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Some kids carry the US Constitution in their pocket. Helluvan idea!

In this primary season, if you have two pockets, here's another small copy of a document that you would do well to carry as a sidecar.

It's a small graphic the New York Times put together last summer highlighting some of the more than 800 bills Barack Obama sponsored while in the Illinois Senate.


On a day when the Clinton campaign went deeply negative and launched two attack websites, coordinated with a Times article, based on 3% of 4000 votes Obama cast in the Illinois state legislature, I thought it would be useful to take a look at some of the very progressive things he not only voted for during the same tenure, but a few of the 823 bills he sponsored and fought for over those eight years.

Graphic below the break.

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  • Universal healthcare

  • Renewable energy

  • Embryonic stem cell research

  • Death penalty reform

  • Lobbyist reform

  • Ending racial profiling

  • Ending discrimination against GLBT


Hmm, hard not to look at that graphic and think: wow, progressive down the line!

Yet strangely I keep reading that Obama is a "naive", anti-progressive, anti-change corporate Democrat. Paul Krugman, exclusively on the basis of his disagreement on mandates and the fact that he once used a politically incorrect word in the same sentence as "Social Security", says it's so.


But I like to question my progressive heroes. I like to read widely among those with whom I agree and disagree.

And so I read how progressive policy planner Robert Reich, who implemented the Family & Medical Leave Act, disagrees, finds Obama's approach more effective, and is fed up with the grandstanding.


And then I read how liberal journalist and FDR biographer Jonathan Alter thinks that Krugman's recent critiques are poorly-supported and poorly thought-out.


And then I take a look at Obama's state record again.

And I read a quite different, very positive assessment of his state record that the New York Times published a few months back:

In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd


And then I look at that  famous speech at an Illinois anti-war rally that took place in October 2002, the same month Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Edwards voted the Iraq Force Authorization into law.


Could it be that he's become a two-faced devil in the past three years?

I look at his votes in the US Senate to check, and find that he is the most liberal Senator among the four candidates currently serving (Clinton is the least so).



I consider those issues that matter most to me that may not get as much play in the media: the dreadful Cuban embargo, clean tech and energy independence, restoring our Constitution, and net neutrality and open standards.

And I discover:

  1. Obama is the only candidate among the top three frontrunners that supports lifting the embargo, liberalizing family visits, and moving toward normalized trade relations with Cuba.

  3. A thorough review of Obama's energy plan reveals a surprising openness to ban traditional coal manufacture altogether, and shows a generous investment of $50 billion in clean tech R&D. Grist approved!

  5. Obama, a former constitutional law professor himself, is endorsed by the great liberal constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe who campaigns for him and calls him the "best student I ever had".

  7. Lawrence Lessig, head of Creative Commons and the leader of the net neutrality and copyright reform movement, switched from John Edwards in 2004 to endorse Barack this time around.


Hmm, on all the things that matter to me...the rush to war with Iraq, the Cuban embargo, energy independence, restoring the Constitution, and net neutrality... he's right in line with my values, and progressive as humble pie (or perhaps a Chicago deep-dish with some Hawaiian pineapple).

So what's going on here? Is it something with the weather? Is Obama really a naive "Demoncrat" in a Goretex disguise?


Or is it just...

...friggin' primary season?


Primary season.

That season when a kid (who is not-quite-a-kid-anymore) with the US Constitution in his coat pocket sets out to post a concise summary of Barack Obama's Illinois state senate accomplishments and ends up...well...writing his first diary about why he's supporting Senator Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Yep. Must be that.

Originally posted to Maxwell on Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 05:03 PM PST.

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