Thursday, February 22, 2007

Obama's letter to The Black Commentator, June 19, 2003: Not "Corrupted" by DLC

Obama's letter here and The Black Commentator's challange in response interesting. No idea if Obama responded to it.
I read with interest, and some amusement, Bruce Dixon's recent article regarding my campaign, and his suggestion that perhaps my positions on critical issues facing this country are somehow being corrupted by the influence of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Given that Bruce [and I] worked together back in 1992 to empower communities through organizing and the ballot box, I wish he'd taken the time to give me a call and check out his facts.

To begin with, neither my staff nor I have had any direct contact with anybody at DLC since I began this campaign a year ago. I don't know who nominated me for the DLC list of 100 rising stars, nor did I expend any effort to be included on the list beyond filling out a three line questionnaire asking me to describe my current political office, my proudest accomplishment, and my cardinal rules of politics. Since my mother taught me not to reject a compliment when it's offered, I didn't object to the DLC's inclusion of my name on their list. I certainly did not view such inclusion as an endorsement on my part of the DLC platform.

As for Bruce's larger point -- that I've begun to water down my criticisms of the Bush administration during this early phase of my campaign -- I'd invite him to join me on the campaign trail here in Chicago for a couple of days. I'm proud of the fact that I stood up early and unequivocally in opposition to Bush's foreign policy (and was the only U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois to do so). That opposition hasn't changed, and I continue to make it a central part of each and every one of my political speeches. Likewise, I spend much of my time with audiences trying to educate them on the dangers of both the Patriot Act, Patriot Act 2, and the rest of John Ashcroft's assault on the Constitution. The only reason that my original anti-war speech was removed from my website was a judgment that the speech was dated once the formal phase of the war was over, and my staff's desire to continually provide fresh news clips. The "bland" statement that Bruce offers up as an example of my loss of passion wasn't an official statement or speech at all, but a 30 second response to a specific question by Aaron Brown on CNN about the mood of Illinois voters a few days after the war started.

In sum, Bruce's article makes nice copy, but it doesn't reflect the reality of my campaign. Nor does it reflect my track record as a legislator. In the last three months alone, I passed and sent to Illinois governor's desk 25 pieces of major progressive legislation, including groundbreaking laws mandating the videotaping of all interrogations and confessions in capital cases; racial profiling legislation; a new law designed to ease the burden on ex-offenders seeking employment; and a state earned income tax credit that will put millions of dollars directly into the pockets of Illinois' working poor.

As Bruce may tell you, I've always preached the need for elected officials and candidates to be held accountable for their views. I don't exempt myself from that rule. I'd simply ask that folks take the time to find out what my views are before they start questioning my passion for justice or the integrity of my campaign effort. I'm not hard to reach.

In the meantime, I'll talk to my staff about sprucing up the website!

Sincerely,

State Senator Barack Obama

Candidate for U.S. Senate
The speech delivered on 26 October 2002 in Chicago at Federal Plaza at an anti Iraq war rally organized by the ANSWER coalition may be read here.

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