Chicago Sun-Times: Challenge Earmarks as "Third Ethical Conversion of Convenience"

Obama's latest Problem-----------Chicago press corps is leading the charge in changing the way they report on him.

It appears the press is starting to vet Obama.  This one is a doozie, because for the first time we see a major reporter questioning Obama on his primary appeal.  It's the centerpiece of his campaign.    

ETHICS.

TURNS OUT, OBAMA's ethics are going to be a problem.

Chicago Lynn Sweet on Obama's 3 POLITICALLY "HIGHER STANDARD STANCES" THAT ARE NOT AT ALL ETHICALLY SUPERIOR.

He's changed on 3 counts 1) corporate plane rides 2) lobbyists and 3) earmarks.  In all cases, it was a HUMONGOUS political reason that he changed his tune.

HERE'S HOW LYNN SWEET REPORTS IT-- THE OPENING IS A DOOZIE:

<Sweet column: Obama's politically expedient ethics conversions. Earmarks latest example.</p>

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama, who had been declining to reveal earmarks he requested in 2005 and 2006, finally did so Thursday and probably would prefer the story to be about how his campaign challenged Democratic presidential rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to do the same for her entire Senate tenure.

Instead, since I have some reporting history here, I am noting a pattern that has emerged: This is Obama's third ethical conversion of convenience -- taking on a higher standard, but only when it appears to be politically expedient. Obama is making government transparency and ethics a centerpiece of his presidential campaign>

The Obama record:

FIRST POLITICAL SWITCHEROO-------- JACK ABRAMOFF STYLE PLANE RIDES

<* * Obama took 23 subsidized rides on corporate jets in 2005, the first year he was in office. In January 2006, the very week he became the lead Senate Democrat on ethics, his office announced that in the future, his political war chest would pay the entire cost of using private planes.>

SO AFTER JACK ABROMOFF WAS REVEALED TO BE FLYING SENATORS AROUND TO GOLF COURSES, YOU'LL RECALL, IT BECAME POLITICAL POISON.

BUT, OBAMA ACCEPTED ABRAMOFF STYLE PLANE RIDES UNTIL....THE WEEK HE WAS APPOINTED THE LEAD SENATOR ON ETHICS.

SECOND POLITICAL SWITCHEROO.....LOBBYISTS

<* * Obama took donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees for his House and Senate races and his own Hopefund political action committee. He only stopped taking this political money -- speaking out against it -- when he launched his presidential campaign in February 2007>

SO, OBAMA WAS HAPPY TO ACCEPT LOBBYIST MONEY.......UNTIL THE MOMENT HE LAUNCHED HIS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAING

THIRD POLITICAL FLIP-FLOPPEROO......EARMARKS

<* * Obama did disclose earmark requests he made in 2007; however, his office has been refusing since June, without explanation, to disclose earmarks Obama had sought previously. Thursday's decision to disclose came on the very day the Senate voted on a one-year earmark moratorium. It failed 71-29. Clinton and Obama voted in favor.>

SO OBAMA HAS REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO REVEAL ANY EARMARKS UNTIL THURSDAY, WHEN SENATE FAILED TO PASS A ONE-YEAR MORATORIUM ON EARMARKS.

GUESS WHY?  ONE ANSWER, JOHN MCCAIN.

<Last month, McCain taunted Obama on lack of earmark disclosure. Obama will seek no earmarks for Illinois this year>

SO AGAIN, AFTER TAUNTED BY MCCAIN IN THIS CASE....OBAMA WON'T ACCEPT EARMARKS THIS YEAR.  WHAT YEAR IS THIS?  THE YEAR HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

<Obama's presidential campaign hosted a conference call Thursday to trumpet his new disclosures even as they were being posted on the Internet. The call featured Obama ally Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). McCaskill praised Obama's openness and said, "And I think if we are not willing to share things, like, you know, appointment calendars or earmarks, I think it is a bad sign for truly making a change in the way this place operates.">

OF COURSE, THE PROBLEM IS....AS IT TURN OUT MCCASKILL WAS WRONG SWEET HAS BEEN ASKING TO FIND OUT OBAMA'S SCHEDULE SO SHE COULD SEE WHO HE'S BEEN WHEELING AND DEALING WITH, AND MAKING FAT CAT PROMISES TO.  BUT WILL HE TELL ANY REPORTER?

<Since McCaskill raised the point: Obama has provided bare-bones information about his Senate schedule. I asked McCaskill about this. "I would think he would be happy to share information about how he spends his days," she said> BUT ALAS, IT TURNS OUT  

<He is not.>

TAUNT CLINTON ALL YOU WANT, WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, OBAMA.....

<Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said that Clinton "has made public the funding she has helped to secure and will make public the requests she submits this year."</p>

Earmarks are tucked into legislation, controversial because they bypass review. Obama requested and did not secure $1 million for a hospital pavilion at the University of Chicago. Obama's wife, Michelle, is vice president for community and external affairs, now on leave, at the U. of Chicago Hospitals. Obama also sought money for the Center for Neighborhood Technology, where his neighbor Jacky Grimshaw is a honcho.

In 2005, Obama asked for $500,000 for Kids Voting USA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization encouraging young people to vote.

In 2006, Obama requested $250,000 for the Chicago Park District's Obesity Prevention-Affordable Fitness Centers. He also asked for $8 million for a defense contractor linked to General Dynamics. Obama's Illinois co-finance chairman, Jim Crown, is on the company's board of directors.>

BOTTOM LINE.........THE PRESS HAS NOW REALIZED THAT OBAMA'S CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN WORKS LIKE THIS

OBAMA'S FLIP--FLOPPEROOS:

ONE--- OBAMA WAS FOR CORPORATE JET RIDES LIKE ABRAMOFF GAVE TO SENATORS GOING TO GOLF COURSES, UNTIL THE WEEK HE BECAME THE LEAD SENATOR ON ETHICS
TWO--- OBAMA WAS FOR LOBBYIST MONEY, PAC FUND BUNDLING UNTIL THE MOMENT HE DECIDED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT
THREE-- OBAMA REFUSED REPEATED REQUESTS TO REVEAL HIS EARMARKS (SOME CONTROVERSIAL) UNTIL TAUNTED BY JOHN MCCAIN

AND HOW MUCH DOES OBAMA WANT TO TALK ABOUT EARMARKS?  HOW POLITICALLY SMART IS THAT?  DO YOU KNOW WHO JOHN MCCAIN IS?  HE'S THE GUY WHO'S LED THE CHARGE FIGHTING EARMARKS.

Obama's problems are mounting.  He has no experience on national security, he has 3 productive years of legislative experience in public life, and now it turns out that his freshness is increasingly stale (Reverend Wright), and the centerpiece of his campaign is in question.

And now, the press is catching up to the truth.

Obama---------CHANGE THAT IS ALWAYS POLITICAL.  

Let's hope Pennsylvania gives us a fighting chance on national security while we can SHOW the upper ground on economics and bread-and-butter issues which the Clinton administration has handled brilliantly in very recent memory.

http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/03/ sweet_column_obamas_politicall.html

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