It would just be political posturing… campaign rhetoric. Obama flatly denied the report, attacking both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain for their comments on the issue.
On March 4, the New York Times, among other sources, revealed that the conversation had indeed taken place, and published the memo. The Canadian government announced that an investigation would begin to find out who was responsible for leaking the memorandum concerning the conversation.
New York Times
New York Times published the memo
OOPS… he didn’t know.
10. Obama’s position on the war in Iraq, in spite of the October 2002 speech, has not been as unwavering as he would have us believe.
11. Senator Obama is chair of of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, having been appointed in early 2007. According to Congressional Records, the subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes “all matters, policies and problems concerning the continent of Europe, including the European member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” That means it has jurisdiction over NATO.
As Senator Clinton asserted in a recent debate, “NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan. He’s held not one substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can do to actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan.”
OOPS… he didn’t know… or did he forget?
12. Senator Obama told Tim Russert in January of 2006 that “I will serve out my full six-year term.”
From the official transcript of Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: But there seems to be an evolution in your thinking. This is what you told the Chicago Tribune last month: “Have you ruled out running for another office before your term is up?” Obama answered, “It’s not something I anticipate doing.” But when we talked back in November of `04 after your election I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?” Obama, “Absolutely.”
SEN. OBAMA: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you’re going to get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.
MR. RUSSERT: So you will not run for president or vice-president in 2008?
SEN. OBAMA: I will not.
Obama formed an exploratory committee in January of 2007 and declared his candidacy two months later.
Meet The Press Transcript January 22, 2006
“Obama Takes the Russert Test” from The Swamp
Obama Learns the Washington Ways
OOPS… he forgot.
13. Senator Obama promised to use public financing for the general election if his Republican opponent would do the same. Now, apparently after he realized how much more money he could have at his disposal, he has reversed himself.
League of Women Voters
Mr Obama’s Waffle
OOPS… he forgot.
14. Obama bragged in the Iowa debate about the “nuclear legislation I’ve passed.” When he encountered resistance from the nuclear industry… including Illinois-based Excelon, the country’s largest nuclear plant operator and one of Mr. Obama’s largest sources of campaign money, he edited his bill several times, making it weaker each time. The bill, however, never passed. It died. But Mr Obama gained a chief political strategist… David Axelrod. In October 2007, Obama resubmitted the bill in its watered-down version.
Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate
OOPS… he forgot.
15. Senator Obama purports to be in favor of “universal” health care, utilizing private insurance, on the campaign trail. In fact, he adamantly denied advocating single payor. But there was a time when he was in favor of the single payor system.
OOPS… he forgot.
16. While campaigning, Obama told several hundred people in Iowa, “No lobbyists need apply to my White House.”
However, in contrast to his pledge to fight against the influence of special interests, his record on employing lobbyists isn’t quite so pristine. Several high level members of his campaign are registered lobbyists, including his New Hampshire campaign manager. Lately, he has softened his campaign line to, “They are not going to run my White House.”
The Boston Globe
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post
Obama actually seems very comfortable working with lobbyists on legislation. To site just one example…
According to ABC, Obama “has quietly worked with corporate lobbyists to help pass breaks worth $12 million,” that gave two overseas companies tariff suspensions. Both companies also have facilities in Illinois.
One of these companies, Nufarm, told its shareholders it was making “more money than ever before in North America because it had increased its prices on its U.S. and Canadian customers, predominantly farmers.” This had the effect of profiting business interests in his state, while punishing its farmers.
According to ABC News, “With a dozen tariff suspension bills to his name, Obama stands out as the most prolific of any Democratic presidential hopeful on the topic.”
Despite Rhetoric, Obama Pushed Lobbyists’ Interests
OOPS… he forgot. Or didn’t he mind?
How many other things are we going to find that Senator Obama conveniently forgot? It is my hope that the political powers-that-be will lay off the talk about ending the primaries early, and that the media and the internet diggers will help us truly vet Senator Obama. Use a little old-fashioned, objective journalism… remember that?
If he has nothing more to hide, it can only help him.
But if we don’t know the whole story yet, it might just help us be certain that we can indeed put a Democrat in the White House in November.
That is, after all, what Democrats want, isn’t it?
Cross-posted at MyDD.com.