Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: E-mail presents Bill Brown's assessment of Barack Obama's political record.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, June 2008]
Origins: The Bill Brown referenced as the author of this "Obama Tidal Wave" piece is William Brown, the former president of World Wide Pictures (WWP), a subsidiary of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Although this item may have been written by someone named Bill Brown, that person was not the Bill Brown who is a "respected retired member of the Billy Graham team," according to a spokesman for the BGEA:
Although Bill Brown formerly worked in World Wide Pictures (a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), and is now retired, we can assure you that after researching this matter, theBill Brown himself also stated in an
I neither wrote the letter nor the reference to Billy Graham. Some one else did that, I don't know who, and they added a reference to Billy Graham. So, please ignore it.As for the substance of the piece, it's a jumble of opinion, genuine Barack Obama campaign positions, misinformation, and technically true but misleading statements:
o He voted against banning partial birth abortion.
Barack Obama voted against a 1997 bill to impose a ban on partial birth abortions.
o He voted no on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.
Barack Obama voted against a 1996 bill requiring notification of the parents of minors who obtain out-of-state abortions.
o Supports affirmative action in Colleges and Government.
Senator Obama has expressed support for affirmative action programs, saying: "I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can't be a quota system."
o In 2001 he questioned harsh penalties for drug dealing.
Barack Obama voted "present" (essentially a "no" vote) on an Illinois state senate bill to increase penalties for trafficking in Ecstasy and other designer drugs, questioning "whether Illinois' drug penalties [were] appropriate considering that a person convicted of raping a woman at knifepoint would be charged with the same level of offense as someone convicted of selling
o Says he will deal with street level drug dealing as minimum wage affair.
This statement is a mischaracterized, out-of-context phrase plucked from a passage appearing in Barack Obama's 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope:
We need to tackle the nexus of unemployment and crime in the inner city. The conventional wisdom is that most unemployed inner-city men could find jobs if they really wanted to work; that they inevitably prefer drug dealing, with its attendant risks but potential profits, to the low-paying jobs that their lack of skill warrants. In fact, economists who've studied the issue — and the young men whose fates are at stake — will tell you that the costs and benefits of the street life don't match the popular mythology: At the bottom or even the middle ranks of the industry, drug dealing is a minimum-wage affair. For many inner-city men, what prevents gainful employment is not simply the absence of motivation to get off the streets but the absence of a job history or any marketable skills — and, increasingly, the stigma of a prison record.o Admitted marijuana and cocaine use in high school and in college.
We can assume that with lawful work available for young men now in the drug trade, crime in any community would drop.
Barack Obama admitted to having used marijuana and cocaine in his 1995 book, Dreams from My Father.
o His religious convictions are very murky.
Barack Obama has spoken often and at length about his religiosity; whether his religious convictions can accurately be described as "murky" is a subjective issue.
o He is willing to meet with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jung Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. During a Democratic presidential debate in
I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.o Has said that one of his first goals after being elected would be to have a conference with all Muslim nations.
Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.
And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq — one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.
During a December 2007 interview with Bill Bradley for Sirius Satellite Radio, Senator Obama said that he would convene a conference with Muslim leaders during his first year in office specifically (among other reasons) to insist that they participate in the fight against terrorism:
I would convene a conference within my first year just gathering together Muslim leaders from all around the world, to describe for them what our values and our interests are, to insist that they need to help us to defeat the terrorist threats that are there, but to also recognize that they are bound up with us and that we have an interest in making sure that their societies can prosper and that we're moving forward with them as partners with dignity and respect.o Opposed the Patriot Act. Before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama expressed opposition to the Patriot Act, but then as a senator he voted in favor of its renewal:
When he was running for the U.S. Senate in 2003, Obama filled out a questionnaire for the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for Women in which he stated his opposition to the president’s Patriot Act. "Yes, I would vote to repeal the U.S. Patriot Act," he wrote. "I would consider replacing that shoddy and dangerous law with a new, carefully crafted proposal that addressed in a much more limited fashion the legitimate needs of law enforcement in combating terrorism." In a speech to the American Library Association, he called for the Senate to rewrite the law to keep "Big Brother" from "peering over our shoulder." Yet when the Patriot Act came up for renewal in 2005, Obama compromised and voted alongside 88 other senators to reauthorize the law, even though the new version had only "modest" changes. "The compromise is far from perfect," he said. But it was good enough."o Voted No on prohibiting law suits against gun manufacturers.
In 2005, Senator Obama voted against a bill (which ultimately passed) to "prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages."
o Supports universal health-care.
One of Senator Obama's stated campaign positions is to "make available a new national
o Voted yes on providing habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.
Senator Obama opposed and voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), which (among other provisions) eliminated federal courts' jurisdiction to hear habeas applications from detainees being held as enemy combatants by the
o Supports granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Senator Obama said during the primary campaign in 2007 that he supported giving
o Voted yes on comprehensive immigration reform.
Senator Obama voted "yes" on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. He did not vote either "yes" or "no" on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, because (although it was discussed in the Senate, and many amendments to it were proposed and voted upon) that bill was never brought to a vote in Congress.
o Voted yes on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security.
This statement is a mischaracterization of an amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 which is discussed in a separate article on this site.
o Wants to make the minimum wage a 'living wage'.
One of Senator Obama's stated campaign positions regarding the economy is to "raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs."
o Voted with Democratic Party 96 percent of 251 votes.
A high degree of correlation with the voting patterns of fellow party members is a hallmark of virtually every member of Congress.
o Is a big believer in the separation of church and state.
Senator Obama has said that "the separation of church and state is critical and has caused our democracy and religious practices to thrive," and also that "doing the Lord's work is a thread that's run through our politics since the very beginning, and it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America means faith should have no role in public life."
o Opposed to any efforts to Privatize Social Security and instead supports increasing the amount of tax paid.
Senator Obama has not favored the idea of privatizing the Social Security system, but saying that he "instead supports increasing the amount of tax paid" is a mischaracterization of his stated position. His expressed plan for Social Security is to eventually "ask those making over $250,000 to pay in the range of 2 to
o He voted No on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Senator Obama voted against amendments regarding exemptions to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in 2007 and 2008 because Democrats felt exemptions to the AMT would results in large federal revenue shortfalls without offsetting budget cuts.
o He voted No on repealing the 'Death' Tax.
Senator Obama did not vote against "repealing the death tax"; in 2006 and 2008 he voted against raising the death tax exemption amount to
o He wants to raise the Capital Gains Tax.
The Tax Plan Fact Sheet posted on Obama's web site proposes to "create a new top capital gains rate of
o Has repeatedly said the surge in Iraq has not succeeded.
Senator Obama expressed opposition to the "surge" in Iraq, but he has not always said that it has not succeeded. During a
Q: You were opposed to the surge from the beginning. Were you wrong?The following exchange also took place during an Obama interview with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News on
A: It is indisputable that we've seen violence reduced in Iraq. That's a credit to our brave men and women in uniform. The
O'REILLY: I think you were desperately wrong on the surge, and I think you should admit it to the nation that now we have defeated the terrorists in Iraq, and the Al Qaeda came there after we invaded, as you know. We defeated them.o He is ranked as the most liberal Senator in the Senate today and that takes some doing.
O'REILLY: If we didn't, they would have used it as a staging ground. We've also inhibited Iran from controlling the southern part of Iraq by the surge, which you did not support. So why won't you say, "I was right in the beginning. I was wrong about that"?
OBAMA: If you listen to what I've said, and I'll repeat it right here on this show, I think that there's no doubt that the violence is down. I believe that that is a testimony to the troops that were sent and General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters. It has gone very well, partly because of the Anbar situation and the Sunni awakening, partly because of the Shia military.
Attempting to quantify any politician's degree of liberality (or conservatism) is an exercise that is more subjective than objective. It is true that the National Journal's "2007 Vote Ratings" declared Barack Obama to be the "Most Liberal Senator in 2007." However, that is just one publication's assessment, supported by a methodology of its own devising
Last updated: 5 September 2008
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