Imagine the disappointment of having a Freedom of Information Act effort, only to find that no data exists to acquire. Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton has discovered the anticlimax of his efforts to gain access to the state legislative records of Barack Obama in Illinois. According to Fitton, they no longer exist, and may never have at all:
The president of a prominent watchdog group said Wednesday that he believes Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) “intended to leave no paper trail” during his time in the Illinois Senate. …
In a statement, Fitton noted that his group has sought access to Obama’s records as a state senator and questioned whether the presidential candidate has been forthcoming with regard to what happened to those documents.
However, he said that “nobody knows where they are, if they exist at all” and claimed that “Obama’s story keeps changing.”
This has come up before in the primary, pushed primarily by Hillary Clinton, whose oppo research team has also discovered the same frustrating lack of records about Obama’s work in the Illinois legislature. It could mean that Obama tried to hide his work, hoping to keep political opponents from unearthing ammunition in future elections. It could also mean that he didn’t do that much actual work, which would match his wafer-thin record of accomplishments in three years as US Senator.
It’s a double-edged sword for Obama. The lack of a track record allows him independence from prior positions, giving him the flexibility to argue whatever side of an issue gives him an advantage. It also makes him vulnerable to having opponents define him — or having his associations define him instead. If Obama had a solid legislative and/or executive track record, Tony Rezko and Jeremiah Wright wouldn’t have the impact that they do now.
It’s the cost of running as a cipher, and of running on ambiguous concepts of hope and change. Having what little records that should exist come up missing doesn’t help build confidence in a candidate’s credibility, either.