My heart just sinks every time some well-meaning (but ignorant) Obama supporter calls into a radio show and gets heckled by Sean Hannity or whoever about Barack Obama's legislative accomplishments.
This happened just yesterday. Hannity offered an Obama supporter a steak dinner if he could name three pieces of legislation that had Obama's name on them. The caller clumsily changed the subject.
Sensing he had the caller on the ropes, Hannity lowered the bar to a single piece of legislation. And alas, the caller could not name the legislation.
Hannity smugly switched off the caller's volume and said directly to the audience, "Ladies and Gentlemen, checkmate." And Droogie exited his car, entered his house and ate tacos sadly.
Listen, I know how talk radio works. Even if he had been able to list three pieces of legislation, Hannity still would have badgered the caller about William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.
Hannity is not the issue. The issue is that ordinary people are being told that Obama has a thin resume and has accomplished very little in his Senate career. I have a Republican co-worker who I spar back and forth with on this issue.
Even when I told him of one bill, he said, "Well, that's probably the only bill." It's never enough for some people, but that doesn't mean you should go into the world uninformed.
So here are just a few highlights from Barack Obama's career as a Senator: specific pieces of legislation, what they meant and how they were passed.
The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act
Introduced by Sen. John McCain in May 2005, and cosponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy. Barack Obama added three amendments to this bill.
While the bill was never voted on in the Senate, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Acts of 2006 and 2007, respectively, drew heavily upon the wording of this bill.
The Lugar-Obama Cooperative Threat Reduction.
Introduced by Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Dick Lugar and Sen. Tom Coburn.
First introduced in November 2005 and enacted in 2007, this bill expanded upon the successful Nunn-Lugar threat reduction, which helped secure weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure in former Soviet Union states.
Lugar-Obama expanded this nonproliferation program to conventional weapons -- including shoulder-fired rockets and land mines. When the bill received $48 million in funding, Obama said, "This funding will further strengthen our ability to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons and materials of mass destruction, enhancing efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism."
Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006
This act of Congress, introduced by Senators Obama and Coburn, required the full disclosure of all entities or organizations receiving federal funds in FY2007.
Despite a "secret hold" on this bill by Senators Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd, the act passed into law and was signed by President Bush. The act had 43 cosponsors, including John McCain.
The act created this Web site, which provides citizens with valuable information about government-funded programs.
Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act
This law helped specify US policy toward the Congo, and states that the US should work with other donor nations to increase international contributions to the African nation.
The bill marked the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor. Following this legislation's passage, Obama toured Africa, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. He spoke forcefully against ethnic rivalries and political corruption in Kenya.
Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
In the first month of the 110th Congress, Obama worked with Sen. Russ Feingold to pass this law, which amends and strengthens the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.
Specificially, the changes made by Obama and Feingold requires public disclosure of lobbying activity and funding, places more restrictions on gifts for members of Congress and their staff, and provides for mandatory disclosure of earmarks in expenditure bills.
The House passed the bill, 411-8, on July 31. The Senate approved it, 83-14, on Aug. 2. At the time, Obama called it "the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate."
Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act
Following the Republican-sponsored voter intimidation tactics seen in mostly black counties in Maryland during the 2006 midterm elections, Obama worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer to introduce this bill.
The bill has been referred to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Obama said of the bill, "This legislation would ensure that for the first time, these incidents are fully investigated and that those found guilty are punished."
The Obama-McCain Climate Change Reduction Bill
The Obama-McCain bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would cut emissions by two-thirds by 2050.
Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007
Introduced by Obama, this binding act would stop the planned troop increase of 21,500 in Iraq, and would also begin a phased redeployment of troops from Iraq with the goal of removing all combat forces by March 31, 2008.
Explaining the bill, Obama said it reflects his view that the problems in Iraq do not have a military solution. "Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," Obama said.
Amendments to the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill
Obama worked with Sen. Kit Bond to limit, through this bill, the Pentagon’s use of personality disorder discharges in the FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill.
This provision would add additional safeguards to discharge procedures and require a thorough review by the Government Accountability Office. This followed news reports that the Pentagon inappropriately used these procedures to discharge service members with service-connected psychological injuries.
"With thousands of American service members suffering day in and day out from the less visible wounds of war, reports that the Pentagon has improperly diagnosed and discharged service members with personality disorders are deeply disturbing," said Senator Obama. "This provision will add additional safeguards to the Department of Defense’s use of this discharge and mandate a comprehensive review of these policies."
The Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction provision
Working with Sen. Hagel and Rep. Adam Schiff, Obama authored this provision, which would require the president to develop a comprehensive plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 from the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose.
A provision from the Obama-Hagel bill was passed by Congress in December 2007 as an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill.
"It is imperative that we build and sustain a truly global effort under an aggressive timeline to secure, consolidate, and reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material to keep them out of the wrong hands. The comprehensive nuclear threat reduction plan required by this provision is an important step in that effort," Obama said of the provision.
These are just a selection of the bills that Obama has introduced and co-sponsored. You owe it to yourself to be able to cite a few of these off the top of your heads so you can give people the gist of them when they challenge the Senator's accomplishments.
At the end of the day, I will take Obama's good judgment over McCain's longevity in Washington any day of the week. It's more important for a politician to learn from his or her mistakes than it is for them to present the same old failed ideas over and over and expecting a better result.
It's true Obama is a relative newcomer on the politican scene, but he has already accomplished much in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation, government accountability, environmental responsibility and others.
So get out there and let some people know what our guy is capable of. Don't be caught unaware when someone asks you for your candidate's resume!
Bookmark this, follow the links, share with friends. Wash, rinse, repeat. Always repeat.