Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Legislative achievements

Wow. Obama really kicked some butt last night in Wisconsin. He blew out Hillary worse than John McCain blew out Mike Hucakbee. Just think about that for a minute. And then consider that Hillary recieved more votes than McCain and Huckabee combined, and still lost by nearly 20 points. The Republicans better wake up and smell the coffee, because they are heading toward the short end of a Reaganesque landslide in this fall’s general election.
The Obama phenomenon is continuing to surge ahead and it looks like it will finally swamp the struggling Hillary campaign right here in Texas. If Obama wins in Texas, it’s all over for Hillary.

On a slightly different topic, I want to comment about political hit that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews pulled on Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson who was on air last night as a surrogate for the Obama campaign. Watson had obviously been prepped with the latest campaign themes to regurgitate in short bursts, but instead got hoodwinked by Matthews who wouldn’t let him talk about those things and instead insisted that he list Obama’s “legislative accomplishments” in the Senate. Poor Watson could only stare blankly because he did not know what to say and had obviously not been prepped for that question. Matthews clearly knew this and made great sport of embarrassing Watson over it.
First, if Watson had been a little quicker on his toes he would have shot back and turned the tables by asking Matthews to list the legislative accomplishments of John McCain, who has been in the Senate much longer than Obama, and has no better track record of authored legislation signed into law. He could have also pointed out that if people were interested in who had the biggest list of “legislative accomplishments” they could have gone with any one of the other candidates with far more experience in the federal legislature (Dodd, Biden, Richardson).
But Obama really does have some “legislative accomplishments” under his belt despite his short time in the Senate. And the interesting thing is that most of them were achieved by cooperating with and co-sponsoring legislation with Republican lawmakers - including John McCain on at least two occassions. Obama co-sponsored immigration reform legislation with McCain. He also co-sponsored with McCain a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Other interesting bi-partisan efforts include the Lugar-Obama act that expanded a cooperative threat reduction agreement to include conventional weapons; and the Coburn-Obama Transparency Act which funded a website run by the Office of Management and Budget where people can see how federal funds are being spent. He has also worked on legislation with Republicans Kit Bond and Chuck Hagel.
I think the fact that Obama seems to work so well with Republicans speaks well of his sincerity in building a broad coalition that can actually change the partisan tone in Washington.
I’m sure the next time the Obama campaign sends out a campaign surrogate on MSNBC, they will be stuffed full of talking points about Obama’s “legislative achievements” and it is probably a good think in the long run that Matthews rubbed their noses in the dirt now rather than saving it for later when it might have hurt more.

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