The Campaign Spot

Dismantling Obama’s Second General Election Ad

In response to Obama’s second general election ad, Team McCain is spotlighting skeptical takes from the Washington Post, AP, and the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder.
Obama’s first general ad cited a bill he didn’t vote for; this ad is the Rosetta Stone of Half-Truths.
“He worked his way through college and Harvard Law. Turned down big money offers, and helped lift neighborhoods stung by job loss.”
Kurtz notes “Obama did, however, work as a New York financial consultant before that, and by his own admission he had little success helping Chicago neighborhoods cope with plant closings.” (Actually, credit where it’s due; Obama’s work in New York may not have been quite so high-end to be described as a “financial consultant.” His former co-worker says, “Barack never left the office, never wore a tie, and had neither reason nor opportunity to interview Japanese financiers or German bond traders.”)
But I think almost as relevant is the fact that while Obama turned down “big money” offers, he didn’t do too shabby in his community service work: He made about $23,000 for the first few months in today’s dollars, and his salary worked up to $39,000, and when he finished was making the equivalent of $63,000 today. Both Obamas bring up this financial sacrifice incessantly, but that salary seems like a pittance when we forget that a $12,000-$35,000 salary in 1986 is different from a $12,000-$35,000 salary today.
As noted in Byron’s NR cover piece and elsewhere, Obama’s biggest accomplishment as a community organizer was getting asbestos removed from Altgeld Gardens housing project. That’s fine, but it’s not quite “lifting a neighborhood stung by job loss.” Yes, he got an office of the Chicago’s Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training opened at the corner of Michigan and 110th Street. While it’s a nice gesture, declaring that that act “lifted the neighborhood” seems a stretch.
The narrator declares, “He passed a law to move people from welfare to work, slashed the rolls by eighty percent.” As ABC notes, Obama opposed welfare reform bill of 1996. The ad says he “Passed tax cuts for workers,” but Yuval Levin observes Obama was one of 43 cosponsors of the bill he’s citing.
I used to grind my teeth when John Kerry’s campaign used “led the fight for” as a synonym for “voted for.” But Obama’s getting even more shameless by wiping out pronouns; some of us still bitterly cling to the idea that a subject ought to start sentences.
What does it say that Obama’s campaign can’t put together a list of his accomplishments that is indisputable?

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