But they also got my thinking: what exactly have been the substantive accomplishments of Hillary Clinton in the Senate? The best, deepest answer I’ve found so far is a very long, thoughtful piece in the Atlantic by James Fallows (if you’re leaning towards Clinton, I strongly encourage you to read this).
He turns up two major accomplishments in her first six years in the Senate:
The day after September 11, she surveyed the devastation at Ground
Zero with New York’s other senator, Charles Schumer. Realizing the need
for federal help, she called Byrd first thing the next morning. “We’re
in real trouble, and it’s going to take a lot to put the city back
together. Can you help?” This time Byrd agreed at once: “Count me as
the third senator from New York.” With his assistance on the
Appropriations Committee, New York secured $20 billion in recovery
funds, and Clinton likely cinched her reelection.
The other major accomplishment involved the Pentagon’s list of
recommended military-base closures, announced last May, which included
the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, one of the largest employers in
a depressed area of the state. From her seat on the Armed Services Committee, Clinton played a
prominent role in fighting the decision of the Base Realignment and
Closure Commission (BRAC), and found Byrd a useful ally.
Contrast that with Barack Obama’s work:
Passage of the Lugar-Obama Non-Proliferation Act. This is the kind of serious, critical legislation if you think terrorism is a real issue. It’s not showy work, and Lugar deserves most of the credit (full disclosure I worked for Senator Lugar long ago and profoundly admire him). But Obama’s interest in this and work on the bill shows seriousness, and real understanding of the issues.
Efforts on a number of energy bills, and support of alternative energy investments (long before gasoline was $3.50 a gallon).
A bill that has created a publicly searchable database of all "earmarks — i.e., pork-barrel spending.
Now, granted, he’s only been in the Senate three years. And he’s been on the road running for President the last year. But his record is strong for a new Senator, and certainly compares favorably to what Senator Clinton has done. Now: who’s the showhorse, and who’s the workhorse?