Monday, September 22, 2008


during the first two minutes of every school day – attendance-taking in mrs. paulson's fourth grade classroom – i can clearly remember john gibson shouting "president!" after mrs. paulson called his name.

not "present," but "president!"

that was funny, john. "president!" omg. i am splitting my side here.

see, while every other kid was saying "present," john thought he'd get a laugh by instead saying "president!" pretty funny, huh? never heard that one before, john. except for every day!

during his eight years in the illinois state senate, out of 4000 votes, barack obama voted "president" "present" 130 times. there's a talking point. if you don't live in illinois, or understand illinois politics or the voting system in the illinois state senate, that sounds pretty reprehensible, doesn't it? this guy doesn't even have the political cojones to take a stand! to say "you're either with us, or against us!" to say "we're gonna capture bin laden dead or alive!"

hold on.

from the university of chicago law school website:
Unlike Congress and the legislatures of most other states, each chamber of the Illinois Legislature requires a ''constitutional majority'' to pass a bill. The state Senate has 59 members, so it takes 30 affirmative votes. This makes a ''present'' vote the same as a no. If a bill receives 29 votes, but the rest of the senators vote ''present,'' it fails.
so voting "present" is a legitimate option in illinois: yes - no - present (there are actually three buttons.) and often a "present" vote means much more than just saying "okay mrs. paulson, i'm here!"

at times, obama was voting with a block of democratic senators, as strategy. sometimes he was voting with only a few others. a handful of times his was the only "present" vote. voting "present" is also, in the illinois senate, a way to signal to other lawmakers that you disagree with parts of a specific bill, but are willing to find compromise. (ahhhh...compromise. remember compromise?)

you may want to look into the record and talk about those specific votes, and why obama chose to vote the way he did on each. there certainly are some that, on the surface, seem like political cover. but i think the man is more intelligent than that, and may have had personal misgivings about specific bills.

obama's campaign website (there's politically unbiased for you) addresses the issue in a fairly thorough manner. abner mikva, former illinois state legislator, united states congressman, federal judge, and white house counsel gives an even clearer history/explanation of voting present in illinois. and interesting, since he's actually done it.

personally, i am completely comfortable with (and welcome) a president who finds nuance and complexities, and doesn't view every issue as black and white – yes or no. we just spent eight years with the other kind, the kind who reacts on "gut" and "cowboy instincts" and look where that's gotten us. (have you checked your 401k today? btw - 4169 dead in iraq so far. and counting.)

besides. i think, when obama was voting "present" – like john gibson, he really meant to say "president!"

1 comment:

  1. I love it. This is the type of information the average American needs to be able to get his/her hands on.

    Education is power!


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