Sunday, March 30, 2008
Ten Troubling Questions I Asked Obama to Answer before McCain Asks Them
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Here are ten troubling questions for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama that he’d be wise to answer coming from me, If he’s the Democratic presidential nominee you can bank that John McCain and the GOP truth squad will ask him them. The questions were sent directly to him at his national campaign headquarters Friday, March 28. The questions are not campaign rhetoric, gossip, and partisan allegations. They are fully documented, and totally a matter of public record. If Obama won’t answer them, then the challenge is for his supporters to answer them point by point. This doesn’t mean hurling the usual cheap shot, brainless, personal invectives, name calling, personal insults, or character assassination. This is no substitute for factual answers. The Questions.
1. You stated that you were not in the Senate in October 2002 when President Bush rammed through Congress the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. But you also stated that “perhaps the reason I thought it was such a bad idea was I didn’t have the benefit of U.S. intelligence.” This implies that you might have voted for the war if you had been in the Senate when the vote was taken. Why then do you condemn Hillary Clinton and other Senators who voted for the war authorization resolution when you admit the possibility that if you had been in the Senate you would have done the same?
2. As chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Foreign Relations you could have held oversight hearings, called witnesses and offered alternatives to Bush’s disastrous efforts against A Qeada in Afghanistan. Your subcommittee held none and provided no alternatives to Bush policy that you condemn, why?
3. In the Senate you have one of the poorest attendance records, and you often simply vote present on thorny issues, why?
4. Senate Legislation was proposed to require nuclear giant, Exelon to make public disclosure of its radiation leaks. You did not fully support that requirement. Exelon has been identified as your fourth biggest campaign contributor. Why did you oppose the tougher regulatory proposal for Exelon?
5. Chicago financier Tony Rezko has been accused of numerous financial illicit dealings. You have claimed that you did no political or personal favors for Rezko. Yet as an Illinois state legislator you wrote endorsement letters to government agencies on his behalf, as well as having conducted other documented financial transactions and dealings and with him. Why do you deny that you have no relationship with Rezko?
6. The head of your campaign finance chair is Penny Pritzker. Before taking over Obama’s campaign finances, she headed up the borderline shady and failed Superior Bank. It collapsed in 2002. The bank engaged in deceptive and faulty lending, questionable accounting practices, and charged hidden fees. It made thousands of dubious loans to mostly poor, strapped homeowners. A disproportionate number of them were minority. Why does she still have a principal financial role in your campaign?
7. You have taken money in past campaigns from straw donors. These are donors that have taken money from tainted and dubious sources and then contribute to your campaign under their names. You have talked much about financial openness in campaigns. Why did you take money from straw donors in the past? And do you take money from them now?
8. Following a speech by Hillary Clinton praising Lyndon Johnson for his role in helping pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, an Obama campaign advisor privately released a four page memo urging hammering Clinton for denigrating Dr. King. Yet, you told reporters that neither you nor anyone in your campaign had made the accusation that Clinton denigrated King. Why did you say that when clearly it was the memo from your campaign advisor that triggered the media and public assault on Clinton regarding King?
9. You have not produced a single public document that would provide the public with greater insight and knowledge about legislation, initiatives proposed, your votes on key bills, and your attendance record during your terms in the Illinois legislature. Why?
10. You have repeatedly charged that Clinton violated a pledge not to put her name on the Michigan Democratic primary ballot. However, neither Clinton nor any other Democratic contender pledged to the DNC not to have their name on the ballot. Three other candidates had their name on the ballot in addition to Clinton. Why do continue to make this claim that the other candidates, but especially Clinton, violated a pledge not to have their name on the Michigan ballot?
Obama’s campaign is based on the firm pillar that he represents a new, open, fresh, and transparent politics. He is the candidate that is the antithesis of the political duplicity, double dealing, evasions, lies and corruption that marred other candidates. Obama can prove it by answering these questions; questions that raise serious doubt about his contention that he represents a radical break from the political past. If he won’t answer them then will his supporters answer them for him? That’s again, before McCain asks them.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).