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DF: People are buying into this idea that he’s someone who’s an agent of positive change. But if he is, why hasn’t he ever done anything to that end in his entire career? He didn’t stick his neck out and fight against the Chicago teachers union to make sure the kids in that town get a decent schooling — and that’s something I go into in depth in The Case Against Barack Obama — he doesn’t stick out his neck to fight against corruption because all of his friends are the problem in Chicago. He doesn’t stick out his neck in Washington to change the scene here, which is a very unfortunate and dirty one.
TAS: Can you give me some examples?
DF: Senator Obama votes for bills like the farm bill. He votes for a bridge to nowhere, and ethanol. He votes for and supports, generally, all the special-interest, corrupt systemic arrangements, where corporations are taking the taxpayer for a ride. Senator Obama is an avid supporter for all of these kinds of things, which is something I document in the book. He voted for ethanol twice, then went back and did his land deal with Tony Rezko on the same day: June 15, 2005.
All of these things form a broad pattern. It’s not as if he does these things on occasion — when he endorses the Cook County machine politician in the election it’s not an isolated incident; it’s something he’s done consistently. He attached himself in Springfield at the hip with Emil Jones, the state senate majority leader, who represents precisely this kind of politics.
I believe that very few politicians from either party can claim to be reformers, because reformers usually lose elections. That’s something Senator Obama knows and understands. He has never acted as a reformer because he doesn’t want to lose elections. He wants to win, and so he sides with the winners, who are in Chicago some really bad people who are not interested in the common good, who definitely put their own interest in front of the public good. Throughout his career Senator Obama has put his parochial interests ahead of the common good.
TAS: Then do you think it’s fair for Obama to paint himself as a new kind of politician?
DF: Well, another thing that Senator Obama tries to do with his media campaign is to portray himself as someone who is very open-minded and post-partisan, even post-ideological. And this is also misleading because Senator Obama is someone who is never really swayed on any issue. He’ll listen to you and thank you, and then completely ignore everything you have to say.
TAS: Does this explain the Obamacons phenomenon? Why do some conservatives overlook his liberal voting record?
DF: I think there are a lot of conservatives out there who are discouraged about the way things are going right now and think, “Well, if we had someone like Obama, maybe he would listen to what we have to say.” In fact there are some prominent ones who have endorsed him and given this line, whether or not it’s something they really believe or think, at least it’s a plausible explanation.
[When it comes to policy] Senator Obama is not in the least bit persuadable ideologically. He’s very rigid and very consistent. Abortion is just one example where he does not favor and will not favor any restriction. He always wants higher taxes. There’s almost no tax that I can think of that he’s not considering raising as president.
When he changes it’s not because he’s open-minded, it’s because there’s a political consideration. He’s getting slammed right now on this energy business. You notice that he’s finally willing to say, “Well, maybe I’m open to something that might involve drilling, I’d be willing to swallow it.” This is because he’s getting murdered in the polls over this issue. And he knows what he has to do to win.
Senator Obama’s beliefs are very rigid, and that’s something I go through and document. He’s very liberal — he was ranked the most liberal senator by National Journal, and it wasn’t without reason. He definitely represents his party’s ideological left, and he was able to get to the left of Hillary Clinton, which I think says a lot.
TAS: So if he changes on an issue, it’s for political expediency. Otherwise he’s going to go liberal.
DF: Yes… it’s been damage control for him on that one issue [drilling]. It is interesting to see him say, OK, I’m open. Of course, he’s said he’s open to many things. You read The Audacity of Hope, and you see him talk about how we need to keep an open mind on the issue of abortion. Then you see that when the Supreme Court upholds a very, very, modest loose ban on partial-birth abortion, he denounces it as if it’s the worst thing to happen to this country. He wants to re-legalize partial birth abortion in every circumstance, that’s his number one priority for the country. He actually said at a Planned Parenthood event last July that the first thing he would do as president is sign a bill that would do that.
So he talks a good game about being open minded, but I could see him becoming president and having a Democratic Congress pass something that has no oil drilling. That would be more typical of the way that he behaves ideologically. He’s very much locked into what he believes, and not very much into opposing points of view. If he has to accept something he can, just because he doesn’t want to lose the election.
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