Barack Obama released his first general election ad on Friday, which seems aimed above all to answer some early concerns about his biography and experience. It’s a well made ad, but it also offers an example of the kind of brazen padding of the resume that Obama will inevitably need to engage in, and which will carry serious risks for him.
About 46 seconds into the ad, we are told that Obama “passed laws” that “extended healthcare for wounded troops who’d been neglected,” and in the usual manner of these political commercials we are given a little citation at the bottom. The citation reads “Public Law 110-181 1/28/08”. That law is the only federal legislation cited in the ad — the other two items mentioned were from the Illinois legislature and referred to other issues raised in the ad.
Public Law 110-181 was the 2008 defense authorization bill. It passed the Senate by 91 to 3 in January, with six Senators not voting. Among those six absentees was Barack Obama. So he cites a bill he didn’t even vote for. Did he contribute to it in some way that might be reasonably referred to as extending healthcare for wounded troops who’d been neglected? It certainly doesn’t seem that way, as even Obama supporters at the Daily Kos discovered when they tried to answer some of the bloggers who pointed to Obama’s citation of the bill. They found that Obama had tried to insert an amendment that had to do with screenings for service members returning from deployments, and one that would ease the discharge of service members found to have personality disorders, but neither amendment passed. Another part of the bill, calling for inspector general reports about hospital facilities, had come from a different bill Obama had sponsored.
Even under the most generous reading imaginable could any of that count as passing legislation that extended health care for wounded troops? The Chicago Tribune noted the problem on its blog last week but defended Obama by pointing out that John McCain didn’t vote for the bill either. That would be an interesting piece of information if John McCain had cited this bill as among his chief legislative accomplishments.
The Obama team’s desire to pad the resume is understandable — it’s awfully slim after all. But this kind of dishonesty will catch up with them…or at least it should.