CAJOLERY….Washington Monthly founder Charlie Peters, responding to people (like me) who are afraid that Barack Obama’s “let’s all work together” MO won’t be sufficient to actually bring about the change he so often talks about, says we should look at Obama’s record in the Illinois legislature:
Consider a bill into which Obama clearly put his heart and soul. The problem he wanted to address was that too many confessions, rather than being voluntary, were coerced — by beating the daylights out of the accused….The bill itself aroused immediate opposition. There were Republicans who were automatically tough on crime and Democrats who feared being thought soft on crime. There were death penalty abolitionists, some of whom worried that Obama’s bill, by preventing the execution of innocents, would deprive them of their best argument. Vigorous opposition came from the police, too many of whom had become accustomed to using muscle to “solve” crimes. And the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, announced that he was against it.
….He responded with an all-out campaign of cajolery….The police proved to be Obama’s toughest opponent, [but] by showing officers that he shared many of their concerns, even going so far as to help pass other legislation they wanted, he was able to quiet the fears of many.
Obama proved persuasive enough that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0. Then he talked Blagojevich into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.
This is a fair point. And yet….can I say that I’m still a little skeptical? First, any bill that eventually passes 35-0 can’t possibly have had that much in the way of stone-cold opposition. Obviously Obama did a good job of working with both Republicans and law enforcement interests in Illinois, but at the national level congressional Republicans have shown themselves remarkably immune to Obama-ish cajolery when it comes their key issues. I continue to have my doubts that a charm campaign will get the job done against the likes of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. They know all too well who signs their paychecks.
But lest I protest too much, Charlie does make a good point. Springfield isn’t Washington DC, but it’s not the Peoria city council either, and although Obama may not have been a game changer in Illinois, he was an effective legislator who got some important things done. Win big in November and maybe he’ll be able to cajole half a dozen of those famous moderate Republicans in the Senate to actually do something moderate.
UPDATE: Via email, Archpundit expands on something he said in the comment thread:
It was fought tooth and nail Kevin. The cops and prosecutors were adamantly against it for some time including the Democratic Cook County Prosecutor.
I swore reform was dead after the commutations, Obama pulled it off. It was an incredible sight.
The end result was truly amazing. The police groups hated the idea and they hated racial profiling legislation — he passed both without angering them, but by working with them, listening, and showing good faith. I never thought it would pass with Democratic State’s Attorneys opposing it, strongly even — but he pulled everyone along and did it pretty quickly.
I know sometimes the claims sound too good to be true, but he is truly an amazingly talented politician with the right values. I like the other candidates, but every time I’ve seen him underestimated, he pulls out a victory whether it be electoral or policy.