If you have "no place to go," come here!


Get a load of this from the debate:

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war?

Obama's response:

SEN. OBAMA: Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.

Not so. [See the UPDATE below for the timeline. It looks like Obama isn't confusing State Senator and United States Senator; rather, he's backdating when he ran for the Senate to 2002 from 2003.] In 2002, Obama ran for State Senator. Not United States Senator (here). And he didn't declare for U.S. Senate until January, 2003.

Hillary says Obama "didn't have responsibility," and she's right. Obama is not only wrong on the facts (State vs. United States) but wrong to claim that he had responsibility when he didn't.

Really, how could anybody forget or misspeak on this? Surely it's pretty hard to confuse the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate?

At best, this shows that Obama is not at his best when he has to think fast in a pressure-filled situation* like a debate, instead of orating in an arena.

At worst, this shows Obama being deceptive before a national TV audience on a matter--the stakes, high (United States) or low (state) of opposition to the Iraq war--that he has made critical to his campaign.

Cue the music for another round of What Obama Really Meant!

NOTE * And not all that pressure-filled, either, given how Timmeh et al were teabagging him.

NOTE Hat tip to Davidson in comments.

UPDATE Rootless, linklessly, writes:

[Obama] was already running for US senate in 2002 after an unsuccessful run for the House in 2000.

However, it seems that "already running" means "thinking about running." From the Globe:

Days later, on Oct. 2, 2002, Obama made one of the most important speeches of his political life. Invited to address a hastily organized protest of President Bush's war plans for Iraq, Obama told hundreds of people in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago that invading would be a big mistake.

That fall, Obama had not yet announced his Senate campaign but began lining up friends, supporters, and donors. He signed up David Axelrod, a well-respected Chicago political strategist and ad-maker, to help plot the race he would run.

Other sources agree that Obama did not announce until 2003. Wikipedia:

In 2003, Obama began his run for the U.S. Senate open seat vacated by Peter Fitzgerald.

and not before April 16, 2003, when the incumbent declared that he would not run. Times:

April 16, 2003:

Likely Democratic candidates include Barack Obama, a prominent state senator;

The Almanac of American politics has a similar timeline:

Looming not too far ahead was the 2004 Senate race. Illinois has one of the earliest filing deadlines and state primaries in the nation, in December 2003 and in March 2004 in this case, and the incumbent senator, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, was obviously in trouble. Elected in 1998 in large part because of the ethical shortcomings of incumbent Democrat Carol Moseley Braun, he had compiled an attractive record on ethics himself. But Fitzgerald would have to run in an increasingly Democratic state, and without the support of leading Illinois Republicans; the Republican state committee declined to support Fitzgerald for reelection. In 1998 Fitzgerald had largely self-financed his campaign, but his wealth would have been seriously diminished by another such race, and in April 2003 he announced he would not seek reelection.

With Democratic Senator Richard Durbin comfortably reelected in 2002 and still in the prime of life, it seemed that another Illinois Senate seat would not come open for many years, perhaps a generation, so a host of candidates—eight Democrats and eight Republicans, many of them capable of self-financing a campaign—entered the 2004 race. Initially Obama did not stand out.

And Obama's own Illinois Senate web site tallies with the above chronology. Via the Wayback Machine, we see that Roll Call Magazine says that Democrats, among them Obama, were working "behind the scenes" to replace Fitzgerald as of December 2, 2002. (See all the way at the bottom, and sorry for the yellow.)


And from Obama's own Illinois State Senate web site, he did not announce until January 21, 2003. Again, the Wayback Machine, posting what appears to be a press release (again, sorry for the yellow):


Incidentallly, check that press release also for any mention of Iraq. You won't find it, suggesting that, at least on Obama's mind, his 2002 speech had less importance at the time than it has assumed retrospectively.

In short, when Obama says:

I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign.

He's wrong. He was IN NO WAY "in the midst of" a campaign. He didn't declare until 2003! At most, he was thinking about it, and working behind the scenes to put together a run. That's hardly "high stakes."

That means that when Hillary says:

The fair comparison is he didn’t have responsibility, he didn’t have to vote;

She's right.

UPDATE And although Obama proselytizers are told to refer voters to the website for all questions of policy, the website, too, makes the same claim.


But if Obama didn't declare until 2003, this part o f the website should be corrected.

NOTE Googling about, I discovered this Mexican site, oddly neglected in this country.

UPDATE See also here.

No votes yet


Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

For those who'll insist he just misspoke rather than lied, it rings hollow considering that "judgment" is the basis of his campaign against Clinton, and, thus, he repeatedly pushes the Iraq issue--especially during debates so there goes the "pressure" excuse. Besides, since the goal was to show how brave he was, it follows that the story ("high stakes campaign") would fail with a mere state election as its basis.

He knew the media wouldn't report it so he must've thought, "Why not go for it?"

foxx's picture
Submitted by foxx on

Whichever senate seat he was running for, presumably his constituents voted for him expecting him to continue opposing the war, to take some leadership in ending the war. He didn't do that at any point before or after arriving in the US Senate.

So he betrayed what he implied he would do. Not a good recommendation.

Stellaaa's picture
Submitted by Stellaaa on

Judgement. This is where I go crazy. His speech was described as judgement. His speech at that point did not involve a vote. It was an opinion. We all had opinions.

A question I have to the "orator" and "agent of change". At that point, when he gave the speech, why did he not lead. Why did he not take the risk of leading an anti war movement that was without a rudder? No focus. If he had taken that opportunity, taken the risk, I would call that judgement and leadership. I would call that being like MLK and or Bobbie. But no, he chose the way of appeaser. No track record so that he can be packaged for future marketing.

He can say whatever, but he is no agent of change, he is not transcended and he is not progressive. He is a mediocre politician with semi passable oratory skills. Basically, after Bush, anyone who can put together two sentences is an orator.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

of the campaign, there was a real attempt to fudge the reality of what senate he was in. I think it was Chicago Minx who engaged in some incredibly deceptive rhetoric and had a real temper tantrum when I busted her. From the first, the willingness of his supporters to lie about his past was one of the things that turned me off.

Barack Obama - he's OUR Dubya!

Submitted by lambert on

The tantrum?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

I think it wound up being TR'd out of sight. I'll see if I can find the remnants of it. I don't have TU status anymore, so it's hard to figure those things out sometime.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

and was already running for US senate in 2002 after an unsuccessful run for the House in 2000.

don't you mean..."and was already running for US President in 2002 after an unsuccessful run for the House in 2000."?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Thanks, Davidson.

Lambert, your Times link doesn't work. Here's the one from Davidson's comment:

Y'know, I had a half-thought that 2002 sounded wrong for Obama's U.S. Senate run but I didn't hang onto it and look it up.

Still, truthiness rules....

koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

We all try to kick a dead horse a little harder. About three months ago, with little help from Krugman, we knew that Obama is not fast on his feet (due to average intelligence), that he lies (when he open his mouth) and that he ran the Iraq thingy with enormous success (probably due to Clinton Rules) despite doing a Lieberman in the Senate.

The question is what do we do now? I'll need a good Japanese wrench to hold my nose when voting for Obama. I have been voting for more than 40 years and had never voted for a righty.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, VL. Nice to see everybody's all over this one. Oh, wait...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... Hillary misrepresenting her IWR vote isn't a huge scandal. I really can't understand it.

Oh, wait, it was Obama. That's very different. Never mind.

Submitted by lambert on

It's very simple. Obama incarnates truth, in his very personhood. Therefore, it is literally impossible for him to mis-speak.* See?

NOTE * And if he does, it is always for a good purpose.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... it was surely No True Obama who was speaking.

He was probably doing the Miley Cyrus trick -- using a body double during a quick wardrobe change, when the flub was made.

Joe Bourgeois's picture
Submitted by Joe Bourgeois on

If you look back over this thread, it's pretty obvious where the impresssionistic truthiness is coming from --
"Do you have a link for that temper tantrum by somebody no one's ever heard of who supports this candidate?";
"I thought 2002 might have been wrong but didn't look it up" [having ignored rootless's comment];
"Well whatever really happened Obama thinks he's Jesus."
"Obama is Bush."

OxyCon's picture
Submitted by OxyCon on

During the debate, while talking about the negative impact of NAFTA, Obama stated that when he became a community organizer in Chicago during the "1980s", he could see the negative impact that NAFTA had on the community.

I thought, Obama is right, Bill Clinton really is an evil genius. He went back in time and rammed NAFTA down everyone's throats ten years before it was signed into law while Reagan was President.

I wish Hillary would have caught this exaggeration and rammed it down is throat.

OxyCon's picture
Submitted by OxyCon on

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that it is inaccurate for Senator Clinton to say that she's always opposed NAFTA. In her campaign for Senate, she said that NAFTA, on balance, had been good for New York and good for America. I disagree with that. I think that it did not have the labor standards and environmental standards that were required in order to not just be good for Wall Street but also be good for Main Street. And if you travel through Youngstown and you travel through communities in my home state of Illinois, you will see entire cities that have been devastated as a consequence of trade agreements that were not adequately structured to make sure that U.S. workers had a fair deal.

Now, I think that Senator Clinton has shifted positions on this and believes that we should have strong environmental standards and labor standards, and I think that's a good thing. But you know, when I first moved to Chicago in the early '80s and I saw steelworkers who had been laid off of their plants -- black, white, and Hispanic -- and I worked on the streets of Chicago to try to help them find jobs, I saw then that the net costs of many of these trade agreements, if they're not properly structured, can be devastating.

OxyCon's picture
Submitted by OxyCon on

From the quote above (truncated below), you can witness even more BS from Obama. He states that Hillary has shifted her position on NAFTA to include labor and environmental concerns, which is another Obama lie. Both Clintons were always concerned about these issues from the very beginning, and that is why President Clinton bargained and won concessions from the Repubs for labor and environmental side agreements to NAFTA.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that it is inaccurate for Senator Clinton to say that she’s always opposed NAFTA.


Now, I think that Senator Clinton has shifted positions on this and believes that we should have strong environmental standards and labor standards, and I think that’s a good thing.

Submitted by lambert on

... to rootless's comment.

Based on the record, there is no way that Obama's claim that he was involved "in the midst of" a "high stakes" campaign for the United States Senate in 2002 is correct.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

wasabi's picture
Submitted by wasabi on

I 2002 he was running, as the incumbent, unopposed for State Senator for the 13th District. There was no Republican to run against. Pretty darn safe seat if you ask me. He also ran unopposed in both the primary and the general election when he first got his state Senate position in 1998.

Real courage needed to make that speech.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I could've sworn that he didn't; that it was a contested primary and he needed the core liberal, anti-war base to vote for him. Thus, the speech.

So does anyone know? My googling skills are failing me.

wasabi's picture
Submitted by wasabi on

According to WIKI he ran opposed. I then went to the Illinois State Board of Elections website and confirmed that he was the only person on the ballot in both the primary and the general.

He received 30,938 votes in the primary and in the GE he received 48,717 votes. No challengers.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I loathe wikipedia so, thus, my inept search results at work.

So it is true: this is his very first competitive race (He lost badly in 2000 so I don't count that one). Wow.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Compare and Contrast:


Tell me again which candidate is the triangulator who will say anything to win?

To be clear, Clinton has said some positive things about NAFTA, which she hasn't denied, but the idea that she's blind to NAFTA's downside* while Obama is champion of the people is ridiculous.

* My own opinion is that more problems have been caused by trade imbalances with Asia and lousy enforcement by W of trade agreements than NAFTA itself and NAFTA has become, somewhat unfairly, the symbol for the larger trade problems. Which isn't to say NAFTA is perfect, only that its role has been overstated.