Confronting media-aided myths: Barack Obama is no political “outsider” – and other Dem candidate news

Last December, when the hype over a potential Obama presidential candidacy was reaching fever pitch, I wrote about the ‘moderate’ myth surrounding the Illinois Senator. In that post, I noted that the media’s painting him as a ‘middle of the road’ candidate didn’t square at all with his actual record, a record put him solidly in the liberal Democrat camp.

Another myth, not only pushed by the Obama campaign but the mediots as well, is that Obama is an “political outsider” – meaning he’s not your ‘typical’ corrupt, in-bed-with-lobbyists politician. The Boston Globe destroyed that myth today:

Using campaign appearances, e-mails to supporters, and Iowa TV ads, Illinois Senator Barack Obama has repeatedly reminded voters that his presidential campaign does not accept contributions from lobbyists or political action committees, casting his decision as a noble departure from the ways of Washington.

He hit the theme hard again in Tuesday’s Democratic debate in Chicago as he sought to capitalize on rival Hillary Clinton’s remark last weekend that taking lobbyists’ cash is acceptable because they “represent real Americans.”

“The people in this stadium need to know who we’re going to fight for,” Obama said at Soldier Field. “The reason that I’m running for president is because of you, not because of folks who are writing big checks, and that’s a clear message that has to be sent, I think, by every candidate.”

But behind Obama’s campaign rhetoric about taking on special interests lies a more complicated truth. A Globe review of Obama’s campaign finance records shows that he collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs as a state legislator in Illinois, a US senator, and a presidential aspirant.

In Obama’s eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns — $296,000 of $461,000 — came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions, according to Illinois Board of Elections records. He tapped financial services firms, real estate developers, healthcare providers, oil companies, and many other corporate interests, the records show.

Obama’s US Senate campaign committee, starting with his successful run in 2004, has collected $128,000 from lobbyists and $1.3 million from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. His $1.3 million from PACs represents 8 percent of what he has raised overall. Clinton’s Senate committee, by comparison, has raised $3 million from PACs, 4 percent of her total amount raised, the group said.

In addition, Obama’s own federal PAC, Hopefund, took in $115,000 from 56 PACs in the 2005-2006 election cycle out of $4.4 million the PAC raised, according to CQ MoneyLine, which collects Federal Election Commission data. Obama then used those PAC contributions — including thousands from defense contractors, law firms, and the securities and insurance industries — to build support for his presidential run by making donations to Democratic Party organizations and candidates around the country.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that after seeing the influence of lobbyists firsthand during his two years in Washington, Obama decided before he entered the presidential race that he would take a different approach to fund-raising than he had in the past.

“He’s leading by example and taking steps that he feels need to be taken on the national stage to clean up the undue influence of Washington lobbyists on the policies and priorities of Washington,” Psaki said. “His leadership on this issue is an evolving process.”

LOL. “Evolving process” I’m sure – just in time for his run for president.

Meet the Democrat’s newest chameleon: Senator Barack Obama. The man who ‘made a great speech’ at the 2004 DNC.

Via Denver Post cartoonist Mike Keefe

Related to Obama, his main competition, Hillary Clinton, is being called on a nuke ‘flip flop’:

NEW YORK — Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who chastised rival Barack Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in the war on terror, did just that when asked about Iran a year ago.

“I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table,” she said in April 2006.

Her views expressed while she was gearing up for a presidential run stand in conflict with her comments this month regarding Obama, who faced heavy criticism from leaders of both parties, including Clinton, after saying it would be “a profound mistake” to deploy nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table,” he said.

Clinton, who has tried to cast her rival as too inexperienced for the job of commander in chief, said of Obama’s stance on Pakistan: “I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons.”

But that’s exactly what she did in an interview with Bloomberg Television in April 2006. The New York senator, a member of the Armed Services committee, was asked about reports that the Bush administration was considering military intervention _ possibly even a nuclear strike _ to prevent Iran from escalating its nuclear program.

“I have said publicly no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table,” Clinton said. “This administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven’t seen since the dawn of a nuclear age. I think that’s a terrible mistake.”

A campaign spokesman for Clinton tried to explain the change in Clinton’s position:

Her campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said the circumstances for her remarks last year were different than the situation Obama faced.

“She was asked to respond to specific reports that the Bush-Cheney administration was actively considering nuclear strikes on Iran even as it refused to engage diplomatically,” he said. “She wasn’t talking about a broad hypothetical nor was she speaking as a presidential candidate. Given the saber-rattling that was coming from the Bush White House at the time, it was totally appropriate and necessary to respond to that report and call it the wrong policy.”

Translation: When a Republican president puts the use of nuclear weapons on the table in response to the growing threat of a country hostile to the United States, it’s “the wrong policy.” When a pre-presidential candidate Democrat Senator calls for nukes to be taken off the table, and then turns around as a presidential candidate and says they shouldn’t be, that’s perfectly acceptable.

To the Clinton campaign, anyway.

Question of the day for Hillary, from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Presidential Forum:

“Are you black enough to sustain the kind of support that you got from your husband, and what makes you the better candidate over a black man in representing the issues regarding African-American community?”

Well, she’s not literally black, of course, but should she ever become a moderate (hah!) she could be treated to a photo of her in blackface alongside her husband by a liberal blogger or two.

And just remember, Senator Clinton, there can only be one ‘first’ black president, and I’m afraid that place in the history books has already been taken.

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