From the New York Times 2/3/08:
"When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon
learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive
leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state’s freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.
Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and
federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all
plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even
small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a
crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation
that I’ve passed.”
“I just did that last year,” he said, to murmurs of approval.
A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different
story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a
presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama
eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans,
Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating
prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it
charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.
revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary
to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary
wrangling in the full Senate.
“Senator Obama’s staff was sending us copies of the bill to review,
and we could see it weakening with each successive draft,” said Joe
Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where
low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. “The teeth
were just taken out of it.
2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois,
have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate
and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive
vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his
Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe,
chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute,
the nuclear power industry’s lobbying group, based in Washington.
Exelon’s support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other
In addition, Mr. Obama’s chief
political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to
Exelon. A spokeswoman for Exelon said Mr. Axelrod’s company had helped
an Exelon subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, with communications strategy
periodically since 2002, but had no involvement in the leak controversy
or other nuclear issues.
The Obama campaign said in written
responses to questions that Mr. Obama “never discussed this issue or
this bill” with Mr. Axelrod. The campaign acknowledged that Exelon
executives had met with Mr. Obama’s staff about the bill, as had
concerned residents, environmentalists and regulators. It said the
revisions resulted not from any influence by Exelon, but as a necessary
response to a legislative roadblock put up by Republicans, who
controlled the Senate at the time.
Asked why Mr. Obama had cited it as an
accomplishment while campaigning for president, the campaign noted that
after the senator introduced his bill, nuclear plants started making
such reports on a voluntary basis. The campaign did not directly
address the question of why Mr. Obama had told Iowa voters that the
legislation had passed."
We've just had eight years of a president in the pocket of the oil companies, and see where that has left us. Why would we want to switch that for someone in bed with the nuclear power industry, at worst, or simply inept in promoting the interests of their constituency, at best. (Contaminated groundwater, anyone?)
Exactly how does this fit in with Obama's claims inhabit a higher moral ground, and to owe fewer political favors owed than Hillary? For a candidate campaigning as apolitical newcomer, an "outside the Beltway" pure spirit, and all the rest of the hokum, this sounds surprisingly like politics as usual to me. If not a little scuzzier than many.
Is this what that unspecified "change" Obama keeps talking about is gong to look like? Because it just sounds like GW Bush all over again to me – do one thing, say another, and if the media like you, you won't get caught – he got away with this claim in Iowa, so voters there who supported him thought he had stood up for the community, passed effective and important legislation as he had claimed to do. And the press said nothing.
Instead the media blathered on about Obama's charisma and charm.
I don't see that "charm" myself, I see a rather stiff, scripted speaker who sounds like he's leading a pep rally instead of discussing issues. And when I see the clips from his set speeches the media labels him inspirational and charming. Actually, I hated pep rallies as a kid, and empty platitudes to nothing for me. I am not inspired, and not charmed.
I do remember, though, being told that Reagan was charming. And wasn't it Bush Senior who was going to make all the social service cuts work by replacing them with "a thousand points of light?" Quite inspirational, that. Maybe I'll mention that to the three panhandlers outside my local coffeeshop, next time I don't have change for them. Oh, and I remember being told by the media that people would rather have a beer with Bush than with Gore (remember that one?)
When the media start telling you how likable a candidate is, it is time to start looking at that candidate very, very closely, because when they are discussing non-issues, it means they are dodging the real ones.
They should be telling you about the voting record, the major funders; you know, how a candidate will do the job.
This doesn't sound to me like someone ready for the job.