Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Accomplishments Question

Christopher Beam over at Slate has a rather scathing appraisal of Obama supporters' knowledge of their candidate. This, beyond the standard "cult of personality" meme, has arisen from an extremely embarrassing deer in the headlights performance by Texas state Senator Kirk Watson when he was asked about Obama's legislative accomplishments. Perhaps something you might want to be familiar with, when your candidate is being questioned about his experience daily.

Beam kicks them while they're down with:

Some of this can be blamed on the campaign. Obama spends an inordinate amount of oxygen on lofty generalizations—perhaps no more than his colleagues do, but certainly more effectively. And when he does talk policy, it’s not about what he’s done, but programs he would like to see. Hard-core Obama fans could rattle off details of his health-care plan and economic stimulus package, since he repeats them in ads and on the stump. But ask them about the minutiae of his Senate ethics reform package and their eyes begin to dart.

Supporters themselves deserve flak, too. A similar moment occurred on Hannity & Colmes a few weeks ago, when a roomful of Democrats couldn’t name an Obamaccomplishment beyond “ethics reform” and “community organizing.” When the camera panned to him, one guy proudly declared, “Inspiration.” That is just sad. I’ve heard the question asked at parties, with similar responses.

Fair enough I suppose... as an Obama supporter, I'm only aware of his ethics reform bill and work on nuclear proliferation in the Senate, and vague notions of health care reform and the video taping of confessions at the state level. I don't know the details of any of that beyond the superficial, so no doubt Chistopher Beam would find me worthy of scorn... and I have no idea whether Chis Mathews would consider that a suitable portfolio of accomplishments for someone running for President.

However, why do Hillary Clinton and John McCain and their supporters get a free pass on this question? The latter has 25 years in the Senate, and pretty much nothing to show for it. Honestly, what does a McCain supporter point to other than that and the fact that he was a POW? And Obama is running on his biography? Please. Hillary is even worse it seems, with a disastrously failed health care plan, a vote for the Iraq War, and the naming of some post offices I think.

Meh.

Update: What hilzoy said.