Friday, April 25, 2008

Obama is Hillary's Pinata...Why Isn't Evan Bayh?

This is the second day in a row that I've received a negative direct mail piece from Hillary Clinton. This one is really a "two-fer." The address side calls Obama a liar for saying he never took money from oil companies even though (watch this linguistic legerdemain now) ENERGY company employees donated $650,000 to Obama."

I'll take these in turn.

The citation for the claim that Obama received money from energy employees is listed only as "Center for Responsive Politics." This is really sloppy attribution. There is no website address, publication name, or date. I knew where to find them, though, and when I reviewed the website, I learned that "Energy/Natural Resources" donors have given over 1 million dollars total to Barack Obama. They don't say what qualifies an employee as working for "natural resources" or "energy," and this matters because Obama only said he hadn't taken money from OIL companies. Senator Clinton, however, flips his phrase to morph it into "energy" companies.

But at the end of the day, HRC would have presumably sent this postcard if the amount had been $1,000 because her point is clearly NOT to say she's better than Obama. Such a claim would be silly in light of the fact that Hillary has received only $40,000 less than Obama from these same interests. HRC's point could be paraphrased as "Don't let him pass himself off as an angel when he's taken even MORE energy money than me even me!"

Realizing her own situation is precarious, Clinton smartly distances herself from Obama by pointing out that he voted for the "Bush/Cheney" energy bill that gave 18 billion dollars in subsidies to "energy companies" while she didn't. This is like saying, "Yeah, I took the money on the night stand, but I didn't sleep with them like some people I know!"

The specific subsidy breakdown on the mailer is $6 billion to the oil AND GAS industry and $12 billion to the nuclear power industry. The piece goes on to say that we have the highest gas prices ever and "continued and growing dependence on foreign oil." (I highlight AND GAS because it's not clear to me how much of the subsidy is for cleaner burning gas or comparable environmentally friendly investments).

Anyway, the attribution for the subsidy numbers is only marginally better than for the donor claim. We're told the stats are from Public Citizen, and this time we at least get a website address. However, it's not a link. It's just a general, "Here's the group that said it. Have fun finding the cite!"

There is no date, no publication title or type, and no author. Is it a press release? A legislative analysis by fiscal experts? Something Ralph Nader made up while trying to plot the death of another Democratic presidency!?! What?!?! It makes me nervous when campaigns want to appear like they are citing a credible source while also making it as difficult as possible for you to actually check the source.

After tooling around the Public Citizen website, I came across two statements relating to the 2005 energy bill at issue. The first from Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook had this interesting line:

"...the bill provides cradle-to-grave subsidies for the nuclear industry, which cannot compete without such government aid."

You're reading this, and you're probably thinking, "YEAH! That's stupid to give subsidies to an industry that can't make it without government aid." Except, haven't we been doing that with ethanol for over a decade now? Also, isn't Public Citizen ITSELF saying that Congress should give $6.6 billion in nuclear energy subidies and put that into wind and solar power? (Industries that are apparently NOT making it without help or we'd have more of it, wouldn't we?!?!) Isn't Public Citizens saying we should basically PAY consumers to buy hybrids? That's great environmental policy, but isn't that just a backdoor subsidy for automakers?

You confuse me, Public Citizen. You're FOR subsidies for "energy" companies if you LIKE the form of energy? Cool. Me, too. The problem is I think nuclear power is probably our best bet for breaking our dependence on foreign oil. So, I'm not losing sleep over these subsidies.

But, boy, does Clinton hit the mark attacking the oil companies, who are making money hand over fist. According to Public Citizen, the top five oil companies have made $345 billion in profits since 2005, and they have fifty-three billion IN CASH.

On the surface, Obama looks like an idiot. Why in the world would he vote for this?

Did it pass? Yes? Did anybody we know vote for this? Who? Senator Evan Bayh? Really? The SAME Evan Bayh who is Hillary's main proponent in the now critical battleground State of Indiana?

Hmm. Maybe Hillary should ask Senator Bayh why he sold us out to energy companies like Obama. Or just maybe there's more to the story, since 25 Democrats voted for the bill.



Anonymous said...

I received the same hate mail piece today also... while I did not do the research that you did, I recognized it immediately as B.S. I think we are going to see so much hate spewed from the Clintons in the next 10 days....I hope Obama doesn't stoop to their level. It must work though...I just hope Hoosiers arent as dumb as Hillary thinks we are.

Chris Worden said...

Anon 8:23:

Sadly, I see this campaign "going gutter" in a huge way, and HRC is the driving force. You should know that if she wins, I won't lose sleep. I believe she's more than qualified to run this country.

But having said that, I've always had the sneaking suspicion that if someone told her she could guarantee her presidency if she sold Chelsea into slave labor in Burma, she would do it. When people like Bill Bennett talk about how she's a "fighter," that translates for me as "she'll do anything to win." Also, in fairness to HRC, these specific direct mail pieces aren't horrible, relatively speaking. I've seen SO much worse. They caricature a vote, but at least they are are based on a vote.

Now when HRC does a piece on lapel pins or some other wedge issue, then I'm going to go nuts on this blog.