Yes, Watson can list Obama's accomplishments -- now

The Texas state senator who was dumbfounded by Chris Matthews Tuesday night posts an explanation.


Alex Koppelman
February 21, 2008 2:48AM (UTC)

Tuesday night, when MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews demanded that he list some of Barack Obama's legislative accomplishments, Obama supporter and Texas state Sen. Kirk Watson was nearly speechless. Now, a clearly embarrassed Watson has found his tongue -- well, his pen -- and taken to his blog to explain. Watson writes,

So ... That really happened.

On Tuesday night, after an important and historic victory in the Wisconsin Presidential Primary by Senator Barack Obama, I appeared on the MSNBC post-election program. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews (who is, it turns out, as ferocious as they say), began grilling me on Senator Obama's legislative record.

And my mind went blank. I expected to be asked about the primary that night, or the big one coming up in Texas on March 4, or just about anything else in the news. When the subject changed so emphatically, I reached for information that millions of my fellow Obama supporters could recite by heart, and I couldn't summon it ...

Had I not lost my mind, here are the accomplishments I would have mentioned:

  • Senator Obama's fight for universal children's health care in Illinois.
  • His success bringing Republicans and Democrats together (a huge selling point for me in general) on bills such as the one in Illinois requiring police interrogations and confessions to be videotaped.
  • His leadership on ethics reform in Washington (the bill that lobbyists and special interests are complaining about right now has his name on it).
  • His bill to make the federal budget far more transparent and accessible to Americans via the Internet -- we could use that openness in Texas.
  • And his vital work with Republicans to lock down nuclear weapons around the world.

Of course, it would have helped to remember all of this last night ... In the meantime, let's not lose focus on what's important in this election. It's not my stunning televised defeat in "Stump the Chump." Thankfully, it has nothing at all to do with me ...

Senator Obama has a vision for this nation, and we would be fortunate to fulfill it ... But most of all, he has the record to prove that all of this is possible. It's something no one should forget.

... Even though I did.

... On national television.

Frankly, one item on Watson's list is dubious -- or at least poorly worded.

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Obama fought for universal children's healthcare in Illinois, that's true -- but he didn't succeed. (He did successfully sponsor an expansion of a program called KidCare, though. Obama's bill extended coverage to children whose families had incomes of up to 200 percent of the poverty level; previously, the cap was at 185 percent of poverty level.) Actually, Obama fought for universal healthcare generally, but when he encountered resistance, he settled for a compromise, a bill that only created a commission to study the possibility.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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