Obama in 2001: Rumsfeld in the Mainstream

By Jennifer Parker

Jan 30, 2008 1:57pm

It was January 17, 2001, and Illinois state senator Barack Obama was on WTTW11’s “Chicago Tonight."

Discussing his opposition to Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft, Obama praised newly-elected President Bush’s new nominee for Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

“The proof in the pudding is looking at the treatment of the other Bush nominees," Obama said. "I mean for the most part, I for example do not agree with a missile defense system, but I dont think that soon-to-be-Secretary Rumsfeld is in any way out of the mainstream of American political life. And I would argue that the same would be true for the vast majority of the Bush nominees, and I give him credit for that.

"So I don’t want to be pegged as being far left simply because I find certain aspects in John Ashcroft’s record to be divisive or offensive," Obama continued. "I think it’s legitimate for me to raise that. As I said before, if he brought before us a nominee who didn’t agree with me on affirmative action and yet said that, you know, I do think that and showed a history for showing regard and concern for racial justice, if he came before us and said I oppose a woman’s right to choose, or I oppose abortion, I find it religiously offensive, and yet I do respect, for example, the notion that we shouldn’t be solving these things with violence, historically, if that had been what was said, then I don’t think I would object. And I think that’s a fair position to take.”

You can watch the specific part about Rumsfeld HERE ….which some Democrats may not particularly care for….

Rumsfeld danced through his confirmation hearings and was confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote, meaning no one — including then-newly elected Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY — objected.

But some liberal voices opposed him from the get-go.

"Rumsfeld is a throwback to Reagan- era approaches to defense policy and spending," editorialized The Capital Times & Wisconsin State Journal "’Donald Rumsfeld is a dyed-in-the-wool hawk,’ says John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World. The record confirms that assessment. Rumsfeld’s unquestioning support of the Star Wars national missile defense plan; his support for flawed weapon systems such as the B-1 bomber, the Trident nuclear missile and the MX missile; and his history of opposition to the SALT II nuclear arms treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and other attempts to reduce the risk of nuclear war mark him as a primitive Cold Warrior.

Concluded the liberal newspaper, "Rumsfeld belongs in the history books, not in the Cabinet."

I should note that this video clip did not come to me from the Clinton campaign or anyone affiliated with her operation — though I suspect it may be something her campaign tries to use against Obama, to paint him as insufficiently Democratic.

The underlying question that this clip raises with me is — what else is there about Obama that we don’t know about? What other clips? What other comments?

Obama is on the cusp of doing well on Super Duper Tuesday and has still never had a negative TV ad run against him, and it seems clear that Hillary Clinton is correct in her implication — he has not been fully "vetted."

There’s a lot voters — and the media — do not know about him.

- jpt

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