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More headlines: Barack Obama on Principles & Values

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)


GovWatch: Wears flag pin to deflect anti-patriotism critics

Barack Obama said on October 4th 2007, “Right after 9/11, I had a pin. [But] that became a substitute for true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.”

Anybody notice how the American flag pin has become an almost permanent part of Barack Obama’s wardrobe these days? A few months ago, Obama rarely, if ever, wore the flag pin. Then he started wearing a pin occasionally, claiming it’s a matter of personal whim and his choice of outfits. Nowadays, you rarely see Obama without a pin in his lapel. By contrast, John McCain rarely wears a flag pin.

Obama is unconvincing when he claims that his decision on whether or not to wear the flag in his lapel comes down to the suit he is wearing on any particular day. Political campaigns spend untold hours obsessing over such image questions. A more plausible explanation for his embrace of the flag pin is that he wants to defuse the patriotism debate.

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis Jun 17, 2008

Suggesting that I plagiarized Deval Patrick is silly

Q: Clinton accused you of plagiarism [of a speech by MA Gov. Deval Patrick]. How do you respond?

A: It’s not a lot of speeches. There are two lines in speeches that I’ve been giving over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been campaigning now for the last 2 years. Patrick is a national co-chairman of my campaign, and suggested an argument that I share, that words are important. Words matter. The implication that they don’t I think diminishes how important it is to speak to the American people directly about making America as good as its promise. Barbara Jordan understood this as well as anybody. That I had plagiarized from somebody who was one of my national co-chairs who gave me the line and suggested that I use it is silly, and this is where we start getting into silly season, in politics, and people start getting discouraged about it. What we shouldn’t be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

Don’t seat MI & FL delegates; they’re based on non-campaign

Q: Sen. Clinton won the primary in Massachusetts. Would you urge your superdelegates, such as Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, to follow the will of the people, and back Sen. Clinton at the convention?

A: Well, here’s what I think is important. We’ve got to make sure that whoever wins the most votes, the most states, the most delegates, that they are the nominee [and not] somehow overturned by party insiders.

Q: What do you think should happen, then, to the delegates in Michigan and Florida? Shouldn’t their votes be counted?

A: You know, all we’ve done in this process is to just follow the rules as they’ve been laid out. We abided by the rules that had been set up by the DNC, so we didn’t campaign there.

Q: Is Sen. Clinton trying to change the rules in the middle of the game?

A: It certainly wouldn’t be fair to allocate delegates based on a non-campaign. We did not campaign in those states. So there may be ways that we can manage this--having a caucus for example

Source: 2008 Politico pre-Potomac Primary interview Feb 11, 2008

FactCheck: Obama praised GOP for having ideas, not GOP ideas

Clinton attacked Obama for supposedly supporting Republican ideas, saying Obama “has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years.” Obama pushed back, saying he had never endorsed such notions.

Clinton is referring to what Obama told the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on Jan. 14: “The Republican approach has played itself out. I think it’s fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, it’s all tax cuts.“

There’s a difference between praising someone for having ideas and praising the idea itself. Obama is doing the former--and just as clearly not doing the latter. He says the GOP approach has ”played itself out,“ for example.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Dem. Debate Jan 21, 2008

Objected to Republican ideas; did not compliment them

CLINTON: Obama has said that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote. They were bad ideas for America. They were ideas like privatizing Social Security, like moving back from a balanced budget and a surplus to deficit and debt. Obama have a lot of money that you want to put into foreign aid, a very worthy program. There is no evidence as to how you would pay for it. It’s important because elections are about the future.

OBAMA I did not compliment Republican ideas. That is not true. What I said was is that Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. While I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, Clinton was a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart. What I said had nothing to do with their policies.

Source: [Xref Clinton] 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Dem. debate Jan 21, 2008

Registered 150,000 young Chicago area black voters in 1992

One characteristic of this new generation is a commitment to electoral politics. In 2004, 47% of 18 to 24-year olds voted, compared to only 36% in 2000. This increase of nearly one-third was far higher than the overall increase in voting rates from 60% to 64%.

Obama has already brought in a new generation of voters. He led a movement in Chicago in 1992 that registered 150,000 new voters--mostly African Americans--and helped Carol Moseley Braun narrowly win an election to become the first black woman elected to the Senate. Obama’s appeal to voters disenchanted with conventional politics could bring many new voters into the political process.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 16 Oct 30, 2007

Hopefund PAC donated $500K to Democratic Senate candidates

In 2005, Sen. Barack Obama created Hopefund, a political committee, with the goal of promoting the candidacies of leaders who are committed to changing the course of our nation to ensure the promise of America for future generations. Already, Hopefund has made contributions to Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2006 and helped raise nearly half a million to help the Democrats take back the US Senate. Our activities will not be limited to the US Senate: Hopefund will be our vehicle to help shape the debate for Democrats around the country.
Source: PAC website, HopeFundAmerica.com, “About Barack” Nov 17, 2006

Unflinching progressive but ok to downstate conservatives

[Obama is] unflinchingly progressive in a state that looks at progressives in a kind of schizophrenic way. People like the late Paul Simon, one of state’s most respected politicians, was also liberal, but he was from a downstate district where most of the voters are generally more conservative. Obama has managed to appeal to this wide range of voters in much the same way that Simon did.
Source: Salim Muwakkil and Amy Goodman, Democracy Now Jul 15, 2004

Focus on Iraq, revising presidential power, and healthcare

In the first year of my presidency, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and tell them to in a responsible, careful way end this war in Iraq, bring our combat troops home. I’ll call in my new attorney general to review any executive order that’s been made by bush. We’re going to have an open conversation with all the key players in the health care arena to make sure that we are moving forward on a plan to provide coverage to every single American so we can actually afford it over the long haul.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

On cover of Time magazine, about his book & presidency

Speculation in the US media over a potential Obama presidential campaign intensified last week as Time magazine published the senator’s photo on its cover beside the headline, “Why Barack Obama Could Be the Next President.” All the major newspapers are meanwhile running reviews of Obama’s new book, The Audacity of Hope, which the author is touting in a series of interviews on American television.

The 45-year-old has done nothing to squelch the growing frenzy. Obama no longer denies interest in joining the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Obama indicated that he will weigh the outcome of the Nov. 7 US congressional elections. A Democratic takeover of both the House & Senate would increase the likelihood of Obama vying with Hillary Clinton for the party’s 2008 nomination. “When the election is over and my book tour is done, I will think about how I can be most useful to the country and how I can reconcile that with being a good dad and a good husband,” Obama told Time.

Source: 2008 speculation by K.Kelly, in “The East African” (Nairobi) Oct 23, 2006

Lost campaign for US Congress against Bobby Rush in 2000

Obama’s first major political miscalculation was caused by unbridled ambition.

Obama had returned to Chicago from Harvard Law with an eye on the mayor’s office [but Mayor Daley was well-entrenched, so] Obama looked at Congress instead, deciding to challenge Rep. Bobby Rush in the 2000 Democratic primary. To Obama, Rush looked vulnerable [because] Rush had tried to oust Daley in 1998--but he was stomped by the mayor. For this reason, Obama saw Rush as an aging politician ready to be replaced by a younger man with a fresh vision.

“Less than halfway into the campaign, I knew in my bones that I was going to lose,” Obama wrote. Obama lost the election by 30%.

The reason was summed up by one elderly woman who explained to Obama succinctly: “Bobby just ain’t done nothin’ wrong.” Obama said it became clear to him that he had put himself ahead of the electorate, that his own time frame for advancement was not necessarily the same time frame that voters saw for him.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.128-129&138-141 Aug 14, 2007

Ryan quits Senate race amid sex scandal allegations

Jack Ryan withdrew from the Illinois Senate race days after sex club allegations in his divorce papers torpedoed his campaign. Ryan issued this statement by e-mail:
It is clear a vigorous debate on the issues could not take place if I remain in the race. What would take place rather is a brutal scorched-earth campaign, the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play.
Illinois Republican Party leaders were to meet to choose a replacement candidate within a week [to oppose Democrat Barack Obama]. Ryan decided to quit when polls taken after his custody documents were released showed he had a slim chance of winning. The Illinois US congressional delegation unanimously decided Ryan should be replaced. Ryan’s fate was sealed after a secret conference call among party leaders. Ryan was accused by his then-wife, television actress Jeri Ryan, of taking her to explicit sex clubs in the 1990s and pressuring her to perform sex acts in public.
Source: UPI in Washington Times Jun 25, 2004

Mother attacked for playing with a black girlfriend

One day my grandmother Toot came home to find a crowd of children gathered. As Toot drew closer, she could make out the sounds of mirthless laughter, the contortions of rage & disgust on the children’s faces. The children were chanting, in a high-pitched alternating rhythm: “Nigger lover! Dirty Yankee!” The children scattered when they saw Toot, but not before one of the boys had sent the stone in his hand sailing over the fence. There she saw the cause of all the excitement: my [white] mother and a black girl of about the same age lying side by side in the grass, their heads propped up on their hands in front of one of my mother’s books. The two girls seemed perfectly serene beneath the leafy shade. It was only when Toot opened the gate that she realized the black girl was shaking and my mother’s eyes shone with tears. The girls remained motionless, paralyzed in their fear, until Toot finally leaned down and put her hands on both their heads.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 18 Aug 1, 1996

Clinton earned a great relationship with African-Americans

Q: Do you think Bill Clinton was our 1st black president? A: Clinton did have an enormous affinity with the African-American community, and still does. That’s well earned. I’m always inspired by young men & women who grew up in the South when segregation was still taking place, when the transformations that are still incomplete but at least had begun had not yet begun. To see that transformations in their own lives that is powerful & hopeful, because what it indicates is that people can change.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Balancing “challenger” for blacks & “bargainer” for whites

White people like Obama a little too much for the comfort of many blacks. How is it possible, the suspicion goes, to stir that much excitement in whites and still be loyal to one’s own people. Blacks know that Obama is giving whites the benefit of the doubt.

No black before Obama has employed the bargainer’s charms in pursuit of so high an office. We are used to black challengers, like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Life-long protesters are not likely to have developed an easy reciprocity with white voters. On the other hand, no one ever asks them if they are black enough.

If, to please blacks, Obama does more challenging, he loses his iconic status with whites. He loses white votes because whites don’t want a challenging Al Sharpton; they want the iconic Negro. If, to please whites, Obama bargains more, he loses votes among blacks--a vital constituency in the Democratic party.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.121-123 Dec 4, 2007

Candidacy taken seriously despite his race or because of it?

The key factor that galvanizes people around the idea of Obama for president is, quite simply, that he is black. Take away Obama’s race and he is some relatively anonymous rookie.

What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land. President Obama might be a substitute for that national apology for slavery that some consider so urgent. Surely a nation with a black president would be one no longer hung up on race.

Or not. Perhaps Obama is being considered as presidential timber not despite his race, but because of it. That is, for all its good intentions, a dehumanization of Obama. What Obama has done is less important than his skin color and what it means. The content of our character is not center stage here. We are a long way from Selma, but not yet where the Rev. King wanted us to be.

Yet, in the grant scheme of things, I will take a little unintended dehumanization over naked bigotry.

Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 5 Oct 17, 2006

Biracial heritage has caused identity crisis

As I imagined myself following Malcolm X’s call, one line in his book stayed me. He spoke of his wish that the white blood that ran through him, there by an act of violence, might somehow be expunged. I knew that, for Malcolm, that wish would never be incidental. I knew as well that traveling down the road to self-respect my own white blood would never recede into mere abstraction. I was left to wonder what else I would be severing if and when I left my mother at some uncharted border.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 80 Aug 1, 1996

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Barack Obama on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010