Barack Obama wrote an intersting article today about yesterday’s Democratic AFL-CIO debate in which it discusses Senator Barack Obama’s backtracking of his statement that he would consider invading Pakisan.

“Sen. Obama rewrote history when he defended his controversial remarks about invading Pakistan if necessary to eliminate al Qaeda.

Obama: I did not say that we would immediately go in unilaterally. What I said was that we have to work with [Pakistan’s President Pervez] Musharraf.

    Scott Olson/Getty Images

That’s not exactly what he said. Obama is referring to an Aug. 1 policy address, in which he made no direct mention of working with Musharraf. Instead, he said he would “take out” al Qaeda if Musharraf failed to act.

Obama (Aug. 1): I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.

That’s the only time Obama mentions Musharraf at all in the speech, as posted on his own campaign Web site.”


MSNBC’s David Shuster filed this report on Monday’s Hardball, which sums up Sunday’s Republican presidential debate in Iowa. Romey’s flip-flops were a big topic of discussion. Romney said, “I am pro-choice, and that is the truth….and I am tired of people that are holier than thow because they are pro-choice longer than I have.

The report goes on to discuss Romney’s contention “he has always been secretly pro-life” and regretted not being open about his true beliefs while governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts.   

Schuster goes on to say, “The issue is whether Romey is a man of true beliefts, or if he will say anything to get elected.” 

Romney then accused Senator Barack Obama of inconsistency on foreign policy. “In one week he went from saying he’s to sit down for tea with our enemies to he’s going to bomb our allies. In one week he went from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove.” 

Concerning the recent vote on funding for the war in Iraq, Giuliani has lobbed the dreaded f-word over in Obama’s direction. Giuliani contends that Obama made, in his words, “quite a significant flip flop” when it came to Obama’s stance on the Iraq funding bill. With Giuliani’s flip-flop accusation, the other Republican candidates have taken the opportunity join in the Obama criticism:

McCain calls Obama’s stance “the policy of surrender”

Romney has called Obama’s actions “abandon[ing] principle in favor of political positioning”

And Giuliani continued about Obama and his fellow Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, “They’ve gone from an anti-war position to an anti-military, anti-troops position”

So it’s worth examining: is this vote by Obama a flip flop? Was a vote against the funding bill incompatible with a position in favor of supporting the troops and his previous votes for war appropriations bills? That’s the allegation that the Republican candidates have laid down. Let’s see if it’s a valid and legitimate point or a baseless and partisan attack.


Especially in the wake of recent scandals emerging from Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, and William Jefferson, to name just a few, Americans have become tragically accustomed to a certain background level of sleaze from the average politician.

But Barack Obama is hardly an average politician; his youth, Washington outsider status, and stirring rhetoric have defined his candidacy as being dedicated to hope, moral consciousness, and a shift away from beltway politics as usual.  There are certainly many upsides to these associations, but a notable downside is that some commentators are surprised and disappointed when he stoops to politics as usual.  Thus he attracts coverage and criticism for actions that likely wouldn’t raise eyebrows coming from one of the other candidates.

That being said, Obama cannot expect to benefit from his unique reputation without attracting unique scrutiny.  Several weeks ago, Reality Check covered Obama’s controversial ties to alleged slumlord Tony Rezko.  A recent article in the Chicago Tribune further questions Obama’s celebrated commitment to ending corruption and ensuring open government:

‘Obama’s record of local endorsements — one measure of how he has used his nascent political clout — has drawn criticism from those who say it reflects his deference to Chicago’s established political order and runs counter to his public calls for clean government.

In the 2006 Democratic primary, for example, Obama endorsed first-time candidate Alexi Giannoulias for state treasurer despite reports about loans Giannoulias’ family-owned Broadway Bank made to crime figures. Records show Giannoulias and his family had given more than $10,000 to Obama’s campaign, which banked at Broadway.

Obama endorsed former Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd), calling her “a very early supporter of my campaign.” Tillman was then under fire for her stewardship of the scandal-plagued Harold Washington Cultural Center, where contracts benefited members of her family.


A Gulf Times article yesterday summed up many of the major inconsistencies of the ’08 campaign thus far.

“…First Romney was in favor of a woman’s right to choose an abortion, but now he is against it….

Besides her stance on Iraq, New York Sen. Clinton is accused of opposing government supports for ethanol, a big issue in the corn-growing and key presidential caucus state of Iowa, before she was for them.

One of her Democratic opponents, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, is accused of having voted for and against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and believed Americans were safer against terrorists, but now thinks they are not as safe.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who has only been in the Senate for two years, in May voted against a $100bn Iraq war funding bill, saying it was time to change course in the war. But in April he vowed not to cut funding for US troops…”

In a story a little more lighthearted than most covered by Reality Check comes the latest installation in the AP’s interviews on the candidates’ personal habits and preferences. Indulge yourself in some their bad habits…

“What is your worst habit?


Delaware Sen. Joe Biden: ‘Too many to list. :)’

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Chocolate

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: ‘Running late, even when my staff does everything in their power to prevent it.’

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards: ‘Drinking soda’

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: ‘Ask my wife, Elizabeth.’

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama: ‘Checking my Blackberry.’

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: ‘Straying from my diet.’



Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback: ‘Being late.’

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: ‘Talking too much.’

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: ‘Channel surfing on TV or radio.’

California Rep. Duncan Hunter: ‘Not turning off the Outdoor Life Network (now Versus) before I go to sleep.”

Arizona Sen. John McCain: ‘Coffee’

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: ‘Fidgeting”

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo: ‘Cigar smoking'”

In Tuesday’s Republican debate, Mitt Romney distanced himself from the health plan he helped establish as Governor of Mattachusetts, accusing Democrats of socializing medicine, when, in fact, that is largely what he did. The Web site writes,

“Romney: Every Democrat up there’s talking about a form of socialized medicine, government takeover, massive tax increase…. I’m the guy who actually tackled this issue. We get all of our citizens insured. We get people that were uninsured with private health insurance. We have to stand up and say the market works. Personal responsibility works.  

There are two problems with Romney’s characterization: One, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only Democratic candidate to propose a single-payer, wholly government-funded health care plan. And two, Romney’s Massachusetts universal insurance system bears a striking resemblance to the health care proposals of the Democratic front-runners. (more…)

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