Recommended Reading

During tonight’s cat fight, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton rehashed a slew of issues from months past. No reason to be embarrassed if you had no idea what they were talking about; we’re here to help. Here’s a primer on tonight’s hot discussion topics so you can sound smart at work tomorrow.

  • Tony Rezko (a.k.a. the “slum lord”): Rezko was a Chicago landlord, political fundraiser, and Obama friend. Rezko was indicted on corruption charges and his trial is set to begin on Feb. 25. Obama has said Rezko raised at least $60,000 for him throughout his entire political career, more than $10,000 of which was given to his senate campaign fund. (Obama donated those monies to charity once Rezko was indicted.) Rezko’s corruption charges has led some to call him a slumlord. 

Complicating things is Obama’s pursuit of Rezko’s advice on a housing deal while Rezko was under investigation by the feds. It was widely reported that Rezko was under investigation, and Obama has since admitted it was a “bone-headed mistake.” Obama then purchased a housing lot that was adjacent to one Rezko’s wife purchased on the same day. Furthermore, there are questions about whether Obama did legal work on Rezko’s behalf. The campaign says no, but others say yes. Recommended reading: Chicago Sun-Times ( x2 ), ABC News , Wikipedia article for Rezko .

  • “Present” votes: Clinton and John Edwards both scolded Obama for his “present” votes in the Illinois state senate that allowed him to show up for a vote but not commit to an aye or nay. This was a minor problem for Obama before the Iowa caucuses, with both of his opponents saying it showed Obama lacked the courage to take a stand on tough issues. Some of Obama’s present votes were on hot-button issues like abortion or sex-shops. Obama maintains that it’s common practice in the Illinois senate. Recommended reading: New York Times , Chicago Tribune .

  • Obama’s “party of ideas” and Reagan comments: Before the Nevada caucuses, Obama told the Reno Gazette-Journal ‘s editorial board that he thought the Republican party was the “party of ideas” and that Reagan “changed the trajectory of America…in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with other Democrats, and the comments have since been misquoted over and over again.   Recommended reading: Reno Gazette-Journal (video), Associated Press , New York Times .

  • Bill Clinton talks too much: Today Good Morning America ran an exclusive interview when Obama told Bill Clinton to stuff it. Essentially, Obama said he’s ready to engage both Clintons and that he found Bill’s campaign behavior “troubling.” At the debate tonight, Obama said sometimes he can’t tell which Clinton he’s running against. Recommended reading: ABC News , Clinton’s official “Fact Hub.”

  • Health care : Obama’s plan doesn’t have a mandate for adults, Clinton and Edwards’ do. Clinton and Edwards say that means Obama’s plan isn’t universal, because it would leave 15 million people without insurance. Obama disagrees. Around and around we go. Recommended reading: Paul Krugman , Slate , .