Twisted spin from ABC

Posted on Tuesday 1 July 2008

For the past week or so, Barack Obama has been accused nearly non-stop of “shifting positions”, “moving to the center” (or to the right, depending on the source), and/or “flip-flopping”.

While there have indeed been a couple of shifts, there’s also a massive amount of disinformation coming out about Obama. He was not, for example, sweepingly against the death penalty. Furthermore, his position on NAFTA warped in Ohio; his recent statements are how I understood him all along. (Yup — he pandered in OH. Everybody did. It was ugly.)

Accusations of shifting and flip-flopping are part of the well-traveled political road, so most of this latest yammer is a big wide yawner. But this piece from ABC is a bit different:

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace Report: Barack Obama aligned himself with welfare reform on Monday, launching a television ad which touts the way the overhaul “slashed the rolls by 80 percent.” Obama leaves out, however, that he was against the 1996 federal legislation which precipitated the caseload reduction.

Really? He was against the legislation? ABC says so, therefore it must be true (my emphasis):

When implementation of welfare reform came before the Illinois state senate in 1997, Obama cited a lack of job training, insufficient oversight, and provisions blocking legal immigrants from receiving benefits as his reasons for opposing a federal welfare overhaul imposing work requirements and time limits.

Except that ABC is wrong. Obama didn’t oppose the implementation. Not only was he part of the bipartisan negotiating team that created the successful bill, he stood in the Illinois legislature and said this (my emphasis again):

I strongly urge that — although we’ve taken a good step on this bill, that we look at this carefully and continue to make a commitment to ensuring that all Illinois’ children and all Illinois families have an opportunity to succeed in this economy. Nevertheless, I think this is a good start, and I urge support of this bill.

Read it yourself. Obama’s statement starts on page 42.

He did not support the welfare “status quo” (i.e. he supported reform), but he did have concerns about details and ramifications — specifically about what types of training (there was a protection clause for union workers), adequate oversight (that’s a bad thing???), and the bill’s exclusion of immigrants here in the country legally.

It looks to me as if the MSM via ABC is willfully lying about Obama’s positions here.

Can we please retire the tired, and patently false meme about how the MSM is in the bag for Obama now?

9 Comments for 'Twisted spin from ABC'

    July 1, 2008 | 12:06 pm

    Polimom – this is a case of apples – oranges comparison. At the time, Sen. Obama was a STATE Senator in Illinois, not a US Senator. Therefore, he couldn’t have been involved with crafting the FEDERAL ‘welfare reform’ bill that came out in 1996.

    In fact, if you read further ‘up’ on Pg 42, Sen Obama says (emphasis mine)

    …Having said that, I probably would not have supported the federal legislation, because I think it had some problems. But I’m a strong believer in making lemonade out of lemons…

    This tells me that (1) Sen. Obama gave this speech after the federal welfare reform bill was passed (which is also consistent with the timeline), and (2) he had issues with that legislation. It also indicates that he did work to craft a bill in the Illinois Lege that he could support, and that he did support it.

    So, in fact, neither Sen Obama nor ABC are lying per se, they are just talking about different pieces of legislation (though on the same topic.)


    July 1, 2008 | 12:13 pm

    I agree that ABC has muddied events. However, the gist of their misleading piece is about the implementation in IL in 1997. In fact, I got the pdf link to the IL lege. discussion from their article.

    July 1, 2008 | 12:44 pm

    I think the most misleading point of the ABC article is that they translated “probably would not have supported” into outright opposition. Reading his own remarks, one definitely gets the sense that Sen Obama had reservations about welfare reform – an attitude shared with many others in the Democratic Party at the time. The other indirection, as I pointed out above, is that they were combining his concerns/lack of support for the federal legislation and his current ad campaign in a veritable journalistic Mixmaster, while pretty much glossing over (if not outright ignoring) his work on the enabling legislation in Illinois (which I am thinking is the basis for his ad campaign.)

    As far as the meme goes, I am having a hard time getting a read on how the MSM feels about these two candidates – or even Hillary, for that matter. It is almost as if they want to see all of them fail.


    July 1, 2008 | 12:47 pm

    BTW, Julie Pippert had a good series of posts over at MOMocrats on the whole Obama flip-flop flap ;-)


    July 1, 2008 | 12:49 pm

    “It is almost as if they want to see all of them fail.”

    LOL!!!! I can see why you’d say that — although I have the distinct impression that they’re very careful with John McCain. Not sure that’ll hold, though it might if he remains the “underdog”.

    I think what’s really got my goat about teh ABC piece is that nobody’s questioning it — and so it just passes into CW unchallenged. When the MSM is spinning so baldly, there’s really no hope of wading through the BS to know the truth — on anything.

    Edited to add:  Yes, I agree that Obama is not really doing much flip-flopping at all (though there do seem to be one or two debatable shifts).  I just responded over at TMV to a piece about this whole “shifting to the center” thing.  I didn’t realize how much truth there was to the accusations that people really didn’t understand Obama.  He’s a fairly classic moderate.

    July 2, 2008 | 5:01 am

    I decided to visit your website from the Moderate Voice over this issue.

    One of the things that strkes me about Barak Obama is his incessant double talk. I do NOT mean this in a negative way. His speech on this matter is the perfect example. He spends his entire time covering his ARSE over how much he dislikes the bill in question, its shortfalls and its wants and then in conclusion says well its a start lets give it a try. If it succeeds? He voted for it. If it fails he can point to his speech about how he was sure it was a bad bill and showed good judgement by telling everyone in congress how bad this bill might turn out to be.

    The one thing that turns most voters on to Barak Obama has turned me OFF to him. He is like quicksand. You cannot get a grasp on him and it is this very speech you are pointing to in question that makes me even more convinced of this.

    Is Barak Obama a bad man? NO. Is he an Evil politician? NO. For me he simply is someone who has not really taken a stand on anything and the very fact that everyone assumed he was far left and now suddenly he appears out of the ashes of the primaries and starts all this moderate talk convinces me that it was more then just me and a few of my buddies who are confused as to who he is.

    quicksand. Who will he be tomorrow is what worries me more then anything else about this man.

    July 2, 2008 | 7:39 am

    Neocon — I find much of this debate odd, primarily because much of the time, the Barack Obama of the primaries was not who I expected. The NAFTA weirdness, in particular, was off message. He refused to allow daylight between Hillary and himself through the Rust Belt, and it bothered me.

    But other than FISA, the recent positions that are causing such a conniption were either very little discussed in the primary (like the death penalty), initially nuanced (like Iraq), or media outrage (like public finance).

    Your citing the 1997 IL legislative discussion as an example of Obama’s being like quicksand, though, tells me you perhaps didn’t understand what was going on there. As part of the bipartisan negotiating team, he worked on creating an implementation that would address the concerns (shared by many Democrats at the time). It’s normal for concerns or reservations to go on record in a legislature. It would be odd if those hadn’t been stated.

    July 2, 2008 | 8:18 am

    You should not find it odd.

    Barak Obama is defining himself and the primary between two candidates who were mirror images of each other was driven by two ideals. Hillary voting for the Iraq war and Obama opposed to it and who was more qualified to lead. There was actually very little attention to policy because everyone in the democratic party and in the press knew that they were idealogically so close together. At least so their websites announced in black and white for all to see.

    Now that being said the case is being made that Obama is suddenly a moderate when everyone and I mean everyone was saying that Hillary and Barak were mirror images of each other politically. If this is so, does that mean Hilary is a moderate?

    Not hardly. Therefore the logical conclusion is that Barak Obama allowing himself to be painted the mirror image of a pretty far left Hillary gave all the impression that he was far left as well. It was a deliberate deception if he turns out to be moderate after all and if you can’t understand why people are angry over that then I don’t know what else to say.

    Its pretty similar to Bush saying No new Taxes and then raising taxes. It was a huge blunder and it angered many in his own party.

    July 2, 2008 | 12:24 pm

    Obama is a Marxist. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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