I made many difficult votes as a state legislator during my sixteen years in Springfield.
When Barack Obama was state senator he gained a reputation for his “present” votes.
There are three votes an Illinois legislator can cast:
“Present” has the same effect as a “No” vote, because legislation must obtain an absolute majority to pass. (There are exceptions calling for a 60% majority when approving bonds, but without enough “Yes” votes, legislation fails.)
It’s basically a chicken’s way out.
Someone who votes “Present” can concoct an explanation that will leave a naive constituent believing he was really on his or her side on the issue.
Now, as President, Obama doesn’t want to say whether it’s wise to build a mosque two blocks away from 9/11 ground. I am pretty certain the ruble from the twin towers flew more than two blocks as a wave of debris was sent hurtling through the air.
A political firestorm was ignited when Obama held a Ramadan dinner at the White House and announced his support for building the mosque.
That’s the impression everyone in the room got including the New York Times who printed this headline:
Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site
You can find it here.
Obama then created a second, larger political firestorm when the next day he explained how he really voted “present” and didn’t take a position on whether the mosque should or shouldn’t be built there.
If you believe the Associated Press and New York Times, Obama voted “present” 129 times.
Aside from this mosque issue what the business community has picked up on is they can’t trust Obama to be really for something, even when members of his friendly media believe that’s what Obama communicated.
A campaign slogan of
“Yes. We Can!”
has become a governing slogan of
“Yes, We Can’t Trust Obama When He’s For Something”
It reminds me of the story of a guy being confronted by his wife finding another woman’s bra in the family car’s glove compartment. When confronted by his angry wife the husband exclaimed
“What are you asking me for? It ain’t mine!”
President Bill Clinton infamously answered how it depends on what the definition of “is,” is.
A thriving economy in our country depends on a political climate where businesses can invest in more jobs and depend on not getting clobbered by higher costs and higher taxes because of the whims of politicians.
No such confidence exists in Illinois, of course, and one could reasonably argue in the rest of the nation, as well, as far as Federal tax policy goes.
Having never worked in business, Obama has a lawyer-centric view of the world. He can give impressions to people, while figuratively insisting he voted “Present.”
Not much has changed since the time he spent in the state senate.