In a speech today in Manchester, NH, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) unveiled his plan to allow the American people to “take our government back.” After talking about Teddy Roosevelt and Gilded Age, Obama focused on today. “We cannot settle for a second Gilded Age in America. And yet we find ourselves once more in the midst of a new economy where more wealth is in danger of falling into fewer hands; where the average CEO now earns more in one day than an average worker earns in an entire year; where Americans are struggling like never before to pay their medical bills, or their kids’ tuition, or high gas prices, all while the profits of the drug and insurance and oil industries have never been higher.

And once again, we are faced with a politics that makes all of this possible. In the last six years, our leaders have thrown open the doors of Congress and the White House to an army of Washington lobbyists who have turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.“ a game played on a field that’s no longer level, but rigged to always favor their own narrow agendas,” Obama said. After detailing only the Republicans ethical lapses, he outlined his five point plan for ethics reform. First, Obama would not allow anyone who has left his administration to become a lobbyist until after his first term has ended. Second, like every other Democrat running for president, he will end the use of no bid contracts. Third, he will institute a total ban of accepting gifts from lobbyists. Obama will hire people for his administration based on qualifications and experience, not party of ideology. Fifth, Obama would make the government more open and transparent.

What a sad little sham of an ethics reform plan this is. How can Obama claim to be a different kind of politician, and at the same time completely ignore the role of special interest money in our political system? The real reason why the government doesn’t belong to its people anymore is because our elections are funded by special interest money. It is the money that the lobbyists can give, not the actual act of lobbying that is the problem. Obama’s plan doesn’t even mention the real cause of the problem. He proposes changing a few rules instead of closing down the game. Only by getting the special interest money out of our political system will the government truly be returned to its people.

What we are finding out about Barack Obama is that he isn’t a different sort of politician at all. He is politics as usual wrapped up in a different package. Obama tends to take the safe road and stick to generalities, and while he has mastered the language of change, in the case of his ethics proposal, he advocates very little. It appears that the man’s ambition to be president is stronger than his courage to do what is right. If special interests controlling our political system don’t matter to you, vote for Clinton of Giuliani. If you want to vote for a pretend advocate of change, vote for Obama, but so far only John McCain has been brave enough to talk about the corruption in the campaign finance system and call for real change. What we have here is another speech from Obama that is all talk backed by very little action.

Full text of Obama’s speech 

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics 

Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 6:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse  blog radio  

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