Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd

A very flattering article about Sen. Obama in today's NYT that documents a very impressive record when he was a state legislator in Illinois:

By the time he left Springfield in 2004, he had built not only the connections necessary to win election to the United States Senate but a record not inconsistent with his lofty rhetoric of consensus building and bipartisanship.

“He came with a huge dose of practicality,” said Paul L. Williams, a lobbyist in Springfield and former state representative who is a supporter of Mr. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Williams characterized Mr. Obama’s attitude as, “O.K., that makes sense and sounds great, as I’d like to go to the moon, but right now I’ve only got enough gas to go this far.”

With the assistance of Senator Jones, Mr. Obama helped deliver what is said to have been the first significant campaign finance reform law in Illinois in 25 years. He brought law enforcement groups around to back legislation requiring that homicide interrogations be taped and helped bring about passage of the state’s first racial-profiling law. He was a chief sponsor of a law enhancing tax credits for the working poor, played a central role in negotiations over welfare reform and successfully pushed for increasing child care subsidies.

“I learned that if you’re willing to listen to people, it’s possible to bridge a lot of the differences that dominate the national political debate,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on Friday. “I pretty quickly got to form relationships with Republicans, with individuals from rural parts of the state, and we had a lot in common.”

The Long Run

In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd

Published: July 30, 2007

There was something improbable about the new guy from Chicago via Honolulu and Jakarta, Indonesia, the one with the Harvard law degree and the job teaching constitutional law, turning up in Springfield, Ill., in January 1997 among the housewives, ex-mayors and occasional soybean farmer serving in the State Senate.


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