The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Ad Watch

Obama Touts War Opposition, Lobby Reform

By Howard Kurtz
This Obama ad, airing in Nevada, is an attempt to defuse charges by Bill and Hillary Clinton that the Illinois senator wavered in his opposition to the Iraq war in a pair of 2004 interviews. By flatly declaring again that he opposed the invasion in 2002, as a state legislator, when "the others would not," Obama is -- without naming Clinton -- reminding viewers that the New York senator voted to authorize the war.

Invoking his role in the ethics law adopted last year, Obama is trying to add specifics to his generalized message of change. Saying that he "passed" the legislation is an overstatement, but press accounts and Democratic leaders credited Obama with playing a leading part in pushing tougher restrictions on lobbying and fuller disclosure.

By adding details to his familiar call to "unite a divided nation" -- a second ad promises to end "tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas" -- Obama also combats Clinton's criticism that there is little behind his soaring rhetoric. Neither candidate has run an explicitly negative ad so far.

Posted at 2:03 PM ET on Jan 16, 2008  | Category:  Ad Watch
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The only candidate who has amply demonstrated a clear understanding of both the costs and consequences of the Iraq War is Paul. Bring the troops home. Don't believe anyone who says we need to stay there because "it'll be a mess if we leave"; this is the mantra of the same politicians who said this would be a cakewalk. We need to get out of the Middle East completely, to save our troops' lives, billions of dollars, and whatever is left of our nation's moral authority. Iraq may or may not make it. We cannot change whatever Iraq is meant to become in the next 10, 20, 100 years, and why should we?

Posted by: patrick4 | January 18, 2008 12:37 AM

As a very digruntaled Republican totally angry over the Iraq War, I am willing to support a Demo this time. However, there is NO WAY I will ever support Hilary. From her fumbles in the Clinton Adim to her support of the Iraq War (tell me where she ever spoke out against it until it became politically popular for her to), to the fact that the last thing America needs is Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton (like some pathetic, third world country), nominating Hilary would be the ultimate in stupidity.

Posted by: junk | January 17, 2008 6:05 PM

"I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again."

As a disabled combat veteran who knows what the sacrifice of the brave who actually STAND UP for this country cost in mind and body I reject completely this statement. As my generation used to say "the proof is in the pudding".

There is not the slightest hint that at any time this man actually placed his life on the limb to defend the country he wants to run. This is an outrageous discredit to all those who spoke with actions, not words.

Posted by: RetCombatVet | January 17, 2008 3:03 PM



Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 17, 2008 2:54 PM




Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 17, 2008 2:51 PM

laplumelefirmanent 11:27 As a "post menopausal" Hillary supporter I will respectfully tell you to grow up. Don't make gross generalizations and judgments about others marriages, or give us your advice on what you self-righteously believe we should do in ours. As a self-described amazed female you should do a reality check. Look around you and try to have some humility and understanding. And by the way, politics can be rough..there's ego, ambition, and unfortunately some lying and other unsavory tactics involved. Deluding yourself that young women will only find role models in the pure of heart means they won't be competing in the real world.

Posted by: rdklingus | January 17, 2008 1:51 PM

Peterdc says "King put his life on the line everyday for a movement. He was beaten and jailed for his beliefs. He spent his life as an activist and was a hero to all.
Obama's accomplishments are basically running for office. He clainms (sic) his anti-war postion but rhetoric was really all it was."

King was a hero to all? Really? Is that why it took several years of beatings, death, church burnings and harassment fort he Civil Rights Act to be passed? King was a hero to all? Really? Is that why he was jailed and denounced and to this day people who "worshipped" are still trying to smear his name and his memory by calling him a womanizer? King was a hero to all? Really? Is that why he was assassinated?

Let us not look at the past and color it rosy because some of the things King fought for ultimately came to pass. At the time that King was "orating" (yes he was speaking and inspiring people to act) many many people rejected his words and his message. Many many people resented what he represented. Many many people called him a dreamer and an upstart. It is only through the prism of time that the true vision and greatness of King was realized. No visionary is ever considered "great" during the time that he is speaking. Ask Noah who was called foolish (and no I am not comparing Obama to Noah). The really smart people are the ones who are able to see beyond what is to what can be.

I am voting for Obama not because I think he is perfect or experienced but because he reminds (inspires) me to be better than I was yesterday. He reminds me that change always hurts, and most importantly he reminds me that I am not a helpless victim of the system but a participant. He may not win but I hope his presence will force all of the candidates (and the voters) to reach for something better in themselves than just an office.

Posted by: dstlawrence | January 17, 2008 11:29 AM


IT AMAZES ME AS A FEMALE HOW MUCH of the support Hillary Clinton receives comes from women in their 40's and 50's - the pre and POST MENOPAUSE clique who suffered from their spouses cheating on them. Instead of empowering women and walking out on her philandering husband when he repeatedly cheated on her Hillary Clinton did nothing. She stood by and was an enabler and was made a fool of. A feminist and a person who cares about women's rights does not behave that way. A power mad person who will stop at nothing to achieve her goals including mud-slingling, incessant lying, and character assassination of her opponents is not the best role model for women and especially not for young women who dream of becoming president.

Posted by: laplumelefirmament | January 17, 2008 11:27 AM

Anyone who voted to authorize Bush's disastrous war in Iraq is unfit to be president. Period.

Posted by: AntonioV | January 17, 2008 11:08 AM

how ca you trust obama? as ILL senator, he ha a scandalous relationship with indicted politcal fixe tony rezco. we're talkingbribes, fundaraising, millions in state & federal funding and of course, the obama mansion.

is short unremarkable tenure as US enator is noted more for his preidential election cmpaign!

people out there trust this guy for president? i don't think so.

Posted by: mikel1 | January 17, 2008 11:04 AM

Obama may have opposed the war in 2002, but it would really isn't comparable to being int he Senate and voting against the war. I wonder if he would have voted against it -- but he had not yet been elected to the Senate in 2002 so it is hard to say what he would have done.
He has consistently voted to fund the war just like Hillary ever since he has been in the Senate.
His war opposition is just a convenient spin on his lack of a voting record in the Senate.

Posted by: bghgh | January 17, 2008 11:02 AM

On Meet the Press, Hillary Clinton was overtly dodgy about her Iraq War vote. Her claim that the vote she cast in favor of authorizing the Iraq War was not *really* a vote for going into Iraq is patently dishonest. If a candidate can not be forthcoming about their past record, then there is little chance they will be forthcoming about their plans for the future.

Posted by: stardustziggy936 | January 17, 2008 10:36 AM

Barack Obama may have made a stirring speech against the war in 2002 but his rhetoric and actions since that time have done nothing to stop it until he decided to run for President. Hillary Clinton doesn't deny her votes and also didn't speak out forcefully against the war until she ran for President.

But the problem with Obama is that his resume is so thin that this is his only issue. That is a big problem for the people of the United States.

He wrote two autobiograhpies at a young age. I have read them both. They conflict in a number of ways which Obama has attributed to lack of clear memory. But in reality they are about a young boy who was brought up in a middle class household-spent some time overseas with his father- went to one of the best schools in the nation in Hawaii- then went on to Harvard and spent a career getting himself ahead. I think that is great. It just doesn't qualify him to be President.

He likes to compare himself to Kennedy and King. Well the reality is that except for his soaring rhetoric there is no comparison as Congressman John Lewis recently remarked.

King put his life on the line everyday for a movement. He was beaten and jailed for his beliefs. He spent his life as an activist and was a hero to all. JFK was a real war hero. He spent 14 years in Congress, and wrote "Why England Slept".

Obama's accomplishments are basically running for office. He clainms his anti-war postion but rhetoric was really all it was. In truth Cindy Sheehan did more to try to end the war than he did.

He ducked votes in the Illinois Senate by voting "present" and he missed the vote on Iran in the Senate which he claimed was so important. He is a sub-committee chair but never held one hearing of the committee. Guess he was too busy writing his book and selling it and then running for higher office again before he even did anything in the office he was elected to.

The time has come for a reality check. Obama is charismatic, a great orator and apparently a nice guy. But he is not ready to be President. As Andrew Young said, if he continues a public service career maybe he will be ready in 2016.

Posted by: peterdc | January 17, 2008 9:57 AM

Choosing Our Next President

In his books Barack Obama has told the story of the family into which he was born, about a father from Kenya whom he barely knew and about his young American mother who along with his father were college students in Hawaii.
By age 6 young Barack was already living in Jakarta with his mother and his Indonesian step father before abruptly moving back to Hawaii at age 10 to be raised by his maternal grandparents when his mother and her second husband divorced.
Over the years Barack Obama had bonding experiences with white and black relatives and with Asian family members amidst an understandable struggle to find his own identity. Through it all he developed a keen ability to understand and to resonate with people of various ethnic backgrounds.
Barack Obama worked his way through the racial complexities into which he was born to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School and become president of the Harvard Law Review. He served in the Illinois State Senate for 8 years and in 2004 won a 70 % landslide election to become a United States Senator. Barack Obama has had 46 years of personal experience in understanding how perceptions of ethnicity and judgments about race can divide people and he is uniquely qualified to bring a sense of unity and common purpose to all Americans.
In 1963 (when Obama was just 2 years old) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech that included the phrase of "not being judged by the color of one's skin but by the content of one's character." That speech helped prompt passage of the 1964 US Civil rights Act and the next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. If the people of America elect Barack Obama to be their 44th President in November of this year King's dream will have become much more than just a dream.

Is Barack Obama's war position inconsistent?

Barack Obama delivered a powerful speech at the Federal Plaza in Chicago October 2, 2002 against the US beginning war in Iraq while later that same month Hillary Clinton voted for the authorization to begin US military action in Iraq. Once US troops were actually in Iraq and fighting a war, of course, it would be irresponsible for Obama to be against funding the troops. The key is that Barack Obama had the judgment to see the dumbness of the war in October 2002 and clearly said so. Hillary Clinton did not.
Bill and Hillary Clinton's tactic of trying to paint Obama's war position as "a fairy tale" or as "inconsistent" is merely "Clinton politics" and clearly demonstrates why America badly needs the enormous breath of fresh air Barack Obama provides. At one time Senator Kerry from Nebraska referred to the Clinton's as "clever liars" several years before President Bill Clinton told America: "I did not have sex with that woman!" Goodbye Bill and Hillary Clinton. Hello Barack Obama.

Barack Obama's Stirring 2002 Speech Against the Iraq War

Senator Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, delivered these remarks October 2, 2002 at the Federal Plaza in Chicago.
"I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil.
I Don't Oppose All Wars
I don't oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army.
He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.
I don't oppose all wars. After September 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.
Opposed to Dumb, Rash Wars
I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
On Saddam Hussein
Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.... The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors...and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.
I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.
I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars. So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president.
You Want a Fight, President Bush?
You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that...we vigorously enforce a nonproliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.
Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair."

Posted by: bobwestafer | January 17, 2008 9:26 AM

See: 'Selling the War' - to site the claim about Hillary.

It is a documentary the PBS put out 6 months ago.

Posted by: theman_in_black | January 17, 2008 9:02 AM

Here are the facts:

Early March of 2003 - Hillary pushed for the case of WMDs as hard if not harder than most of the Republicans. This proves that Hillary is a 'not so' silent partner in the quest for oil in the middle-east.
Some might say she's a Bushie.

Obama knows damn well that each and every time Lobby Reform has come through Congress, it has been reported as 'meaningless legislation' because the overseers of the lobbyists are Condi Rice and the Attorney Gen. Statistics have shown that less than 90% of Lobbyists filings are completed. and less than 1% are investigated.

We need Edwards for Meaningful Change in '08

Posted by: theman_in_black | January 17, 2008 9:00 AM

Howard Kurtz's wife is a Republican Party advisor and activist. So anything he ever says about Obama is always tinged with a conservative tint.

Hillary usually gets a pass, for as a bona fide member of the pro-war(Iraq, Iran) crowd, which is why Carlyle Group and a multitude of defense contractors are major contributors, the Zionist crowd feels more comfortable with her.

Posted by: filmex | January 17, 2008 3:37 AM

The accusations that Obama's claims that he can unite the country are baseless rhetoric ignore that it is already happening. When I caucused in Iowa, a full 10% of the people at my Democratic precinct were registered Republicans that came to support Barack Obama. He is having a uniting effect on our country during its most divisive time: elections. If he can attract conservatives and independents during a campaign, imagine what he can do in office.

Posted by: dall0081 | January 16, 2008 6:18 PM

To be fair, I believe that Ron Paul has also voted against every Iraq war funding bill. But, I would like to discuss jgkoomey's point for a moment. Let's assume, for the purpose of this post, that we separate the decision to go to war and what to do once our troops were in Iraq. I have some question:

Are you then claiming that Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul were WRONG to vote against war funding? Are you saying that everyone who voted against war funding cast a vote to "hurt the troops"? Or, because they knew they were going to lose, and the war was going to be funded anyway, their votes are O.K.? Why would it be wrong for Congress to cut off funding with the direction to immediately withdraw from Iraq -- and if the President left troops in harm's way rather than pull them out of Iraq -- impeach and convict him? Short of that, do you think Obama should have at least submitted legislation to repeal the Iraq authorization he says he is so "consistently" opposed to?

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 6:13 PM

Obama voted to fully fund Bushes illegal war after he got to the Senate.
Minimally 150,000 Iraqis are dead due to the war.

Only Kucinich took the idiot in the White House to task.

Enough with the bull.

Posted by: hhkeller | January 16, 2008 5:51 PM

In response to JakeD's posting:

"Obama was "consistantly" against the war in Iraq every time he voted FOR Iraq war funding?!"

It is important to separate the decision to go to war (which Obama consistently opposed) and what to do once our troops were in Iraq. Those are two separate issues, and your statement conflates them in a way that is misleading. Joe Biden earlier in the campaign argued eloquently that voting against war funding would hurt the troops, and that Democrats should oppose the war in other ways. I don't know if Obama voted the way he did on the war funding bills because of that argument or for another reason, but it's important to separate those two issues in a fair-minded discussion of them.

Posted by: jgkoomey | January 16, 2008 5:47 PM

Obama was "consistantly" against the war in Iraq every time he voted FOR Iraq war funding?!

Posted by: JakeD | January 16, 2008 5:03 PM

It is interested that NBC went to court to prevent Kucinich appearing on the debate in Nevada. One on the reason for this censorship is that they are afraid that Kucinich will talk about what happen in New Hampshire. The polls were actually correct; indeed there was a fraud benefiting the so-called surprised winner. Eventually the American people will know the truth. And when that happens the propensity will clearly go toward the leader with the sound judgment not the divider. Kucinich really believe that there was a fraud. He supports this belief with hard cash, by paying for the recounts that is now in order. Kucinich believes that Barrack Obama has won the New Hampshire primary; And Hillary Clinton came in second, if the machine were accurate. Technicians who support the Diebold machine were allowed to break the security seal and to change the memory card on the machine during the Election Day under the pretense that the diebold machine broke down. There seems to be evidence that the surprise winner got a bump of +4.5% and the second candidate's count was subtracting by 2.5%

Posted by: nixbenoit | January 16, 2008 3:42 PM

Posted by: julieds | January 16, 2008 2:38 PM

Any time a lawmaker says "I passed.." such and such law, it's an overstatement.

No law is passed by one single person, so for you to draw attention to that phrase, and take a critical tone towards Obama is a bit unfair.

Posted by: julieds | January 16, 2008 2:37 PM

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