Barack Obama: Star Power Versus Senate Reality

“They were the two competing elements in Barack Obama’s time in the Senate: his megawatt celebrity and the realities of the job he was elected to do. He went to the Senate intent on learning the ways of the institution, telling reporters he would be “looking for the washroom and trying to figure out how the phones work.” But frustrated by his lack of influence and what he called the “glacial pace,” he soon opted to exploit his star power. He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.”

Outside Washington, Mr. Obama was a multimedia sensation — people offered free tickets to his book readings for $125 on eBay and contributed thousands of dollars each to his political action committee to watch him on stage questioning policy experts.

But inside the Senate, Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, was 99th in seniority and in the minority party his first two years. In committee hearings, he had to wait his turn until every other senator had asked questions. He once telephoned reporters himself to draw attention to his amendments. And some senior colleagues were cool to the newcomer, whom they considered naïve.

Opposition hit piece? No, it’s an early paragraph in today’s New York Times lead story about Barack Obama, star power and reality on Capitol Hill. “He was running for president even as he was still getting lost in the Capitol’s corridors.” What a sad, sad statement.

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7 Responses to Barack Obama: Star Power Versus Senate Reality

  1. John Freeland says:

    Wasn’t that right around the same time Sandy Berger, Hillary’s “experienced” paid foregn policy advisor was stealing documents out of the National Archives?

    Nixon had experience. Cheney has experience. Some of us would rather have a president with brains and integrity.

  2. John Freeland

    At the time when Sandy Berger “was stealing documents out of the National Archives” he was actually working for John Kerry’s campaign.

    It’s interesting – no one on the left has made a fuss about Berger – only the wingnuts have.

    Why not try a different tactic — instead of attacking Obama’s opponent here, because you are offended that Stuart quoted a New York Times article about Obama – why not defend Obama?

  3. Well said, Pam. I welcome a competing point of view if it’s substantiated by facts, times and places.

    This is a long story in the NYT that is available without sign-up at the link. It would be useful to read the entire piece. There’s good and bad in it.

  4. Read the WaPo article you linked to. It says…

    “Berger reviewed the documents on behalf of former president
    Bill Clinton and made recommendations to the Bush White House, which has final authority over which papers were given to the panel.

    A Kerry campaign official, who declined to be identified in order to speak more freely about yesterday’s internal discussions, said Berger had not informed the campaign about the investigation before news reports appeared Monday night. The official also said the campaign did not ask Berger to step down. ”

    Berger took the classified documents in October of 2003. The documents had to do with pre-9/11 documents from the Clinton Administration. After the story broke, he left the Kerry campaign. Berger went on to be disbarred and fined $50,000. Looks like the ethical standards of the Clinton campaign are not as stringent as Kerry’s.

  5. John Freeland

    You miss the point. Just what does Berger have to do with Obama’s work in the Senate? NOTHING. Nothing at all.

    You, who once wrote for the DD, know full well that we value productive discourse here. I’m really surprised to see that you would comment on this topic with an off topic attack on Hillary Clinton.

    The fact is however on the Berger subject that he WAS working for the Kerry campaign in Oct 03 when he took the documents and the WaPo piece it linked to said (and you quoted it) that “the official also said the campaign did not ask Berger to step down,” at the time that the investigation was revealed.

    Perhaps you do not remember, but I do as I was working on Kerry’s blog in Oct ’03 and when Berger left the campaign months later, the Kerry campaign (and the media) initially made much of having Berger as an advisor.

    Again I will stress that the only folks making a big deal about Berger, both in ’04 and now are wingnuts.

    And again I will stress this is OFF TOPIC. You commented here only to attack HRC. I find that disappointing coming from a former contributor to the DD.

  6. John Freeland

    Also — let’s talk about ethics.

    Is it ethical for you to post on the Berger subject on your blog yesterday on the subject of Sandy Berger as though it is a NEW news item?

    The story first broke last October when FOX and the GOP made a big deal about it. You make it sound like he just joined her campaign.

    Furthermore Hillary Clinton made it clear he has no “official” capacity in her campaign.

    He has no official role in my campaign. He’s been a friend for more than 30 years. But he doesn’t have any official role,” Clinton said.

    But he’s an unofficial adviser, Susan asked?

    “I have thousands of unofficial advisers,” said Clinton, “and, you know, I appreciate all of that. But he has no official role in my campaign.”

    Yet you claim: “Sandy Berger is now Hillary’s paid foregn policy advisor.”

    As Hillary Clinton has already made it clear that he is not paid by her campaign, I challenge you to either correct your post with the truth or provide FEC documentation that he is paid.

    Honestly the distortions I have seen about Hillary Clinton from Obama supporters are simply astounding.

    P.S. I also challenge you to approve my comment that awaits moderation on your blog post about Berger: “Pamela Leavey Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    March 9th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  7. bjerryberg says:

    John Freeland, Sandy Berger was a friend of mine.

    And Sandy Berger is no Tony Rezko.

    But nice try.

    My apologies to Lloyd Bentsen for paraphrasing his signature line.