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Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Obama 2007: Vote for Me over Hillary Because I Won’t Use Reconciliation on Health Care

Monday, March 8th, 2010

In 2007, Barack Obama argued that primary voters should support him because he would not use reconciliation on health care reform, but Hillary Clinton is.

A little-known interview in 2007 by Barack Obama supplies some fresh evidence of President Barack Obama’s shifting views on the use of reconciliation to pass comprehensive health care reform. Now, in 2010, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats have settled upon a plan to pass Obamacare via the use of reconciliation in the Senate after a majority vote in the House. Back in 2007, candidate Obama actually used the issue of the use of reconciliation on health care reform as an example of what Hillary Clinton would do but Obama would not, concluding that folks should vote for Obama for this reason:

Obama was talking about the differences between himself and his then-opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton.

I think it is legitimate at this point for me to explain very clearly to the American people why I think I will be a better president than Hillary Clinton, and to draw contrasts,” Obama said.

“But that’s very different from this sort of slash-and-burn politics that I think we’ve become accustomed to. Look, part of the reason I’m running is not just to be president, it’s to get things done. And what I believe that means is we’ve got to break out of what I call, sort of, the 50-plus-one pattern of presidential politics. Which is, you have nasty primaries where everybody’s disheartened. Then you divide the country 45 percent on one side, 45 percent on the other, 10 percent in the middle — all of them apparently live in Florida and Ohio — and battle it out. And maybe you eke out a victory of 50-plus-one, but you can’t govern. I mean, you get Air Force One, there are a lot of nice perks to being president, but you can’t deliver on health care. We’re not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-one strategy. We’re not going to have a serious bold energy policy of the sort I proposed yesterday unless you build a working majority. And part of the task of building that working majority is to get people to believe in our government, that it can work, that it’s based on common sense, that it’s not just sort of scoring political points.

The interviewer then asked, “So is your answer to ‘Why I will be a better president than Hillary Clinton,’ is your answer that she’ll be a 50-plus-one president and you won’t?”

“Yes,” Obama said.

Even left-leaning Polifact, who collected the above Obama quotes in the wake of Glenn Beck’s partial airing of them last week, states that Obama has committed a complete flip flop on the use of reconciliation:

Obama may argue that he has tried to include Republicans, but that they have simply been unwilling to play ball. He also has noted that the first iteration of the health care bill passed the Senate with a supermajority. But the fact is, the health care bill is not getting any Republican support, and Obama is pressing forward with a plan to push through a health care plan without them, and without a 60-vote majority.

And we think the last quote, from 2005, is even more on point. Yes, Obama was speaking about the “nuclear option” as it related to judicial nominees, and not a reconciliation bill. But the principles are largely the same, especially as Obama noted that having simple “majoritarian” power in the Senate is “just not what the Founders intended.” And we think that’s enough to warrant a Full Flop.

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Hugo Chavez: Hillary = “blonde Condoleezza”

Friday, March 5th, 2010

President Barack Obama executes a friendly handshake with Hugo Chavez early in Obama's term

Hugo Chavez, the socialist strongman leader of Venezuela, has turned his rhetorical fire today on his favorite target: the United States of America.  Despite the hopes of many on the American left who publicly aligned with Hugo Chavez during the Bush years, the Venezuelan President has continued to virulently attack the United States during Obama’s tenure.  The latest Chavez outburst was directed at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stating “To me, she’s like Condoleezza Rice … a blond Condoleezza” as reported an hour ago by Reuters:

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo mocked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday as a “blond” version of her predecessor, and said a row with Spain over alleged links with rebel groups was over.

Visiting Latin America this week, Clinton said the Obama administration’s policies towards the region were helping blunt the criticism of the United States by leftist leaders like Chavez.

“To me, she’s like Condoleezza Rice … a blond Condoleezza,” said the Venezuelan, referring to former U.S. president George W. Bush’s secretary of state, with whom he exchanged frequent harsh words at long-distance.

Citing comments by Clinton in Brazil, Chavez said she was proving to be equally aggressive. “She comes to Brazil to provoke us, to try and divide us from our brothers.”

Regarding US-Venezuelan relations as a whole, Chavez’s warm feelings toward President Obama appear to have peaked in September 2009, when he lavishly praised Obama at the UN, favorably comparing him with the “devil” Bush:

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) — Drawing on 2006 remarks in which he compared former U.S. President George Bush to the devil, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, speaking at the United Nations Thursday, said, “It doesn’t smell like sulfur anymore.”

In a rambling speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Chavez spoke highly of current President Obama, saying he is an “intelligent man” and comparing him to President John F. Kennedy.

Hugo’s prior love for Obama came to an abrupt end at the Copenhagen global warming summit in December 2009, where Chavez reversed course on Obama:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he “still” smelled sulfur after President Obama made a keynote speech at the Copenhagen climate conference Friday, accusing the American president of carrying the same satanic scent that Chavez believes followed Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

Former President Jimmy Carter buddies up with Venezeulan strongman Hugo Chavez

At Copenhagen, Chavez applied his bizarre satanic scent metaphor to Obama, as Chavez had done to Bush in 2006 and thereafter Chavez and other socialist leaders in Latin America have been turning against the once-welcomed Obama. Chavez’s attack on Hillary Clinton today serves as yet another reminder that some foreign leaders (like Chavez) dislike all of America’s leaders, and Americans would be better served by a unified political stance towards foreign powers instead of the present, highly partisan American foreign policy.

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Obama Appoints SEIU Union Boss Andy Stern to Deficit Commission

Friday, February 26th, 2010

SEIU union boss Andy Stern Snags an Appointment from President Barack Obama to the newly created Deficit Commission

In a move that is sure to result in increased partisan acrimony, President Barack Obama today appointed longtime political ally and SEIU union boss Andy Stern to the new deficit commission that Obama created by executive order a few weeks ago.    The new media left is predictably ecstatic about the Stern appointment, and the appointment is serving as a good pick-me-up after yesterday’s disappointing health care summit. Early leaks that Stern was in the running were met with consternation by many in the new and old media, and today’s announcement of the Stern appointment is sure to stir controversy about Stern’s qualifications to sit on such a board and questions as to whether the Stern appointment is simply a political payoff to the SEIU, a critical ally of the President who endorsed him in February 2008 at the height of the primary battle with Hillary Clinton.

Politico reports on the Stern appointment and OBama’s accompanying statement:

President Obama has appointed four members to the bipartisan deficit commission he established last week, an administration official said. The appointees are: Andy Stern, the president of SEIU; David Cote, the Honeywell International CEO; former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin; and Ann Fudge, a former Young & Rubicam Brands CEO.

Obama said in a statement: “For far too long, Washington has avoided the tough choices necessary to solve our fiscal problems. I am proud that these distinguished individuals have agreed to work to build a bipartisan consensus to put America on the path toward fiscal reform and responsibility. I know they’ll take up their work with the sense of integrity and strength of commitment that the American people deserve and America’s future demands.”

Service Employees International Union (“SEIU) boss Andy Stern was the most frequent outside visitor to the White House, with 22 visits, as of the October 2009 visitor logs released by the White House. Conservative journalists have long attacked Stern as a corrupt operator at the head of the SEIU. Stern has also come under fire for inflammatory comments regarding the use of brute political force such as:

We’re trying to use the power of persuasion. And if that doesn’t work we’re going to use the persuasion of power.

Obama has previously unequivocally declared his strong ties to Stern and his reliance on SEIU to craft his agenda on such issues as health care:

Your agenda has been my agenda in the United States Senate. Before debating health care, I talked to Andy Stern and SEIU members.

With today’s appointment, Obama is demonstrating unequivocally that he considers SEIU and Stern one of his top political allies. In a political environment where the public’s approval of unions has sunk to historical lows, it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the Stern appointment to the deficit commission will have on Obama’s standing with the American public.   The Hill and Wall Street Journal notes early criticism of the Stern appointment:

Mr. Stern’s appointment to the panel triggered quick criticism from a conservative group. Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, said in a statement that putting Stern on the panel “doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

“It appears we have moved from the state of the surreal to the land of outright insanity if our leaders are now taking advice from Big Labor bosses who have run their own programs into the ground,” Ms. Packer said.

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Obama 2005: Condemns Reconciliation Use as “Absolute Power” and “Not What the Founders Intended.”

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

President Barack Obama and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Had a Very Different View the Use of Reconciliation in 2005

Explosive new video has surfaced today that shows President Barack Obama, and many other prominent Democrats condemning the Bush Administration in 2005 for Bush’s attempt to use reconciliation to push through judicial nominees.  These 2005 quotes are particularly jarring when compared to the 2010 quotes from the same folks about Obama’s attempt to use reconciliation to pass Obamacare. Senator Barack Obama, on 4/26/05, in response to a question on the “nuclear option” (how Democrats in 2005 characterized then-President Bush’s attempts to use reconciliation):

“He hasn’t gotten his way…uh…and that is now prompting a change in the Senate rules that really I think would change the character of the Senate uh forever and uh what I worry about would be that you essentially have still two chambers the House and the Senate but you have simply majoritarian uh absolute power on on either side and that’s just not what the Founders intended.”

Present Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid weighs in as well back on 5/18/2005, noting that

“The right to extend a debate is never more important than when one party controls both Congress and the White House. The filibuster serves as a check, on power, preserve our limited government.”

Considering Leader Reid’s comments yesterday that the Republicans should “stop crying” about Obama’s planned use of reconciliation to push through Obamacare, Reid’s comments in 2005 are particularly explosive in terms of today’s health care debate. Present Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also chimed in with a verbal barrage on 5/23/2005 against then President Bush about controlling himself and calling upon her GOP collegues to go to Bush and tell him reconciliation is “a bridge to far” and that “you have to restrain yourself Mr. President.” One could argue, in aftermath of the shocking GOP upset win in the Massachusetts Senate race in January 2010 by a candidate, Scott Brown, who explicitly campaigned against passing Obamacare, that a Senator from the Democratic side should have the type of conversation with the President as suggested by Secretary Clinton back in 2005.

Vice President Joe Biden weighed in with his familiar bombastic rhetoric in 2005 as well, stating that “this nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power…it is a fundamental power grab” and further opining in prayer that “”I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.” Of course, Biden now supports the Obama Administration’s plan to use reconciliation to push Obamacare through the Senate with only 50 votes (and his tie breaking vote).

A common theme of all of the Democratic Senators remarks in 2005 revolves around the destruction of the “Republic” and the elimination of the “checks and balances” intended by the Founders that would ensue should President Bush succeed in his effort to use reconciliation. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is now leading the Senate effort to pass a public option through reconciliation, had this to say on 5/18/2005 about Bush’s attempt to use reconciliation:

“We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this Republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option. The checks and balances which say if you get 51% of the vote, you dont get your way 100% of the time. It is amazing its almost a temper tantrum.”

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) also condemned Bush for attempting to use reconciliation, stating if used reconciliation would mean “the Senate becomes ipso facto, the House of Representatives” while also showing her more dire concern is the use of reconciliation for substantive legislation, not judicial nominees, by stating Bush will start with reconciliation for judicial nominees but then move on to its use in legislation. Perhaps most bombastic of all in 2005 regarding Bush’s attempted use of reconciliation is Democratic Senator Max Baucus (D-ND), who solemnly stated that “[t]his is the way that Democracy ends not with a bomb, but with a gavel”. Of course, Bush did not actually use reconciliation to get his nominees through the Senate as a bipartisan deal was reached.

Incredibly, each and every one of the above-quoted then-Democratic Senators, Obama, Reid, Biden, Clinton, Schumer, Baucus and Feinstein, are in favor of the use of reconciliation to pass Obamacare, with many of those same folks actively leading the effort, including now-President Obama. Perhaps an enterprising reporter could ask Harry Reid to explain if this comment also applies to Democratic Administrations like Obama’s: “No, we’re not going to follow the Senate rules…no…because of the arrogance of power of this Republican Administration.” Finally, Harry Reid posts in April 2005 on his Senate website an explanation as to why the improper use of reconciliation must be rejected and the claim to entitlement to an “up or down vote” is suspect:

For the past several months, the Senate has operated under a nuclear cloud. As a result of the Senate’s decision to reject a small number of President Bush’s judicial nominees, the Republican majority has threatened to break the Senate rules, violate over 200 years of Senate tradition and impair the ability of Democrats and Republicans to work together on issues of real concern to the American people.

It is astounding that Republicans would precipitate this destructive confrontation, especially since this President has a better confirmation rate than any of his recent predecessors. The Senate has confirmed 205 of President Bush’s judicial candidates and turned back only ten, a 95% confirmation rate. Ten rejected judges – only seven of whom are currently before the Senate – does not seem reason enough for Republicans to break the Senate rules.

My Republican colleagues claim that nominees are entitled to an up-down vote. That claim ignores history, including recent history.

UPDATE: ABC’s Jake Tapper adds another Obama 2005 quote on reconciliation and the Framers of the Constitution:

At the National Press Club on April 26, 2005, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was asked about a move being discussed by Senate Republicans, then in control, to change the Senate rules so as to require a mere majority vote rather than the 60 votes necessary to end a potential filibuster.

“You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating it is, to make sure that there’s a broad consensus before the country moves forward,” then-Sen. Obama told the audience.

His remarks have garnered some attention in recent days given the current likelihood that Senate Democrats will next week use “reconciliation” rules, which require only a 51-vote majority, to pass health care reform legislation, bypassing the current Senate rules of requiring 60 votes to cut off a potential filibuster and proceed to a final vote.

The White House has been in recent days setting the table for use of reconciliation rules for health care reform.

UPDATE #2: American Spectator’s blog reprints the 2005 comments by the various Democratic Senators in full.

UPDATE #3: Thanks for the link, Welcome to Memeorandum readers, please take a look around and stay a while. A quick flashback to early February 2010, when President Obama and the new media left were in full attack mode about the evils of the filibuster. This excerpt supplies a stark contrast to the comments made by the left-leaning Democratic Senators quoted above in 2005 when Bush was trying to circumvent the Senate filibuster with Obama’s comments in bold:

The Filibuster Was Never a Good Idea

Yesterday, talking to Democratic Senators, the president offered some thoughts on the filibuster:

So the problem here you’ve got is an institution that increasingly is not adapted to the demands of a hugely competitive 21st century economy. I think the Senate in particular, the challenge that I gave to Republicans and I will continue to issue to Republicans is if you want to govern then you can’t just say no. It can’t just be about scoring points. There are multiple examples during the course of this year in which that’s been the case.

Look, I mentioned the filibuster record. We’ve had scores of pieces of legislation in which there was a filibuster, cloture had to be invoked, and then ended up passing 90 to 10, or 80 to 15. And what that indicates is a degree to which we’re just trying to gum up the works instead of getting business done.

I appreciate what the President is trying to do here and I agree with the spirit of his comments, but the history here is bad. There was no point in time when supermajority voting in the Senate was well-suited to the challenges of the time. Indeed, as David Mayhew has demonstrated it’s simply not the case that there was routine supermajority voting until the recent past. When FDR’s opponents were seeking to block court-packing and when LBJ was lining up support for Medicare, vote-counters assumed that a majority was needed to block initiatives.

The authentic tradition is of using the filibuster as an extraordinary technique for the specific purpose of maintaining white supremacy in the South. A Harding administration anti-lynching initiative fell prey to the filibuster back in the 20s. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the Civil Rights Act of 1960 both had to be largely gutted in order to surmount filibusters. And it was recollection of the filibuster’s specific role as a bastion of white supremacy that led to the bipartisan effort to reform the filibuster in 1975 when northern liberal Democrats teamed up with the Ford administration and many Republicans to cut the cloture threshold to 60.

The institution has always been pernicious, just as the malapportionment of the Senate has always been the result of a hardball political negotiation rather than expressing some underlying good idea about the design of political institutions. Part of what makes the filibuster a bad idea is that it’s viability depends on minority party restraint. But the nature of human psychology is to create a procedural downward spiral in which each time there’s a change of partisan control, the new minority steps-up its obstruction.

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Gallup: 90% View Iran as a “Critical” (61%) or “Important” (29%) Threat to US Vital Interests; Obama 2008 Explicitly Disagrees

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, accompanied here by military officers, poses an critical or important threat to 90% of Americans. Credit: UPI

Gallup has just released new findings from their recent February 1-3, 2010  polling of a variety of issues regarding American perceptions of various potential international threats to the United States.    The topline finding highlighted by Gallup is the strong majority (61%) who view Iran as a critical threat to US vital interests:

A Gallup poll finds 61% of Americans viewing the military power of Iran as a critical threat to U.S. vital interests over the next 10 years. An additional 29% say Iran is an important, though not a critical, threat to the United States. The findings come as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is seeking the support of several Arab nations for additional sanctions on Iran in a trip to the region this week.

All told, only 8% of American adults think that Iran is not an important threat to the United States, with 2% undecided and 90% considering Iran a critical (61%) or important (29%) threat. While President Obama’s rhetoric has changed somewhat since the 2008 campaign regarding the Iranian threat, an unscripted moment from Candidate Obama in 2008 demonstrates his at least then-agreement with the 8%:

Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela – these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us.

And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we’re going to wipe you off the planet. And ultimately that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war, and over time allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall. Now, that has to be the kind of approach that we take…

You know, Iran they spend one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn’t mean we agree with them on everything. We might not compromise on any issues, but at least, we should find out other areas of potential common interest, and we can reduce some of the tensions that has caused us so many problems around the world.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks, Pendleton, OR, 5/19/08)

Candidate Obama could not have been more clear in demonstrating his thinking that Iran is not an important or critical threat, indeed stating that if “tiny” Iran “ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.” Such thinking clearly carried over into the Administration’s handling of Iran, from the “restraint” advocated by Obama while the summer Iranian election protests (and killings by Iranian security personnel) raged and the continuous talk of a negotiated agreement with Iran regarding nuclear disarmament despite Iran’s continued intransigence in even commencing serious final negotiations while accelerating their nuclear program.

While Hillary Clinton’s recent near-denunciation of the Iranian regime as becoming a “military dictatorship” is a positive step for this Administration, such rhetoric appears to this observer to be a day late and a dollar short. Iran proved itself to be a military dictatorship by killing civilian protesters in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere in the post-election unrest many months ago. The belated recognition of this fact by the Obama Administration is a welcome development, and hopefully will result in a tougher policy towards the mullahs that run Iran.

The biggest problem in the Middle East today is the threat to stability posed by Iran, and 90% of the public understands that. Indeed, Gallup’s poll shows an 11% decline in those who think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a critical issue re US vital interests. Israel itself knows of the critical nature of the Iranian nuclear proliferation threat, as Iran leaders, both civilian and military, routinely call for the complete destruction of Israel. The key questions now are how much longer will Israel wait before taking matters into its own hands with a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations, and further whether Obama will acquiesce to or actively oppose such an Israeli effort.

In May of 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Obama at the White House and Obama agreed to either get the basis for an agreement with Iran by the end of the year or push forward with tough new sanctions. 2009 is of course over, and UN sanctions on Iran appear distant at best, unlikely to happen at worst, with even the Saudis yesterday rejecting the US talk of sanctions. Worse still, the Obama Administration has pledged to target only Iran’s Revolutionary Guard with a sanctions regime that will not “hurt ordinary citizens.” That likely means a key element of any sanctions regime with the possibility of success, an embargo on refined gasoline supplies into Iran, is off the table.

One can only hope that the Obama Administration considers toughening up their Iran policy in the wake of the recent Iranian announcement of an accelerated campaign to increase its nuclear enrichment capability and ongoing bellicose rhetoric towards the West, Israel and its own citizens who are demanding democratic reform.  As of today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is publicly stating that Israel is “not planning any wars.” At some point, the Israelis are going to feel compelled to act against the Iranian threat to Israel’s very existence, and should that happen as Israel loses all faith in our efforts, the 90% of Americans who think Iran is a critical or important threat to US vital interests will be sadly proven correct.

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