Barack Obama wanted to let his caucus know that he understood how tough the ObamaCare vote would be for many of them. After all, Obama had been a legislator for almost the entirety of his political career. In a meeting with the House Democratic caucus on Saturday, Obama said he felt their pain:
I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to take a tough vote.
Here are the facts: According to reports by both The New York Times and the Associated Press, Obama voted “present” 129 times as a state senator. The AP reported that Obama said the votes represented a small portion — a little more than 3 percent — of the “roughly 4,000” votes he cast as a member of the state Senate.
The Illinois state Legislature allows members to vote “present” rather than “yes” or “no.” The Times reported in December that “present” votes provide a way for lawmakers to voice opposition to an issue. Such votes can also help them avoid the political fall-out of voting “no[.]”
In fact, it’s the only reason to vote “present.” If it was an easy vote, why would anyone bother avoiding an “aye” or “nay”? Instead of putting it as a percentage of the overall votes cast by Obama in the legislature, which includes a lot of hardly-contested pro forma voting, it would be more revealing to see how many of those came on controversial measures which could have stigmatized Obama in the long run. I’d guess … 100%.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!