Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Dirty Politics of Barack Obama

Betty's sister has a phrase she uses when talking of liars and fools, "He knows not what he says." She says it with just the right amount of sarcasm that you have to listen closely in order to know she's not being kind. With that in mind, we turn to The New York Times Jeff Zeleny and say, "He knows not what he says."


Last week, a boy wonder lost a little sheen. He should have lost a lot of sheen but Barack Obama got caught with his pants down and the 'amplification' required to make news BIG NEWS just wasn't there.

We'll get to it. As always we start with Iraq.

Barack Obama, a first term US Senator yet to complete his first term, sent out campaign material last week. It was surprisingly cheap. There's a glossy fold out that we're guessing is the campaign's idea of a political Playgirl centerfold but we're not seeing the attraction -- that irritating smirk is featured on the top. Fold it out and you've got a shot Barack Obama grinning down at two White women, one of him engaged in a rather bizarre arm lock with an African-American male, and one of him engaged in the weakest handshake to hit the campaign trail (he shakes fingers -- maybe that's another thing he can pin on an absent father?). In the foldout, Obama's endorsing the myth of "Red" and "Blue" states and doing so no doubt explains why Hillary Clinton's beating him in the polls. If his tired ass ever spoke with southern Democratic voters, he'd know how pissed off so many of them are by this continued myth.

Also included in the mailing is a three page letter. It's front back one page and only front the other which means he wasted a whole page of a mailing. Page one is the typical Chicken Sop for the Soul he's becoming infamous for. He really loves to speak in vague generalities, doesn't he? In 28 lines on the first page, he waits until line 12 to offer up Iraq:

And we have seen the stubborn escalation of a costly war in Iraq that our government never should have waged and is not willing to end.

Page two is 39 lines and he waits until line 18 to mention Iraq:

Most Americans believe that a tried and failed policy of escalation will not end the war in Iraq. I opposed giving the President the broad, open-ended authority to wage this war in 2002 because I feared we would arrive at this point -- a point where the President's ideological pursuit of an ill-defined victory would overwhelm the reality of the facts on the ground. That's why I've called for a phased redeployment of our troops that would put pressure on the Iraqis to reach a political settlement and allow our brave men and women to start coming home.

Actually, most Americans (as poll after poll demonstrates) believe the war was a mistake. Obama informs us in the letter that he wasn't against the war because it was illegal but because he feared it would drag on. That is a bit different than the way he usually portrays it but he's now reaching out to the soggy middle. (Who are far more aware than he gives them credit for being.) It also needs to be noted that no pressure on Iraqis will make a bit of difference because Iraqis do not control their country. They are represented by a puppet government installed by the US.

Page 3 is 30 lines and Iraq is mentioned . . . never. 97 lines over 3 pages and Iraq gets 8 lines. None dare call it leadership.

Also enclosed is a prepaid postage envelope and a contribution form with the heading "Dear Barack, I believe in the politics of hope." He's pictured on the form as well. He's toothy there too. Is he running for Miss Congeniality or President? We went through C.I.'s old John Kerry campaign material and the postcard below (sent out July 14, 2003) doesn't picture John Kerry with a goony grin. Maybe Obama believes that's why Kerry's not in the White House?


On Friday, The New York Times front paged Patrick Healy's "To Avoid Any Conflict, Clintons Liquidate Millions in Holdings." In a classic case of burying the lede, readers had to turn to A16 and make it through fourteen paragraphs on that page before coming to this:

Shortly after the Clinton campaign released the financial information, the campaign of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, circulated to new organizations -- on what it demanded be a not-for-attribution-basis -- a scathing analysis. It called Mrs. Clinton "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)" in its headline, referring to the investments in India and Mrs. Clinton's fund-raising efforts among Indian-Americans. The analysis also highlighted the acceptance by Mr. Clinton of $300,00 in in speech fees from Cisco, a company the Obama campaign said has moved American jobs to India.
A copy of the document was obtained by Mrs. Clinton's campaign, which provided it to The New York Times. The Clinton campaign has long been frustrated by the effort by Mr. Obama to present his campaign as above the kind of attack politics that Mr. Obama and his aides say has led to widespread disillusionment with politics by many Americans.
Asked about the document, Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said: "We did give reporters a series of comments she made on the record and other things that are publicly available to anyone who has access to the Internet. I don't see why anyone would take umbrage with that." Asked why the Obama campaign had initially insisted that it not be connected to the document, Mr. Burton replied, "I'm going to leave my comment at that."

Of course he is. We haven't. We've long noted that boy wonder, Mr. Clean Politics, ran a campaign that did in a Democratic opponent in the 2004 primary by floating rumors that the man beat his wife. We've long noted that he did away with his only serious Republican candidate when the press suddenly discovered sealed court records from a divorce. Those are only two incidents in one campaign and Obama's actual history of campaigns reveals many other dirty tricks, many other attempts to destroy opponents with the sort of attacks that, prior to the emergence of Lee Attwater, even Republicans would have considered out of bounds. (Generally speaking, you do not go after a candidate's family or his ex-wives in order to advance your own.)

"Dear Barack, I believe in the politics of hope." The honest reply would be, "I, Barack, don't and that's why I'm in office." But the press isn't interested in that story. Sure enough, on Saturday, Jeff Zeleny showed up on A10 of The New York Times with "Foul Is Called, Loudly, as Obama Camp Plays Politics." In the "Political Memo," Zeleny shows up with no history and accepts on faith that this is the first time Obama's campaign has engaged in such practices. Even Healy didn't play it that dumb, noting that Clinton's camp has (rightly in our opinion) long accused Obama's campaign of playing dirty. It takes Zeleny 15 paragraphs to get to the most offensive part of Obama's attack:

"As representatives of the Indian American community, we have been encouraged by your message of inclusion and your promise to bring a new kind of politics to our country," Snjay Puri, chairman of the US India Political Action Committee, said in a letter to Mr. Obama. "This is why we are so concerned about media reports indicating your staff may be engaging in the worst kind of anti-Indian-American stereotyping."

It's always the innocents who get hurt by Obama's dirty campaigning -- a wife, an ex-wife, Indian-Americans. "Punjab." That racist remark was okayed by the campaign -- as long as it couldn't be traced back to them. Now Obama's issued a mealy mouthed statement that never apologizes but attempts to 'clarify' no harm intended. Harm was intended because that is how he has consistently run his campaigns. Called out on racism, biracial Obama can't even have his spokesperson (David Plouffe, in this case) use the words, "We are sorry." Instead, it's all about how Barack Obama has supported Indian-Americans and "we regret the tone that parts of the document took." Regret?

They should really regret it. But Clinton can't point that out because Obama's 'squeaky clean' to those who believe the press. And his offensive and racist press package didn't get the kind of attention it warranted. The same websites that rightly called out George Allen's use of a racist phrase in August of 2006 has been strangely silent on Obama's racism. Again, The New York Times buried the lede on Friday. On Saturday, Zeleny took 15 paragraphs to get to the point.

Racism must be like Cindy Sheehan learned cowardice was, okay to be called out in Republicans but do the same with Democrats and watch the torches get lit and the bonfires built. Obama is responsible for his campaign and he is responsible for his past campaigns. That press package, shopped around with no attribution, was racist.

On Friday, Obama was on the campaign trail serving up more Chicken Sop for the Soul and this time targeting African-American fathers. [Cedric addressed it in "You go, girl!" and Wally in "THIS JUST IN! BARACK LOST HIS GROOVE!" -- joint-post; Cedric also noted Obama in
"Glen Ford, Dem nominees (Cedric)" while filling in for Elaine Friday.] Mike Dorning (Chicago Tribune) gushed for the White Establishment Media, "few white presidential candidates would present such blunt criticism, particularly in a Democratic primary." Nor should they unless they're wearing white sheets.

In a supposed address on poverty, Obama elected to castigate African-American fathers for society's ills. He said nothing about a law enforcement that regularly targets young, African-American males, a judicial system that sentences them more harshly or the for-profit prison-industrial-complex that has sprung up. He treated the loss of the manufacturing sector in urban areas as a recent development that only began this century when it goes back many decades. He was quick and eager to call out African-Americans but this, after all, is the bi-racial candidate who infamously insisted at the 2004 DNC that there was no Black America.

He certainly operates as if he believes that. If you're paying even semi-attention, you should understand why Glen Ford offers "Why Barack Obama Needs a Whuppin'" (Black Agenda Report).
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