Change is Inevitable
What Do We Really Know About Barack Obama?
It appears that Sarah Palin is just the breath of life John McCain’s campaign needs. After an early summer push by McCain, polls had recently begun to suggest Barack Obama’s attack ads linking President George W. Bush and McCain were beginning to work. So how has Obama responded to the new found excitement in the Republican party? Part sarcasm, part bitterness, and what seems to be a touch of fear.
For the first time since his meteoric rise to the head of the Democratic party Obama appears backed into a corner. With a true reformer added to the ticket of the original maverick, the message of change is now coming from all sides and Obama is trying to stake his claim to the message.
“Everywhere I go we’ve been talking about change, that’s been the theme of this campaign,” Obama recently told supporters in Indiana. “And we must be on to something, because I notice now everyone’s talking about change now.”
Lately, we all are looking for some change: gas prices are too high and OPEC is threatening to raise them further, food prices have risen nearly five-percent in the last year, people are losing their homes to foreclosure, unemployment is at its highest since 2003, and all the while we are spending billions to protect our families from terrorists that want nothing less than to destroy everything America stands for.The problem is, change is inevitable, improvement is not. What about Barack Obama suggests he is a departure from the typical politician?Well, we know he can be a wonderful speaker. We know his resume includes time spent as a community organizer, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, an Illinois state senator, and currently a first-term U.S. senator. We have witnessed the transformation from the 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speaker to Presidential hopeful after a mere 788 day U.S. Senate term. The problem is, we know very little of him other than that. There are unresolved issues regarding shady dealings, questionable relationships, unclear religious and moral beliefs, and a scarce voting record. What about this history suggests he will provide us actual change?Politicians have come to be negatively defined by surrendering their decision making to the interests lobbyists, being paid off by ‘Big Oil,’ and by consistently failing to be truthful to the citizens they represent, among other things. When compared to these traditional negative connotations how does Barack Obama stand up?Obama has an open policy of not accepting campaign contributions from ‘registered lobbyists.’ However, Obama has taken money from the spouses of lobbyists and at least $3.5 million from law firm partners employing registered lobbyists. Further, some of his biggest contributors are ‘policy consultants’ for corporate law firms. For example, Tom Daschle, former Democratic U.S. Senator and current Policy Consultant has provided the Obama campaign with over $33,000 from his Atlanta based law firm, Alston & Bird. Thus, Obama’s stance is not entirely true. To this criticism Obama spokesman Bill Burton has provided, “It isn’t a perfect solution to the problem and it isn’t even a perfect symbol.”In recent ads Obama states he will take aggressive steps against companies like Exxon-Mobil because he has not accepted donations from oil companies or lobbyists. The interesting thing about his claim is that no corporation is allowed to contribute to the campaign of any presidential candidate, per federal law.That’s not all. In regard to ‘Big Oil’ it is surprising to note that it's actually Obama who has received more from the pockets of employees at several of ‘Big Oil's’ biggest and most recognizable companies. Tallying contributions by employees in the industry and their families, Exxon, Chevron and BP have all contributed more money to Obama than to McCain. Through June, Exxon employees have given Obama $42,100 to McCain's $35,166. Chevron favors Obama $35,157 to $28,500, and Obama edges out McCain with BP $16,046 to $11,500. McCain does, however, lead the money race with nearly every other top contributor in the oil and gas industry -- Koch Industries, Valero, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, etc. If Obama is in the pocket of ‘Big Oil’ and accepting money from lobbyists, we can at least trust his word, right? Well, we all remember this exchange occurring just a month ago at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church:
WARREN: Forty million abortions, at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
However, when he actually declares a position on an important issue that position’s not even set in stone. Early in his campaign he was an adamant proponent of the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and completely against the troop increase, more commonly referred to as ‘the surge.’ Next, he supported a pull-out of troops with a ‘residual force’ left behind, possibly indefinitely. Then, he was in favor of troop increases in Afghanistan. Just recently, he confessed to Bill O’Reilly, “I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated…it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”Not exactly true. There is a certain Arizona senator who will tell you “the surge” has succeeded just as he and 50 other U.S. senators imagined. We are in the home-stretch here; the last 60 days. Obama has the time to prove us all wrong, but currently it is hard to believe he is a “change we can believe in.”
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