Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

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Obama has stated continuously that he will not accept money from Lobbyists and PAC’s.

But wait… lets take a look and see how he got to where he is now… as far as backing….

Read and discuss in the comments if you would like.

(credit goes to the ladies of The McCain Ravelry for finding this)


From the Columbia Journalism Review

To explain: Opensecrets.org, the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, is the most authoritative source on campaign finances. Basing its reports on data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center shows that Obama indeed doesn’t take much money from a sector the Center calls “lobbyists.” Through the end of December, Clinton received more than $800,000 and McCain around $400,000 from this group, which the Center says includes people who work for lobbying firms at the local, state, and federal level and their relatives who are not otherwise employed, as well as those who are officially registered as Washington lobbyists. Obama received contributions of about just $86,000 from this group. Obama’s Web site says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or political action committees,and the Center says that if his campaign finds that the money came from registered Washington lobbyists, it does get returned.

Also from the Boston Globe, Obama has been doing this for a while…

In Obama’s eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns – $296,000 of $461,000 – came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions, according to Illinois Board of Elections records. He tapped financial services firms, real estate developers, healthcare providers, oil companies, and many other corporate interests, the records show.

Obama’s US Senate campaign committee, starting with his successful run in 2004, has collected $128,000 from lobbyists and $1.3 million from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. His $1.3 million from PACs represents 8 percent of what he has raised overall. Clinton’s Senate committee, by comparison, has raised $3 million from PACs, 4 percent of her total amount raised, the group said.

In addition, Obama’s own federal PAC, Hopefund, took in $115,000 from 56 PACs in the 2005-2006 election cycle out of $4.4 million the PAC raised, according to CQ MoneyLine, which collects Federal Election Commission data. Obama then used those PAC contributions – including thousands from defense contractors, law firms, and the securities and insurance industries – to build support for his presidential run by making donations to Democratic Party organizations and candidates around the country.

But wait – he says that that all stopped when he started his Presidential campaign… NOT

Though Obama has returned thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from registered federal lobbyists since he declared his candidacy in February, his presidential campaign has maintained ties with lobbyists and lobbying firms to help raise some of the $58.9 million he collected through the first six months of 2007. Obama has raised more than $1.4 million from members of law and consultancy firms led by partners who are lobbyists, The Los Angeles Times reported last week. And The Hill, a Washington newspaper, reported earlier this year that Obama’s campaign had reached out to lobbyists’ networks to use their contacts to help build his fund-raising base.

Obama’s Lame Claim About McCain’s Money

Obama says McCain is “fueled” by money from lobbyists and PACs, but those sources account for less than 1.7 percent of McCain’s money.
Summary
Obama announced he would become the first presidential candidate since 1972 to rely totally on private donations for his general election campaign, opting out of the system of public financing and spending limits that was put in place after the Watergate scandal.

One reason, he said, is that “John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.”

We find that to be a large exaggeration and a lame excuse. In fact, donations from PACs and lobbyists make up less than 1.7 percent of McCain’s total receipts, and they account for only about 1.1 percent of the RNC’s receipts.

Analysis
Sen. Barack Obama declared June 19 that he would not accept public funds for his general election campaign and would instead finance it entirely with private donations. Or, as he put it, with money from “the American people.” He thus will not be bound by the spending limits that would have come with taxpayer money, and he will be legally free to spend as much as he can manage to raise.
A Lame Excuse


However, the first of the two reasons he gave for his decision doesn’t square very well with the facts. In a video recording sent to supporters, Obama said:

Obama: We face opponents who’ve become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.

To say that either the McCain campaign or the RNC are “fueled” by money from lobbyists and PACs is an overstatement, to say the least. Such funds make up less than 1.7 percent of McCain’s presidential campaign receipts and 1.1 percent of the RNC’s income.

McCain – As of the end of April, the McCain campaign had reported receiving $655,576 from lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That is less than seven-tenths of 1 percent of his total receipts of $96,654,783.
His campaign also took in $960,990 from PACs, amounting to just under 1 percent of total receipts. The two sources combined make up less than 1.7 percent of his total.

RNC – The Republican National Committee has raised $143,298,225, of which only $135,000 has been come from lobbyists, according to the CRP. That’s less than one-tenth of 1 percent. It also took in about 1 percent of its receipts from PACs, CRP said. Taken together, that’s about 1.1 percent from PACs and lobbyists.

Obama’s Advantage


It’s not our place to comment on the wisdom or propriety of Obama’s financial strategy, except to note that it is perfectly legal and also that McCain and Obama both refused to accept public funds or spending limits during the primary campaign.

We also note that Obama’s decision –  whatever may have motivated it – is likely to give him a big financial advantage over McCain in the weeks just before the November election. This is a reversal of the historic pattern, in which Republican candidates have nearly always been able to out-raise their Democratic rivals. Had Obama accepted public funds, as McCain is expected to do, both candidates would have been limited to spending $84.1 million, all of it from taxpayers. But Obama has shown the potential for raising and spending much more.

The Obama campaign already has raised $265 million through the end of April, more than two-and-a-half times as much as McCain has taken in. Figures for May are due out soon. The Obama campaign said on May 6 that it had surpassed 1.5 million individual donors, and it probably has many more than that by now. All of those primary donors are legally free to make new contributions to finance Obama’s general election campaign, which officially commences after he becomes certified as the Democratic party’s nominee at the convention at the end of August.

Footnotes


The lobbyist figures we give here could stand some minor refinement. The totals might be reduced somewhat if the CRP used Obama’s rather narrow definition of “lobbyist.” Obama makes a point of refusing money from those who are currently registered to lobby at the federal level. The CRP has a broader definition, counting money from anyone working at a lobbying firm, registered or not, state or federal, and their families as well. By CRP’s definition Obama himself has taken in $161,927 from lobbyists.

On the other hand, CRP does not count registered lobbyists who work in-house for corporations, industry groups and unions, but classifies them with their industries. Adding those in-house lobbyists to the total could increase the amounts somewhat. But adding donations from in-house lobbyists and subtracting donations from those who don’t meet Obama’s strict definition would not be likely to change the total by much, and certainly not by enough to justify Obama’s claim that McCain and the RNC are “fueled” by such donations.

Also, for what it’s worth, the Democratic National Committee has historically been far more reliant on PAC and lobbyist money than the RNC. In 2004, PACs provided about 10 percent of the DNC’s total fundraising and only about 1 percent of the RNC’s total, according to the CRP. Obama, after he sewed up enough delegates to win the party’s nomination, sent word to the DNC to stop accepting PAC and lobbyist donations.

-by Brooks Jackson

Sources

Barack Obama’s first (of I am assuming many) ad’s for the General Election has been released… and already there is lying…

Have a read and check it for yourselves

Fact Check

 As always, comments are open for your opinion


That Line in Obama’s First General Election Ad

 

When I saw Obama’s first ad, referring to “extended health care for wounded troops who had been neglected,” and the fine print pointing to a bill, I wondered whether Obama was taking credit for voting in favor of some bill that passed with 90 votes or so.

Sean Hackbarth wondered the same thing, and noticed that “With a little research at Thomas.gov you find P.L. 110-181 is the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. Obama wasn’t present for that vote.”

Hackbarth notes that McCain wasn’t present either, and authorization bills usually pass by wide margins. A poster at Daily Kos attempted to defend Obama, but towards the end of the post, notes that Obama offered two amendments that dealt with medical and mental health assessments and a temporary moratorium on discharges for personality disorders… but neither amendment was considered for a vote. A section of the bill calling for inspector general reports on inspections of military health facilities, and requiring the reports to be posted on the Internet, was included in the bill, and that language did come from legislation Obama sponsored.

Of course, calling for inspector general reports isn’t quite the same as “extended health care for wounded troops.

 

Shelf Life of a Promise

Posted: June 19, 2008 in Obama, Social Issues

at least when it comes to Obama who today stated that he would not be using public funding for his race, to spite what he states as recently as Febuary:

National Review Online (By Jim Garaghty)

All Obama Promises Have Expiration Dates

Obama abandons public financing for the general election.

I’m recalling The Washington Post back on February 16:

AS RECENTLY as November, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was unequivocal about whether he would agree to take public financing for the general election if his Republican opponent pledged to do the same. “If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?” the Midwest Democracy Network asked in a questionnaire. Mr. Obama’s answer was clear. “Yes,” he wrote. “If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

Team McCain says they’ve never been contacted by the Obama campaign to discuss a publicly financed general election.

The man makes promises he has no intention of keeping.

Oh, and in other news, when he said NAFTA was “devastating” and “a big mistake,” a few months ago, he now says he didn’t mean it.

 

 

 

 

 

What Change?

Posted: June 15, 2008 in Obama, Social Issues

State pork to Obama’s district included allies, donors

By Ray Long | Ray Gibson and David Jackson
May 3, 2007

SPRINGFIELD – Barack Obama has expressed pride in his ability to bring home old-fashioned pork.

During his nearly eight years in Springfield, he tucked special earmarks into massive budget bills to shower small bequests on inner city schools, parks and youth service agencies.

But some of the larger grants Obama sponsored were tied to political allies and show how difficult it is even for politicians advocating reform to avoid the appearance of favoritism as they dole out taxpayer funds. Several non-profit directors, for instance, gave money to Obama’s campaigns soon after their allotments were awarded.

“My philosophy was that, if money was being distributed, then it would be inappropriate for me to not get my share for my district,” Obama, now one of the U.S. Senate Democrats’ leaders on ethics reform, said in an interview. “Did I think it was the best way to prioritize government spending? No.”

The Tribune analyzed 119 grants in which Obama steered more than $6 million for Chicago projects between late 1999 and late 2002, the heart of his Statehouse career and the center of a state government frenzy in which Obama said the pork-barrel process was “wide open.”

Typical of his grants was the $5,000 Obama delivered to the South Shore Public Library for chess equipment, books and knitting supplies, or the $5,000 to help the Sir Miles Davis Academy plaster and paint walls and repair windows.

But other grants reflected politics. In 2001, for example, Obama steered $75,000 to a South Side charity called FORUM Inc., which promised to help churches and community groups get wired to the Internet. Records show five FORUM employees, including one who had declared bankruptcy, had donated $1,000 apiece to Obama’s state Senate campaign.

As the grant dollars were being disbursed to FORUM, the Illinois attorney general filed a civil lawsuit accusing the charity’s founder of engaging in an unrelated kickback scheme. Just days after the suit was filed, Obama quietly returned the $5,000 in donations. “I didn’t want to be associated with money that potentially might have been tainted,” he said.

FORUM founder Yesse Yehudah, who unsuccessfully ran for state Senate against Obama in 1998, denied wrongdoing and, without admitting guilt, settled the attorney general’s lawsuit by paying $10,000 to a charity. He declined to comment.

Obama was not accused of wrongdoing, and he said none of his state grants came about as a quid pro quo.

“It happens that there were major supporters in my district who had been supporters before they got member initiatives,” Obama said, noting that some of his contributors had been his allies for years.

One of those long-time supporters was Rev. Michael Pfleger, the politically active leader of St. Sabina Church. He gave Obama’s campaign $1,500 between 1995 and 2001, including $200 in April 2001, about three months after Obama announced $225,000 in grants to St. Sabina programs.

Pfleger said he made those donations personally, not on behalf of the church or to win grants.

“At a time when less people vote than ever, I don’t think pastors should be silent on politics,” Pfleger said.

Another supporter, Henry English, made two donations to Obama totaling $900 in 2001 after Obama helped send a $50,000 grant to a non-profit group that English ran, the Black United Fund of Illinois. English scoffed when asked if his donations were related to the grants.

“It’s something that I did,” he said. BUFI and Obama “have somewhat of a relationship. He is from down the street.”

Personal ties to Obama also were evident in some pork dispensed by his political allies. The Chicago-based Muntu Dance Theatre received a $4.5 million grant to help pay for a $10 million cultural center.

Obama’s mentor in Springfield, state Sen. Emil Jones (D-Chicago), sponsored the grant. And at the time $2.25 million of the grant was disbursed, Obama’s wife, Michelle, sat on the non-profit dance group’s board.

Obama said in the interview that at the time of the award in 2003 his wife wasn’t a board member, though tax returns of the charity indicate she sat on the board in 2002 and 2003. Jones’ spokeswoman said Michelle Obama did not lobby him for the funds.

I came across this rather interesting article during my web surfing. Interesting because of the assertion of a “new style politics”. Feel free to leave comments for discussion or your impressions.


From No Quarter

ABC Ignores Obama’s Misleading Message

about Lobbyists’ Money

Some bloggers are upset with Barack Obama for giving conflicting responses about the flag-pin non-issue (Little Green Footballs via Memeorandum).  Aside from admiring Nancy Pelosi’s pearls, I don’t care about politicians’ jewelry.

I do care about mainstream media’s repeated failure to cover the more substantive misleading statements that Sen. Obama has made: chiefly, those about where he gets his campaign funding. 

Today, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos presented a prime opportunity to spotlight this important issue, but George and his guests chose not to.

 

George shared a video clip of an Obama campaign TV ad running in Indiana, in which Sen. Obama states that he does not take money from lobbyists.

Technically, that may be true, but it’s a highly misleading statement.

Obama reportedly stopped taking money from registered lobbyists when he announced his candidacy last year: that was after taking more than $1 million in lobbyist- or PAC-generated donations that got his campaign off the ground. (Chicago Tribune)

Recently, Newhouse News Services reported:

“State lobbyists and non-wage-earning spouses of lobbyists and
lobbying firm employees
have contributed $115,163 to Obama’s campaign through March 20, according to the center [for Responsive Politics].”

Oh, that’s right: Obama claims to have not taken money from federally registered lobbyists. Do words really matter in this case? Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported: 

“Sen. Barack Obama raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation’s capital.”

This month, USA Today  reported:

Obama accepts money from spouses of federal lobbyists. In December, the campaign returned a $250 contribution from lobbyist Thomas Jensen of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, but a few
days later, it cashed a $500 check from his wife, Sarah, records show….”

Obama holds fundraisers at law firms that lobby in Washington. Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the campaign held five fundraisers at New York and Boston offices of three firms that lobby, including Greenberg Traurig [the same firm that lobbyist-turned-prison-inmate Jack Abramoff had worked for]….”

The Hill ran a story in March 2007, which states that an Obama fund raiser specifically asked a lobbyist 1) for his wife’s donation, and 2) for access to that lobbyist’s business contacts.

Then there’s the issue of lobbyists who don’t actually sign donation checks but who bundle other people’s checks.  When lobbyists bundle donations, Candidates know whom to thank. 

SourceWatch has an entire section, with sources, on lobbyists’ bundling for Obama.

Then there’s the matter of corporate cash.  Sen. Obama claims that he is not beholden to corporate interests, because he doesn’t take money from corporations.  No federal candidates take money directly from corporations, because that’s illegal (Tillman Act of 1907).

Instead, the longstanding tradition among candidates is to take donations from corporate executives, employees and PACs.  Obama certainly has been part of that tradition, as the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month:

“Obama has taken at least $263,000 from oil company executives, family members and employees since entering the presidential race last year, including $46,000 last month. At least $140,000 has come in chunks of between $1,000 and $2,300, the maximum permitted under federal law [likely not from janitors and receptionists]….”

According to Newhouse News services, Sen. Obama:

“People in the oil and gas industries have given $222,309 to Obama. He received $528,765 from the pharmaceutical and health industry, making him the largest recipient of the sector’s largesse.

“Obama’s Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has raised $309,363 from the oil and gas industry and $506,001 from the health care and pharmaceutical industry.”

Given the last quote, obviously my point is not that Obama is more or less tainted than other candidates.  As long as our campaign-finance system is riddled with loopholes, most federal candidates will take special-interest cash.  Period.

My point is this: Obama has taken special-interest money while falsely claiming that his campaign coffers are untainted.

In short, Obama is a player in the old Washington game — he just tells voters that he’s not.

The obvious reality and hypocrisy matter, because they go to the heart of a major plank in Obama’s campaign platform.  For months, he has marketed himself as a clean outsider who is, therefore, better able to change Washington than any other candidate.

Obama has received support from many hopeful people who believe the misleading claims and comparisons underlying Obama’s image.

The money trail is where the truth about politics tends to reveal itself — and the money trail suggests that Obama is just as tainted by special-interest cash and just as entrenched in old-style politics as any other candidate.

Now, if only more mainstream-media would fulfill their duty to us viewers and actually spotlight these issues and inconsistencies….

Incidentally, Larry Johnson at No Quarter posted a piece yesterday about following a different Obama money trail.

Lastly, the Center for Responsive Politics has tables of the three presidential candidates’ top-20 industry-connected donations:  Barack ObamaHillary ClintonJohn McCain.:

 

For now I am just goin to post the link to this article. It is very informative on the politics of Chicago and Washington.  Its a long read but a good one.

Over the next few days I’ll be copying the actual text for posterity.

 

Curtain Time For Barack

>http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23799921-20261,00.html

 

June 03, 2008

The Washington Post editorialises on the continuing good news from Iraq that goes unreported in the US

THERE’S been a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks, which is odd because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war.

While Washington’s attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi Government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City, routing the Shi’ite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran.

At the same time, Iraqi and US forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qa’ida. So many of its leaders have been captured or killed that US ambassador Ryan Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists had “never been closer to defeat than they are now”.

Iraq passed a turning point last (northern autumn) when the US counter-insurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi’ites. Now another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi Government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained “special groups” that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. It is, of course, too early to celebrate: though in disarray, the Mahdi army of Moqtada al-Sadr could still regroup, and Iran will almost certainly seek to stir up new violence before the US and Iraqi elections.

Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow US commanders to make some welcome adjustments and it ought to mandate an already overdue rethinking by the “this war is lost” caucus in Washington, including senator Barack Obama.

Andrew Kohut, in The New York Times, on how the war in Iraq may play out in the US presidential election:

SURPRISINGLY, a late April Pew survey found voters thinking that John McCain could do a better job than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in handling the war, by a 50per cent to 38 per cent margin in Obama’s case and a 49 per cent to 43 per cent margin in Clinton’s case.

A late May poll found a much closer division of opinion between McCain and Obama, 46 per cent to 43 per cent, but not one that favoured the Illinois Democrat.

It’s noteworthy that these responses came from a public that largely thinks the war was a mistake (57 per cent to 37 per cent in the April survey), a view that is a cornerstone of the Obama campaign.

This suggests that the high regard for McCain on the issue is predicated on looking forward at how he might handle the war in the future than at his past record of support.

No doubt McCain’s high standing over his likeliest November candidate has a great deal to do with the higher level of confidence thatvoters have in him over Obama on national security. The April survey found voters picking McCain over Obama as better able to defend the country against future terrorist attacks, by a huge 63 per cent to 26per cent margin.

Meanwhile, on US ABC television news:

“WE’VE seen this movie before,” Obama said at a town hall in Rapid City, South Dakota. “A leader who pursues the wrong course, who is unwilling to change course, who ignores the evidence. Now, just like George Bush, John McCain is refusing to admit that he’s made a mistake.”

Obama explained to the crowd of 2700 that McCain had said on Friday that the US had drawn down to pre-surge troop levels in Iraq.

“John McCain was wrong, and he was wrong on the most important question that any commander-in-chief faces,” Obama said.

“We have not drawn down to pre-surge levels. We have about 20,000 more troops in Iraq today than we had before the surge. Even after we finish rotating more troops out later this summer we’ll still have thousands more of Americans in Iraq than we had before the surge. Those are the facts.

“Now, we all misspeak sometimes. I’ve done it myself. So, on such a basic, factual error, you’d think that John McCain would just say, ‘Oh, I misspoke, I made a mistake’, and then move on. But he couldn’t do that. Instead, he dug in,” Obama said, and connected it to President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. “We all know this President refused to admit that he made a mistake. That’s the leadership that we’ve had enough of over the last eight years.”

 

Democrats and Our Enemies

By JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
May 21, 2008; Page A19

How did the Democratic Party get here? How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?

Beginning in the 1940s, the Democratic Party was forced to confront two of the most dangerous enemies our nation has ever faced: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In response, Democrats under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy forged and conducted a foreign policy that was principled, internationalist, strong and successful.

This was the Democratic Party that I grew up in – a party that was unhesitatingly and proudly pro-American, a party that was unafraid to make moral judgments about the world beyond our borders. It was a party that understood that either the American people stood united with free nations and freedom fighters against the forces of totalitarianism, or that we would fall divided.

This was the Democratic Party of Harry Truman, who pledged that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”

And this was the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy, who promised in his inaugural address that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of freedom.”

This worldview began to come apart in the late 1960s, around the war in Vietnam. In its place, a very different view of the world took root in the Democratic Party. Rather than seeing the Cold War as an ideological contest between the free nations of the West and the repressive regimes of the communist world, this rival political philosophy saw America as the aggressor – a morally bankrupt, imperialist power whose militarism and “inordinate fear of communism” represented the real threat to world peace.

It argued that the Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemy because we had provoked them, because we threatened them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America’s fault.

Of course that leftward lurch by the Democrats did not go unchallenged. Democratic Cold Warriors like Scoop Jackson fought against the tide. But despite their principled efforts, the Democratic Party through the 1970s and 1980s became prisoner to a foreign policy philosophy that was, in most respects, the antithesis of what Democrats had stood for under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.

Then, beginning in the 1980s, a new effort began on the part of some of us in the Democratic Party to reverse these developments, and reclaim our party’s lost tradition of principle and strength in the world. Our band of so-called New Democrats was successful sooner than we imagined possible when, in 1992, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were elected. In the Balkans, for example, as President Clinton and his advisers slowly but surely came to recognize that American intervention, and only American intervention, could stop Slobodan Milosevic and his campaign of ethnic slaughter, Democratic attitudes about the use of military force in pursuit of our values and our security began to change.

This happy development continued into the 2000 campaign, when the Democratic candidate – Vice President Gore – championed a freedom-focused foreign policy, confident of America’s moral responsibilities in the world, and unafraid to use our military power. He pledged to increase the defense budget by $50 billion more than his Republican opponent – and, to the dismay of the Democratic left, made sure that the party’s platform endorsed a national missile defense.

By contrast, in 2000, Gov. George W. Bush promised a “humble foreign policy” and criticized our peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.

Today, less than a decade later, the parties have completely switched positions. The reversal began, like so much else in our time, on September 11, 2001. The attack on America by Islamist terrorists shook President Bush from the foreign policy course he was on. He saw September 11 for what it was: a direct ideological and military attack on us and our way of life. If the Democratic Party had stayed where it was in 2000, America could have confronted the terrorists with unity and strength in the years after 9/11.

Instead a debate soon began within the Democratic Party about how to respond to Mr. Bush. I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party’s left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.

John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America’s friends and America’s enemies.

There are of course times when it makes sense to engage in tough diplomacy with hostile governments. Yet what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

If a president ever embraced our worst enemies in this way, he would strengthen them and undermine our most steadfast allies.

A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned “no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies.” This is a lesson that today’s Democratic Party leaders need to relearn.

Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut. This article is adapted from a speech he gave May 18 at a dinner hosted by Commentary magazine.