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Part-Time State Senator

Greg Sargent at TPM had this nugget from the Las Vegas Review Journal: Clinton implied that Obama's career has mostly been spent running for office rather than governing. "He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then … Read More

By / January 11, 2008

Greg Sargent at TPM had this nugget from the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Clinton implied that Obama's career has mostly been spent running for office rather than governing.

"He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that's his prerogative. That's his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

To which Sargent adds: "I haven't heard the "part time" line before. It suggests that Hillary is going to keep going with her "experience" frame, and that the sharp elbows are still out, even though Hillary isn't perceived to be behind right now."

Actually, what the "part-time" swipe most probably refers to, albeit in an arcane way, is Obama's bad habit of voting "present" in the Illinois legislature, as opposed to taking a position, on a whole host of bills. He did this, according to the New York Times, 130 times. Granted,

An examination of Illinois records shows at least 36 times when Mr. Obama was either the only state senator to vote present or was part of a group of six or fewer to vote that way.

In more than 50 votes, he seemed to be acting in concert with other Democrats as part of a strategy.

By my count, that leaves 44 or so votes where Obama sat quietly amidst a total sea of yeas and nays. Casting one's lot in a debate is so 1990's.

No doubt the pop-up version of Machiavelli's The Prince he read in kindergarten advocated abstention as a cute way to stay "above politics," but isn't a basic duty as an elected lawmaker to at least actively participate in sessions of lawmaking?

Trying to have it both ways. Now where have we seen that in the Democratic Party before?

Whoops, sorry. Change, change, change.

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