Obama maybe not so liberal after all

Let me be perfectly clear: I want Obama on the Democratic ticket this fall.  I want him in the White House for sixteen straight years, eight as VP and eight more as President.  So I don't want to bash him in a way that would damage that possibility.  What I do want to do is raise questions about whether he actually is as liberal as some of his supporters think.  For example, a lot of his supporters tell me they are voting for him because he is more liberal than Hillary, and refer to the recent National Journal ranking as proof.  So let's start by discussing that.

National Journal Rankings

As pointed out by Crooks and Liars here, the National Journal rankings are a repeat effort of what they did in 2004 when they said John Kerry and John Edwards were the two most liberal senators.  And it takes about as much mental gymnastics, using specific missed votes to skew the ranking, to make that same claim about Obama as it did about Kerry and Edwards.  A more realistic estimate, like the one by Progressive Punch here, shows that Obama is actually one of the more conservative Senators, with seven or eight being more conservative than he is.

Pandering to Black Evangelicals?

But my questions about whether Senator Obama is really as liberal as some of his supporters seem to think go beyond the brazen lies by the National Journal.  Although he has strong supporters on both a woman's right to choose and on gay rights, I think there is good circumstantial evidence that he has played politics on both issues.  And I think in both cases it was an intentional effort to to remain in good graces with black evangelicals.

So let's discuss black evangelicals for a moment.  In previous elections, President Bush has used the issues of Gay Marriage and A Woman's Right to Choose and similar hot button issues to peel off enough Black Evangelicals to gain narrow wins in key battleground states.  Although Black Evangelicals are overwhelmingly Democratic, they are also very "conservative" on these hot button issues.  Earl Ofari Hutchinson did a good job of discussing that here.

Pandering to Anti-Gay Sentiments?

Hutchinson, who knows a thing or two about black evangelicals, believed that the McClurkin incident, prominent use of a known gay-basher, was an intentional pander to anti-gay sentiments among black evangelicals.  (link)  Markos Moulitsas, who had been leaning toward Obama, also waivered over the use of the anti-gay McClurkin.  But he did not seem to see the possibility of this being an intentional pander to black evangelicals.

At the time, neither Hutchinson nor Moulitsas mentioned a previous incident that seemed to show Obama carefully avoiding any photos that might be taken as supportive of gay rights.  In the other case, Obama refused to have his picture taken with pro-gay Mayor Gavin Newsom although Newsom was at the event to show his support with Obama.  (link)  This was in 2004, which might indicate that Obama was also pandering to black evangelicals as a power base in that previous election year.

Avoiding Commitment to a woman's right to choose?

This issue has been prominently discussed in the blogosphere as part of Obama's seemingly non-commital present votes.  Senator Clinton has used these present votes to attack his record on a woman's right to choose.  But Illinois Right to Choose supporters of Senator Obama said that his vote was part of a strategy they agreed to and in line with what they were asking for.  Obama supporters felt that Senator Clinton had intentionally misled voters about Obama's support of a woman's right to choose.

One of Senator Obama's supporters on this issue revealed something that I hadn't seen before and something I don't think most of Senator Obama's supporters have realized: Obama himself, not the Right to Choose supporters, came up with this strategy (link):

"We worked with him specifically on his strategy. The Republicans were in control of the Illinois Senate at the time. They loved to hold votes on 'partial birth' and 'born alive'. They put these bills out all the time . . . because they wanted to pigeonhole Democrats."
Sutherland said Obama approached her in the late 1990s and worked with her and others in crafting the strategy of voting "present." She remembers meeting with Obama outside of the Illinois Senate chambers on the Democratic side of the aisle. She and Obama finished their conversation in his office.
"He came to me and said: 'My members are being attacked. We need to figure out a way to protect members and to protect women,'" said Sutherland in recounting her conversation with Obama. "A 'present' vote was hard to pigeonhole which is exactly what Obama wanted."

Although Obama said that "My members are being attacked," it seems reasonable to question whether right to choose votes might have been causing Obama himself problems with black evangelicals.  If so, this is not really a strategy devised by Planned Parenthood and NARAL to thwart a Republican agenda but is rather a strategy devised by a politician to be non-commital on a key liberal issue.  That latter view seems to be the one that the Illinois chapter of NOW has taken. (link)

Tags: Barack Obama, gavin newsom, gay rights, Right to Choose (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

So let me see, you smear him on every issue you can think of, but claim that you want him on the ticket as VP.  What a joke.  The idea of Obama as VP is nothing more than an (increasingly transparent) effort to get people to vote for Hillary, who's campaign has increasingly come to stand for a willingness to say or do anything for a vote.  Great diary.  I'm sure it would make the Hillary campaign proud. And for those of us who support Obama, diaries like this will make Hillary's defeat so much sweeter.  And NO, she won't be his VP.  He doesn't plan to fight a gutter campaign in the general.  And I don't believe Hillary is capable of anything else.

by davey jones 2008-02-09 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

I have three graduate degrees and an undergrad double major in poli sci and international studies.  So there are like at least 153,000 other issues I could think of without breaking a sweat.

Smear?  Just because you don't like the facts I am presenting or the questions I am asking does not mean I am smearing his holiness the Dalai Obama.

by Mike Pridmore 2008-02-09 12:23PM | 0 recs
Interesting

Why do you think "My members" only means black Chicagoans? Interesting...

Illinois is a big state with plenty of rural districts that Democrats are fighting to hold.

The key is the results...the pro-choice bill passed using the Obama strategy. What's the problem with that again?

by JoeCoaster 2008-02-09 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting

But not with his vote.  So why exactly was he afraid to vote for it?  What constituency was he trying to avoid offending?  This is clearly wanting to have his cake and eat it too.   I think it is a stupid strategy because it makes much more sense to say that the bill passed in spite of his failure to vote for it.

by Mike Pridmore 2008-02-09 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

Actual, I've looked at some key issues and Obama is not progressive. He is very tight with the nuclear power and coal industries.

A US News and World Report blog describes the situation with Obama and the nuclear power industry:

"Most damaging to Obama so far is a New York Times article published several days ago showing he claimed to have "passed" a bill regulating nuclear power plants that never did pass the Senate. Worse yet, he participated in negotiations that watered down the bill to the point of meaninglessness. Lastly, he took campaign contributions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from executives and employees of Exelon (the company the bill was in part meant to regulate)."

Here is the link to piece:

http://www.usnews.com/blogs/erbe/2008/2/ 6/obama-end-of-the-phenom-phase.html

Obama is also cozy with the coal industry:

He opposes the House-passed bill that would reform the 1872 Mining Law. That law lets companies mine public lands without paying royalties and doesn't hold them responsible for mine cleanup.

He wants FutureGen's "clean" coal-fired power plant in Illinois. The group doesn't count the energy used before and after the coal is burned. With net energy gain reduced by these processes, you're better off with wind and solar.

Plus he voted FOR Bush 2005 Energy Policy Act, a sweeping, oil-friendly energy bill that gave lots of presents to Bushes friend's in the oil industry. Environmentalist strong opposed it. Hillary voted AGAINST it.

by Enviro 2008-02-09 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

P. J. O'rourke said that the reason Republicans claim to like Obama is because they know he won't get any of his agenda enacted because he doesn't know how. They said they don't like Hillary because she'll get her agenda enacted.

Apparently they think that rolling over Obama will be easy. This is one thing that I do agree with them.

by Ga6thDem 2008-02-09 11:10AM | 0 recs
first he's too liberal, now he's too conservative

Try and coordinate your "narratives" then come back and make an argument.

And I'm LMAO at the poster above that said HRC was a progressive.

How did Progressives feel about the war in iraq?
How did Progressives feel about the Bankruptcy bill?
How did Progressives feel about the Welfare Sham Reform bill?
How did Progressives feel about NAFTA?
How did Progressives feel about the death penalty?
How did Progressives feel about sentencing reform?

EVEN THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN realized that Obama was more of a progressive than Hillary. Taking a page from the Right Wing, they tried to paint Obama as a progressive, in an effort to argue that this background would make him a weaker general election candidate.

"Hillary's aides point to Obama's extremely progressive record as a community organizer, state senator and candidate for Congress, his alliances with "left-wing" intellectuals in Chicago's Hyde Park community, and his liberal voting record on criminal defendants' rights as subjects for examination."

by highgrade 2008-02-09 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: first he's too liberal, now he's too conservat

I think the point is that the whole progressive movement isn't liberal.

I mean you had to find a brand new word for your movement...whats up with that?

by sonofdonkeykong 2008-02-09 11:28AM | 0 recs
You will never get an answer to these

questions.

Because the truth is it is IMPOSSIBLE to square any of these things with the progressive movement.

What you will get is stuff like Bill Clinton claiming he was actually against the War in Iraq or Hillary claiming she was actually against NAFTA.

The Clinton were the darlings of the DLC - of the third way.  

As time goes on I have increasing questions about Obama as well.  But the idea that Hillary deserves the mantle of protector of the progressive agenda flies in the face of the entire basis of Clinton's presidency.

by fladem 2008-02-09 01:56PM | 0 recs
by Mike Pridmore 2008-02-09 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama has NEVER been Progressive

Amen to that Demlady.

I own a business in OH,MO & here in Michigan.

I go back in forth in these states every month to run my business. I also have another location on the northeast tristate of NJ,NY,PA.

I've been a loyal Democrat for over 20 years. I am part of the 40% of Small Business owner members of the National Chamber of Commerce who are strong democrats. ( 60% of Chamber members are Republicans)

I can tell you right now that Obama will lose both Ohio & Missouri in the fall by a huge margin. It will not even be close. Many Democrats here in Ohio & Missouri have already privately expressed that they will Not Vote for Obama in the Fall.

People who say they understand Ohio or MO are not from here. Clinton has a very strong chance of  carrying Ohio & MO. White voters here are angry with Bush.

But with Obama, McCain will easily carry this state in the fall.

Call it racism, discrimination or whatever. That's just reality in certain parts of the U.S.

You can put my forecast for Nov in stone.

People do not understand that Primary white voters are totally diff. than General voters.

Obama can barely register at 25% white voters in the dem primary here in OH & MO ! Come November when all white voters can vote- he will be at 10% to 15% of all caucasian voters- it won't even be close. People seem to intentionally ignore that.

the entire black voting population here can vote for Obama, it will still be a defeat.

This is Ohio & MO. We are not in Illinois

by labanman 2008-02-09 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all


"But if you are not black then you simply have no business saying this."

Its time for racism to be over.  White racism.  Black Racism.  All of it.

You need to accept that there is no private black business that I don't have any business talking about just like there is no white business that you have no business talking about.

by sonofdonkeykong 2008-02-09 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

This is everyone's business, not just that of black people, nor just that of gay people for that matter.

by Mike Pridmore 2008-02-09 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

It is clearly not a more liberal record than Hillary's.  for the Love God!!! Their voting records are almost identical. Step. Away. From. The. Koolaid.

by Mike Pridmore 2008-02-09 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

i assume you never comment on anything having to do with non black, non gay issues then? i think that'd be silly, but certainly follows your logic...and obviously you want to be consistent, no?

by CalDem 2008-02-09 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama has NEVER been Progressive

This is so unbelievably racist.  You are calling him Jesse Jackson clearly because both of them are Black.  Are you trying to make him the "Black canidate?"  And many of you here have the nerve to say that it is his camp that is race-baiting?  This is a darn shame but not unexpected.

by TLW 2008-02-09 12:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

I think every so called "progressive" who supports him will be disappointed.

by Sensible 2008-02-09 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

by Sensible 2008-02-09 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama maybe not so liberal after all

Then how about Bloomberg?

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He's not in the race yet, but he could be, and I think he'd do a better job than any of the candidates available now, especially since he doesn't owe anything to the parties or the special interests holding purse-strings over candidates and Washington.

There's a petition to tell him to run at http://www.draftbloomberg.com

If you want to see him get in the race and bring some real leadership to the ballot, sign it and tell Mike you want him to run!

by foster204 2008-02-09 03:40PM | 0 recs
by foster204 2008-02-09 03:44PM | 0 recs

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