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Obama, 2000: Not A Lot Of “Ideological Differences” With Bobby Rush

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In yesterday’s conversation with Time’s Joe Klein (transcript here) I noted that when then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama ran against incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush in the 2000 Democratic primary for the 1rst Congressional District, Obama announced there wasn’t much difference between the two candidates when it came to beliefs.

“I don’t think there are a lot of ideological differences,” Obama declared after a television debate between Rush, himself and a third candidate Donne Trotter.

Obama had positioned himself for the run against Rush by introducing a bill aimed at racial profiling that was supported by the left (“Flanked by officials from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Obama said the measure…” read the write up in the December 7, 1999 Chicago Tribune) and by deploring the situation that found “[m]any seniors are having to decide between milk and bread or paying for their prescription drugs.”

He blasted Rush for doing little as a Congressman. “Seniority without vision doesn’t get you much,” Obama declared. “And that’s what this campaign is about –framing the debate with leadership and vision.”

The rhetoric we have grown used to got a workout in the fall of 1999 and winter of 2000.

“Part of what we are talking about is a transition from a politics of protest to a politics of progress,” Obama declared.

For his part, Rush dismissed Obama as one of the “Johnny-come-latelys only interested in getting elected,” and crushed Obama easily, 61%-30%.

What do we learn from that race in 2000?

Most importantly, that there were not, in Obama’s words, “a lot of ideological differences” between the former Blank Panther Rush and the Obama of 2000.

In 2004, (the latest year recorded in the 2006 Almanac of American Politics), Rush scored a 100 from the ADA and the ACLU, and a 0 from the ACU.

By his own admission in 2000, we have to conclude that Barack Obama is from the far left of American politics, just like Rush.

I asked Klein about this fact. The exchange:

HH: Okay, we’ve only got a couple minutes left. Do you know, Bobby Rush, the Congressman in Chicago he ran against in 2000?

JK: Yeah, former Black Panther, right?

HH: Yeah, he’s very, very liberal, right?

JK: Yeah, I guess most inner-city black Congressmen would qualify as old-fashioned liberals.

HH: And so when…I mean, he’s way to the left, though. He’s a radical. When Obama declares that there isn’t any ideological difference between he and Bobby Rush, shouldn’t we believe him?

JK: Maybe that was true back when he ran against Bobby Rush. But I think that what we should look at is what he’s saying now, what he favors now, what he will say in the debates, and what we can, what we in the press get out of him when we try and hold his feet to the fire.

Joe Klein perfectly summarizes the MSM’s approach to Obama: Ignore everything about Obama inconvenient to his remodel for ’08 and pretend that he has changed from his beliefs of a mere eight years ago, despite zero evidence of any particular policy shift and an extremely left-wing voting record in the U.S. Senate.

This may work for the Democratic primaries where the voters are willing to be fooled, but it won’t fly in the general.

The Democratic Party has steadily lurched left in its nominees from 1996 forward. Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Obama represents a shift left on each occasion, and now the party has reached the far left edge of American politics.

It is about to nominate the pupil of Jeremiah Wright and the pal of Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers who has the politics of Bobby Rush.


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