Barney Frank On Obama And The Fights Of the 90s
I think it is important to express my discomfort with a major theme of Senator Obama's campaign. I am referring to his denigration of "the Washington battles of the 1990's" and, usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly, of those who fought them.
. . . I cannot think of a cause that I cared deeply about then that I felt it appropriate to abandon as I aged, nor an important issue in which I had no interest then, but which now gets my attention.
This brings me to my particular concern with Senator Obama's vehement disassociation of himself and those he seeks to represent from "the fights of the nineties." I am very proud of many of the fights I engaged in in the nineties, as well as the eighties and before. Senator Obama also bemoans the "same bitter partisanship" of that period and appears to me to be again somewhat critical of those of us who he believes to have been engaged in it. . . .MORE
I agree that it would have been better not to have had to fight over some of the issues that occupied us in the nineties. But there would have been only one way to avoid them -- and that would have been to give up. More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.
It would have been nice in the nineties not to have had to fight to defend a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, and I would be very happy if that fight ended tomorrow. . . . I would have been delighted in the nineties if our conservative opponents had been willing to recognize our rights to be treated fairly under the law, and I would have saved a lot of time, as recently as this past year, if there was not continued strong right wing opposition to the "radical" position that people should not be denied jobs because of their fundamental nature, or that hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated less seriously than those based on racial or religious prejudice. These are three of the major fights in which I was engaged in the nineties, and I literally do not understand what Senator Obama means when he says that he does not want to keep fighting them.
. . . In some cases, Senator Obama does not seem to remember what some of the fights of the nineties were. . . . Another major fight of the nineties which seems to me essential -- not simply relevant -- to the current election is tax policy. Few fights that we had in the period when Senator Obama is denigrating our battles was more important than the successful effort to pass President Clinton's tax plan in 1993. . . . I make no apologies for having fought that fight, and in fact I hope that whoever is the President of the United States in 2009 will take up the battle against excessive tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, both as a matter of fairness and as a matter of being able to afford fundamental programs essential to the quality of our lives. . . .
Read the whole thing. A wonderful piece. Obama has a lot to answer to in response to this imo.
Why the Clinton campaign is not making this argument is not clear to me.
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