Lots of abusive email so far, but no offer of the “exact quote.” The Clintonoids seem to think that if Obama did not say that he “really liked” Republican ideas, and Hillary Clinton asserted that he did say that he “really liked” Republican ideas and that she could provide the “exact quote” to prove it, that’s merely a matter of interpretation. No, I’m not making this up.
Meantime, factcheck.org isn’t having any, thanks:
Clinton falsely accused Obama of saying he “really liked the ideas of the Republicans” including private Social Security accounts and deficit spending. Not true. The entire 49-minute interview to which she refers contains no endorsement of private Social Security accounts or deficit spending, and Obama specifically scorned GOP calls for tax cuts.
Clinton attacked Obama for supposedly supporting Republican ideas, which she said included federal deficits and “privatizing” Social Security:
Clinton: [He] has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote. … They were ideas like privatizing Social Security, like moving back from a balanced budget and a surplus to deficit and debt.
Obama pushed back, saying he had never endorsed such notions:
Clinton: [You] talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years.
Obama: I didn’t say they were good ones.
Clinton: Well, you can read the context of it.
Obama: Well, I didn’t say they were good ones. …
Clinton: It certainly came across in the way that it was presented…
We can’t speak to how things “came across” to Clinton, but we’ve listened to the entire interview and to our ears, it’s just flatly false that Obama said he “really liked the ideas of the Republicans.” Clinton is referring to what Obama told the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal. A video is available on the Internet.
Here’s what Obama actually said in the portion to which Clinton referred:
Obama (Jan. 14, 2008): The Republican approach has played itself out. I think it’s fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you’ve heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they’re being debated among the presidential candidates, it’s all tax cuts. Well, we know, we’ve done that; we’ve tried it. That’s not really going to solve our energy problems, for example.
There’s a difference between praising someone for having ideas and praising the idea itself. Obama is doing the former — and just as clearly not doing the latter. He says the GOP approach has “played itself out,” for example.
It’s also false to imply — as Clinton did — that Obama endorsed Republican proposals to set up private Social Security accounts or that he praised deficit spending. We listened to the entire 49-minute interview, and Obama said no such thing.
Factcheck.org also says that Clinton was right, and Obama wrong, on the issue of whether Obama once called for single-payer health care. Duly noted. His previous assertion that we ought to have such a system sounds right to me. His current position that such a system would be ideal in principle but is politically infeasible also sounds right to me. But they’re not identical. Voters looking for a politician who never learns anything will have to find a different candidate.
I wish that Obama had said as much, instead of attributing his current view to his former self. It’s hardly the same sort of untruth as misrepresenting one’s opponent’s words, but it’s not up to the standards Obama has set for himself.