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Thread: Race for the White House

  1. #751
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    Is that ^ Benito Giuliani?

  2. #752


    Benito 9iu11ani

  3. #753

    Default Obama's avoidance of controversial votes

    December 20, 2007

    Obama’s Vote in Illinois Was Often Just ‘Present’

    In 1999, Barack Obama was faced with a difficult vote in the Illinois legislature — to support a bill that would let some juveniles be tried as adults, a position that risked drawing fire from African-Americans, or to oppose it, possibly undermining his image as a tough-on-crime moderate.

    In the end, Mr. Obama chose neither to vote for nor against the bill. He voted “present,” effectively sidestepping the issue, an option he invoked nearly 130 times as a state senator.

    Sometimes the “present’ votes were in line with instructions from Democratic leaders or because he objected to provisions in bills that he might otherwise support. At other times, Mr. Obama voted present on questions that had overwhelming bipartisan support. In at least a few cases, the issue was politically sensitive.

    The record has become an issue on the presidential campaign trail, as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, has seized on the present votes he cast on a series of anti-abortion bills to portray Mr. Obama as a “talker” rather than a “doer.”

    Although a present vote is not unusual in Illinois, Mr. Obama’s use of it is being raised as he tries to distinguish himself as a leader who will take on the tough issues, even if it means telling people the “hard truths” they do not want to hear.

    Mr. Obama’s aides and some allies dispute the characterization that a present vote is tantamount to ducking an issue. They said Mr. Obama cast 4,000 votes in the Illinois Senate and used the present vote to protest bills that he believed had been drafted unconstitutionally or as part of a broader legislative strategy.

    “No politically motivated attacks in the 11th hour of a closely contested campaign can erase a record of leadership and courage,” said Bill Burton, Mr. Obama’s spokesman.

    An examination of Illinois records shows at least 36 times when Mr. Obama was either the only state senator to vote present or was part of a group of six or fewer to vote that way.

    In more than 50 votes, he seemed to be acting in concert with other Democrats as part of a strategy.

    For a juvenile-justice bill, lobbyists and fellow lawmakers say, a political calculus could have been behind Mr. Obama’s present vote. On other measures like the anti-abortion bills, which Republicans proposed, Mr. Obama voted present to help more vulnerable Democrats under pressure to cast “no” votes.

    In other cases, Mr. Obama’s present votes stood out among widespread support as he tried to use them to register legal and other objections to parts of the bills.

    In Illinois, political experts say voting present is a relatively common way for lawmakers to express disapproval of a measure. It can at times help avoid running the risks of voting no, they add.

    “If you are worried about your next election, the present vote gives you political cover,” said Kent D. Redfield, a professor of political studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “This is an option that does not exist in every state and reflects Illinois political culture.”

    The vote on the juvenile-justice bill appears to be a case when Mr. Obama, who represented a racially mixed district on the South Side of Chicago, faced pressure. It also occurred about six months before he announced an ultimately unsuccessful campaign against a popular black congressman, Bobby L. Rush.

    State Senator Christine Radogno, a Republican, was a co-sponsor of the bill to let children as young as 15 be prosecuted as adults if charged with committing a crime with a firearm on or near school grounds.
    The measure passed both houses overwhelmingly. In explaining his present vote on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Obama said there was no proof that increasing penalties for young offenders reduced crime, though he acknowledged that the bill had fairly unanimous support.

    “Voting present was a way to satisfy those two competing interests,” Ms. Radogno said in a telephone interview.

    Thom Mannard, director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said political calculation could have figured in that vote.

    “If he voted a flat-out no,” Mr. Mannard said, “somebody down the road could say Obama took this vote and was soft on crime.”

    Mr. Obama’s aides said he was more concerned about whether the bill would be effective rather than with its political consequences. They did not explain why he did not just vote no.

    Lawmakers and other Illinois officials said the present vote was devised to enable lawmakers to recuse themselves from voting on bills that present personal conflicts. It can also be used in the routine day-to-day wrangling in the legislature.

    In at least 45 instances, Mr. Obama voted with large numbers of fellow Democrats as part of the tactical skirmishing with Republicans over the budget.

    Seven other times, he voted that way as part of a broad strategy devised by abortion rights advocates to counter anti-abortion bills.

    Pam Sutherland, president of Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, said Mr. Obama was one of the senators with a strong stand for abortion rights whom the organization approached about using the strategy. Ms. Sutherland said the Republicans were trying to force Democrats from conservative districts to register politically controversial no votes.

    Ms. Sutherland said Mr. Obama had initially resisted the strategy because he wanted to vote against the anti-abortion measures.
    “He said, ‘I’m opposed to this,’” she recalled.

    But the organization argued that a present vote would be difficult for Republicans to use in campaign literature against Democrats from moderate and conservative districts who favored abortion rights.

    Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general who was in the Illinois Senate with Mr. Obama from 1998 through 2002, said she and Mr. Obama voted present on the anti-abortion bills.

    “It’s just plain wrong to imply that voting present reflected a lack of leadership,” Ms. Madigan said. “In fact, it was the exact opposite.”
    In other present votes, Mr. Obama, who also taught law at the University of Chicago while in the State Senate, said he had concerns about the constitutionality or effectiveness of some provisions.

    Among those, Mr. Obama did not vote yes or no on a bill that would allow certain victims of sexual crimes to petition judges to seal court records relating to their cases. He also voted present on a bill to impose stricter standards for evidence a judge is permitted to consider in imposing a criminal sentence.

    On the sex crime bill, Mr. Obama cast the lone present vote in a 58-to-0 vote.

    Mr. Obama’s campaign said he believed that the bill violated the First Amendment. The bill passed 112-0-0 in the House and 58-0-1 in the Senate.
    In 2000, Mr. Obama was one of two senators who voted present on a bill on whether facts not presented to a jury could later be the basis for increasing an offender’s sentence beyond the ordinary maximum.

    State Representative Jim Durkin, a Republican who was a co-sponsor of the bill, said it was intended to bring state law in line with a United States Supreme Court decision that nullified a practice of introducing new evidence to a judge in the sentencing phase of the trial, after a jury conviction on other charges.

    The bill sailed through both chambers. Out of 174 votes cast in the House and Senate, two were against and two were present, including Mr. Obama’s.
    “I don’t understand why you would oppose it,” Mr. Durkin said. “But I am more confused by a present vote.”

    Mr. Obama’s campaign said he voted present to register his dissatisfaction with how the bill was put together. He believed, the campaign said, that the bill was rushed to the floor and that lawmakers were deprived of time to consider it.

    Mr. Obama was also the sole present vote on a bill that easily passed the Senate that would require teaching respect for others in schools. He also voted present on a measure to prohibit sex-related shops from opening near schools or places of worship. It passed the Senate.

    In both of those cases, his campaign said, he was trying to avoid mandates on local authorities.

  4. #754
    Banned Member
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    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    ^My argument all along. Obama has no record to run on.

  5. #755


    ^^ Mine too.

    It also undermines his image as an advocate to to a new type of politics. this would seem to suggest he can be just as much a weasel as anyone else.

  6. #756
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    this ^ is the problem.

    For the most part, for one to get ahead in American Politics requires a certain type of personality. Ego-driven, manipulative, shallow -- take away a bit of whatever compassion they might have and one could even describe them as somewhat sociopathic.

    We keep hoping the the next hot candidate really is the next new thing -- but they often turn out to be the same old thing in new clothes

  7. #757


    130 present votes/~4000 votes = he has no record?

    Furthermore, many of those votes were part of the his own party's strategy as well as what groups like Planned Parenthood, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and NOW wanted.
    Obama, however, was in a safe district and never faced a serious challenge for his legislative seat. He had no need to shy from hard-line stands on gun control and abortion rights. He actually took such stands frequently and is now highly praised by advocates for both causes.

  8. #758



    Sorry but I am not buying it. A significant portion of the 'present' votes were intended to provide other democrats political cover. good team player maybe, but not so good for doing the 'people's business'

  9. #759
    I admit I have a problem
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    North Koreatown


    I appreciate some of the other arguments against Obama, but this one ^ I don't get.

    None of you have been elected to a student legislature, say, and occasionally voted "present" or declined to vote when you heard good arguments on both sides?

  10. #760


    I can understand how a collectivist would see their upholding of the party or other institutional power as more important than personal integrity or dedication to ideals shared in common with the populace. In fact, hypocricy and compromise for the greater good of the party at the expense of anything -- even the constitution, is presented as the highest ideal of a politician and actively presented as a necessary quality to be cultivated within the electorate. "Vote for the lesser of two evils, vote for the good of the party, vote for the one who is electable." All these are pleas to vote for collectivism, vote to endorse the problem, become part of the problem, compromise your ideals for the greater good.

    Democrats and even most republicans are force-feeding this reasoning and rationale on the people. They don't stand for anything but their own power, nor against anything but their political enemies. They only promise what will compel you to become complicit in their continued bleeding of integrity and public trust.

    Obama has the same ends, but perhaps, at best -- a new flavor of means.

  11. #761


    Tancredo goes out with a wimp

    Posted by Paul Mulshine December 20, 2007 6:35PM

    Tom Tancredo based his entire campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on his opposition to an amnesty for illegal immigrants. And then when he bowed out Thursday, Tancredo threw his support to a candidate who can't quite figure out where he stands on the issue.

    That candidate is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Just like illegal immigrants, Romney's been all over the map. []

    Tancredo's pressure was a prime factor in forcing Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani to adopt a hard line on illegal immigration. But Romney can't seem to stick to the script. On "Meet the Press" last Sunday, he seemed to be simultaneously for and against an amnesty - or "shamnesty" as conservatives have taken to calling it.

    Tim Russert pressed Romney about statements he had made last year to the Lowell Sun in which he appeared to be backing amnesty for illegals. Here's what he said in response:

    "My own view is, consistent with what you saw in the Lowell Sun, that those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship ....

    Sign up for permanent residency or citizenship? That's amnesty. Romney later tried to qualify that with the following statement:

    "There's a set -- in my view, they should have a set period during which period they sign up for application for permanent residency or for citizenship, but there's a set period whereupon they should return home, and if they've been approved for citizenship or for a permanent residency, why, that would be a different matter. But for the great majority, they'll be going home."

    Huh? This makes no sense. If illegal immigrants are required to meet the same criteria as other foreigners who are waiting in line for green cards, then all of them will be going home, not just "a great majority."

    But Romney was also quoted as saying "I don't believe in rounding up 11 million people."

    So what does he believe?

    He told Russert "my view is that those 12 million who have come here illegally should be given the opportunity to sign up to stay here; that they should not be given any advantage in becoming a permanent resident or a citizen by virtue of simply coming here illegally."

    The first half of the statement is contradicted by the second half. Giving them "the opportunity to sign up to stay here" is giving them an advantage "by virtue of coming here illegally."

    But let's assume the 12 million get no advantage. The U.S. permits only a million or so legal immigrants per year. There are already millions waiting in line. The illegals would be lining up behind them and few would have any chance of ever returning to America.

    So is Romney for amnesty or against it? Good luck figuring that out. You can read the entire transcript of the Romney interview on the "Meet the Press" website.

    This is exactly the sort of double-talk that Tancredo entered the race to expose. So how can he now endorse Romney over the two consistently conservative candidates on immigration, Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul? I suspect the usual sort of political quid pro quo.

    With this move, Tancredo just blew all the credibility that he had on the subject. His descent into obscurity will be well-deserved.

  12. #762
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    He'll ^ be missed

  13. #763
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    East Midtown


    Ron Paul is on CSPAN talking about healthcare. OH MY GOD This guy is a douchebag! I take back any good word I ever said about him. Jasonik, I hope he goes down in flames.

  14. #764


    Most doctors I know think more government involvement in health care will be a boondoggle. I'll trust the doctors rather than the politicians, thank you.

    The government is too involved as it is. Look at the history.

    Government mucked it up, will more government fix it?

    The way forward in the health field revolves around wellness, not illness. Insurance companies have an incentive to keep people healthy, but because of medicare and other procedure based fee structures only illness is rewarded by the manipulated market. We should be continually paying doctors to keep us healthy rather than paying HMO's and PPO's to reward doctors when we are unhealthy. I await a day when doctors are paid and trained to strive for wellness. More government is never the answer.

  15. #765
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Insurance companies have an incentive to keep people healthy
    Reading that ^ gave me my laugh out loud moment of the morning.

    Having been on intimate terms with a number of Health "Care" Insurance Providers over the past 8 months I must tell you that their incentive lies in the DENIAL of payments for those who need CARE. They'll gladly take your money when you're young & well and not costing them much of anything -- but once things start turning then watch out! All of a sudden the Insurance Companies' computers and "associates" all seem to get confused and can't manage to process claims / payments (funny that they never seem to have a problem processing those checks I send to them to keep my coverage intact ).

    And God Forbid that an Insurance Company Rep should apologize or show much compassion when it is pointed out, proven & finally acknowledged that it is their MISTAKES and nothing else that has been the cause of their failure to pay up. A simple "Sorry" would gain them tons of good will, but they're obviously incapable of either saying the word or admitting an iota of ineptitude.

    The stack of EOB's which I have accumulated over the past 8 months which say "Bill Submitted in Error / More Info Needed / Denied" could pave over Times Square.

    At this point Insurance Companies have more of an interest in my cold dead body laying on a slab (cheaper for them to deal with) than they do in meeting their obligation to pay for my Health Care as contracted.

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