Stop the press! Well, you know what we mean. Poor (ex-mayor of Austin) Kirk Watson was caught on live television without an answer to the gotcha-question of the moment – is Obama a light-weight Senator? Blogger hilzoy answers
it’s only a Rorschach test for people who don’t bother to find whether or not Obama actually has any actual legislative achievements. If he does, then of course this just shows that this one supporter didn’t know what they are. If he doesn’t, it might show something more, e.g. that Obama is a lightweight. As it happens, Obama does have substantive legislative achievements. I have written more about them here. A few highlights, all of which became law:
[Click to read them The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – Dear Chris Matthew Please Do Your Job]
There’s a lot more. Honestly, there is. I wrote a summary here (and an earlier one here), and provided lists (1, 2, 3) of all the bills and amendments sponsored or co-sponsored by Clinton and Obama in the 109th and 110th Congresses, just so it would be as easy as possible for people to see for themselves. (Fun fact about each side’s legislative records: during the 109th and 110th Congresses (which is to say, the time that both Obama and Clinton have been in the Senate), only one sponsored a substantive bill that became law. Guess who it was? Hint: the bill concerns the ongoing conflict in the Congo.) Which brings me to my larger point:
I did this because I had heard one too many people like Chris Matthews talking about Obama’s alleged lack of substance, and I thought: I know that’s not true, since I have read about Obama’s work on non-proliferation, avian flu, and a few other issues. And if people are saying he lacks substance, then surely I, as a citizen, should try to find out whether I just hallucinated all this interesting legislation, or whether this talking point was, in fact, completely wrong. So I sat down with Google and Thomas and tried to find out. But I’m just an amateur. I have a full-time job doing something else. Chris Matthews, by contrast, is paid large sums of money to provide political commentary and insight. I assume he has research assistants at his disposal. He could have done this work a lot more easily than I did. But he didn’t. He was more interested in gotcha moments than in actually enlightening the American people.
So here’s a challenge for Chris Matthews, or anyone else in the media who wants to take it up. Go over Clinton and Obama’s actual legislative records. Find the genuine legislative accomplishments that each has to his or her name. Report to the American people on what you find. Until you do, don’t accept statements from either side about who has substance and who does not, or who traffics in “speeches” and who offers “solutions”. That’s lazy, unprofessional, and a disservice to your audience.
Amen to that. Why make up a fluff question when the answer is something an intern could turn up with a few days work? The obvious answer is the question isn’t supposed to get answered, it’s just a form of mud-slinging, and laziness.
Public thanks to hilzoy to doing the legwork.