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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Building Bridges out of Nothing

David Ignatius at the Washington Post has a great piece up today contrasting Barack Obama's claims to be a "bridge builder" and the reality of his voting record.

Obama supporters can look forward to more pieces like this, should he wrap up the nomination shortly and it may make life a little bit painful. Readers of the Post should appreciate that someone there is asking questions other than "would you like another pillow" (thanks SNL).

Ignatius performed what one of my favorite talk show host refers to as a "flagrant act of journalism" by looking at Obama's record both in Illinois and the US Senate for the signs of how he's going to build the bridges to reunite America. Unfortunately for Obama's supporters what he found was a lack of construction skills nearly 180 degrees out of sync with his message.

This is kind of a telling portion of the column, and points to the "softball issues" that Obama claims as bipartisan victories:
The Obama campaign sent me an eight-page summary of his "bipartisan accomplishments," and it includes some encouraging examples of working across the aisle on issues such as nuclear proliferation, energy, veterans affairs, budget earmarks and ethics reforms.

Let's look at that list, and see if there is anything on it that wouldn't have bipartisan support from pretty much anyone in the Senate.

Nuclear Proliferation... Not since Barry Goldwater can I think of anyone from either party who didn't think that slowing the spread of nuclear weapons was a good idea.

Energy, well the parties have differences on how to work a policy, but the vote in the Senate on the current energy bill was pretty bipartisan since 40 votes to block it couldn't be found.

Veteran's affairs, especially after the Walter Reid stories broke a few years ago EVERYONE in Congress wanted to fix the DoVA. Prior to those stories in 2005 though few people did anything about it, except argue over funding for Concurrent Receipt of disability and retirement pay (which still isn't 100% happening).

Budget earmarks, considering when Obama came into office, and why the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, it was a no brainer that both sides would work towards earmark reform. If you look at how the Democrats have made this "transparent" though you might question if the reform as done any good at all.

Ethics Reform, again, Obama was elected at the height of the Tom DeLay scandal, and Duke Cunningham's problems were in the news. Anyone voting against ethics reform wouldn't be seen as partisan, they'd be seen as stupid!

Ignatius points out, correctly, that there isn't an instance on that list where Obama worked across the aisle on a subject that would raise eyebrows with the party base. Even on one topic he did work on that's contentious, immigration reform, he didn't work at the front of the pack, like McCain and Ted Kennedy. Even in 2005 before they took over Congress, it was the Democrats working from the position of power on the topic, with 41 votes locked up to stall any bill that didn't meet Harry Reid's liking.

The truth is that Obama's campaign rhetoric isn't exactly inclusive, bipartisan, or "post-partisan" as one commenter on Ingatius' article claimed. It's basically Howard Dean and John Kerry in 2004, running hard left against "Bush Policies" though Bush won't be on the ballot.

His rhetoric on labor, trade, and taxes all smack of the politics of class warfare, not inclusion, yet he's going to be the 'great uniter'?

McCain may have had a change of heart on the Bush tax cuts of '01 and '03, but he's honest enough to note they've worked. Obama (and most democrats) can't even acknowledge that they took 20 MILLION of the lowest income workers completely off the federal income tax rolls because it doesn't fit the "only rich got breaks" mold that they've been running on since 2003.

If you get a chance, go read Ignatius' column, and if you are an Obama-maniac try and do it with an open mind. You might learn something about your candidate.

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