Obama’s Dignity

Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace report for ABC News:

Barack Obama aligned himself with welfare reform on Monday, launching a television ad which touts the way the overhaul “slashed the rolls by 80 percent.” Obama leaves out, however, that he was against the 1996 federal legislation which precipitated the caseload reduction.

The rest of the story provides lots of quotes that portray Obama’s election conversion in a remarkably unflattering light. Davis and Wallace add:

While campaigning for president in 2007, Obama refused on two occasions to say if he would have signed the same welfare-reform bill approved by the husband of his top rival.

After addressing the International Association of Firefighters on March 14, 2007, Obama told ABC News, “I tend not to look back to what would have been done 10 years ago. We’re talking about what I’m going to be doing for the next 10 years.”

When ABC News posed the same question four months later, Obama again refused to answer.

“I’m not going to re-litigate what happened back in the 90s,” said Obama at a July 17, 2007, press conference in Washington, D.C. “I’m talking about what’s going to be happening going forward.”

“Bill Clinton isn’t on the ballot,” he added.

Once he had become the Democratic frontrunner in the spring of 2008, Obama signaled that he had always backed the 1996 welfare reform.

Asked if he would have vetoed the reform measure, Obama told The New York Times in a story published on April 11, “I won’t second guess President Clinton for signing.”

Now, with the Democratic nomination firmly in hand, Obama is going one step further. In an ad airing in 18 states, including 14 carried by President Bush in 2004, Obama is celebrating a reduction in the welfare caseload made possible by legislation he originally opposed.

Obama’s new ad “Dignity” is accessible here.

UPDATE: Having viewed the ad, Dr. Girish Patel comments:

Please listen to the ad carefully. [ABC’s] sentence “slashed the rolls by 80%” leaves out the first part of the sentence “He passed the law that slashed….” This, my friend, is much larger than simply slashing the roll – Does he claim to have passed the welfare reform law?

In fact, the ABC story reports on Obama’s stated opposition to federal welfare reform in the Illinois state legislature:

When implementation of welfare reform came before the Illinois state senate in 1997, Obama cited a lack of job training, insufficient oversight, and provisions blocking legal immigrants from receiving benefits as his reasons for opposing a federal welfare overhaul imposing work requirements and time limits.

Yuval Levin provides details on Obama’s 1997 position here.

Obama’s disciples may think his contortions represent the wisdom of the serpent. They certainly are serpentine.

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