beyond the rhetoric
There has been a lot of blah-bitty-blah from the Clinton machine, her supporters, and even those I love about Barack Obama. They criticize his experience, his rhetoric, and even his pie-eyed supporters. In as much as I would like to point an equally judgmental finger at all of the negative naysayers, I won’t.
At least for now.
Rather, I offer up the first of three rebuttals to all of you killjoys:
In the Illinois State Senate
Serving in the Illinois State Senate for 8 years, Barack has sponsored over 800 bills. On closer inspection, you will find that the issues near and dear to him were those that represented his constituency. This includes gun control, poverty control and health care. Yes, health care. His reputation for careful consideration and integrity was respected by colleagues in both parties. Just ask his Republican pal State Senator Kirk W. Dillard. But hey, why listen to his colleagues when you can take a look at a few of his legislative accomplishments?
- State Gift Ban Act (1998) – Co-sponsoring this bipartisan effort, this law prohibits the soliciting and receiving of gifts from those with governmental interest. Further, this bit of legislation offered transparency in the realm of expenditures and contributions. This was the first state ethics reform bill in 25 years. Believe you me, in a state like Illinois this is a very big deal.
- Job Skills Enhancement (1999) – This amendment of the Public Aid Code created a pilot program in Cook County to provide the unemployed and underemployed with a means to move up. He never said it would be easy, just that we should all be shown a way.
- Domestic Violence Training Curriculum (2000) – This amendment to the Public Aid Code provides those who with domestic violence issues a means to personal empowerment. Not just lip service, this act provides counseling, training, and protection in the workplace during rehabilitation.
- Train Noise (2000) – Okay, so this one never went anywhere. I include this because as some of you know, the issues around municipal noise abatement is near and dear to my heart.
- Videotaped Interrogation (2003) – The passage of this bill was uphill through snow both ways. Passed into law in 2003, law enforcement is now required to electronically record all custodial interrogations and confessions of a capital offense. This passed in the state house by 108 to 7, and in the state senate by 58 to 0. That, my friends, is what we call bipartisan.
While there are many, many more, I won’t bore you with details. Just trust me when I say that there are a whole bunch of them.
In the US Senate
There is no doubt that Barack’s career in the US Senate has been a bit on the short side. With that said, I would venture a guess that in comparing his current legislative achievements to that of a certain New York Senator you might find that any shortcomings do not belong to Mr. Obama.
- Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2006 – In a bipartisan effort with Dick Lugar (R-IN), this bill is commonly referred to as the Lugar-Obama bill. Included as part of the Department of State Authorities Act of 2006, it is designed safeguard and dismantle unsecured conventional, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons stockpiles of formerly Soviet republics. Signed into law in January 2007. (FYI: These two seem have ignored the usual pub/dem bickering seeing as how they have co-sponsored at least seven bills together. Who says Illinois and Indiana can’t play nice?!)
- Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 – Another bipartisan effort this time with Tom Coburn (R-OK). Commonly referred to as the Coburn-Obama Transparency Bill, this bill directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create a publicly accessible website where users can view how their money is spent domestically. The site is up and running at usaspending.gov. Signed into law in September 2006,
- Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 – One of the key ethics points, written by Barack and Russ Feingold (D-WI), requires political lobbyists to disclose the who and what of their dealings. Huge. Signed into law in September 2007.
For a first term junior Senator who, like all of Congress, is trying to get work done while an increasingly obnoxious President vetoes willy-nilly, he seems to be pretty rock solid. While I have listed a few of the humongous pieces of law, there are many more bills being reviewed in committee.
I have to say, while some of Barack’s bills deal with larger issues like Iran, war, ethanol, education, health care and trade with China, it’s the amazing amount of smaller bills and resolutions that frame the annoyingly myopic world of a US Senator. These include things like postage stamps, goofy holidays, sports team recognition, and everything in between. Nonetheless, please rest assured that our Senator is hustling like you wouldn’t believe in order to make this country a better place.
So for all of you who proclaim that Barack Obama is all rhetoric, I just have one thing to say: