Thursday, February 07, 2008

Were you at the O-vent? 

An excerpt from Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign speech in New Orleans, today:

[I]t's time for America to rebuild trust with the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

When I am President, I will start by restoring that most basic trust - that your government will do what it takes to keep you safe.

The words "never again" - spoken so often in those weeks after Katrina - must not fade to a whisper. The Army Corps of Engineers has rebuilt levees that were most damaged by the storm, but funding has sometimes stalled, and New Orleans remains unprotected.

We can't gamble every hurricane season. And that's why when I am President, we will finish building a system of levees that can withstand a 100-year storm by 2011, with the goal of expanding that protection to defend against a Category 5 storm. Enough talk, let's get it done!... We also have to restore nature's barriers - the wetlands, marshes and barrier islands that can take the first blows and protect the people in the Gulf Coast.

If catastrophe comes, the American people must be able to call on a competent government. When I am President, the days of dysfunction and cronyism in Washington will be over. No more Brownie. No more Heads of the Arabian Horses Association, in charge of FEMA. The director of FEMA will report to me. He or she will have the highest qualifications in emergency management. And I won't just tell you that I'll insulate that office from politics - I'll guarantee it, by giving my FEMA director a fixed term like the director of the Federal Reserve. So that they will outlast the time that I'm in office. I don't want FEMA to be thinking for one minute about the politics of a crisis. I want FEMA to do its job, which is protecting the American people - not protecting a President's political future. That's a promise I'll make...

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There is an email going around that Obama voted against Louisiana getting a fair share of oil revenues. It is being forwarded by the Clinton campaign.

Now, the Domenici-Landrieu bill, the bill that gave us our fair share of oil revenues, is discussed on Senator Landrieu's site.

The date of the vote was 12/9/06 and it passed 79-9

This is the only vote on that date that I could find with that vote total.

The Landrieu page does say that the legislation passed did contain the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security act and Barack Obama did vote for that final legislation.

So the question is this. Did Obama, on some other date, vote against the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security act on its own? If so, that is reason enough for me to reject Obama in the primary.

However, if this is just some spin by the Clinton campaign, well... it is reason enough for me to reject Hillary in the primary.

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 3:10 PM  

You know that I never make morning events. LOL

And I do like his words and concepts, especially as concerns the Gulf Coast.

If Obama wins and follows through, I'll have his baby. (Michelle will kill me.)

By Anonymous GentillyGirl, at 3:11 PM  

Bad Oyster! Didn't I say I didn't want to see this kind of thing start popping up during this week's pander-thon?

Anyway.. here's what I notice about the phrasing in this speech. (I'll just cut and paste from something I posted to an e-mail list many of the folks who come here read anyway)

Notice that the phrase "When I am President we will" appears in front of a promise for the less-than-stellar 100 year protection that has been much discussed. Anything better than that follows the phrases "with the goal of" and "We also have to" which are considerably less committed terms. But some people, I'm certain, will find this "inspiring" and I think that's very nice for them.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 3:30 PM  

Hmm... In all fairness, Oyster actually isn't writing. "Thank you, Senator Obama for saying blah blah blah..."

He's just reposting the text of the speech. Still I just had to jump at that opportunity.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 3:32 PM  

Yes, it's not a firm guarantee for Cat 5-- I wish it was stronger, too.

But since the phrasing in the speech is exactly what is stated in Obama's Gulf Coast Recovery plan, I suppose what Jeffrey "noticed" has been available for the past 6 months to anyone willing to take 5 minutes to read the candidate's plan for New Orleans. (Or YRHT, for that matter.)

It's not an ideal guarantee, but it's more than anyone else has offered.

In the speech, as delivered, Obama said: "Let's get it done!" after discussing the goal of Cat 5 protection.

By Blogger oyster, at 3:44 PM  

Not to be too much of a stickler but "Let's get it done" still has a different connotation from "I will do..." even with the exclamation point.

By Blogger jeffrey, at 4:01 PM  

DZ: here's Obama's statement about his vote on the bill.

By Blogger oyster, at 4:16 PM  

Hillary gave a more detailed proposal in May 2007 than the one Obama re-introduced today. He actually released this plan back in August 2007.

I've done a comparison between the two over at Daily Kingfish.

By Anonymous Ryan, at 8:47 PM  

...we will finish building a system of levees that can withstand a 100-year storm by 2011...

That's what President Bush has already promised and budgeted for (I know that the state has to pony up $1.5 billion, but that's largely made up of land grants and right-of-way).

Obama also promises a more well-qualified FEMA director, but after what happened with Michael Brown, no president in the near future is going to risk putting an unqualified candidate in that position (as had been done before with countless other presidents).

In short, Obama doesn't really seem to be promising anything new or groundbreaking. This is just more of the same from him; I might dislike Hillary's policy positions, but at least they're comprehensive. Obama's into smokescreens.

By Blogger Owen Courrèges, at 9:03 PM  

Smokescreens? For what exactly? Smokescreens hide secret agendas. What do you think his secret agenda is?

He is very much the politician in this speech, not making any mega-promises that cannot be delivered on. But such speeches matter...don't you wish a speech like this had been made the day after Katrina?

Endless policy is for legislators. This guy's running for Head of State. The idea that the Presidency of the United States is just a policy position diminishes the nation.

By Blogger Boyd, at 10:56 PM  


I'm not talking about a smokescreen to hide a hidden agenda -- I'm speaking of a smokescreen to hide ANY agenda that might entail original and/or controversial policy views.

I think Obama is a mainstream liberal, but he wants to seem like he's something more. Accordingly, he doesn't focus on policy. All politicians tend to keep their cards close, but Obama's of the breed that feeds on a cult of charisma. He offers platitudes and refuses to engage in much substantive policy debate because it's not his strength.

Let's not forget that we aren't in a Constitutional Monarchy. We're electing a person to be BOTH head of state and head of government. I expect more than sappy "audacity of hope" nonsense and policy prescriptions that are essentially already in place.

In short, he's an empty suit. It doesn't mean he won't win, though. Empty suits have a way of succeeding despite their requisite lack of substance.

By Blogger Owen Courrèges, at 11:16 PM  

Ryan: Thanks for the link. Obviously, I overstated things in my first comment when I said Obama's plan was more than anyone else has offered. (I personally think it is, but that's up for debate). Obama and Hillary's and Edwards plans are all worthy of consideration. However, I don't think your comparison of Hillary's plan with Obama's speech can be fairly characterized as comparing both "plans". Obama makes commitments in his plan that he didn't address in his speech (e.g., his support for LA oil royalties and recognition of the problems with SBA).

By Blogger oyster, at 2:38 AM  

I arrived at 7:45, and the line was so long I was concerned I wouldn't get in, so I went to work.

Anyway, I hate to say this, but I'm with Jeffrey on this one. I'm underwhelmed with the words. I'm also underwhelmed with his waiting to say these words until he got here, two days before the primary.

The guy's from Chicago, not exactly a bastion of sympathy for New Orleans. Even if he gives a damn, he's probably surrounded by people who would just as soon watch us drown.

By Blogger Mr. Clio, at 6:00 AM  

yes. people from chicago hate new orleans.

barack obama probably surrounds himself with people happy to have us drown.



what are you talking about?!?!?

What was he supposed to say? What would have won you over?

By Blogger E, at 10:38 AM  

This isn't the first time Obama has been to New Orleans, and he's had his recovery plan out for months now.

He seems to be the only major candidate who wants to campaign here in person prior to the primaries on Saturday.

By Blogger oyster, at 11:22 AM  

E: point taken. My comment was a gross oversimplification based on several soreheads from Chicago I have encountered, plus the ultimate sorehead Dennis Hastert. I should not blanket a city with that opinions of a few idiots.

I'm planning a post about Clinton and Obama re: New Orleans, in which I will deal with what I wish they'd say.

By Blogger Mr. Clio, at 12:27 PM  

The little prick never showed up to vote on the Water Bill either.

What will it take to wake you guys up?

By Blogger D-BB, at 1:01 PM  

Well, after some reasearch I found that Obama did vote against Louisiana before he voted for it.

This does nothing to help me decide who I am voting for.

By Anonymous Daniel Z., at 2:49 PM  

Owen is correct. I've been to the last couple of the Corpse's public meetings, and the hurricane protection that they are currently working on is the so-called 100-year protection by 2011, which is already authorized (and mostly funded) by Congress...with a commitment for "advance measures", or a higher level of protection than was authorized before Katrina, by 2009. And yes...many would like to acknowledge that it would be nice to have a "goal" of Cat 5 protection--someday.

As for the revenue sharing, I heard Ron Faucheaux on the radio today saying that he didn't feel that the voters of Louisiana would hold Obama's voting against the revenue sharing bill that Mary Landrieu in particular worked so hard to secure.

By Anonymous Puddinhead, at 10:49 PM