Obama: Speeches or Solutions?, posted February 15, 2008 at 11:15 AM
Senator Clinton's latest attack on Obama is that he's all speeches and she's all solutions. In effect, she's pulling out the "empty suit" idea which is very easy to paste onto an opponent who is not well known by the electorate. You simply use the unfamiliarity of the candidate as proof that their words are empty and their thoughts meaningless. She says,
“That’s the difference between me and my opponent,” Clinton said, “I offer solutions. It’s one thing to get people excited, I want to empower you to live your dreams so we can all go forward together.”
For those who want to get to know Obama better, this fascinating 1995 article in the Chicago Reader shows that Obama's success as a politician is due in large part to the fierce intellect and philosophical ponderings that underlie his speeches. He has built his electoral successes and his legislative successes on a never-wavering grassroots concept of progressive values. He believes in bottom-up democracy, whereby the power lies in the local communities of constituents, not in the elected officials who are supposed to be serving them.
"What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer," he wondered, "as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, for instance, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer. We would come together to form concrete economic development strategies, take advantage of existing laws and structures, and create bridges and bonds within all sectors of the community. We must form grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for their actions.
For those who want policy specifics, you can read this PDF of Obama's positions and policies, and of course take a look at this page of his website. But for those looking for a sense of "who this guy is," for those looking to see past Clinton's "empty suit" rhetoric, for those looking to get a sense of how deeply committed Obama is to progressive values, please take a minute to go to the Chicago Reader and read this 1995 article in its entirety. Short of actually reading his own books, it's the best portrait of the man I've found easily available.