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Will the Real Agent of Change Please Stand Up

John on September 10, 2008 at 12:27 am

The lead banner on Obama’s home page right now says “No Maverick: McCain and Palin will say anything to seem like agents of change…” Agent of change (is that anything like BOC’s agents of fortune?) seems to be the ideological battleground Obama has decided he must win. So what are his qualifications to claim that mantle, exactly?

Surely one quality for an agent of change is the ability to stand up to friend and foe alike on behalf of “what’s right.” On Sunday, Obama’s chief political advisor David Axelrod attempted to prove his client had stood up to his party during his time in the Senate. Here’s what he said on Fox News Sunday:

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In case you missed it (or don’t have time to watch), Axelrod offers two pieces of legislation that demonstrate what a maverick lawmaker Barack Obama has been. However, as Chris Wallace points out, the record shows that both items were so overwhelmingly popular no vote was even taken. Both passed unanimously.

Powerline has a follup post on that second piece of legislation. It’s worth reading the whole thing, but the bottom line is that the bill in question was an extension of an act which had existed since 1991. Obama’s additions to the revised bill were not particularly noteworthy. He certainly can’t claim responsibility for “securing loose nukes” unless he wants to claim the original bill had failed to do so for the 14 years prior to his arrival in the Senate.

All in all, his legislative record as an agent of change isn’t too impressive. His legislative record as a pork-barrel spender is another matter:

Mr. Obama delivered over $100 million in earmarks to Illinois last year and has requested nearly a billion dollars in pet projects since 2005. His running mate, Joe Biden, is still indulging in earmarks, securing over $90 million worth this year.

So he hasn’t stood up to his party and he has indulged heavily in earmarks. That doesn’t sound very agent-of-changey to me.

Now contrast this record with that of Sarah Palin:

Mrs. Palin used her veto pen to slash more local projects than any other governor in the state’s history. She cut nearly 10% of Alaska’s budget this year, saving state residents $268 million. This included vetoing a $30,000 van for Campfire USA and $200,000 for a tennis court irrigation system. She succinctly justified these cuts by saying they were “not a state responsibility.”


Mrs. Palin cut Alaska’s federal earmark requests in half last year, one of the strongest moves against earmarks by any governor. It took real leadership to buck Alaska’s decades-long earmark addiction.

Who is really going to change things? Probably the guy (and gal) with a record of doing it so far.

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Category: Politics |

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