Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Does Obama Have the Experience To Run the White House?

This is an argument that Senator Clinton has been hammering away at for some time without providing any real evidence of her contention. Over the past few weeks Senator Obama has begun to respond by questioning her claim to 35 years of public service. I'd like to take a closer look at both of their records.

First of all Senator Clinton is a Junior Senator, just as Senator Obama is a Junior Senator. She's completed one term of office and then took a sabbatical to run for president, while Senator Obama has been in the U.S. Senate for a total of 2 years before taking his sabbatical.
Senator Clinton likes to include her 8 years as the first lady as part of her experience. However, officially this does not pan out, because there are no official duties or responsibilities of the first lady. What she's doing here is using the uniqueness of her position, being the only first lady to ever run for public office and win, as a means of confusing the issue.

Prior to being the first lady on a national level she was first lady of the state of Arkansas. Again, she had no official capacity or responsibilities, except those given to her by her husband, as first lady.

Before becoming the first lady of Arkansas she was employed by the Rose law firm and continued to be employed there after her husband won the Governorship of Arkansas. Of course, we've all heard of the scandal involving Bill, Hillary and the Rose law firm regarding some shady land deals involving various members of the state legislature. But, we'll put that to the side for now.

Last, but not least let's look at the types of legislation proposed and made into law by Senator Clinton. During her 6 years of service in public office Senator Clinton has authored 20 pieces of “kitchen table legislation”, which have become the law of the land. Of these 20 pieces of legislation the majority of them have to do with giving someone a plaque or a medal, designation of historic sites, congratulating Lacrosse teams on their winning seasons, etc. Only 5 bills have any real meat to them where they would have required the cooperation of other members of the Senate. These included the following bills:

  • Extend period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11.

  • Pay for city projects in response to 9/11

  • Assist landmine victims in other countries

  • Assist family caregivers in accessing affordable respite care

  • Designate part of the National Forest System in Puerto Rico as protected in the wilderness preservation system.
    Barack Obama, on the other hand, during 8 years of public service has sponsored over 820 bills. Here's a breakdown of the types of bills he introduced during his tenure in the Illinois State Senate:

  • 233 bills on healthcare reform

  • 125 on poverty and public assistance

  • 112 crime fighting bills

  • 97 economic bills

  • 60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills

  • 21 ethics reform bills

  • 15 bills on gun control

  • 6 bills on veterans affairs, etc.

His first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored over 100 bills and cosponsored 427, including the following bills:

For more details on their other legislation you can reference the Library of Congress at this link www.loc.gov.

The following bills are just a few examples of the types of legislation introduced and or co-sponsored by Senator Obama over the last 2 years he's been in the senate.

The Congressional Ethics Enforcement Commission Act, S.2259

The Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act, S.2261

The Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness through Advance Notification, Updates, and Posting Act (The CLEAN UP Act), S.2179

This comparison of the records of the current presidential candidates is something that should have come out much earlier in the campaign. We need to look at the substance of the candidates, not just how long they've been in office, but what have they accomplished while in office.

In comparing the records of Clinton and Obama it becomes apparent that Obama's experience as a community organizer in the rock hard streets of Chicago, the crucible of the nation, has placed him in the unique position of being the first president elected by the average American in the 21st century, as opposed to the modern-day king makers. His experience speaks for itself. This is not a man that's been sitting on his laurels. He is a well organized, well educated, yet caring individual who will take the time to actually listen to the people he represents and be willing to work with individuals with widely differing viewpoints and political persuasions. Again, a cursory examination of his record will indicate his willingness and successful track record in proposing and passing bills that required the cooperation of a number of his fellow senators. These kinds of relationships will be immensely helpful in getting bills passed as the chief executive of the government.

Senator Clinton, on the other hand has been very consistent in her willingness to fight, not only Al-Qaeda and the Republicans, but her Democratic colleagues, as well. She's also been consistent in going along with the status quo in terms of important legislation, such as the authorization to go into Iraq; while her own pet projects have consisted of proposing little more than “kitchen table legislation”. As Dick Morris, a former Clinton strategist, stated in a recent article “Hillary Clinton Goofs Again! ”, she needed to pick an area that she was strong in herself, as opposed to an area where she has shown little to no ability, whatsoever.

In fact, according to Dick Morris, her one claim to fame, an “ill-conceived health care reform” bill not only failed miserably, it also “cost her party control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.” It thus seems inconceivable that she should now be elected to the “bully pulpit”. For even a cursory examination of her history shows a lack of clear direction, other than “a get along go along DC insider” stance, according to beachmom. This was clearly evidenced in her voting record, particularly with respect to the war in Iraq.

Clearly, if it's a choice between Obama and Hillary there can be no doubt as to who has the credentials, the experience, and the will, to not only occupy the Oval Office, but to use the power and influence of that office for the good of all Americans. The question then becomes, not does Obama have the experience, but rather does Hillary have the experience or the disposition to sit next to the “red phone”?

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