Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vetting candidate Obama

There's an interesting piece in this morning's Boston Globe by Dan Payne, a columnist and sometime Democratic media consultant. Payne is "worried About Obama," referring to those aspects of the Obama record that are likely to attract special attention from the media and GOP opposition researchers. We know about all of Mrs. Clinton's negatives, Payne says, and he's right, ad nauseum. Now, potential vulnerabilities in the Obama record need to be vetted and explained well before voters make the final decision about which candidate will carry their standard in the fall...

1. Who's this slumlord? While running as a reformer, Obama has had a 17-year relationship with an indicted Chicago con man who's going on trial for fraud, extortion, and money laundering. ABC News found that Obama has been close to Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a major slumlord and wheeler-dealer who used minority set-asides and community groups as fronts to win government contracts.

As a state senator, Obama wrote letters to the city and state backing Rezko's successful bid to get $14 million in tax money to build senior citizen housing that wasn't in Obama's district.

ABC and the Chicago Sun-Times both found that Obama asked for and got Rezko's help in buying land neighboring Rezko's property for $300,000 below the asking price. When the deal became public, Obama said it was a mistake that he regrets. He may not be done regretting it.

The Sun-Times has learned that Obama is the unnamed political candidate in the federal indictment against Rezko. His US Senate campaign got $10,000 out of quarter-million-dollar scheme engineered by Rezko.

Obama's dealings with Rezko took place while it was well known that Rezko was under investigation by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who sent Scooter Libby to jail. Rezko goes on trial Feb. 25, three weeks after Feb. 5, when half of all the delegates will be chosen.

2. The gang of three. I worry that Obama will get pounded by the GOP for being one of only three state senators to vote against making it a crime for convicts on probation or bail to have contact with street gang members.

3. Keyes to victory. I'm worried that Obama has never had a tough race against a Republican. He became a US senator because both his primary and general election opponents imploded over ex-wives' recriminations. In order to beat the last-minute entrant, GOP goofball Alan Keyes, all Obama had to do was continue breathing.

4. No whining. I don't know how Obama's team will deal with the ceaseless attacks from the far right that the Clintons are used to (and dole out). How will they respond to the bilge from Fox news, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and hate-filled talk radio?

Obama is a lucid writer, meaning he is a clear, incisive thinker, and if you've read Dreams From My Father, you know he also brings a unique set of life experiences and perspective to the Presidential race. He needs to use these advantages to address the controversies and defuse all the attacks that you know are coming his way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Nice analysis.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous PurpleMinded said...

I share all of these concerns, but still I am an Obama supporter. Having Hillary as the Democratic nominee would give the Republicans a huge boost in fundraising and voter turnout. That worries me far more than fighting off the Republican Slime machine.

1:46 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Obama's eloquence as a speaker impressed me greatly, but during the last debate, he had a hard time staying cool under Clinton's attacks. That sent up a red flag for me, and I thought, That's nothing compared to what the Repuglicans will do to him." As long as Edwards is in the race, I will support him, but after that, I just don't know. I'm not happy at all with Hillary, but Obama's positions are even less progressive than hers.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is obviously anti-women, anti-military, and the more research I do, ANTI-AMERICAN.

8:53 AM  

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