Friday, December 15, 2006

Legislative Chops

One of the criticisms you often hear of Barack Obama’s potential run for the presidency is that Obama just doesn’t have the legislative experience. I mean, what has he actually accomplished? Well, this is an interesting response to that question from Hilzoy:
But I do follow legislation, at least on some issues, and I have been surprised by how often Senator Obama turns up, sponsoring or co-sponsoring really good legislation on some topic that isn't wildly sexy, but does matter. His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.


Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle.


So my little data point is: while Obama has not proposed his Cosmic Plan for World Peace, he has proposed a lot of interesting legislation on important but undercovered topics. I can't remember another freshman Senator who so routinely pops up when I'm doing research on some non-sexy but important topic, and pops up because he has proposed something genuinely good.
Hilzoy then goes on to list and discuss the legislation he’s talking about. Of course, “good legislation” is in the eye of the beholder but I don’t think the “yeah, but what has he done?” retort really holds much water. I’m still agnostic about Obama but I’m getting more interested the more I see and read about him.

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