Barack Obama has a solution to his lack of accomplishment and experience: pad his resume. If resume fraud were a crime, Obama would be looking at fifteen to life. And it is not just an isolated incident or two. He is a repeat offender.
Obama started early. Even the New York Times acknowledges that in his book Dreams From My Father Obama accomplished little as a “community organizer.” (“It is clear that the benefit of those years to Mr. Obama dwarfs what he accomplished.”) But he did manage to steal credit for asbestos testing and removal in the Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project in Chicago. But he didn’t quite tell the whole story. The Times writes:
What Mr. Obama does not mention in his book is that residents of the nearby Ida B. Wells housing project, and some at Altgeld itself, had already been challenging the housing authority on asbestos. A local newspaper had also taken up the issue.
Now Obama is running for the presidency on the slimmest record of accomplishment of any major party candidate in recent memory. In June Obama was interviewed by ABC’s Jake Tapper. There was this exchange:
TAPPER: But have you ever worked across the aisle in such a way that entailed a political risk for yourself?
OBAMA: Well, look, when I was doing ethics reform legislation, for example, that wasn’t popular with Democrats or Republicans. So any time that you actually try to get something done in Washington, it entails some political risks.
But I think the basic principle which you pointed out is that I have consistently said, when it comes to solving problems, like nuclear proliferation or reducing the influence of lobbyists in Washington, that I don’t approach this from a partisan or ideological perspective. And the same is true when it comes to the economy. The same is true when it comes to national security. You know, this administration, the Bush administration, has made, for example, the war on terror into a sharply partisan issue. But the truth is, is that I admire some of the foreign policy of George Bush’s father. And I’ve said so before. I think that there’s a tradition of us working together to make sure that we are dealing with the threats that are out there and that we are building a consensus here in the United States. That’s the kind of approach I intend to take when I’m president of the United States.
If you missed the answer to Tapper’s question — name a bipartisan accomplishment putting you at political risk — don’t worry. There wasn’t one. Because unlike John McCain who has taken his lumps from his own party but who has actually accomplished something in Congress, Obama’s record is relatively barren.
Even friendly bloggers remarked that he might have to improve on this non-answer.
Perhaps sensing that Obama needed to demonstrate some record of accomplishment his campaign put up an ad in early July touting his record on welfare reform, claiming he “passed a law to move people from welfare to work — slashed the rolls by 80 percent.” But this wasn’t true. He actually opposed the 1996 welfare reform bill passed by his former rival Hillary Clinton’s husband. As Factcheck.org pointed out:
That’s going too far. First, the law in question wasn’t dreamed up out of thin air by its sponsors. It was the follow-up to the welfare reform act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, that President Clinton signed on Aug. 26, 1996. That law gave states the ability to design their own welfare programs as long as they met certain federal requirements, including limits on how long recipients could get benefits. The bill that Obama cosponsored was Illinois’ version. And far from having “passed” the bill single-handedly, Obama was among five Senate sponsors of the measure, as we said previously. It was passed by both chambers of the Illinois Legislature and signed into law by the governor.
. . .
But we don’t think Obama alone, or even Obama and the four other sponsors of the Illinois law, can take credit for all of this. It was the federal law, hammered out by Clinton and the Republican Congress, that set the wheels in motion and forced states to act.
That same ad also contained an exaggeration about his personal life. Although he claimed to have worked his way through school, his campaign could identify only two summer jobs during his college years.
This propensity to pad his own resume has continued unabated. John McCain nearly committed political suicide by championing comprehensive immigration reform. Obama? His role was slight. Indeed he helped sink the bill at a critical time by joining other pro-Big Labor Democrats in voting on poison pill amendments. But now he boasts of his own role. Chicago Sun-Times’ Washington bureau chief and longtime Obama watcher Lynn Sweet calls foul. She writes:
Obama on the campaign trail inflates his leadership role — casting himself as someone who could figure out how to get something done. Obama “did not absolutely stand out in any way,” said Margaret Sands Orchowski, the author of “Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria,” and a close follower of the legislation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a McCain ally and a key player on immigration, said Obama was around for only a “handful” of meetings and helped destroy a 2007 compromise when he voted for making guest worker visa programs temporary. A permanent guest worker program was to be a trade for a legalization program to cover many illegal immigrants. “When it came time to putting that bill together, he was more of a problem than he was a help. And when it came time to try to get the bill passed, he, in my opinion, broke the agreement we had. He was in the photo op, but he could not execute the hard part of the deal,” Graham said.
So what to make of all this? Obama claims that experience is not as important as “judgment” or “change.” By manufacturing or existing accomplishments, however, he suggests that he does not buy his own pitch.
Rather, his repeated attempts to bolster his resume indicate that he may be nervous about his non-existent record of achievement. Not trusting that voters will buy his disparagement of experience, Obama is now resorting to a common, but risking tactic of under-qualified job-seekers: fudge the resume.
Resume fraud carries grave risks. If the employer finds out you are lying, you are unlikely to get the job, even if the competition is weak. And for Obama, who is already belaboring under an avalanche of tough press about his many policy flip-flops, he hardly needs another storyline which sheds doubt on his credibility and character.
It is not yet clear whether more than a few savvy reporters and fact checkers will pick up on Obama’s exaggeration and outright lies about his accomplishments.
But the McCain camp’s new communications team would be smart to ask: would your hire someone who lied on his resume?