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More headlines: Barack Obama on Principles & Values

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


Romney thinks 47% consider themselves victims, I disagree

I believe Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47% of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about. Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives. Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don't make enough income. I want to fight for them. That's what I've been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, the country succeeds. When my grandfather fought in WWII, he came back and got a GI Bill and that allowed him to go to college--that wasn't a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities.
Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate Oct 16, 2012

FactCheck: Obama treats Secret Service members with respect

A viral e-mail's descriptions of Obama and Clinton "are completely wrong" that a book says denigrating things about Obama and other recent Democratic presidents while praising only Republicans. According to the author of the book cited, "In the President's Secret Service." Ronald Kessler's book quotes both flattering and unflattering observations about presidents of both parties.

Kessler says, "Contrary to the email, the book actually says Obama treats the Secret Service with respect and appreciates what the agents do. It does not say he hates the military."

Furthermore, the book is not the one-sided partisan attack that the e-mail describes. As Kessler says, "The book is totally non-partisan and skewers Democrats-JFK, LBJ, Carter, Gary Hart--and Republicans--Nixon, Jenna Bush, Barbara Bush, Dick Cheney's daughter Mary, Agnew, Ford, and Bush's treasury secretary John Snow--alike.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 "Secret Service", by Ronald Kessler Jun 10, 2011

2008 Super Tuesday: We are the change we seek

There is narcissism in our leaders in Washington today. There's a quasi-religious feeling to the message coming from them. They are trying to convince is that not only are they our saviors, but that WE are our saviors--not hard work, not accomplishment, just "believing in ourselves" and what we can accomplish together through government. As candidate Obama proclaimed on Super Tuesday 2008, "We are the ones we've been waiting for, we are the change that we seek."

I believe in a humbler, less self-involved America. I believe in that simple, commonsense wisdom that has come down to us through the ages: Everything that is worthwhile comes through effort. There is no free lunch. Anybody who tries to tell you otherwise is selling something--usually something paid for by tax dollars.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p.179 Nov 23, 2010

Dems still have the largest majority in decades

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week [with the election of Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown], it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town--a supermajority--then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let's show the American people that we can do it together.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address Jan 27, 2010

Used Hillary's 2001 Senate transition as model

In Feb. 2005, Obama sought Hillary's advice. Obama was impressed with how Clinton handled her transition from the White House to the Senate in 2001. He knew that his megawatt status could prove problematic in a hidebound institution where noses easily went out of joint. He wanted Hillary's assistance in navigating the minefield stretched out before him.

Clinton believed that success in the Senate required the sublimation of the ego (or a credible facsimile thereof). And the advice she offered Obama based on that theory was clear and bullet-point concise: Keep your head down. Avoid the limelight. Get on the right committees. Go to hearings. Do your homework. Build up a substantive portfolio. And never forget the care & feeding of the people who sent you here.

During that first year together in the Senate, Obama would approach her often on the floor (something he did with other colleagues only rarely), and she always took time to chat with him quietly, to try to steer him in the right direction.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 24-25 Jan 11, 2010

To Hillary: You didn't run to be vice president

[After Hillary withdrew] only one thing mattered: whether Clinton would be Obama's running mate. Many of Clinton's supporters considered the veep slot Hillary's due.

Clinton's ambivalence at the prospect was deep. If Obama offered her the #2 spot, Hillary DID feel she would have to take it--but mainly to avoid being blamed if she declined and then Obama lost. Hillary found it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for it. "I've already done that job," she said.

Obama's view of the matter was complicated, too. He respected and admired Hillary, but he wondered if she would ever be able to see herself as his subordinate. There was also the issue of the baggage she brought: You can't have three presidents in the White House, Obama told some friends.

Obama indicated he was willing to vet her, but that he was unlikely to pick her. Then, as if to make Clinton feel better, but actually putting the sting in the tail, Obama added, "You didn't run to be vice-president."

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.261 Jan 11, 2010

I am only at the beginning of my labors on the world stage

I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations--that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize--Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela--my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women--some known, some obscure--to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

Source: Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway Dec 10, 2009

Inaugurated using Abraham Lincoln's Bible

At Obama's inauguration, the Secret Service coordinated the work of at least 40,000 officers and agents. The total force was double that of Bush's second inauguration.

Just past noon on January 20, Obama placed his left hand on the Lincoln Bible, a velvet-bound volume purchased by a Supreme Court clerk for the Great Emancipator's swearing in on March 4, 1861. Obama raised his right hand and took the 35-word oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Roberts.

[During the parade], twice, Obama and his wife left their limousine to walk along Pennsylvania Avenue and wave to the crowds. Jimmy Carter was the first president to do this, spontaneously leaving his limousine without clearing it with the Secret Service. Since then, the Secret Service has scripted where the president should walk, providing extra security along the way. In the end, nearly two million people packed the outside of the Capitol, the parade route, and the National Mall. The inauguration went off without a hitch.

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler, p.227 Jun 29, 2009

Defensive about attempts to portray as sexually attractive

The distance between salvation and sensual bliss is obliterated. The satirical Obama Girl video and campaign buttons declaring Hot Chicks Dig Obama suggest that Obama's appearances have aroused similar, albeit unsought connections--an unavoidable possibility, perhaps, when one considers that Obama is, while not the youngest, certainly the sleekest and most stylish presidential candidate in some time, if not ever. Obama has been particularly defensive about attempts to portray him as sexually attractive. During the campaign he and his staff discourages such chatter by referring to him as a "skinny kid with big ears and a funny name."
Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 29-30 Jan 20, 2009

40 million viewers for convention nomination speech

Obama led his campaign with as much glamour, flash--and coolness--as any pop star. He not only showed the world how to sing but also demonstrated a new and hopeful way to raise our voices.

Unconvinced, Republicans ridiculed the staging of Obama's convention speech at Denver's Invesco Field. To them, the venue seemed more fitting for an athletic event or concert, the backdrop more suitable for a coronation than a speech. The public disagreed. More than 40 million viewers tuned in, a record for convention viewership. Within twenty-four hours, another three hundred thousand viewers had watched the speech on YouTube. Not surprisingly, Obama scored well with black viewers as well. Only one African American public figure has achieved higher rating among black viewers in this decade: Michael Jackson.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 45-46 Jan 20, 2009

Described by fans as rock star; dismissed by critics as same

Analogies with movie stars were often drawn in descriptions of Obama's campaign appearances before large crowds. [One liberal pundit] reported, "He glided across the stage like a crooner, one slender hand gracing the microphone, the other extending long fingers to trace the imagined horizon of his hopes and dreams, reducing everyone around him to a sidekick, and the girls in the front rows to jelly."

Obama's youthful vigor and attractiveness--uncommon in national political contests--prompted an outpouring of Internet parodies, tributes, and mashups. Some are subtle, while others get right to the point. Such as the famous Obama Girl video, for example, in which a buxom white brunette lip-synchs that the candidate of her dreams is "smart," "black," "sexy," and "fine."

McCain's team, frustrated, began to lampoon their opponent in ads like "Fan Club," in which Obama was contemptuously dismissed as a "rock star." Women were shown comparing him to Bono and praising his "very soft eyes."

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.111-113 Jan 20, 2009

Evokes Lincoln's call to overcome irreconcilable differences

Obama has often borrowed imagery and language from Lincoln, and, perhaps audaciously, has not discouraged others from making a connection. While it may be hubristic to seek comparison with a president generally regarded as one of our best, Obama can reasonably claim to feel kinship with Lincoln's desire to bridge seemingly irreconcilable differences. And he seems to have had this idea before seriously considering a quest for the presidency. His keynote declaration, "we worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states," clearly echoes Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address in which he said of Northerners and Southerners, "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other."
Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.143-144 Jan 20, 2009

Bill Ayers is not & will not be involved with my campaign

Q: Sen. McCain, your commercials have included words like “disrespectful,” “dangerous,” “dishonorable,” “he lied.” Your running mate said he “palled around with terrorists.”

McCAIN: On Mr. Ayers: I don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist. But as Sen. Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.

OBAMA: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s campaign over the last 2 or 3 weeks. So let’s get the record straight. Bill Ayers is a professor of education in Chicago. Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he engaged in despicable acts with a radical domestic group. I have roundly condemned those acts. Ten years ago he served and I served on a school reform board. Other members on that board were University presidents who happen to be a Republican. Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House. So that’s Mr. Ayers.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

FactCheck: Spoke at ACORN events, as well as court case

The Statement: Sen. Obama, discussing his connections to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, said “the only involvement I’ve had with ACORN” was representing them in a voter registration case in Illinois.

The Facts:ACORN, a grass-roots community organizing group, faces allegations of filing fraudulent voter registrations in several states. Sen. John McCain, reflecting rising Republican concerns about ACORN, said at the debate “we need to know the full extent of Sen. Obama’s relationship with ACORN.“

While ACORN said Obama ”never organized with or worked for ACORN,“ it does mention other ties. Obama ”accepted two invitations to be an unpaid guest speaker at training for volunteer community leaders organized by Chicago ACORN“ in the early 1990s.

The Verdict:False. Obama’s legal work was his only professional tie to the group, but he also spoke at group events, and his campaign had a contract with a group that worked with ACORN.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 third presidential debate Oct 15, 2008

My associates are Warren Buffett, Paul Volcker, & Sen. Lugar

McCAIN: Sen. Obama chooses to associate with a guy who in 2001 said that he wished he had have bombed more, and he had a long association with him. It’s the fact that all the details need to be known about Sen. Obama’s relationship with them and with ACORN.

OBAMA: Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or wit Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO. Those are the people, Democrats and Republicans, who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House. And the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

Biden has knowledge, long career, and cares

Q: Why is your running mate better suited to become President?

OBAMA: Joe Biden is one of the finest public servants that has served in this country. It’s not just that he has some of the best foreign policy credentials of anybody. It’s also that he has never forgotten where he came from, fighting on behalf of working families, remembering what it’s like to see his father lose his job and go through a downward spiral economically.

McCAIN: Sarah Palin took on a governor who was a member of her own party when she ran for governor. When she was the head of their energy and natural resources board, she saw corruption, she resigned. She’s given money back to the taxpayers. She’s cut the size of government. She negotiated with the oil companies and faced them down.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

The Ownership Society really means “you’re on your own”

Why would McCain define middle-class as someone making under $5,000,000 a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations & oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement? It’s not because McCain doesn’t care. It’s because McCain doesn’t get it. He’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy--give more to those with the most and hope prosperity trickles down to everyone else. They call it the Ownership Society, but what it really means is--you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps--even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own. Well, it’s time for them to own their failure.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

To John McCain: We all put our country first

What I will not do is suggest that McCain take his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America--they have served the United States of America. So I’ve got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

The Republicans make a big election about small things

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing unwanted pregnancies. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the 2n Amendment while keeping AK-47s from criminals. There are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise--where we can find the strength and grace to bridg divides and unite in common effort. If you don’t have any fresh ideas, you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Only presidential nominee to never have faced tough GOP race

It is worth recalling that prior to the summer of 2008, Barack Obama had never faced a Republican opponent in a close general election, making him literally the only major-party presidential nominee in modern times with that hole in his resume. He brilliantly won an underdog primary in a safe Democratic seat for the Illinois state senate in 1996, and likewise for the US Senate in 2004 (when GOP nominee had to withdraw because of a sex scandal, leaving the hapless Republicans to import an out-of-state crank, the perennial candidate Alan Keyes, who just got 29% of the vote). And his upset victory over Hillary Clinton was won, once again, within the Democratic Party.

So it is hardly surprising that Obama started out the 2008 campaign believing that you don't have to be a tough partisan to be a winning progressive politician--because he has never had to. Yet his partisanship seems to be maturing nicely--without sacrificing his gift for the broad unifying vision.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 16 Aug 25, 2008

Ally Tony Rezko indicted for kickbacks from Gov. Blagojevich

The Chicago Sun-Times identified 15 building projects that Tony Rezko redeveloped while represented by the Chicago law firm during the time Obama was a lawyer working at the firm. All the projects were financial disasters.

Rezko managed 30 projects in total, including 11 that were in Obama's state senate district. Foreclosures followed by abandoned properties are the legacy of the Rezko low-income-housing empire.

The Sun-Times exposed the fact that Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting his political patron Rezko's successful bid to get more than $14 million from taxpayers to build apartments for senior citizens. The development, Cottage View Terrace, opened in 2002, providing 97 apartments for low-income senior citizens. The letters appear to contradict statements from Obama that he never did any favors for Rezko.

Rezko was indicted in 2007 on federal charges that accuse him of demanding kickbacks from companies seeking state business under Gov. Blagojevich.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.162-163 Aug 1, 2008

Just words? "I have a dream," Just words?

[Both Obama and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick] focused on the theme "Just Words," followed by a string of famous quotations that obviously were not just words, but statements of important political moments and causes. Patrick gave a speech in 2006 answering the question "Just words?" with a string of famous phrases that included "'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' just words? 'Ask what you can do for your country.' Just words? 'I have a dream,' just words?" Obviously these statements of FDR, JFK, & MLK were not "just words" with no political impact, but rather had defined political moments for a generation or more.

Obama's language almost identically matched the substance and structure of what Patrick had said in Massachusetts. Obama's phrasing was "Don't tell me words don't matter. 'I have a dream.' Just words? 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' Just words? 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.' Just words? Just speeches?"

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.225-226 Aug 1, 2008

Don't take a chance on me; take a chance on your aspirations

A major contributing cause of Obama's liberal borrowing of previously used political language is Campaign Manager David Axelrod, who appears to have tried out much of Obama's 2008 campaign language in the Deval Patrick gubernatorial campaign in 2006 in Massachusetts.

On Feb. 18, the Clinton campaign charged that a speech by Obama included a passage nearly identical to one in a speech delivered two years earlier by Deval Patrick. That same day, a second video clip was posted on YouTube.com showing Obama copying from yet another Patrick speech, nearly word for word, again without attribution to Patrick.

Patrick said, "I am not asking anybody to take a chance on me. I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations." Obama said: "I'm not asking you to take a chance on me. I'm also asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."

Obama issued a nondenial denial: "Deval and I do trade ideas all the time, and you know, he's occasionally used lines of mine. I used some words of his."

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.226-227 Aug 1, 2008

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

Made the right decisions that were not politically popular

I opposed legislation that now is being used against me politically to make sure that juveniles were not put in the criminal justice system as adults, even though it was not the smart thing to do politically. It was not smart for me to oppose the war at the start of this war, but I did so because it was the right thing to do. Don’t question the fact that on issue after issue that is important to the American people, I haven’t simply followed, I have led.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

OpEd: Radical Spenders; Weak Defenders

The Obama Administration: Radical Spenders, Weak Defenders: The 2008 campaign began as a repudiation of Republicans for big spending and the war in Iraq. It ended with the election of the most radical president in American history.

The Obama-Pelosi-Rei team is the most radical group ever to hold the reigns of American power. Its vision of a high-tax, bureaucratic, Washington-centered system leading to a secular-socialist future will fundamentally challenge America's role as a beacon of hope, opportunity, and freedom.

The $700 billion Wall Street bailout of September 2008 marked the complete collapse of the Bush administration's economic discipline. Obama took office and presided over "Bush Plus"--but with an aggressiveness, speed, & scale that shocked most Americans.

In foreign policy, the Obama administration has reverted to the weakness and apologetic critique of America that characterized the Carter administration from 1977 to 1980. President Obama bows to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p. xiii-xv Dec 18, 2007

OpEd: Replace red-vs.-blue politics with positive campaign

As for the 2008 campaign, President Bush's unpopularity and the sudden crisis I our financial system made a victory for Senator McCain very difficult. However, it is worth noting that it was the victor, Senator Obama, and not Senator McCain, whose core message was the rejection of red-versus-blue politics.

Senator Obama ran a positive presidential campaign that reached out to many sectors of the population beyond the Democrats' traditional base. The result was not just winning a narrow victory by maximizing turnout in traditionally Democratic areas among people who were angry with President Bush. Obama had reached out to all Americans and was rewarded with victories in North Carolina, Colorado, and other traditionally red states. In fact, it is likely that Senator Obama's victory would have been even more overwhelming if the ideology of the Left were not so fundamentally out of synch with that of the vast majority of Americans.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p. 25 Dec 18, 2007

On “inexperience”: he wrote policy books that media ignores

The greatest barrier to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has been the attacks on his qualifications by the press. Over and over again, the media damned Obama as inexperienced. [One pundit writes], “He is young, the youngest in the field. He is very inexperienced compared to other candidates.” Another noted, “Obama’s biggest problem may not be that he’s black but that he’s green.”

The idea of Obama as inexperienced was not merely unproven but the opposite of truth. Since the details of Obama’s life have already been extensively covered in his own books, journalists have little new to do except trying to find holes in Obama’s story.

As Obama noted, “I’ve written two very detailed books that give people a pretty good window into my heart and soul. I’ve given policy speeches on just about every important issue.” It was the media that didn’t want to talk about policies, not Obama. Yet in the media spotlight, the horse race always prevails over policy debates.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 25-27 Oct 30, 2007

Don’t know if life beyond earth; focus on life here on earth

Q: The three astronauts of Apollo 11 who went to the moon back in 1969, all said that they believe there is life beyond Earth. Do you agree? A: I don’t know. I don’t presume to know. What I know is there is life here on Earth, and we’re not attending to life here on Earth. We’re not taking care of kids who are alive and not getting health care. We’re not taking care of senior citizens who are alive and are seeing their heating prices go up. As president, those are the people I will be attending to first
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

The Plan: Raise Obama’s profile, including African adventure

Obama’s journey to Africa had been planned since early 2005. It was one of the final pieces of The Plan, the two-year outline to keep Obama’s star rising and his political power at its highest ebb. The trip became the focus of enormous media attention.

Since Obama’s election to the US Senate, Kenyans had adopted him as one of their own, and his rapid ascent to political power in the US had made him a living folk hero in the East African nation, especially among his father’s native tribe, the Luo. A beer named for Obama had gone on the Kenyan market (Senator Beer); a school in rural Kenya was named in his honor; and a play based on his Dreams Memoir had been staged at the Kenyan National Theater.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.322-325 Aug 14, 2007

Assigned RFK’s Senate desk; invokes RFK regularly

Obama’s youth, energy, and idealism, not to mention his good looks, have inspired comparisons to JFK & RFK.

It is JFK’s younger brother who was a witty, eloquent, dashing, and politically progressive, 40-something freshman junior senator from a large northern industrial state when he ran for president in 1968, to whom Barack is most frequently compared. Bobby Kennedy, who sat at the same desk Obama was assigned when he first sat in the Senate chamber and who was sworn in on January 4, 1965, 40 years to the day before his political descendant, launched his quest as the electorate was despairing under the rising death count of a badly conceived and ill-defined, no-end-in-sight war.

When Obama invokes Kennedy, he sounds as if he could be reading a passage from his own book. “In a nation torn by war and divided against itself, he was able to look us in the eye and tell us that no matter... how persistent the poverty or the racism, no matter how far adrift America strayed, hope would come again.”

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 21-24 Feb 15, 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

Convention speech understood country yearns for unity

Pro’s and Con’s: He gave the keynote at the 2004 Democratic convention

Pro: He was inspiring.

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America--there is the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America: there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who oppose the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.
Words that will be long remembered. It is hard to imagine writing a history of this period without referring to this speech because Obama did such a find job of capturing the spirit of national unity.
Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 17 Oct 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

Be strong or be clever and make peace

My stepfather Lolo said, “Men take advantage of weakness in other men. They’re just like countries in that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land. He makes the weak man work in his fields. If the weak man’s woman is pretty, the strong man will take her. Which would you rather be? Better to be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 37 Aug 1, 1996

Wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I was prepared

I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I was prepared to be commander-in-chief. My number one job as president will be to keep the American people safe. I will do whatever is required to accomplish that. I will not hesitate to act against those that would do America harm. That involves maintaining the strongest military on earth, which means that we are training our troops properly and equipping them properly, and putting them on proper rotations. There are an awful lot of families who have been burdened under two and three and four tours because of the poor planning of the current commander-in-chief, and that will end when I am president. It also means using our military wisely. On whether or not to go to war in Iraq, I showed the judgment of a commander-in-chief. Clinton was wrong in her judgments on that. That has significant consequences, because it has diverted attention from Afghanistan where al Qaeda, that killed 3,000 Americans, are stronger now than at any time since 2001.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

2 years older than JFK when JFK ran for president

First and foremost, his detractors see him as a kid, which he is not. At forty-five, Obama is two years older than JFK when he ran for president, but he is widely regarded as too inexperienced to play the crucial role of commander in chief. The conservative commentator George Will writes that Obama would make the presidency an “entry level position.” To which he has replied: “Nobody had better Washington experience than Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. If the criterion is how long you’ve been in Washington, then we should just go ahead and assign Joe Biden or Chris Dodd the nomination.“

Obama does give a youthful impression. Every time Obama advances a conciliatory idea it conspires with his juvenile appearance, and his deliberative streak can seem like indecisiveness.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 77-78 Nov 11, 2007

Change stirs passion & controversy; but don't play it safe

In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America --values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions--our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government--still reflect these same values.

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment. I campaigned on the promise of change--change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change--or that I can deliver it.

But remember this--I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address Jan 27, 2010

OpEd: Spoke often during campaign of common struggles

Democrats have united [many] groups in a common struggle against the injustices of a free society, free enterprise, and religious-based moral judgments. In his presidential campaign, Barack Obama spoke often of common struggles and called on Americans to unite "by binding our grievances." Socialists understand that uniting people behind centralized power requires a belief that without the help of government they will stand alone against oppression and injustice. The struggle of one group must be linked t the struggle of others and people must be "agitated" to unite & fight.

The Democratic Party has become synonymous with government security. Democrats agitate & unite by reminding voters that America has been unfair, and without government protection, they will be alone and powerless. In so many words "freedom: is their enemy. Ironically the more dependent Americans become on government, the more insecure and fearful they become. Democrats use this fear to manipulate their votes at election time.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 48-50 Jul 4, 2009

OpEd: Victimology master; irrevocably bound to tragic past

Obama became a master of "victimology" during his campaign for president. He painted a picture of America as a collection of groups who have been victimized by injustice. In May 2008, Obama attempted to unite Americans around their dissatisfaction with their country, [citing] "the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man who's been laid off, the immigrant trying to fed his family."

Obama offered hope not in an American identity but a hope that America could change from its repressive past. The enchantment of Obama to the disenchanted was derived from the fact that much of what he said was true. There has been political injustice. But instead of inspiring Americans with hope and pride in the greatness of our country and the strides we've made toward justice, he inspired people to unite around the wrongs & injustices that they have suffered because of their affiliation with a victimized group. Obama's platform was the antithesis of liberty; he offered hope in more government

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 68 Jul 4, 2009

Young supporters make parallels between Obama & pop stars

Whereas some folks my age (46) might be more inclined to see parallels between Obama's style and Adam Clayton Powell's, younger people have no trouble thinking of Jay-Z and Obama in similar terms. Says one 23-year-old student upon Obama's entrance at a university event, "You would have thought Beyonce and Jay-Z had come in--in 2006 he had that quality."

I no longer find it far-fetched to compare a political intellectual with a pop performer of any kind. Jay-Z, who offered vocal support of Obama durin stops on his 2007 concert tour, acknowledged that others might have reservations. He told "Vibe" magazine, "So in the concert, I always say, 'This is not sponsored by Obama.'"

If Obama saw the connection, and he often implied that he did, he showed few signs of discomfort. During the campaign for the Democratic nomination, an Obama spokesperson confirmed that Jay-Z was among the artists whose songs were on Obama's iPod. Jay-Z and his wife, Beyonce, appeared at a number of Obama fundraisers.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 40-42 Jan 20, 2009

Rev. Wright's sermon "Audacity of Hope" was radical optimism

The sermons of Jeremiah Wright incorporate nonscriptural allusions, discussions of literature and music, and overt intellectual explorations. "The Audacity to Hope," Wright's 1988 sermon that inspired the title of Obama's second book (and some of the best lines in his 2004 keynote), begins with a meditation on a Victorian painting, expands into an examination of the biblical story of Hannah, and sifts through the lyrics of an African American spiritual.

"There may not be any visible sign of a chang in your individual situation, whatever your private hell is," Wright told his congregation. "But that's just the horizontal level. Keep the vertical level intact, like Hannah. You may, like the African slaves, be able to sing, 'Over my head I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere.'" Lean, elegant, powerful, and precise, Wright's sermon eloquently demonstrated that few philosophical threads weave so sturdily through black public rhetoric as radical optimism.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.140-141 Jan 20, 2009

The destiny of all Americans is inextricably linked

The men & women who gathered there to listen to Martin Luther King could’ve heard many things. They could’ve heard words of anger and discord. They could’ve been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred. But what the people heard instead--people of every creed & color, from every walk of life--is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one. “We cannot walk alone,” the preacher cried. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.“ America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. Let us keep that promise--that American promise--and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

OpEd: A resolute progressive AND sick of partisan bickering

Obama, in his books and speeches, has been almost obsessed with the idea that people are sick of partisan bickering. Yet he also has claimed the identity of a resolute progressive. Can he be both? History suggests that it is possible both to govern as a radical reformer AND to be a unifier, and thereby move the political center to the left. But that achievement requires wisdom, resolve, and leadership. The easier one is to split the difference, as our last two Democratic presidents have done, and just move to the center generally. This is also what our last two losing Democratic nominees did. Their strategy failed to either inspire liberals, co-opt conservatives, or move enough swing voters. It signaled: Just another politician.
Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p. 4-5 Aug 25, 2008

50-state strategy: focus on states ignored by Hillary & GOP

Like the current national Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, Obama committed himself to a 50-state strategy, rather than writing off states that were heavily Republican. His unorthodox strategy made all the difference in allowing Obama to win the Democratic nomination. He built his margins in primaries and caucuses in majority-Republican states, places that Hillary Clinton's campaign was more likely to write off.

Obama has built on Dean's strategy of investing in party infrastructure and candidates rarely paid attention by the national party--candidates for "down-ticket" offices such as state rep and county commissioner. The Democrats' pickup of thirty-one House seats in 2006, many of them in "Red" states, reflected not just a popular repudiation of Bush but also the Democrats' investment in states where their candidates seldom win. This accelerated in 2008, with Obama's strong support.

Obama is in some ways the accidental beneficiary of Dean's party building.

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p.193 Aug 25, 2008

OpEd: Behind "hope & change" rhetoric lays radical views

We find a problem with Obama's lofty language about "hope" and "change." Under close analysis these cries have such extensive antecedents they appear borrowed. The Audacity of Hope, the title of Obama's second book, was first used by Rev. Wright a the title of a sermon. "Change" is the battle cry championed by radical socialist organizer Saul Alinsky, who devoted a section of his book Rules for Radicals to the topic "The Ideology of Change."

Obama has borrowed phrases freely even from movies, taking "bamboozled" from Spike Lee's movie about Malcolm X and the phrase "He is the One" from the Matrix movie series. When we look closer at Obama's intellectual legacy, we find him telling us the writers who impressed him included Malcolm X, master of black rage.

Behind the Obama "hope" and "change" rhetoric, we find the verbal mask has covered over the development of a liberal Democratic politician who, in truth, harbors radical views that are extreme even for most Democrats.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.300-301 Aug 1, 2008

Emphasis on cooperation and listening to both sides

A major theme running through much of Obama's writing, books and speeches is an emphasis on cooperation. This focus is evident in his campaign style: he is careful not to openly offend those he disagrees with, because he knows he may have to work side-by-side with them in the future to find solutions to our most pressing problems. He tries to keep his debates and disagreements from becoming personal, instead focusing on issues. Once name-calling starts and people break off into sides anticipating a fight, it is very difficult to get them to cooperate later on.

Obama did not invent this persona just for the campaign. People who knew him in law school say that he was always good at listening to all sides and bringing people of disparate views together. In his community organizing work in Chicago, cooperation was the key to getting anything done in his inner city poor neighborhood.

Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.175-176 Jul 1, 2008

Key issue is McCain following Bush on war & economy

Q: On what three issues will this campaign turn to you?

A: Issue #1, how we’re going to keep America safe. John McCain has a vision that is very similar to George Bush’s. He wants to continue in Iraq on the current course. I believe that we need to begin a process of withdrawal, initiate tougher diplomacy and refocus our attention on Afghanistan. That’s going to be a set of issues.

On the economy. John McCain’s main economic platform is to continue the Bush tax cuts and then to add $300 billion worth of corporate tax breaks that aren’t paid for. And then, you know, I think that the American people are going to have to make some decisions about our personal qualities. Obviously, the presidency is more than just a set of talking points. It has to do with the American people lifting the hood and kicking the tires and seeing who do they trust, who do they think can lead us at this moment in history. And those are more intangible qualities, but, you know, those’ll play into this race as well.

Source: ABC News: 2008 election interview with Charlie Gibson Jun 4, 2008

This union may never be perfect, but can always be perfected

I would not be running for president if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation, the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.230 Mar 18, 2008

Go beyond the divisions so that the government can work

If we can’t inspire the American people to get involved in their government and if we can’t inspire them to go beyond the racial divisions and the religious divisions and the regional divisions that have plagued our politics for so long, then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and nonperformance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways. I’m running for president to start doing something about that suffering, and so are the people who are behind my campaign.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

I have shown the right judgment to lead

I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. He ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 men, because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. As a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition, they didn’t have enough humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped. That’s a consequence of bad judgment. On going into Iraq originally, I said this is going to distract us from Afghanistan, fan the flames of anti-American sentiment, and cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and overstretch our military. I was right. On the question of Pakistan, I’ve said very clearly that we have put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket. That was a mistake. We should be going after al Qaeda and making sure that Pakistan is serious about hunting down terrorists, as well as expanding democracy. I was right.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

Labels like “most liberal” prevent problem-solving

Q: You were ranked recently by National Journal as having the most liberal voting record in 2007.

A: Well, an example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an impartial office of public integrity. Now, I didn’t know that it was a Democratic issue. I thought that was a good government issue that a lot of Republicans would like to see. So that’s the problem with some of these ratings--how they score things. It uses categories that I think don’t make sense to a lot of Americans.

Q: Are you proud of that designation? To be known as the most liberal voting senator?

A: I don’t think you heard what I just said, which is that the designations don’t make sense. This is what I would call old politics. This is the stuff we’re trying to get rid of. Because the problem is, when we start breaking down into conservative & liberal, [that creates nothing but partisanship]. Those old categories don’t work, and they’re preventing us from solving them problems.

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

Overcome politics of demonizing opponents

Tonight was Pres. Bush’s last State of the Union, and I do not believe history will judge his administration kindly. But I also believe the failures of the last seven years stem not just from any single policy, but from a broken politics in Washington. A politics that says it’s ok to demonize your political opponents when we should be coming together to solve problems. A politics that puts Wall Street ahead of Main Street, ignoring the reality that our fates are intertwined. And a politics of fear and ideology instead of hope and common sense.

I believe a new kind of politics is possible, and I believe it is necessary. Because the American people can’t afford another four years without health care, decent wages, or an end to this war.

Imagine if next year, the entire nation had a president they could believe in. A president who rallied all Americans around a common purpose. That’s the kind of President we need in this country. And that’s the kind of President I will be.

Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

We are choosing hope over fear

We are choosing hope over fear. You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists, who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices, that they don’t own this government. We do. And we are here to take it back.

The time has come for a president who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face, who will listen to you and learn from you even when we disagree, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear but what you need to know.

Source: Speech after Iowa caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.204 Jan 3, 2008

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

If you join me I promise you we can change America

I am running for president because of what Dr. King called “the fierce urgency of now.” We have urgent problems but we’ve seen an administration that is adrift. The American people understand this urgency but they haven’t had the leadership to bring people together, overcome the special interests, and speak honestly about how we are going to solve these problems. I don’t want to wake up four years from now and find out that we got millions more young African American & Latino youth who are in prison as opposed to going to college. I don’t want to wake up & find out that we’ve got millions more Americans without health insurance. I don’t want to find out that we have not made more progress on jobs that pays a living wage. I am standing here because somebody somewhere at some point in time stood up when it was risky, stood up when it was hard, stood up when it wasn’t popular. We have to stand up on behalf of future generations. And if you join me I promise you we can change America.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Viral video “I Got a Crush on Obama” by Obama Girl

Ronnie Spector calls herself “Obama Girl.” Her You Tube video “I Got a Crush on Obama” has made her a true fifteen-minute sensation--and that might have been the point, since she told one interviewer that she hadn’t actually decided whether to vote for her man. It may be that she was retained by the same whiz kids in Obama’s camp who designed the viral that placed Hillary Clinton in a grim 1984 setting. Who can say? But whatever her provenance, Obama Girl has her laminate nails on the pulse of America, as she gleefully sings, “You’re into border security/Let’s break this border between you and me.” Inserting herself into a pec-ful photo of the O-Man in his swimming trunks, she declares: “You’re a lover who can fight/You can roar with me tonight.”
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 68 Nov 11, 2007

Apply lessons from both Goldwater and McGovern

Liberals embrace candidates who sound progressive because they run to the left for the primary and then to the right during the general election--and end up undermining any authority they might have. Obama has generally not played this game, and it is part of what makes him different.

Conservatives and liberals have learned different lessons from losing. In 1964, when Barry Goldwater was trounced by Johnson, it actually launched today’s conservative movement that culminated in the election of Reagan In 1972, when McGovern was trounced by Nixon, the progressive movement was dead. Democrats always avoided a progressive agenda. After the miserable failures of Gore and Kerry, progressives have argued that Democrats need to follow the conservative approach post-Goldwater and win by standing for something. Obama is trying to bridge these two approaches, to have integrity and progressive values, while simultaneously presenting a more centrist face that appeals across political boundaries.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.125 Oct 30, 2007

Invites supporters to join him on “This Improbable Quest”

On Feb. 10, 2007, Obama stood in front of cold fans in Springfield, Illinois to announce his presidential plans and invite them to join “this improbable quest.”

Obama’s campaign is improbable, but not because he is black and so little known nationally It seems improbable because it defies the political establishment. Obama is a candidate who urges bipartisanship, who calls for ethics reform and changes in the campaign finance systems, and who speaks in grand terms about transforming American politics.

Obama’s biggest flaw may be that he’s not audacious enough, that he holds his tongue to spare feelings. Obama thinks we need to restore faith in government and hope in the better nature of our fellow citizens. But sometimes he seems unwilling to trust the people enough to tell them what he really thinks. Or perhaps he just doesn’t trust the media to let him engage in honesty without destroying his campaign. Instead, Obama’s first instinct too often is to compromise to reach common ground.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.165 Oct 30, 2007

Resolve “most electable” vs.“most progressive” by being both

There is something satisfying about hearing an uncompromising voice for what you think is right. A noisemaker can draw attention to a problem, but it takes a leader to solve it. So the progressive movement needs both noisemakers & leaders. But we need to avoid the assumption that the noisemakers are the true progressives, & the leaders compromised sell-outs. Noisemakers are easier to find; it’s the leaders who are essential. The genius of Obama is his ability to pursue a progressive agenda in a bipartisa manner, to merge liberalism with practical politics.

For a long time, progressive have been forced in the Democratic primary to choose between pragmatism and idealism, between delectability and values. In 2004, many Democrats made the unfortunate choic of John Kerry over Howard Dean precisely because they though Dean couldn’t be elected. Obama offers an easy resolution to this program, by being both the most electable and the most progressive candidate among the leaders in the Democratic Party.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.166 Oct 30, 2007

Seen as both critical outsider and establishment insider

[His 2004 DNC speech established Obama as] an inspirational leader who could mend the various divisions within the country--racial, political, cultural, spiritual.

Movements to draft him to run for the presidency in 2008 would take hold on the Internet Not since the days of Jack & Bobby Kennedy had a politician captured so quickly the imagination of such a broad array of Americans. And even the Kennedy comparison would not characterize Obama’s fame properly. Not since Ronald Reagan had a politician bee so adept at sharing his own unwavering optimism with a disheartened electorate. Using the broad power of the modern media as his launching pad, Obama would plot a course that catapulted him from little-known state lawmaker to best-selling author to US Senator to national celebrity. A mixture of idealistic and pragmatist, Obama would move almost overnight from a critic of the established political system inside the Beltway to a player within that system. He would represent both outsider and insider.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 9 Aug 14, 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

Portrayed as a multiplier instead of a divider

Pro’s and Con’s: Portrayed as a multiplier instead of a divider

This neologism was coined by Robert McElvaine of the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger: “What America needs is a leader who practices the politics of multiplication rather than division. The person who has the greatest potential to be the Multiplier has just returned from a successful visit to Africa and will be speaking Sunday in Iowa: Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.”

Pro: America wants a president who will bring us together. The current partisan atmosphere is tiresome. McElvaine is right, we need a unifier.

Con: America voted for President who divided us. In 2004, the majority of us voted for arguably the most divisive president in history.

Pro: A multiplier is electable.

Con: An African-American Multiplier is not electable. McElvaine concedes that a significant fraction of the American electorate would vote against any black candidate.

Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 74-75 Oct 17, 2006

Offer real hope-not blind optimism-to the American people

I’m not talking about blind optimism-the willful ignorance that thinks unemployment or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope. That’s God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; a belief in things not seen; a belief that there are better days ahead. We can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. We can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Actions can be seen in 20 years of my public service

Actions do speak louder than words, which is why over the 20 years of my public service I have acted a lot to provide health care to people who didn’t have it, to provide tax breaks to families that needed it, to reform a criminal justice system that had resulted in wrongful convictions, to open up our government and to pass the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate, to make sure that we create transparency to make sure that we create transparency in our government so that we know where federal spending is going and it’s not going to a bunch of boondoggles and earmarks that are wasting taxpayer money that could be spent on things like early childhood education. If you talk to those wounded warriors at Walter Reed who, prior to me getting to the Senate, were having to pay for their meals and have to pay for their phone calls to their family while they’re recovering from amputations, they’ve said that I’ve engaged not just in talk, but in action.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 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

Father's car crash death may have included alcohol

In Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama paints a heroic picture of his father. Unfortunately, the reality is much bleaker than the tall tale Obama spins in his book.

The truth was first disclosed by London's Daily Mail in a January 2007 expos‚. Obama begins his Dreams from My Father with a scene from 1982, when Obama, having just turned 21, is shaken by a phone call from Africa telling him his father has been killed in a car accident. The narrative omits that Obama Senior killed himself driving drunk.

"Friends say drinking blighted his [Obama Senior's] life," the Daily Mail reported; "he lost both his legs while driving under the influence and also lost his job."

Drunken driving ended Obama Senior's "brilliant" civil service career as a top Harvard-trained econometrician in the newly independent Kenyan government. Then, shortly after Barack Obama Junior's 21st birthday, Obama Senior put an end to the sad drama by killing himself in yet another car crash, once again driving drunk.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 15-19 Aug 1, 2008

Father came to US on student airlift; JFK funded 2nd airlift

In a speech on March 4, 2007, Obama rewrote history to invent the complete fabrication that Robert & Jack Kennedy were the ones who decided to do an airlift that brought Obama's father to America.

Unfortunately for Obama, the 1959 airlift, which brough 81 Kenyan students to the US, including Obama's father, happened before JFK was inaugurated president and did not benefit from any Kennedy family funding. JFK met with [Kenyan leader] Tom Mboya--but after the 1959 airlift had already occurred. Mboya met with JFK on July 26, 1960, to convince JFK to fund a second airlift of African students to the US. The Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, decided to give Mboya $100,000 to pay for the second airlift.

To recap: Obama Senior came to the US to study on the first airlift, the one organized by Mboya. JFK was involved in funding only the second airlift and played no part in the first airlift.

If Obama owes his life to any politician, it is to Tom Mboya, not John Kennedy.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 31-35 Aug 1, 2008

Mother named "Stanley Ann" because grandfather wanted a son

The Obama family story is far different from those of past presidential candidates. Even his mother's story is curious: What father would name his daughter "Stanley" after himself, just because he wanted a son? Being introduced her whole life as "Stanley Ann," the only child of the Dunham family, must have given her a lot to explain to her peers, from the first moment she set foot on the neighborhood playground or showed up for school.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 40-41 Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Racial angst from paternal abandonment, not injustice

Where does Obama's racial angst come from? Obama is not a descendant of a slave, he did not grow up in an urban ghetto in an impoverished family, he was not unjustly prosecuted for some crime he did not commit. Where is the social injustice he has suffered? What Obama had experienced to young adulthood was not intense racial injustice, but the abandonment of his father, followed by the abandonment of his mother. His white Midwestern grandparents loved him enough to provide him room and board in their home, modest as it may have been, and to pay a tuition his mother most likely could not afford, and which his father showed no interest in paying, even if he had the means. Yes, Obama was mixed-race, but what had he suffered from being born to an African father and a white mother? Beyond a confused identity, Obama never suffered poverty and he ended up the Harvard-educated son of a Harvard-educated father.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 79 Aug 1, 2008

Nicknamed "Barry the O'Bomber" in prep school basketball

In 1971, Obama was accepted to a school that the island's upper class fought to get their children admitted to. Obama had been on a waiting list and his grandfather had to use influence from his boss, a Punahou graduate, to get Obama in. "A young black man struggles for acceptance at an institution of privilege, where he finds himself growing so angry and disillusioned at the world around him that he turns to alcohol and drugs," as summed up by the Chicago Tribune.

On the outside, teenage Barry Obama as he was known at Punahou, went out for the school basketball team & did his best to fit in socially, while struggling to make modest grades. A member of the varsity squad, though not a starter, Obama was called "Barry the O'Bomber" by teammates because of his long shots. Obama's friends at the time do not remember Obama as an angry black kid. Instead they remember him as fairly normal, just one of them. The one time Obama Senior visited, the two of them fought over Barry's laziness about homework.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 71-73 Aug 1, 2008

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

2005: Inherited staff from outgoing Senator Tom Daschle

When Obama won his Senate seat in 2004, Daschle was losing his, after twenty-eight years.

One coming, the other going, they became fast friends, and Daschle persuaded much of his staff, from [his key adviser] Rouse on down, to move from the most powerful office in the Senate to that of the bright young man from Illinois. This was unheard of. First off, skilled and seasoned staffs in the Senate--and Daschle's was about the best--have never been known to be transferable. But this one was. Daschle became Obama's mentor, with Obama's new chief of staff, Rouse, as his guide.

Obama operated from moments when no one was looking, how unflinchingly loyal he was to everyone around him--grateful, really, that they were doing what they could on his behalf. His instincts were to always push for consensus, and then affirm it.

Source: Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, p. 49-51 Sep 20, 2011

Borrowed "Just Words" speech from Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick

A major contributing cause of Obama's liberal borrowing of previously used political language is campaign manager David Axelrod, who has borrowed freely from client Deval Patrick. Axelrod appears to have tried out much of Obama's 2008 campaign language i the Patrick gubernatorial campaign in 2006 in Massachusetts.

On Feb. 18, 2008, the Clinton campaign charged that a speech by Obama in Wisconsin included a passage nearly identical to one in a speech delivered two years earlier by Deval Patrick. The controversy was fueled by a YouTube.com video showing side-by-side segments from Patrick's and Obama's speeches, making the similarity between them obvious. Particularly striking was how both candidates focused on the theme "Just Words," followed by a string of famous quotations that obviously were not just words, but statements of important political moments and causes.

Obama responded, "Deval and I do trade ideas all the time, and he's occasionally used lines of mine, & I used some words of his."

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.225-227 Aug 1, 2008

Handpicked as successor by retiring State Senator

In 1995, Obama saw his opening to run for elected office when Illinois state senator Alice Palmer decided to run for Congress the following year, in November 1996. Palmer went out of her way to name Obama as her handpicked successor. To get Obama's state senate race off to a good start, Palmer arranged a function for a few influential liberals in the district, at the home of Weather Underground activists Bill Ayers. Palmer sought to introduce Obama to likely campaign supporters and contributors.

Obama's current press secretary has argued that Obama was an eight-year-old when Ayers was active in the Weather Underground and that "any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost 40 years ago is ridiculous." Yet the record shows that connections between Obama and Ayers have actively continued since Obama launched his political career in their living room in 1995. Obama and Ayers served together on the Woods Fund board for three years, beginning in the year Obama joined it.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.136-137 Aug 1, 2008

1996: Campaigned on unity, but got opponents disqualified

In his 1996 campaign for State Senate, Obama called for unity, pragmatism, and a new approach to politics in his campaign.

What he practiced, however, was more traditional politics. On the fist working day of 1996 Obama's staff started a series of hearings at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners to challenge the validity of nominations of his three other rivals. To those who complained that a voter registration activist and civil rights attorney should not use administrative procedures to limit ballot access, Obama replied that the issue was one of competence: "My conclusion was that if you couldn't run a successful petition drive, then that raised questions in terms of how effective a representative you were going to be." All of his opponents were disqualified and Obama ran unopposed in the March primary. He cruised to victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic district in the general election.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 31-32 Apr 1, 2008

After challenging Rep. Rush, got redistricted out

He was attacked an inauthentic--a powerful charge in the heavily African-American district. "Barack is viewed in part to be the white man in blackface in our community," said state Senator Donne Trotter, another candidate in the race.

The candidate campaigned frenetically. "We called him the Kenyan Kennedy," said a field worker, because he appeared on elevated subway platforms in the dead of winter without an overcoat, hat or gloves. He ultimately won the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune, but it was not enough. He lost 2-1 in the March, 2000 primary. Later, during redistricting after the 2000 census, Rush saw to it that Obama's street was cut out of his congressional district.

Obama's political capital was at a low ebb. So were his personal fortunes: his bank account was empty.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 34-35 Apr 1, 2008

Ran for Congress in 2000 & lost

He certainly is not a man of the Left. Obama gave money to Joseph Lieberman during his battle with progressive Ned Lamont (though, when Lamont won the Democratic primary, Obama endorsed him). He has a penchant for turning his back on progressives, and in 2000 he ran for the Congress against a former Black Panther--and lost.

As a US senator, he supported tort reform, voted against filibustering the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and backed the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorizatio Act. He favors capital punishment (though only in cases of “heinous” crime). He calls himself a strong supporter of reproductive rights, but in the Illinois legislature he voted present instead of yea on a number of bills concerning parental notification and late-term abortion.

On the stump now, he shies away from “social issues” unless he is speaking to a crowd that expects him to comment.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 65 Nov 11, 2007

State Senate opponents disqualified on technicality

State senator Alice Palmer decided to run for Congress. Palmer was a progressive African American in the vein of Obama, & she threw her support behind Obama as her replacement.

Palmer lost the congressional primary contest in Nov. 2005 to Jesse Jackson Jr., and then quickly filed to run for her old seat in the March 2006 Democratic primary against Obama--even though she had publicly supported him for the seat.

Obama challenged the legality of her petitions, as well as the legality of petitions from several other candidates in the race. Palmer realized that Obama had called her hand, and she acknowledged that she had not properly acquired the necessary number of signatures. She had no choice but to withdraw from the race. The other opponents were also knocked off the ballot, leaving Obama running unopposed in the primary.

Rather than winning a position in the Illinois General Assembly by ousting an incumbent or taking an open seat, he appeared to have slipped in the back door on a technicality.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.108-110 Aug 14, 2007

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

2004: Won Senate seat against Alan Keyes, 70%-29%

Obama explained in The Audacity of Hope that Keyes’ attacks on Obama’s Christianity and Keyes’ readings of Scripture “put me on the defensive.”

“What could I say? That a literal reading of the Bible was folly?” Obama wrote. “I answered with the usual liberal response in such debates--that we live in a pluralistic society, that I can’t impose my religious views on another, that I was running to be the US Senator from Illinois and not the minister of Illinois. But even as I answered, I was mindful of Keyes’ implicit accusation--that I remain steeped in doubt, that my faith was adulterated, that I was not a true Christian.“

The rest of the way, Obama kept his head in the game and his hands off the porcupine. That November, in perhaps the most anticlimactic moment of Obama’s political ascension, he won the general election by the largest margin of victory in the history of Senate races in Illinois, defeating Keyes by a final tally of 70% to 29%.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.298-299 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

GovWatch: “Worked his way thru college” meant 2 summer jobs

Obama’s latest ad, “Dignity,” repeats an often-stated claim, saying he “worked his way through college and Harvard Law.” We know Obama took out loans to get himself through school. But the campaign provided information on just two jobs Obama had in those years, and they were both in the summer.

The only back-up the campaign provided for this claim was a quote from Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father“ having to do with a construction job he had one summer while he was in college, and an article mentioning his job as a summer associate one year at a big Chicago law firm. We asked a campaign spokesman if Obama held jobs during the school year, or other summer jobs, but he said only, ”He had the two jobs I told you about.“ Unless Obama had a good bit more employment than his spokesman was able to describe for us, it’s a real stretch to claim he ”worked his way“ through school.

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis Jul 2, 2008

Real estate deal with felon was “boneheaded” but ethical

When Obama bought a new house and then purchased a small part of the next door lot from a contributor named Tony Rezko in 2006, he was caught up in the backlash a few months later when Rezko was indicted on corruption charges. Rezko had discovered the lot next door to the house Obama was eyeing was for sale by the same owner, and he bought it the same day the Obamas closed on their home.

[After accusations of an unethical deal, press investigations showed that], Obama paid fair market value for his portion of the land [as did Rezko]. Rezko was indicted for fraud [unrelated to real estate], but at the time Obama bought his house, there was no public indication of Rezko’s problems.

Obama declared, “I am the first to acknowledge that it was a boneheaded move for me to purchase from Rezko.” Despite all the rumors about Obama and Rezko, none of the evidence indicated any wrongdoing. The mistake Obama made was to have any dealings at all that would give the appearance of impropriety.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 31-36 Oct 30, 2007

Born in Hawaii; lives on Chicago’s South Side

Obama is the father of two daughters, Malia, 7 and Sasha, 4. Obama and his wife, Michelle, married in 1992 and live on Chicago’s South Side where they attend Trinity United Church of Christ.

Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961, in Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983, and moved to Chicago in 1985 to work for a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.

Source: PAC website, HopeFundAmerica.com, “About Barack” Nov 17, 2006

Portrayed by GOP as "risky", implying alien and un-American

John McCain posed disingenuous questions: "All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short, who is Barack Obama?"

And leave his followers to fill in the blanks: "Terrorist!" "Arab!" "Liar!" "Kill him!"

Then there were the television ads promoting the argument that Obama was too "risky" to serve as president. Obama's vast war chest enabled him to greatly outspend McCain for TV ads, but his spots differed dramatically in tone. A study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison determined that roughly one-third of Obama's ads attacked McCain directly while virtually all of McCain's attacked Obama. Salon contended that the subliminal message of all McCain's spots was that Obama is "scary, black, unknown, black, alien, black, un-American, black." The Brother from Another Planet, Osama bin Laden, and Willie Horton, all photoshopped into one dark, horrifying monster.

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p.164-165 Jan 20, 2009

OpEd: Despite Obama, blacks still need focus on advancement

Do I believe the relative prosperity of the black middle class & Obama's historic victory will amount to just another brief moment in the sun? No, I don't, but our history here forcefully reminds us that we will always--ALWAYS--need some individuals among us willing to watch our backs. As long as racial disparities exist, as long as there are problems particular to black people, loyal advocacy is not only desired but also required.

Obama has said as much himself. He writes in "The Audacity of Hope" that for black Americans, "separation from the poor is never an option, and not just because the color of our skin--and the conclusions the larger society draws from our color--makes all of us only as free, only as respected, as the least of us."

Source: What Obama Means, by Jabari Asim, p. 13-14 Jan 20, 2009

Rev. Wright and flag pins are distractions from real issues

Q: You say a lot of this stuff--Rev. Wright, flag pins--are distractions from the real issues. But for someone like you, who’s a newcomer to the national scene, don’t voters have a legitimate interest in who you are and what your values are?

A: Absolutely. And so the question becomes, how do voters draw conclusions about my values? Do they look at the 20 years in which I have devoted my life to community service? Do they look at how I’ve raised my children? That’s a reflection of my values. I don’t think that the issue of Rev. Wright is illegitimate. I just think that the way it was reported was not a reflection of both that church that I attend and who I am. On flag pins, you know, I’ve worn flag pins in the past. I will wear flag pins in the future. The fact that I said that some politicians use flag pins and then aren’t acting in a particularly patriotic way, for that to somehow be translated into me being antipatriotic or antiflag--I think that is a distraction

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: presidential series Apr 27, 2008

FactCheck: William Ayres never killed anyone with bombs

Clinton exaggerated the violence committed by an Obama acquaintance who had been part of a radical group in the 1960s and 1970s and who refused to apologize for setting bombs. Clinton said, “Sen. Obama served on a board with Mr. William Ayers for a perio of time. And Mr. Ayers... said that he was just sorry they hadn’t done more. And what they did was set bombs and in some instances people died.”

In fact, nobody died as a result of bombings in which Ayers said he participated as part of the Weather Underground. Other members were associated with 5 deaths, but none in which Ayres was present.

Ayers did say “I don’t regret setting bombs” and “I feel we didn’t do enough” regarding the group’s violent protests against the Vietnam War. That was in a NY Times interview that was published the morning of September 11, 2001. Ayers is now a professor of education in Chicago. Obama and Ayers served together for a time on the board of an antipoverty charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, from 1999 to 2002.

Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 Philadelphia primary debate Apr 16, 2008

This candidacy is not just an exercise in affirmative action

In the last couple of weeks the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely o the desire of wild and wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation, and that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy and, in some cases, pain. For some, nagging questions remain.

Rev. Wright’s comments were not only wrong, but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve problems that confront us all.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.218 Mar 18, 2008

Working together we can move beyond some old racial wounds

We’ve been stuck for years in a racial stalemate. And contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle or with a single candidate, particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction, a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people, that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.226-7 Mar 18, 2008

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

A Bound Man: inner turmoil of 1960s black nationalism

The post-sixties black identity of “black nationalism” wants black protest to be built into each black person’s sense of self. Depending on our background, being transparently “black” [as demanded by black nationalism] can come at the expense of what is important to us as human beings.

This is the double-bind, the crucible, really, that sets up Barack Obama to become a bound man. On the one hand, he begins life with so many strikes against a transparent black identity that it is almost inevitable that he should long for one. The absent black father, the mixed-race background, the privileged education--all this makes for a kind of identity vacuum. There will be parts of himself that he will not be able to take with him into the black identity he longs for. Barack writes, “If nationalism could deliver on its promise of self-respect, then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence.”

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 37-39 Dec 4, 2007

Embodies smothering racial power in individual democracy

Obama is a living rebuke to both racism and racialism, to both segregation and identity politics, to any form of collective chauvinism. For all his misfittedness, he also embodies a great and noble human aspiration: to smother racial power in a democracy of individuals.

It doesn’t matter that he sometimes goes along with race-based policies, or that he made his own Faustian bargain with affirmative action. No one is excited because Obama nods to identity politics; people are excited because he represents an idealism that opposes such politics. Any black who takes on the near-absolute visibility that goes with seeking such high office will function as both a man and a symbol, and sometimes the two will be at odds. So it is not surprising that Obama the man may vary a bit from Obama the symbol.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 8 Dec 4, 2007

More influenced by his race than public perceives

The issue of race--so nicely contained and deactivated in the Barack Obama political persona--is very much alive within the man. Black identity has been a lifelong preoccupation. By the surface facts of his life--the mixed race background, the childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia--it would be easy to assume that he might be indifferent to the whole business of race and identity. There is a tendency to see Obama as a kind of “new man,” someone spared the fate of being simply black or white in America.

But Obama is not such a person. His books show a man driven by a determination to be black, as if blackness were more an achievement than a birthright. And this need within him puts Obama at odds with himself. His plausibility as a candidate comes, in part, from the perception that he is not driven to be black, that he is rather lightly tethered to his race. But the very arc of his life has been greatly influenced by an often conscious resolve to belong irrefutably to the black identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 17-18 Dec 4, 2007

Whites sense that Barack grants them “benefit of the doubt”

[In “Dreams From My Father,”] Obama says, “Sometimes I would find myself talking [with friend] Ray about white folks this & white folks that, and I would suddenly remember my mother’s smile and the words I spoke would seem awkward.”

“White folks” is a term that shames Obama. It is bigotry because it paints all whites with the same brush. He has to give whites their innocence until they prove unworthy of it. That is what white Americans sense in Barack Obama. On pain of his own integrity, he cannot be challenger.

Challengers, like Obama’s black friend Ray, deprive whites of their racial innocence until they do something to earn it.

Challengers [like Al Sharpton] have come to play an unexpected role in the Obama saga. It is precisely against the specter of an Al Sharpton that a Barack Obama looks so “fresh” and “appealing.” Sharpton makes the point--better than Obama’s most savvy speechwriter could--that Obama is a black man for all people, a black man who gives whites “the benefit of the doubt.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.103-104 Dec 4, 2007

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

Bradley effect: black candidates poll above actual votes

Analysts are skeptical whether people are telling the truth when they say they would support a black candidate. It’s called the “Bradley effect”: It occurs when racist whites vote against black candidates even though they tell pollsters the opposite. The term “Bradley effect” comes from the 1982 election, when Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, an African American, narrowly lost his reelection despite polls that showed a lead. [That effect was repeated in David Dinkins’ race for NYC mayor, and Douglas Wilder’s race for VA Governor].

Is the Bradley effect history? A 1958 poll found that 53% of Americans admitted they would not vote for a black presidential candidate. In 2003, only 6% said they would not vote for a black president. The people who voted against Bradley, Wilder, and Dinkins despite telling pollsters the opposite were those who, in the abstract, were racist toward black candidates. But in generational terms, openly racist voters have mostly died off.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 88-89 Oct 30, 2007

Issue of race has given Senate a black eye

When you think of the history of the Senate, what is striking is the degree to which this institution has single handedly blocked the progress of African Americans for much of our history. That’s a sad testament to our institution. It’s a stain on the institution.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p.149 Mar 27, 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

Convention keynote speech highlights party’s black targeting

The man who could become the third black senator since Reconstruction will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Obama, a law professor and state senator, will speak on July 27, the second night of the convention, with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Obama will talk about the future of America that a Democratic administration would provide, along with the need to make jobs, families and communities top priorities in the lives of Americans.

The announcement from the Kerry campaign came on the same day that the Democrat launched $2 million worth of ads for television, radio and newspapers targeting black voters. Democrats handily won the black vote in 2000 by a 9-to-1 margin, and the party and Kerry campaign want to boost that turnout this November.

Obama’s Republican opponent Jack Ryan dropped out last month over embarrassing allegations in his divorce papers. The GOP’s top choices have refused to run, sending Republicans scrambling to line up opposition.

Source: Associated Press in Boston Herald Jul 14, 2004

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

FactCheck: Did not say “I will stand with the Muslims”

Claim: E-mail lists racist passages taken from Barack Obama’s books.

Origins: These cherry-picked statements are presented devoid of context, and some are reworded from the original.

“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

This statement is a rewording of a passage from page 261 of The Audacity of Hope. The original contains no specific mention of “Muslims”:

“In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a mor urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

Source: AdWatch of 2008 campaign emails: analysis by snopes.com Aug 22, 2008

Father rejected Muslim faith and witch doctors of his youth

Ann Dunham met Barack Obama Sr. while she was a freshman and he a graduate student at the University of Hawaii. He must have appeared exotic to her, with his rich, full voice; his Kenyan accent; his chiseled features; and his studied worldliness.

Though he now spent weekends with Ann, listening to jazz, drinking beer, and debating politics and world affairs with their friends, he had only a few years before lived a Kenyan village life, herding goats and submitting to the rituals of a village witch doctor. Now, in the West, he had rejected the Muslim faith of his youth just as he rejected the babblings of all witch doctors. Religion is superstition, he insisted. It falls to man to fashion his own fate and the fate of his nation. This was what he intended to do when he finished school and returned to Kenya.

Things moved quickly for Ann and her new love. Sometime late in the fall of 1960, she conceived a child. Several months into 1961, she and Barack married.

Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 Aug 5, 2008

No madrassa, but was introduced to Islam as a child

The controversy began when Insight magazine asserted that Obama had attended a radical madrassa school in Indonesia, where jihad, or holy war, was taught. CNN refuted Insight's contention that Obama attended a madrassa in his years in Indonesia.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 51 Aug 1, 2008

I joined church to commit to Christ, not to Rev. Wright

Q: What has the controversy over Reverend Jeremiah Wright done to your campaign?

A: Well, obviously it’s distracted us. I mean, we ended up spending a lot of time talking about Reverend Wright instead of talking about the issues. And so it wasn’t welcome. But, you know, I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright, I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ. And it is a wonderful church. It’s a member of the United Church of Christ, a denomination that dates back to the battles around abolition. And, as a consequence, when Rev. Wright, who married me and baptized our children, when I learned of his statements that I found so objectionable, I felt that they didn’t define him. I don’t think Rev. Wright’s [more recent comments] represented well the church. And I had to make a clear statement [against Wright]. Hopefully we’ve been able to put it behind us.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series May 4, 2008

Blacks are angry; but I dissociate myself from Rev. Wright

Q: You made a speech on the subject of race and your former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And you said that you never heard him say from the pulpit the kinds of things that so have offended people [in particular, “God Damn America”].

OBAMA: Rev Wright is somebody who made controversial statements, & I specifically said that those comments were objectionable; they’re not comments that I believe in. And I disassociated myself with them. But the body of Reverend Wright’s work, over the course of 30 years, were not represented in those snippets that were shown on television: the church has done outstanding work in ministries on HIV/AIDS, and prison ministries. So I’ve tried to speak to a broader context, which is that there is anger in the Africa American community that sometimes gets expressed, whether in the barbershop or in the church. That’s true not just in the African American community, but in other communities as well. My candidacy represents the opportunity to move beyond it.

Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008

We should be guided by what works

Barack Obama is a blend of extraordinary diversity: parents from Kenya and Kansas; an education in Indonesia, Hawaii, California, New York and Massachusetts; employment in Chicago's poorest communities, leading law firms, and premier university; elected positions in the Illinois Senate and United States Senate; and best-selling books that merge personal history and political action.

The result is a politician who asserts that we are all linked, and that while idealism must serve realism, pragmatism requires purpose. His latest book, which carries the inspirational title The Audacity of Hope, contains the following conclusion: "We should be guided by what works."

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 1 Apr 1, 2008

Madrassa myth perpetuated by false email & fabricated story

One shocking story hit the news on Jan. 17, 2007: “Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?” Insight magazine claimed that Obama spent at least 4 years in a so-called madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia. Quickly, a wave of outrage & fear about Obama hit the conservative blogosphere. There was only one problem with this spectacular story: It was a complete fabrication.

[The story was based on an] April 2005 anti-Obama email entitled “The Enemy Within,” which circulated among right-wing circles. CNN sent a correspondent to Indonesia the check on the story. CNN reported that the madrassa “was an ordinary public school Kids ran around in short pants and learned math and science and participated in the Boy Scouts.” One reason the madrassa lie was so convincing can be attributed to the blind hatred of Muslims found on the Far Right.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 95-102 Oct 30, 2007

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