Friday, October 08, 2004

Obama's Springfield Record Examined

Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet says Obama opponents are preparing some swiftboat-style ads for Illinois:
527 ads aimed at Obama

In August, I wrote about the creation of Empower Illinois, a 527 political group established to nick some dents into Democratic Senate nominee Barack Obama. Conservative activist Jack Roeser told me Wednesday he gave $40,000 to the group, which will start running television ads in Downstate markets Monday dealing with "terrible votes" cast by Obama, a state senator.

Roeser said he recently hosted a funder for GOP Senate nominee Alan Keyes in Carpentersville that took in about $10,000. According to Keyes spokesman Connie Hair, former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick will headline a lunch for Keyes in Chicago next Thursday.

But as long as we are on the subject of Obama's record as a state senator, lets take a look at the Tribune's analysis of his time in Springfield:
A review of Obama's legislative record shows that the liberal label is not misplaced. He has fought for gun control, worked to expand government assistance to the poor, led efforts to reform the death penalty system, proposed universal health care and opposed legislation aimed at cracking down on gangs.

At the same time, however, the record includes evidence of a legislator adept at persuading many Republicans to go along with initiatives as he worked behind the scenes to win bipartisan support on potentially polarizing measures, from welfare reform to proposals to battle racial profiling.

"The most important thing that you do in Springfield is you bring all sides of an issue to the table and you make them feel they are being listened to," Obama said.


"I voted for, or co-sponsored myself, over 100 bills that strengthened criminal penalties for everything ranging from sex offenders to drug dealers to domestic violence abusers," he said. "It would be very hard to argue, if you look at the totality of my record, that I somehow have been soft on crime. ... Those who have tried to paint me recently as being too liberal are some of the colleagues I worked most closely with. They never held that view until election season."

Overall, Obama's record in Springfield appears consistent with his current campaign rhetoric: that government has a responsibility -- indeed, it should be used vigorously -- to assist society's most vulnerable.

"I think if you look at my eight years in the Senate, my reputation in the Senate consistently has been that I work both sides of the aisle," Obama said. "If you look at my signature legislation, whether it was helping craft welfare reform, helping to shape the state Earned Income Tax Credit, death penalty reform, expanding KidCare, all those pieces of legislation are the bills that I am most proud of."
I know it means that Alan Keyes will now think that I am "hard-line, academic, Marxist-socialist," but the idea that "government has a responsibility -- indeed, it should be used vigorously -- to assist society's most vulnerable" pretty much sums up my view of government's role.

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