Barack, we hardly knew ye
Wonderkind plays footsie with Pumpkinhead:
MR. RUSSERT: When you ran for office back in September of ’04 you said this about Iraq. You—and I’ll read it on the screen from the Associated Press. “Democratic senator candidate Barack Obama who opposed invading Iraq, but pulling out now, he said, would make things worse. A quick withdrawal would add to the chaos there and make it an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity. He said it would also damage America’s international prestige and amount to a ‘slap in the face’ to the troops fighting there.” Is that still your position?The sponteneity and courage of Hillary married with the clarity of Kerry. Zombierific!
SEN. OBAMA: It remains my position that we have a role to play in stablizing the country as Iraqis are getting their act together. But I have to emphasize that there is a cost for our presence there. We are an irritant, and we help spur the insurgency even as we are defending a fledgling Iraqi government against that insurgency. And so, we have this difficult balance that has to take place, but the critical point is that Iraqis have to take responsibility now that the final election has taken place. They have a legally constituted government. It is time for them to arrive at the peaceful accommodations that can drain away some of the impetus behind the insurgency, and it’s time for Iraqis to take seriously institution-building.
MR. RUSSERT: Will George Bush be considered one of the worst presidents in history?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, that’s a tough standard to meet. We’ve had some pretty bad ones. So, I, you know, I don’t prognosticate in terms of where George Bush will place in American history.
MR. RUSSERT: You’ve been appointed, selected as the Democrats’ point man on lobbying reform in the Senate. I want to talk about Jack Abramoff and the scandal now in terms of lobbying and potential reform. According to the Center for Responsive Politics and The Washington Post, Mr. Abramoff and his clients and his associates gave about $3 million to Republicans, about $1.5 million to Democrats. Is this a bipartisan scandal?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think the problem of money in politics is bipartisan. I think that all of us who are involved in the political process have to be concerned about the enormous sums of money that have to raised in order to run campaigns, how that money’s raised, and at least the appearance of impropriety and the potential access that’s given to those who are contributing. That’s a general problem with our politics. The specific problem of inviting lobbyists in who have bundled huge sums of money to write legislation, having the oil and gas company companies come in to write energy legislation, having drug companies come in and write the Medicare prescription drug bill—which we now see is not working for our seniors—those are very particular problems of this administration and this Congress. And I think Jack Abramoff and the Case Freak Project, that whole thing is a very particular Republican sin.
MR. RUSSERT: No sin for the Democrats?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, with respect to how Tom DeLay consolidated power in the House of Representatives, invited lobbyists like Abramoff in to help write legislation, leveraging those lobbyists and telling them that they can only hire Republicans, manipulating the rules of the House and the Senate in order to move forward legislation that was helpful to special interests. There is a qualitative difference to what’s been happening in Washington over the last several years that has real consequences. It means a prescription drug bill that doesn’t work for our seniors. It means an energy policy that does nothing to help relieve high gas prices at the pump. These aren’t just abstractions, these are problems that have very real consequences to the American people. And my hope is is that, on a bipartisan basis, we can come up with a solution that returns some semblance of responsiveness to Washington.