If the primary were held today, I don't know whether I'd vote for Obama or Edwards. I was leaning towards Obama, but I can't honestly put myself there anymore, as I found Obama's closing argument quite frustrating. Obama bragged about having ended the lobbyist-dominated culture in DC, saying the following: "I did the same thing in Washington when we passed the toughest lobbying reform since Watergate. I'm the only candidate in this race who hasn't just talked about taking power away from lobbyists, I've actually done it."
When did this happen? Did all of collectively miss the moment from 2004-2007 when Obama's work in the Senate removed power from lobbyists? I had no idea Obama took power from lobbyists in DC, and neither apparently did lobbyists in DC, who, unaware they had lost power, ensured that the Apprpropriation bills would have tens of billions for oil, coal, and nuclear, that the Farm bill would be a $200B monstrosity, and that the war would be funded with new blank checks every few months. It's weird how they missed the memo from Obama.
Or maybe Jeff Birmbaum of the Washington Post was correct in his article about Obama's ethics legislation, in listing the various ways that DC power players were exploiting its loopholes as soon as the ink was dry. Here's one loophole of many I found comical.
Along the same lines, lobbyists, who are banned from organizing travel for lawmakers, are thinking about asking their assistants to do it -- an action that would skirt the prohibition.
I love that this one. It's like, Obama's ethics legislation was so strict that it forced assistants to make travel arrangements. Apparently another part of the bill barred all cash gifts to lawmakers unless paid in untraceable hundred dollar bills, and another part of this strict legislation allows lawmakers the use of only uncut cocaine.
The toughest lobbying reform since Watergate? Really? Regardless of whether you support Obama or not, that he cites this as a major accomplishment should give you serious pause as to his judgment. Either he believes that it solved the problem in DC, which is foolish, or he doesn't, in which case he is being disingenuous in bragging about taking power away from lobbyists. He also believes that no one, least of all Iowa voters or his own supporters, care that he is citing as his major accomplishment in DC a policy idea that is universally considered a joke and/or a failure. It's so cynical as to be comical.
The reality is that Obama has no serious accomplishments he can point to which suggest he has rejected 'the Washington establishment' and found an alternative path. Neither, of course, does Edwards or Clinton. But I find Obama's boasting of his ethics accomplishment exceptionally dishonorable. Everyone knows DC is as bad as it has ever been, and that the ethics bill wasn't even a band-aid.
What does a real leader look like? I think all of us could agree that Abraham Lincoln isn't a bad model. And that's where Chris's critique comes in. Chris criticized Obama's notion that turning up the partisan heat on Republicans is counterproductive, and that it was 'hope' that freed the slaves. Read Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech, delivered in February of 1860, about two months from now at the equivalent time point in the electoral cycle. The speech was a masterpiece of logic, as well as exceptionally partisan.
The thrust of the speech organized itself around the notion that the South had placed the Republican Party itself in a position where compromise itself had become both impossible and undesirable.
Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored - contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man - such as a policy of "don't care" on a question about which all true men do care - such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance - such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.
If you have never read that speech, it's a beautiful and clear statement of principle. And it shows that Lincoln was able to pair certainty of logic with humility of purpose, and moral clarity with political combat. Obama does neither. He must cynically brag about how he is not part of the DC establishment that obviously loves him and fetes him with wonderful press, while feeding bullshit to his supporters about what wonderful new bureaucratic and irrelevant rules lobbyists must now follow. Lincoln believed in principle, and principle led him to partisanship. Obama believes that assistants, not lobbyists themselves, should have to arrange bribes.