It's great to have a President who offers inspiring speeches and lofty rhetoric. Unfortunately, it seems critics may have been right when they said it was all that Barack Obama has to offer:
For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted "present" on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.
In 1999, Obama voted "present" on SB 759, a bill that required mandatory adult prosecution for firing a gun on or near school grounds. The bill passed the state Senate 52-1. Also in 1999, Obama voted "present" on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.
In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the "Audacity of Hope," on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."
And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.
Just call him the 'anti-Rudy.'
This is really going to cause a serious problem for Obama on the campaign trail, and I suspect it may be enough to cost him a shot at the nomination. This paints a picture of a candidate unwilling to make tough decisions. Even if terrorism is not the primary concern of voters on election day, people will want a President who will lead on tough issues.
Update: I realize that perhaps I should have expanded on my comments.
The Democrats in 2008 seem to be trying to nominate 'an electable candidate,' and one who'll be credible in a time of war. This failure to take stands on serious issues hands a significant issue to Hillary (and Edwards). They'll note that Kerry lost largely because he was never able to explain his stance on Iraq, and what he meant by 'I was before the $86 billion before I was against it.'
Well, Obama doesn't even know how he stands on abortion, gun control, and sex crimes. And this indecision didn't occur 20 or 30 years ago; these votes were only a few years ago. These will constitute valuable attacks in the primaries - and they'll serve to remind primary voters of Obama's inexperience.
Plus, Obama will now have to go back to NARAL and the NEA, and pledge fealty again to their legislative agendas. That won't help the 'different type of politician' image he has cultivated to date.
This may not kill Obama, but I suspect his campaign just got a lot more challenging.