Monday, May 5, 2008

Another Obama Dichotomy

There are enough dichotomous issues about Obama to fill a laundry list, with the most discordant being Obama’s claim to be a post racial candidate while adopting as a preacher and mentor for twenty years the lunatic racist Rev. Wright. Then there is Obama’s claim to be able to heal the bi-partisan divide of the country while never having once in his career attempted to reach across the aisle on an issue of bi-partisan controversy. And there is Obama’s claim that he will clean Washington of special interests even as he panders shamelessly to Democratic special interests for their support. In that latter category today, there is news that Obama has agreed to work for release of the Teamsters Labor Union from federal oversight for corruption and ties to organized crime - an oversight the Justice Dept. has refused to end - thus earning the Teamsters' support.

Obama’s claim that he will clean Washington of special interests is hypocrisy writ on a grand scale. He has pandered to most Democratic special interests during his term as Senator, there being priot to today two particularly egregious examples. There was his recent support for the tort bar over our national security on the issue of immunity from prosecution for the telecom industry. And there was his vote to pay off Big Labor with the jaw droppingly anti-democratic and Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Act. Add to that a third example. In order to gain the support of the Teamsters – a union whose history is rife with corruption and Mafia influence – Obama has agreed to seek the end of federal oversight of the Teamsters instituted in 1992 to try and clean up the union. This today from the WSJ:

Sen. Barack Obama won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption, according to officials from the union and the Obama campaign.

It's an unusual stance for a presidential candidate. Policy makers have largely treated monitoring of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a legal matter left to the Justice Department since an independent review board was set up in 1992 to eliminate mob influence in the union.

Sen. Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, has declined to take a stance on Teamsters oversight. During his eight years in office, President Bill Clinton took no action to end the special board. Democratic presidential nominees in 2000 and 2004 -- Al Gore and John Kerry -- didn't address the issue, according to Teamsters officials.

Neither Sen. Obama nor Teamsters President James P. Hoffa has spoken publicly about easing up federal oversight, a top priority for Mr. Hoffa since he became union president in 1999. On the campaign trail, Mr. Hoffa stresses Sen. Obama's criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement as the big factor in winning the 1.4-million member union's support.

But John Coli, vice president for the Teamsters central region, who brokered the Teamsters endorsement, said Sen. Obama was "pretty definitive that the time had come to start the beginning of the end" of the three-member independent review board that investigates suspect activity in the union. Mr. Coli said that Sen. Obama conveyed that view in a series of phone conversations and meetings with Teamsters officials last year.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the candidate's position in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, saying that Sen. Obama believes that the board "has run its course," because "organized crime influence in the union has drastically declined." Mr. Vietor said Sen. Obama took that position last year.

. . . And, board members say, it would be extraordinary for a president to try to alter the oversight. "Presidents very rarely try to tell the Justice Department what is the right thing to do in matters of judicial administration," said William Webster, a member of the board since 1992 and a former director of both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Teamsters' backing has been particularly important for Sen. Obama, who is struggling to win over the white working-class voters who dominate the union's core membership of truckers and warehouse and port workers.

Read the entire article. And Obama is going to clean up special interests? The divide between Obama’s words and his deeds is not merely a gap, it is an immense canyon. Is there anything that this man has said that is backed by his deeds?

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