Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Lobbyist Myth

Today's Boston Globe has another hit piece on Obama obviously planted by the Clinton opposition research center. It's another example of the media bias against Obama: because he is the most public voice against corruption in Washington, the press retaliates by holding him to a higher standard than any other candidate. In this case, it's Obama's hard work in 2003-04 on the Health Care Justice Act in Illinois. Up against the resistance of the powerful insurance industry, Obama listened to their complaints and crafted a compromise bill that could get passed. This should be a tremendous credit to Obama (unlike Hillary Clinton and any other Democrat running for president, Obama has actually helped to pass health care legislation). That stands in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton, who had her clock cleaned by the insurance lobbyists in the 1990s, and then filled it with their donations when she became senator.

The Globe gives this story the headline: "In Illinois, Obama dealt with lobbyists." Gasp! Are they somehow unaware that every effective politician who ever got a bill passed has dealt with lobbyists? The complaint about Clinton is that she deals with lobbyists, but that she's devoted to placating them. True, Obama talks with lobbyists. True, he used to take money from lobbyists because he's not from a wealthy background and couldn't survive without the funding. Yet when he decided to run for president against the Clinton dynasty, he chose not to take lobbyist money; Clinton, who has the fundraising power not to need lobbyist money, nevertheless decided to take that funding. That says a lot about the difference in character between the two.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Obama's Tax Plan

For all of the talk about John Edwards being the poverty guy in this campaign, Obama's new tax plan is a brilliant move. First of all, it relies on tax cuts rather than government programs to help the poor, which is the best way to gain bipartisan support. Second, it also proposes an innovative idea that I've long favored: having the IRS fill out our tax returns. It will especially help the poor and elderly, but eventually the concept could be extended to having the IRS fill out the tax returns of anybody who wants it. It's the kind of idea that doesn't show up in the government's bottom line much, but it would save millions of man-hours wasted on filling out tax returns.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Alan Keyes, to Kick Around Again

Alan Keyes is running for president again. The man who lost to Barack Obama by 43 percentage points (70%-27%) in his 2004 race for the US Senate thinks he should be president. Tonight, Keyes will be part of the "Voter Values Debate" of fringe Republican candidates.

In honor of Keyes, here's some quotes from an article I wrote in 2004 about Keyes:

Keyes said the 9/11 attacks were a message from God to oppose abortion: "I think that's a way of Providence telling us, 'I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?'"

During a campaign appearance in Bedford, N.H., in 2000, Keyes asked a class of fifth-graders, "If I were to lose my mind right now and pick one of you up and dash your head against the floor and kill you, would that be right?"

"I do stay up at night thinking about what's going to happen to America. I do stay up at night with a vision of our people in conflict, of our cities in flames, of our economy in ruins."

Because the Republican National Committee withheld financial support for his losing cause, Keyes accused them of racism and complained that in the GOP, "colorblind means that when a colored person walks in, you suddenly go blind."

Keyes told the media, "You do to me what you did to my ancestors! You ignore my successes, just as you ignored my ancestors' successes!"

When it comes to race, Keyes rejects the idea that any black person – except for Alan Keyes – suffers discrimination. He told Larry King in 2000 that if he were the victim of a "driving while black" police stop, he would fault the "black folks out there disproportionately committing certain kinds of crime."

Keyes claims, "Hitler and his supporters were Satanists and homosexuals." To Keyes, "The notion that is involved in homosexuality, the unbridled sort of satisfaction of human passions," leads to totalitarianism, Nazism, and communism.

During a 2000 presidential-primary debate he referred to "Massa Bush" and his tax-cut plan because "this is all a discussion between the masters of how well or ill they're going to treat the slaves."

Citizens, he says, have a duty to "resist and overthrow the power responsible" if their right to have guns is "systematically violated." In 1999, Keyes even seemed to threaten the president by saying, "the Second Amendment is really in the Constitution to give men like Bill Clinton something to think about when their ambition gets particularly overinflated."

“On all the matters that touch upon the critical moral issues, Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the evil side," Keyes said.

Greg Blankenship, a Republican who runs the "Obama Truth Squad" Web site, calls Keyes' candidacy "truly nuts" and "borderline delusional." Blankenship says, "I've dealt with Keyes personally. . . His ego is too big for the Senate, Presidency, and probably God."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Obama Interview Hoax and the Curious Story of Rob Sherman

It's a very odd story about a fabricated interview with Barack Obama. Howard Kurtz has it here, about "Alexis Debat, a former French defense official who now works at the Nixon Center, published the interview in the French magazine Politique Internationale." Debat claims that a "Rob Sherman" did the interview for $500, and then gave it him, based on Debat's questions. That's apparently the Rob Sherman, an infamous Chicago-area atheist activist and radio show host. I contacted Sherman and he told me, "It's all a scam. He concocted the story." Sherman said, "I don't do betrayal. I don't do scams." Sherman theorized that Debat came across his name in one of the Tribune stories, and desperately hooked on to it to explain the fabricated interview. Stories on this will be published tomorrow, but that's the exclusive for now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Obama and the Israel Question

This may be the most ridiculous attack on Obama yet. To claim that placing an Amazon ad next to political books is an endorsement of those books is absurd. It's sad to see the Obama campaign is so quick to withdraw the ad and declare that Obama disagrees with the authors Mearshimer and Walt about the Israel lobby. Of course, no one imagines that Obama agrees with every book or every TV show or every website where his advertisements appear. If anything proves the power of the Israel lobby, it's all these fearful reactions, even to the absurd point of the Politico worrying about how an old Cold War liberal like Zbigniew Brzezinski isn't right-wing enough because he's defended Mearshimer and Walt's book.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Meaning of Negative Politics

The Clinton campaign is denouncing Obama for daring to criticize Hillary. “It’s unfortunate that Senator Obama, who entered this campaign promising to elevate the tone of our politics and to run a positive campaign, is choosing now so early in the process to attack others,” Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told MSNBC. “I don’t think that’s the kind of politics that Democratic primary voters are looking for or what they were promised by Senator Obama.” But Obama never promised to roll over and never counterattack against his opponents. Criticizing your competition isn't a negative campaign. The key issue is that Obama hasn't taken any cheap shots at Hillary (the same can't be said for Hillary and her frequent attacks on Obama). Negative politics means lying about your opponents, or denouncing them for irrelevant reasons. But the standard give-and-take of political campaigning is not a reduction in the tone of our politics.

About Me

Author of "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason," ( Also the author of "Barack Obama: This Improbable Quest" and "President Barack Obama: A More Perfect Union (, along with "Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies" ( and "Newt Gingrich: Capitol Crimes and Misdemeanors".