Barack Obama has made plenty of claims about being the great “uniter” but his record on working across the aisle is relatively “thin“.
We know that “Hillary Clinton has been trying to make a point about Barack Obama that deserves one last careful look before Tuesday’s probably decisive Democratic primaries.” David Ignatius clarifies “If Obama truly intends to unite America across party lines and break the Washington logjam, then why has he shown so little interest or aptitude for the hard work of bipartisan government?”
This is the real “Where’s the beef?” about Obama, and it still doesn’t have a good answer. He gives a great speech, and he promises that he can heal the terrible partisan divisions that have enfeebled American politics over the past decade. This is a message of hope that the country clearly wants to hear.
But can he do it? The record is mixed, but it’s fair to say that Obama has not shown much willingness to take risks or make enemies to try to restore a working center in Washington. Clinton, for all her reputation as a divisive figure, has a much stronger record of bipartisan achievement. And the likely Republican nominee, John McCain, has a better record still.
Yes, Clinton does have a stronger record of “bipartisan achievement,” than Obama:
In the three years that Sen. Obama has been in the Senate, Hillary has sponsored 53 bills that have attracted Republican co-sponsors. Over the same period of time, Sen. Obama has sponsored just 24 bills that have attracted Republican co-sponsors.
But, fear not, Obama supporters who want to follow him into the land of unity for all things political, Barack Obama, the master of hype and hyperbole, has made it clear he’s willing to throw caution to the wind and fill his Cabinet with Republicans.
The TIMES ONLINE notes that “as Barack Obama enters the final stages of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, he is preparing to detach the core voters of John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, with the same ruthless determination with which he has peeled off Hillary Clinton’s supporters.” (emphasis mine)
“Ruthless.” Did you catch the use of that word in the quote from the TIMES ONLINE? The fact is Barack Obama has been ruthless in his campaign against Clinton, all the while claiming to be the innocent “uniter” who would not stoop to anything to get elected. But as has been noted here many times, while Obama and his supporters say that it is Clinton who “will do anything” to get elected, the fact is, so too will Barack Obama. He is, as I have said here so many times, far from above the fray.
And now we learn that while there are plenty of qualified Democratic leaders to fill Cabinet positions Obama is willing to throw them under the bus and fill those positions with Republicans:
Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.
Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a “stretch”.
Asked about his choice of cabinet last week, Obama told The Sunday Times: “Chuck Hagel is a great friend of mine and I respect him very much,” although he was wary of appearing as though he was already choosing the White House curtains.
Chris Bowers weighs in on Open Left. On Sadly No!, Brad asks, “Is it too late for me to take back my Obama vote?” And, Jeralyn notes on Talk Left that in the TIMES ONLINE piece Obama is also lecturing us, by “hyping his religion.”
It annoys the heck out of me that so many progressives supporting Obama are so willing to take a gamble and put aside the progressive agenda to elect Obama. Hillary Clinton has more experience and is more progressive but Barack Obama has run the reverse psychology campaign with such aplomb that so many in the party appear to be willing to throw us all under the bus.