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Barack Obama on Principles & Values

Democratic President (2008); IL Senator (2004)


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

American exceptionalism is same as any other exceptionalism

Many people don't believe we have special message for the world or a special mission to preserve our greatness for the betterment of not just ourselves but all of humanity. Astonishingly, President Obama even said that he believes in American exceptionalism in the same way "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Which is to say, he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism at all. He seems to think it is just a kind of irrational prejudice in favor of our way of life. To me, that is appalling.

When President Obama insists that all countries are exceptional, he's saying that none is, last of all the country he leads. That's a shame, because American exceptionalism is something that people in both parties used to believe in.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p. 69 Nov 23, 2010

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

92% of Tea Partiers: "Obama is moving US toward socialism"

By April 2010, over half of the nation--and 92% of Tea Partiers--believed that President Obama was moving the country toward socialism. Combine our anxiety over the meltdown with today's downward economic mobility, and you get scapegoating run amok. A Harris Poll in March 2010 showed that, among Republicans, 57 percent believe Obama is a Muslim, 38 percent believe he "is doing many of the things that Hitler did," and 24 percent believe that the president "may be the Anti-Christ."
Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p. 86 Sep 2, 2010

Loyal opposition is not just valuable, but a necessity

I very much am appreciative of your invitation. You know what they say, "Keep your friends close, but visit the Republican Caucus every few months." Part of the reason I accepted your invitation to come here was because I wanted to speak with all of you, and not just to all of you. And I hope that we can continue our dialogue in the days ahead. It's important to me that we do so. It's important to you, I think, that we do so. But most importantly, it's important to the American people that we do so.

I'm a big believer not just in the value of a loyal opposition, but in its necessity. Having differences of opinion, having a real debate about matters of domestic policy and national security--and that's not something that's only good for our country, it's absolutely essential. It's only through the process of disagreement and debate that bad ideas get tossed out and good ideas get refined and made better. And that kind of vigorous back and forth is at the heart of our democracy.

Source: Obama Q&A at 2010 House Republican retreat in Baltimore Jan 29, 2010

Hard times test us, like we have been tested in the past

It's tempting to look back and assume that our progress was inevitable--that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people. Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.
Source: 2010 State of the Union Address Jan 27, 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

Despite setbacks, Americans don't quit; & I don't quit

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going--what keeps me fighting--is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment--to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address Jan 27, 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

Ordinary people found the courage to keep the promise alive

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story--of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to. It is that promise that has always set this country apart--that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well. That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women--students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive. We meet at one of those defining moments--a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Measure progress by observing how ordinary people are doing

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million ne jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President -- when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under Bush. We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job -- an economy that honors the dignity of work. The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great -- a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Our government must keep the promise of America

The promise of America says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect. It’s a promise that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but it should do what we cannot do for ourselves--protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. That’s the promise of America--the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation. That’s the promise we need to keep.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Fulfilling America’s promise means individual participation

We must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need. Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility -- that’s the essence of America’s promise.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

The American promise is our greatest inheritance

Our country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities & our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the worl coming to our shores. It’s that American spirit--that American promise--that pushes us forward when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend. That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours--a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot. It is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner to stand together before Lincoln’s Memorial and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 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

OpEd: Themes of "hope" and "change" has numerous antecedents

We find a problem with Obama's lofty language about "hope" and "change." As we have seen under close analysis these cries have such extensive antecedents they appear borrowed. As we have seen, The Audacity of Hope, the title of Obama's second book was first used by Reverend Wright as 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 growing into intellectual maturity included Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon, both masters of black rage.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.300 Aug 1, 2008

We have to demand more from ourselves

We also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I’ve been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I’m not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn’t matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch--none of it will make any difference if we don’t seize more responsibility in our own lives. That’s how we’ll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That’s not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That’s not the America they gave so much to build. That’s not the dream they had for our children
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention Jul 12, 2008

Michelle: My husband demands you move out of comfort zone

The best Obama speech during the presidential campaign was not given by Barack, but by his wife Michelle, on Feb. 3, 2008:

"In 2008, we are still a nation that is too divided. We live in isolation. We don't know our neighbors, we don't talk. We don't realize that the struggles and challenges of all of us are the same. We look at it as 'them' and 'they' and opposed to 'us.'

"We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another. I am here because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come our of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.200-201 Jul 1, 2008

I revere the American flag; I don’t refuse to wear flag pins

Q: I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen & policemen wear the flag. I want to know why you don’t.

A: I revere the American flag, and I would not be running for president if I did not revere this country. There’s no other country in which my story is even possible; somebody who was born to a teenage mom, raised by a single mother and grandparents from small towns in Kansas; who was able to get an education and rise to the point where I can run for the highest office in the land. I could not help but love this country for all that it’s given me. I did wear a flag pin yesertday when a veteran handed it to me, on behalf of disabled veterans. I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and distracts us from figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we make our economy better for the American people.

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

FactCheck: Yes, refused to wear a flag pin, last year

Obama did a bit of historical rewriting regarding his previous statements on wearing a U.S. flag pin in his lapel. Obama said, “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins.”

Actually, in Oct. 2007, he said, “I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I’m gonna try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.” In another interview, Obama said, “The truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.“

Conservative critics have attacked Obama repeatedly for these remarks and his lack of a flag pin. Recently, Obama accepted a lapel pin given to him a disabled Vietnam veteran. ”It means a lot coming from you,“ Obama said.

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

The Clinton years were undeniably better than the Bush years

Q: A lot of Democrats remember the eight years of the Clinton administration, a period of relative peace and prosperity, and they remember it fondly. Are they right?

A: There’s no doubt that there were good things that happened during those eight years of the Clinton administration. That’s undeniable. Particularly, when looked through the lens of the last eight years with Bush, they look even better. So I don’t want to diminish some of the accomplishments that occurred during those eight years.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday Jan 31, 2008

Turn the page on the failed politics & policies of the past

Tonight, for the seventh long year, the American people heard a State of the Union that didn’t reflect the America we see, and didn’t address the challenges we face. [We need] to turn the page on the failed politics and policies of the past, and change the status quo in Washington so we can finally start making progress for ordinary Americans. Tonight’s State of the Union was full of the same empty rhetoric the American people have come to expect from this President.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 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

Criticizes voter cynicism from decades of disappointment

At a DNC meeting, Obama said, “our rivals won’t be one another, and I would assert it won’t even be the other party. It’s going to be cynicism that we’re fighting against. It’s the cynicism that’s borne from decades of disappointment, amplified by talk radio and 24-hour news cycles, reinforced by the relentless pounding of negative ads that have become the staple of modern politics. It’s a cynicism that asks us to believe that our opponents are never just wrong; but they’re bad; that our motives in politics can never be pure, that they’re only driven by power and by greed; that the challenges we face today aren’t just daunting, but they’re impossible.“

According to Obama, ”With such cynicism, government doesn’t become a force of good, a means of giving people the opportunity to lead better lives; it just becomes an obstacle for people to get rid of. Too often, this cynicism makes us afraid to say what we believe.“

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 17 Oct 30, 2007

Post-1960s politics more about moral attitude than issues

After the 1960s, liberalism and conservatism were defined in the popular imagination less by class than by attitude--the position you took toward the traditional culture and counterculture. What mattered was how you felt about sex, drugs, rock and roll, the Latin Mass or the Western canon. For white ethnic voters in the North and whites in the South, this new liberalism made little sense. The violence in the streets and the excuses for such violence in intellectual circles, blacks moving next door and white kids bused across town, the burning of flags and spitting on vets, all of it seemed to insult and diminish family, faith, flag, neighborhood, and for some at least, white privilege. And when, in the wake of assassinations and Vietnam, economic expansion gave way to gas lines, inflation and plant closings, and the best Jimmy Carter could suggest was turning down the thermostat, the New Deal coalition began looking for another political home.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 28-29 Oct 1, 2006

Americans dislike partisanship--not solution like Dems think

Increasingly, the Democratic Party feels the need to match the Republican right in stridency and hardball tactics. The accepted wisdom something like this: The Republican Party has been able to win elections not by expanding its base but by vilifying Democrats, driving wedges into the electorate, energizing its right wing, and disciplining those who stray.

I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. For it is the predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face. It is what keeps us locked in “either/or” thinking: the notion that we can only have big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate 46 million uninsured or embrace “socialized medicine.”

It is such partisanship that have turned Americans off. What is needed is a broad majority who are re-engaged and who see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interest of others.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 39-40 Oct 1, 2006

Enlist the American people in the process of self-government

Part of the change that’s desperately needed is to enlist the American people in the process of self-government. One of the areas that I have constantly worked on is not only pushing aside the special interests--this past year, passing the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate--but also making sure that the government is transparent and accountable. That’s what I think people were responding to in Iowa. They want somebody who’s talking straight to them about the choices that are ahead. They want to make sure that government is responding to them directly, because folks out there feel the American dream is slipping away. They are working harder for less. They are paying more for health care, for college, for gas at the pump. They are having a tougher time saving and retiring. What they don’t feel is that the government is listening to them and responding to them. That’s the kind of change that I think we need.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Guilt is a luxury that not everyone can afford

My stepfather Lolo said, “Guilt is a luxury only foreigners can afford. Like saying whatever pops into your head.” Mother didn’t know what it was like to lose everything, to wake up and feel her belly eating itself. She didn’t know how crowded and treacherous the path to security could be. He was right, of course. She was a foreigner, middle-class and white and protected by her heredity whether she wanted protection or not. She could always leave if things got too messy. That possibility negated anything she might say to Lolo; it was the unreachable barrier between them.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 42 Aug 1, 1996

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


Barack Obama on Campaign Themes

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

We've had lots of plans; but a shortage of hope

Obama formally launched his campaign on Feb. 10, 2007, on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Seventeen thousand people packed into the town square.

The speech he delivered laid out all the themes that would carry him through 2007 and beyond. "I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity to this announcement," Obama proclaimed. "I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change." And: "There are those who don't believe in talking about hope: they say, well, we want specifics, we want details, we want white papers, we want plans. We've had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we've had is a shortage of hope." And: "That is why this campaign can't only be about me. It must be about us. It must be about what we can do together." And: "It's time to turn the page."

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 74-75 Jan 11, 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

We’re more decent & compassionate than last 8 years

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this. This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work. Thi country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China. We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slid into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. To the American people across this great land: Enough! This moment, this election--is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. The same party that brought you two terms of Bush and Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

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: 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

¡Sí, se puede! Yes, we can!

We can tear town the barriers that keep the American dream out of reach for so many Americans. We can make sure that the millions of Latinos who are uninsured get the same health care that I get as a member of Congress. We can improve our schools, recruit teachers to your communities, and make college affordable for anyone who wants to go. And we can finally start serving our brave Latino fighting men and women and all our soldiers as well as they are serving us. We can do all this. Sí se puede.

But I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. This election could well come down to how many Latinos turn out to vote. And I’m proud that my campaign is working hard to register more Latinos, and bring them into the political process. Because I truly believe that if we work together and fight together and stand together this fall, then you and I--together--will change this county and change this world.

Source: Obama & McCain back-to-back speeches at NALEO Jun 28, 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

Life experiences taught me how to bring people together

Q: I’m wondering if you will describe the moment that tested you the most, that moment of crisis.

A: What I look at is the trajectory of my life because I was raised by a single mom. My father left when I was two, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. There were rocky periods during my youth, when I made mistakes & was off course. And what was most important, in my life, was learning to take responsibility for not only my own actions but how I can bring people together to actually have a impact on the world. Working as a community organizer with ordinary people, bringing them together and organizing them to provide jobs and health care, economic security to people who didn’t have it, then working as a civil rights attorney to fight for those who were being discriminated against on the job. It’s the reason that I have the capacity to bring people together, and why I am determined to make sure that the American people get a government that is worthy of their decency and their generosity.

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

People understand we must bring the country together

There is a fundamental difference between us in terms of how change comes about. Clinton of late has said: Let’s get real. The implication is that the people who’ve been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional. The 20 million people who’ve been paying attention to 19 debates and the editorial boards all across the country at newspapers who have given me endorsements, including every major newspaper here in the state of Texas. The thinking is that somehow, they’re being duped, and eventually they’re going to see the reality of things. They perceive reality of what’s going on in Washington very clearly. What they see is that if we don’t bring the country together, stop the endless bickering, actually focus on solutions and reduce the special interests that have dominated Washington, then we will not get anything done. The reason that this campaign has done so well is because people understand that it is not just a matter of putting forward policy positions.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

End politics of division; make it about addition

You know, they said this day would never come. You have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do. In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and in big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come.

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington, to end the political strategy that’s been all about division, and instead make it about addition, to build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

We’re choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.

Source: Speech after IA caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.203-4 Jan 3, 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

Hope is the bedrock of this nation

Years from now, you’ll look back and you’ll say that this was the moment--this was the place--where America remembered what it means to hope.

For many months we’ve been teased, even derided, for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.

Hope is what led me here today, with a father from Kenya, a mother from Kansas, and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. Hope is the bedrock of this nation, the belief that our destiny will not be written for us but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.

Source: Speech after IA caucus, in Change We Can Believe In, p.206-7 Jan 3, 2008

Resounds with American theme of overcoming burden of history

Obama’s every quest is part of the artfully woven tale he calls his “journey.” Call it packaging, call it hype. But that saga of personal and political discovery is the most exciting narrative to emerge from the Democratic repertoire in many years. It is not a drama of rising from the meager expectations or a romance of courage under fire. Those are tropes of presidential theater, but Obama’s story is a more like an epic that resounds with a root American theme: overcoming the burden of history.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 48 Nov 11, 2007

Cultivates comparison to Jack Kennedy

Obama cultivates the comparison with JFK (another member of a formerly stigmatized group: Irish Catholics). It is possible that such a magical leader will signify a change in society broader than his platform would indicate. What Kennedy actually achieved was much less important than the forces he unleashed, and the same may be true of Obama. He is an icon of so many American dreams that he has only to move his long, lithe body and all eyes are on him.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 53-54 Nov 11, 2007

Campaigns assiduously in black churches

Obama is comfortable sounding churched, though that is something he had to learn. He grew up with a broad skeptical streak, but when he discovered that it was hard to organize poor people without sharing their faith he joined a congregation. Now he campaigns assiduously in black churches, delivering speeches that often focus on fatherhood & family. The black ministers he praises are not the likes of Jesse Jackson (who has been much kinder to him than Sharpton has), but preachers of personal uplift.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 61 Nov 11, 2007

Community politics: merges Alinsky & political activism

Obama was influenced by Saul Alinsky. In his book, Rules for Radicals, Alinsky preached the idea of “agitation,” which meant “challenging people to scrape away habit.” But unlike Alinsky, who abandoned electoral politics in favor of community organizing, Obama realized the potential of politics to change people’s lives on a mass scale.

Obama’s vision of leadership is a merger between political activism and the community organizing. One might call it “community politics.” Community politics differs from community service, in which the more privileged members of society volunteer to help the poorer. As noble as that may be, it doesn’t create the kind of political empowerment sought by Obama. Instead, community politics aims to transform politics using the techniques of community organizing. Obama’s community organizing approach is to communicate with voters, listen to their suggestions, and convince them to buy in to a set of proposals.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 4 Oct 30, 2007

Turn the page: invite GOP & independents to join in agenda

Q: You go around the country saying it’s time to turn the page. Are you talking about the Bushes, the Clintons or both?

A: What I’m talking about is ending the divisive politics that we have in this country. I think it is important for us as Democrats to be clear about what we stand for. But I think we also have to invite Republicans and independents to join us in a progressive agenda for universal health care, to make sure that they are included in conversations about improving our education system and properly funding our public schools. I think turning the page means that we’ve got to get over the special interest-driven politics that we’ve become accustomed to. And most importantly it’s important for us to make sure that we’re telling the truth to the American people about the choices we face.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

People have an urgent desire for change in Washington

Q: How are you going to be any different than the other candidates?

A: As I travel around the country, people have an urgent desire for change in Washington. We are not going to fix anything unless we change how business is done in Washington. Part of that is bringing people together. But part of it is also overcoming special interests & lobbyists who are writing legislation that’s critical to the American people. And one of the things I bring is a perspective that says: Washington has to change.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

A “hopemonger”, having seen the power of hope

Some of my more cynical friends in the media tease me from time to time because they say, he’s always talking about hope, he’s out there peddling hope again, he’s a hope-monger. I talk about hope because I’ve seen its power. I’ve seen the power of hope, the power of faith.

When I got to the Illinois State Senate, people said it was too hard to take on the issue of money in politics, our state had too long a history, too many entrenched interests. But I knew then that we had the people of Illinois on our side. I even found a few folks on the other side of the aisle who were willing to listen. And we passed the first major ethics reform legislation in 25 years.

I know that change is possible. I know where hope leads us. The only reason I’m standing here before you is because of hope. I know what’s possible in America. When I talk about hope, it isn’t just the rhetoric of a campaign; it’s been the cause of my life, a cause I will work for and fight for every single day as your president.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Washington can change if we say: Yes we can

When those voices start sounding the alarm that we can’t change Washington’s ways and start engaging in a serious debate about the serious times we face, just say those 3 words that have made America what it is today: Yes we can.

When they say that we can’t finally buy the radios [first responders] need to talk to one another in case of an emergency, we say, Yes we can.

When they say that we can’t bring [our troops] home from Iraq so they can do the job they love back home, we say, Yes we can.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC Mar 14, 2007

Replace partisan bickering with politics of hope

Obama called for universal health care, energy independence, an effective policy to stem global warming, and an end to loud and uncivil, Rush-Limbaugh-like public discourse. “We have come to be consumed by a 24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad, bickering, small-minded politics that does not move us forward,” he said in Portsmouth, aiming his critique at both Republicans and his own party as they glowered across a gaping, ever-widening partisan gulf. “Sometimes one side is up, and the other side is down. But there is not sense that they are coming together in a common-sense, practical, nonideological way to solve the problems that we face.”
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 17-18 Feb 15, 2007

I’ve been in DC long enough to know that it must change

I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness--a certain audacity--to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.195 Feb 10, 2007

Progressives should recognize common morality with religion

The discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religiosity has often inhibited us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Our fear as progressives of getting “preachy” may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in addressing some of our most urgent social problems. After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems. They are also rooted in societal indifference and individual callousness.

I am not suggesting that every progressive suddenly latch on to religious terminology. I am suggesting that perhaps if we progressives shed some of our own biases, we might recognize the values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country. We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.214-6 Oct 1, 2006

“Audacity of Hope” to change politics to reflect common good

[During the early part of my US Senate race], no blinding insights emerged from months of conversation. What struck me was how much of what they believed seemed to hold constant across race, region, religion, and class.

I told them that government couldn’t solve all their problems. But with a slight change in priorities we could make sure every child had a decent shot at life and meet the challenges we faced as a nation.

This book grows directly out of those conversations on the campaign trail. The ideals at the core of the American experience, and the values that bind us together despite our differences, remain alive in the hearts and minds of most Americans. The topic of this book is how we might begin the process of changing our politics and our civic life. I don’t know exactly how to do it. But I offer personal reflections on those values and ideals that have led me to public life, and myown best assessment of the ways we can ground our politics in the notion of a common good.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 7-9 Oct 1, 2006

Seek common ground, not a moral crusade

I came to Chicago 20 years ago to help communities that had been damaged by steel plants that had closed. I’ve worked 20 years to bring jobs to the unemployed. After law school, I worked as a civil rights attorney, helping to bring affordable housing and for the last 8 years I’ve worked as a state Senator. I’ve provided tax relief to those who needed it, health care to those who didn’t have it and helped to reform a death penalty system badly in need of repair. I accomplished these things by setting partisanship aside and seeking common ground. That’s what you, the people of Illinois have told me you want, someone who can reach out and find practical solutions. Now my opponent has a different track record. He is on a moral crusade and labels those who disagree with him as sinners. I don’t think that kind of talk is helpful. I think government works best when we focus on practical solutions for affordable health care and jobs, and working together, I’m certain we can accomplish all of these tasks.
Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes Oct 21, 2004

I’m living my parents’ dreams and the American dream

My parents shared an improbable love and an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or “blessed,” believing in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the bes schools in the land even they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters.
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Greatness based on Declaration of Independence, not military

I owe a debt to all of those who came before me. We gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over 200 years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.”
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

We are one people all defending the United States of America

The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states. 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’re patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all defending the United States of America
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Want common-sense solutions, not liberal-conservative labels

I’m not somebody comfortable with liberal-conservative labels. What the American people are looking for are common-sense solutions. They want to get beyond a lot of slash-and-burn politics. One of the most encouraging things about Kerry’s campaign is the degree of hopefulness, reflected in his choice of vice president. This country remains the greatest on Earth, not because of the size of our military or the size of our economy, but because every child can actually achieve as much as they can dream.
Source: Meet The Press, NBC News Jul 25, 2004


Barack Obama on Community Organizing

2008 HQ phone greeting: "What can you do for us?"

Politics in no longer a spectator sport. Those in the grandstands must leave their seats and come down on the playing field to help their side score. That is the key lesson of the Obama campaign. He didn't just have supporters. He had campaign workers--millions of them.

Every caller who dialed Obama's headquarters in 2008 was greeted with a question: "What can you do for us?"

The Internet has made each of us the center of our own political campaign. We ARE the campaign. The days when the candidate and a small group of professionals ran things--and the rest of us chipped in money, showed up at rallies, and voted--are over. Now each of us must conduct our own campaign within our own circle of acquaintances, until the circle spreads to include thousands of voters. Some of us will use the Internet to do so. Others need not feel disqualified by their technophobia. Just do it by old-fashioned word of mouth and snail mail!

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.295 Apr 13, 2010

Required email list from every candidate event he attended

Obama revamped his political action committee, Hopefund. The PAC had raised a fair amount of money in 2005, but its email list was paltry. Hopefund could become an embryonic infrastructure for Obama's future ambitions. Obama said, "We need to grow these lists--at the end of the year, I want to have options."

Within Obama's operation, "the options" became a code phrase , a reference to three live possibilities: launching a presidential run, bolstering his stature in the Senate with an eye toward the VP slot in 2008, or returning to Illinois to run for governor--with a presidential bid so far remaining at the bottom of the option pile.

The scheme revolved around a simple transaction. Every time he did an event for a candidate, Hopefund would requir the beneficiary to set up a registration system and then turn over the attendees' email address to the PAC.

The was no small thing. As 2006 rolled on, the requests poured in. That added up to a lot of chits, and a lot of email addresses.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 32 Jan 11, 2010

Headed "Project Vote!" in Chicago in 1990s

In 1992, Obama was hired to head "Project Vote!" in Chicago. Undoubtedly, Project Vote was work Obama was qualified to do, given his community organizing experience and his law degree. Project Vote was a national voter registration drive aimed at increasing minority voter registrations. In Chicago, Obama had his biggest impact registering African-American voters on Chicago's South Side. While he successfully directed Project Vote in Chicago, Obama certainly did not become wealthy doing it.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.157-158 Aug 1, 2008

Obama worked in same community as Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals in 1971, "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away."

Chicago's South Side was a focal point of the civil rights movement in 1968. The legacy of institutionalized South Side racism drew to Chicago a cadre of liberal community organizers, including Obama, who were committed to using the principles of change first developed in Chicago in the 1930s by Sau Alinsky.

Alinsky defined community organization tactics for several generations of America leftists, going back to his early efforts to organize Chicago's Back of the Yards meatpacking neighborhood in the 1930s. Alinsky died in 1972, more than a decade before Obama moved to Chicago to learn his methods. Alinsky's goal was to set in motion a peaceful revolution, using the ballot box, not bombs or bullets, to wrench power from the hands of capitalist elites and business leaders currently in charge.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.123&128 Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Obama implements Alinsky's ideas of radical change

Saul Alinsky's impact on Obama is clear. We need look no further than Alinsky to find out where Obama got his mantra for "change." Long before Obama came on the scene, Alinsky became famous for making "change" his credo. For some three decades before Obama was born, Alinsky had been defining the political meaning of "change" for those radicals he was calling forth in his classic 1971 book, Reveille for Radicals.

"Change," for Alinsky, invoked radical socialism and meant the redistribution of wealth Obama means the same, but by hiding the reference he avoids having to be explicit about the radical goal behind the theme.

Alinsky advocated creating change through a set of carefully calculated power-politics tactics, where the end always justified the means. Make no mistake about it: "change" was always Alinsky's code word for creating a socialist revolution, even if the methodology meant radicals would cut their hair, put on business suits, and run for political office.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.128-131 Aug 1, 2008

Used community organizer skills as State Senator

In 1995, when Obama decided to run for the Illinois state senate, a community organizing colleague said, "That's a switch."

"Oh, no," Obama said, "I'm going to use the same skills as a community organizer." He was stepping onto the political stage with even larger ambitions to organize communities.

In a 1995 interview, Obama said, "What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who educates voters about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, for instance, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer."

When Obama says his experience "taught me a lot about listening to people as opposed to coming in with a premeditated agenda," he is reciting pure Alinsky dogma. Listening, in the Alinsky lexicon, is just a tactic. Obama listens because he has been taught the only way to intensify discontent is to use the language of the community itself.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.135 Aug 1, 2008

Organizer's method: from issue to action to power

His first assignment was to learn about the South Side. Throughout his years as an organizer, Obama learned the past and present of some of the most disadvantaged people in the country.

His goal was to find issues around which to mobilize: paths to power. In this Obama followed precepts laid down by the early Chicago activist Saul Alinsky. "Power comes in two forms--money and people. You haven't got any money, but you do have people," he had advised would-be reformers.

The formula for Obama was less prosaic. "Once I found an issue enough people careed about, I could take them into action. With enough actions, I could start to build power," he wrote.

There was a glimmer here of larger hopes. "The only answer is to build up local power bases that can merge into a national power movement that will ultimately realize your goals," Alinsky averred.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 19-20 Apr 1, 2008

1980s: Registered 150,000 voters in Chicago "Project Vote"

His first job out of law school was director of Project Vote!, a registration program inspired by the massive effort that helped elect Chicago's mayor Harold Washington in 1983. The group had a staff of 10 and attracted 700 volunteers. Driven by its slogan, "It's a Power Thing," the project added more than 150,000 primarily African-American voters, of a possible pool estimated at 400,000, to the rolls. For the first time in the city's history registrations in the 19 predominantly African-American wards outnumbered those in the 19 predominantly white wards. The message, according to Obama: "If the politicians in place now at city and state levels respond to African-American voters' needs, we'll gladly work with and support them. If they don't, we'll work to replace them."
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 26 Apr 1, 2008

Moved to Illinois as community organizer, for $13,000 a year

I moved to Illinois over two decades ago. I was a young man then, just a year out of college; I knew no one in Chicago, was without money or family connections. But a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year. And I accepted the job, sight unseen, motivated then by a single, simple, powerful idea--that I might play a small part in building a better America.

My work took me to some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. I joined with pastors and lay-people to deal with communities that had been ravaged by plant closings. I saw that the problems people faced weren’t simply local in nature--that the decision to close a steel mill was made by distant executives; or that the lack of textbooks and computers in schools could be traced to the skewed priorities of politicians a thousand miles away.

It was in these neighborhoods that I received the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith.

Source: Speech in Springfield, in Change We Can Believe In, p.193-4 Feb 10, 2007


Barack Obama on Family of Origin

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 had wife in Africa when he met and married Ann Dunham

Obama traces his father's history in Kenya back to the time his father herded goats while attending the local "British colonial school." Obama claims his father showed such "great promise" that he won a scholarship: "on the eve of Kenyan independence, he had been selected by Kenyan leaders and American sponsors to attend a university in the US." Obama proudly tells the reader his father joined "the first large wave of Africans to be sent forth to master Western technology and bring it back to forge a new modern Africa."

Obama carefully omits the underside of the story, that when his father headed off at age 23 to Hawaii, he was abandoning an African girl named Kezia, whom he had married at age 18. Nor does Obama mention that Kezia was then pregnant wit his father's first child.

The London Daily Mail reports that Obama Senior persuaded Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, a "na‹ve 18-year-old white girl, to marry him, without disclosing to her that he had left behind in Africa a wife he had not divorced."

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 16-17 Aug 1, 2008

Father left family for Harvard education

Obama Junior was born on August 4, 1961. In the next sentence, Obama intentionally skips over several more key details. After noting his father's decision to leave Hawaii for Cambridge, Massachusetts, Obama explains, "A separation occurred. The mother an child stayed behind, but the bond of love survived the distances..." The ellipsis omits the facts of the central family drama that shaped his life. We are led to believe that Obama Senior had no choice--Harvard was his only option, and the Harvard scholarship did not provide enough funds.

Instead Obama provides the true explanation some hundred pages later: "The New School agreed to pay for everything--enough to pay for all three of us," his mother tells her son. Obama's mother explains why his father abandoned them to go to Harvard: "Harvard just agreed to pay tuition. But Barack [Senior] was such a stubborn bastard, he had to go to Harvard. 'How can I refuse the best education?' That's all he could think about, proving that he was the best."

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 17-18 Aug 1, 2008

Father's upbringing was Muslim, although never religious

In his autobiography, we learn that Obama's Kenyan father was Muslim, but only indirectly, when Obama explains to a girlfriend in Hawaii that his name is not "Barry," as he was then commonly called, but "Barack," a name Barack explains means "Blessed" in Arabic. He further explains that the name was his father's and says, "My grandfather was a Muslim."

[In an interview with Barack's uncle, Sayid Obama], Sayid affirmed that he and his brother were both born into a religious Islamic family and were raise as Muslims. "I did not see my brother practice Islam," Sayid recalled, "especially after he came back from his studies in the US; I did not consider him to be very religious." While Kenya is approximately 85% Christian, a Muslim minority dates back to 1730. Listening to Sayid, there is no doubt Obama Senior was a Muslim by birth and upbringing, even if his devotion as a Muslim remained in doubt. The facts are that the Obama family in Africa is a Muslim family of the predominantly Christian Luo tribe.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 20-23 Aug 1, 2008

Father had 3 or 4 wives; Barack has at least 5 half-siblings

When it comes to telling the story of his grandfather, Obama says: "If I could just piece together his story [that of his grandfather, Hussein Obama], I thought, then perhaps everything else might fall into place." The problem is that the grandfather's tale turns out to be as complicated as the father's, filled with multiple wives and the resulting half-brothers and half-sisters, among them Barack Obama Sr.

Barack's uncle Sayid Obama was not even sure how many wives his brother had: 3 or 4, maybe more. There were at least three: the 18-year-old wife, Kezia, whom Obama Sr abandoned when he left Kenya to study in Hawaii; Ann Dunham, Obama Jr's mother, whom Obama Sr abandoned when he left Hawaii to study at Harvard; and Ruth Nidesand, the woman from Harvard who followed Obama Sr back to Kenya and married him there.

The number of children Obama Sr had is equally uncertain. Sayid Obama paused to think when asked how many. "About six," he concluded, although he could not say for sure.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 26-27 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

Many attribute mother's marriages to being anthropologist

Reporters and commentators trying to explain Stanley Ann's marriages often note she was an anthropologist, as if that professional designation settles everything.

An enthusiastic belief in the 1950s and 1960s that the study of natives could help unlock questions of "natural right" probably explains why even Obama saw his mother in terms of "New Frontier" liberalism. Obama recalls "she was a lonely witness for secular humanism."

Stanley Ann passed away in 1995 from ovarian cancer at the age of 52, the year Obama's autobiography was published. So we cannot ask her what her motivation was to marry Barack Senior and Lolo Soetoro. Did her motivation derive from some intellectual commitment to the third world, or an ideological commitment to ameliorate poverty in foreign countries less economically advanced? Was she rebelling against her parents, or the Christian religion, or the Kansas culture into which she was born? Perhaps her simple answer would have been that she loved both men.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 46 Aug 1, 2008

Lived with grandparents in Hawaii over mother in Indonesia

In the 1970s, for three years, Obama lived with his mother and his sister in Hawaii. When his mother was ready to return to Indonesia to get on with the field work that her master's degree in anthropology would require, Obama did not want to go. When Stanley Ann told Obama she wanted him to return to Indonesia with her and his half-sister, he "immediately said no." Rebelling, Obama decided to stay in Hawaii, confident he had "arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept trouble out of sight." Subtly, Obama is saying not that he would stay out of trouble, but only that he would keep hidden the trouble he seemed to be planning to find.

By returning to Indonesia alone and abandoning a son who refused to go back to Indonesia, Stanley Ann went "native," as many commentators harshly suggested. Obama rationalized it was best for him to be alone, so he could finally sort out his search for identity as an African-American.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 48-49 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

Would be first president to have extended family abroad

If Obama does win the presidency in 2008. he will be the first president in our history to have an extended family in another country. Granted, Obama's brothers and sisters in Africa are half-brothers and half-sisters. Even his "Granny" is not a paternal grandmother, but the second wife of a grandfather who was equally as polygamist as was Obama's father.

What personal ties to the White House will come from Kenya? Are all members of the family equally satisfied and finally resolved that they have inherited what they deserve from Obama Senior?

If Obama wins the presidency in 2008. Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga will correctly perceive that for the first time ever a fellow Luo tribesman is running the United States of America.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.113 Aug 1, 2008

Greatest mistake: absence from mother when she died

In July 1995, at age 33, Obama launched his first campaign for public office.

Obama's mother was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer the same year. She died in Hawaii on Nov. 7, aged 52. Her son, immersed in his campaign, was thousands of miles away. He terms this absence the greatest mistake of his life. Stricken, he traveled to Hawaii to help scatter her ashes in the Pacific. "She was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known," he wrote in 2004: "what is best in me I owe to her."

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 28-29 Apr 1, 2008

Father's family from the Luo tribe of Kenya

The Obama family traces its modern lineage to Hussein Onyango Obama, a Kenyan member of the Luo tribe born in 1895 near Lake Victoria. Onyango was a restless man of ambition. He was one of the first in his village to wear western clothing, walked for two weeks to Nairobi to find work, braving leopards and other dangers, and served with the British armed forces in World War 1. He visited Europe, Myanmar and Sri Lanka as a soldier and briefly converted to Christianity, but abandoned it for Islam and added "Hussein" to his name following the war.

Senator Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was born in 1936 near Lake Victoria, to Onyango's second wife Akumu. A pair of American teachers befriended Obama, Sr. and helped him apply to US universities. In 1959 he secured admission, after many rejections, to the University of Hawaii to study economics: the institution's first African student.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 2-3 Apr 1, 2008

Related to both Vice Pres. Cheney and Pres. Truman

Obama's mother's family history begins with her parents Madelyn Payne and Stanley Dunham--grandparents of Barack Obama who cared for him during high school. Payne was a Kansan raised by "stern Methodist parents who did not believe in drinking, playing cards or dancing."

Dunham was a Baptist from the "other side of the railroad tracks." It later emerged that he was also a seventh cousin, once removed, of Vice-President Dick Cheney and also a seventh cousin, twice removed, of President Harry S. Truman. Payne's family did not approve of the liaison, and the pair married in secret a few weeks before Madelyn graduated from high school. She told her parents after she received her diploma.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 3 Apr 1, 2008

Mother described as "the original feminist" at 1960 college

In 1960, Obama's mother Ann graduated from high school and the family moved to Hawaii. Ann, 18, enrolled as a freshman at the University of Hawaii. In a Russian language class, she met Barack Obama, Sr., 23, who told her he was divorced. They gathered with friends on weekends to listen to jazz and discuss politics and world affairs. Ann was the only woman. She was, "the original feminist," according to Neil Abercrombie, now a Democratic congressman from Hawaii who participated in the meetings.

On 2 February 1961 the pair slipped away to Maui and were married. The wedding--Obama, "black as pitch," Ann, "white as milk"--would have been illegal in 22 states. Ann dropped out of college. On 4 August Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born at the Kapi-olani Medical Center in Honolulu.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 3-4 Apr 1, 2008

In his 20s, searched for his identity, absent both parents

The story of Obama's father was a sad one. He died in 1982 at age 46 in an automobile accident. Obama learned of his death, a few months after his 21st birthday.

His mother moved to Indonesia in 1975 to do field work for her PhD dissertation. Obama, about to begin high school chose to remain in Hawaii. He moved back in with his grandparents.

"I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant," Obama wrote. He looked for answers in books. He read the works of great black American intellectuals: James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and W.E.B. DuBois. But each of these men wound up disappointed and withdrawn. Only Malcolm X's autobiography, his repeated acts of self-creation, Obama said, offered something different. But even that would not provide the answers Obama was seeking. He found himself "utterly alone."

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 11-12 Apr 1, 2008

Father was first African exchange student at U. Hawaii

Obama’s father was the first African exchange student at the University of Hawaii. After studying in London, he arrived in the US in 1959 in “the first large wave of Africans being sent forth to master Western technology and bring it back to forge a new, modern Africa,” Obama wrote.

Obama’s father was the son of Hussein Onyango Obama, a prominent farmer in Kenya’s Luo tribe. As a boy, Barack Sr. herded goats on the family farm near a poor village called Kolego near Kenya’s Lake Victoria. He stood out academically in a local school established by the British colonizers and won a scholarship & then a sponsorship for study at the University of Hawaii.

But when he came to America, his father left a pregnant wife and child back in Kenya. When he returne to Africa, he took another American woman with him, eventually marrying her and having two additional children. An atheist with an analytical mind, he worked for a petroleum company, and for a time he was a chief economist for the Kenyan government.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 29-30 Aug 14, 2007

Traces ancestry to Jefferson Davis, President of Confederacy

In 1959, Obama’s father became the first African student at the University of Hawaii. There, Barack the elder, who, his son would write, was “black as pitch,” met a cheerful 18-year-old freshman who was in contrast “white as milk.”

Ann Dunham was the Kansas-born daughter of a furniture store manager who harbored a bohemian streak. Ann’s mother traced a branch of her family lineage to a famous ancestor-- Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.

The Dunhams moved to the islands in 1960. The two began dating and after a brief courtship, wed--an act that in 1960 was a crime in most states. Newly admitted to the Union, however, Hawaii was young and relatively tolerant, and the family history includes no accounts of Obama’s parents suffering abuse on the streets of Honolulu.

His father later earned his PhD from Harvard, but separated from Ann. He returned, alone, to Kenya, where he became an economist in the administration of the new nation.

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 43-44 Feb 15, 2007

Greeted as hero on visit to ancestral Kenya

Rapturous crowds of Kenyans wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his name and likeness changed “Come to us, Obama!” as he visited a memorial at the site of the US embassy bombing in Nairobi.

Obama and his family flew to Kisumu where 1000s lined the route, many climbing trees for a better view of the motorcade carrying the American that the local Luo tribespeople loudly claimed as their own.

In Kogelo, the tiny village where Obama’s father and grandfather are buried side by side and where the octogenarian Luo he calls “Granny” still lives, crowds chanted his name, a tribal singer sang his praises, and children sang songs they had composed in his honor.

“Even though I had grown up on the other side of the world, I felt the spirit among the people who told me that I belonged.”

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 39 Feb 15, 2007

Father died in car crash before Barack got to know him

Obama’s mother was pleased to learn he planned to visit Kenya [as a young adult, to visit his father]. “I think it will be wonderful for you two to get to know each other,” she said and went on to share her memories including a story about how he was an hour late for their first date.

The way she told the story, he saw the depth of her enduring love for his father. Even though he had left her with a baby to raise, she loved him. “She saw my father as everyone hopes at least one other person might see them.“

Any hope of that appeared to end just a few months later when he received a telephone call from Nairobi. His father had been killed in a car crash. He was 46. His son did not shed a tear.

[Years later, when visiting Kenya], Obama stood before his father’s unmarked grave. He felt he knew and understood and forgave his father for the first time. His father had not succumbed to despair. He had had the audacity to hope. And for the first time, his son wept for him.

Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 62&71 Feb 15, 2007

Full name: Barack Hussein Obama; family calls him “Barry”

Obama says, “The original assumption is that I could never win an election statewide with a name like Barack Obama. I actually write in AUDACITY OF HOPE about a political consultant who had been interested in me running statewide who met with me right after 9/11 and said, ‘There is a picture of Osama bin Laden on the magazine cover. This is bad for you.’”

Con: let’s face it, having a name that rhymes with “Iraq” is not a plus.

Pro: “Barack” is a cool name. Parents all over the US spend hours and days searching for distinctive names for their little princes. “Barack” is a less annoying than “LaTreyell.”

Con: The guy shares a name with Saddam Hussein. This is not helpful. Inspired by his Muslim grandfather.

Pro: This should help him with Arab-American voters.

Con: “Obama” is a weird name.

Pro: “Obama” is a cool Kenyan name..

Pro: His family calls him “Barry.” “Barry” sounds reassuringly normal. “Barry” sounds like he is “one of us”: it sounds like he belongs to America, not Kenya

Source: Should Barack Obama be President, by F. Zimmerman, p. 3-4 Oct 17, 2006


Barack Obama on Past Campaigns

1999 Congressional loss: "I got my rear end handed to me"

Bobby Rush is an impressive man. So, why, in 1999, did 38-year-old Barack Obama, who had served in the Illinois senate only 3 years, decide to challenge Rush for his congressional seat? It could not have been the numbers. Rush's name recognition was more than 90%, while Obama's was barely 11%. It also could not have been any political differences. Everyone knew that the two men held nearly the same views.

Whatever moved Obama to run, it was not a pleasant experience for the younger man. From the outset Rush's approval rating was more than 70%. Then, not long into the campaign, Rush's son, Huey Rich, was tragically shot on his way home from a grocery store. The young man hung between life and death for four days. The outpouring of sympathy galvanized support for Rush.

Even President Clinton entered the fray and supported Rush, breaking his own policy of not endorsing candidates in primaries. Rush won 60% to 30%--and Obama was forced to admit that "[I got] my rear end handed to me."

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

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

Borrowed "Yes, we can" slogan from Cesar Chavez 1960s UFW

An example of Obama's borrowing is his use of the catchy "S¡, se puede," which translates into English as "Yes, we can." This slogan traces back to Cesar Chavez and his efforts to organize Hispanic farm workers in the United Farm Workers in the 1960s. "S¡, se puede" more recently became a slogan widely used by the pro-illegal immigration forces in the May Day rallies launched in major cities across the United States over the past few years.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.229-230 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: job of state senator is organizer, teacher, & advocate

In his 1996 campaign for State Senate, Obama said, "Any solution to our unemployment catastrophe must arise from us working creatively within a multicultural, interdependent, and international economy," he said. "What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them?" he mused.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 31-32 Apr 1, 2008

5th African-American ever elected to US Senate

The beleaguered Illinois Republican Party threw Maryland resident and two-time GOP Presidential candidate Alan Keyes into the race in August. The former US ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Conference had never lived in Illinois and never won an election. Obama beat him 70%-29%, the largest margin of victory ever in an Illinois Senate contest, and became the fifth African-American elected to the US Senate. He resigned from the Illinois Senate and the University of Chicago, and was sworn in.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 42-43 Apr 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

June 2008: YouTube hit, "I Got a Crush on Obama"

Obama maintained his grip on the imagination of Internet users and younger voters throughout the summer and fall as the candidates criss-crossed the country to gain media attention, meet voters, and raise money. His youth, campaign themes, relative centrism and opposition to the Iraq war were key selling points. In June, a YouTube video called "I Got a Crush on Obama" featuring a scantily dressed "Obama Girl" who crooned her affection for th4e senator and dismissed his rivals, became a hit. Several million people watched it. On 2 July, the campaign announced Obama had raised $32 million in the second quarter, far above the previous record for the period and more than Clinton's $27 million and Edwards' $9 million. Obama had 154,000 contributors, more than double the 60,000 who donated to Clinton. In December, there was a wave of publicity when billionaire Oprah Winfrey, host of the most popular television talk show in the country, endorsed him.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 50 Apr 1, 2008

Campaigning on change from the bottom up that King stood for

Q: If Martin Luther King were alive today, why should he endorse you?

A: I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. What he would call upon the American people to do is to hold us accountable, and this goes to the core differences in this campaign Change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Dr. King understood that. It was those women who were willing to walk instead of ride the bus, union workers who are willing to take on violence and intimidation to get the right to organize. It was women who decided, “I’m as smart as my husband. I’d better get the right to vote.” arguing, mobilizing, agitating, and ultimately forcing elected officials to be accountable, that’s the key. That has been a hallmark of my career, transparency and accountability, getting the American people involved. That’s how we’re going to bring about change. That’s why I want to be president of the US, to respect the power of the American people to bring about change.

Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 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

1990: Elected Law Review president with conservative support

Obama’s most important experience and defining role at Harvard would be his tenure as a writer, editor and finally, president of the Harvard Law Review, the most influential legal publication in the country. It was hard for him to see the significance of this role at the time, but the Review presidency would provide him with his first lessons in managing both bitter electoral politics and the personal agendas of individual people.

The top job held little appeal for Obama. In 1990 the Review’s staff of about 75 students was riven by intense partisan feuding--large factions of liberals and small bands of conservatives. Obama was one of 19 editors who ran for presidency--after the last conservative was voted out of the competition, that faction threw its support behind Obama, tilting the election in his favor, and bestowing on him the honor of being the first African American to hold the presidency. Obama used some of his appointment power to place conservatives in key editorial positions.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 87-90 Aug 14, 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

Senate 2004 campaign theme: “Yes we can”

[The theme of Obama’s 2004 TV ads for Senate] was “Yes we can,” which implied many things depending on who was interpreting its meaning: [His campaign] framed this message primarily in terms of Obama’s barrier-breaking Harvard Law Review presidency (which whites had reacted to favorably in focus groups) and the landmark legislation that he passed in the Illinois senate.

“Now they say we can’t change Washington?” Obama asked in an earnest voice while stepping forward to fill the camera frame. “I’m Barack Obama and I am running for the US Senate to say, ‘Yes, we can.’ ”

Other commercials used the same “Yes, we can” mantra to appeal to different constituencies. Pollsters have consistently found that urban voters lean toward candidates who are change agents.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p.229-230 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

Lost Congressional primary in 1999 to Bobby Rush

Running to unseat Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther Party member and a four-term congressman who enjoyed wide popularity in his overwhelmingly black South Side district in Chicago, Obama endured thinly veiled suggestions that his light-colored skin, his Columbia University and Harvard Law School education, his work as a lawyer and constitutional law profession and his biracial lineage--no descendant of slaves, his father was a government official from Kenya, his mother a Kansas-born WASP--meant that he was elitist and not “black enough” to relate to the lives and needs of his constituents. Rush trounced him by a two-to-one-margin in the primary, and Obama retreated to his law practice at a small civil rights firm in Chicago that he had “left unattended during the campaign (a neglect that had left him more or less broke).”
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 27 Feb 15, 2007


Barack Obama on Personal History

Favorite movie: “The Godfather”, for respect & family

Q: What is your favorite movie of all time?

A: Obama: Oh, I think it would have to be “The Godfather.” One and Two. Three not so much. That saga--I love that movie.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene?

A: I think my favorite has to be, the opening scene of the first “Godfather” where, where the caretaker comes in and, you know, Marlon Brando is sitting there and he’s saying “you disrespected me.” You know “and now you want a favor.” It sets the tone for the whole movie.

Q: And all hell breaks lose, right?

A: Yeah, right. I mean there’s this combination of old world gentility and ritual, with this savagery underneath. It’s all about family. So it’s a great movie. “Lawrence of Arabia.” Great film. One of my favorites--and then “Casablanca.” Who doesn’t like “Casablanca?”

Q: I asked for one!

A: I’m a movie guy. I can rattle off a bunch of movies. But that “Casablanca,” you know.

Source: 2008 CBS News presidential interview with Katie Couric Sep 23, 2008

Visited Africa 3 times; 1986, then 1992 & 2006 with Michelle

How many times did Obama visit Africa? Even on that question the autobiography is cloudy.

"Obama has been in Africa three times," his uncle Sayid insisted. "The first time was in 1986. Then he came again in 1992, when he was collecting material for his autobiography. Then the last time was 2006, when he visited Kenya as a US senator."

In his autobiography, Obama does not disclose clearly the date of the trip to Kenya he discusses, nor does he make clear that he took two separate trips before the autobiography. Rather, we are presented with what evidently is a composite of experiences from both trips, without any way of knowing which related experiences came when.

"The trip in 2006 was the second time Obama came with his wife," Sayid further specified. "He first came with her in 1992, when they were getting ready to get married. Then he visited with her as his wife in 2006." Nowhere in the autobiography does Obama disclose that his wife-to-be accompanied him to Africa on the 1992 trip.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 20-23 Aug 1, 2008

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

In no other country is my story even possible

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived the Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during WWII and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America, and I’ve lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners, an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional of candidates. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts; that out of many, we are truly one.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.216-7 Mar 18, 2008

“Dreams From My Father” is an archetypal search

If there is a single archetypal theme that animates Barack Obama’s early life, it would have to be “the search for the father.” Of course, there is something of this quest in everyone’s life. Some sort of coming to terms with the father is one of the way human beings construct their personalities.

In literature, search-for-the-father stories always begin in the normal childhood illusion that the father will always do two things: provide for our basic needs, and interpret for us the frightening world. And then come the inevitable existential shock that strips away all illusion. We get an epiphany: we are alone, and our manhood pr womanhood requires that we stand alone and learn to interpret the world for ourselves.

Archetypal themes, if only metaphorically, point to eternal truths. Obama’s book “Dreams From My Father” chronicles his search for his father [who was mostly absent]. He necessarily becomes an obsession in ways that real and present fathers never do.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 18-21 Dec 4, 2007

Obama REPRESENTS something; doesn’t have to DO anything

Can a black ask for power without reassuring whites that they will be given the benefit of the doubt? Is real power possible for blacks without some negotiation?

What gave Obama the idea that he could run for president? Was it that he had evolved a compelling vision for the nation grounded in deeply held personal convictions? Or was it that he had simply become aware of his power to enthrall whites?

Obama is not a conviction politician. His supporters do not look to him to do something; they loo to him to be something, to represent something.

Obama emerged into a political culture that needed him more as an icon than as a man. But this easy appeal has also been his downfall. It is a seduction away from character and conviction.

The challenge is to achieve visibility an individual, to become an individual rather than a cipher. Unless we get to know who he is--what beliefs he would risk his life for--he could become a cautionary tale, an iconic figure who neglected to become himself.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.129&133-134 Dec 4, 2007

Won Grammy for recording “Dreams from My Father”

No politician of our time has a more compelling identity resume, as delineated in “Dreams from My Father.” If nothing else, this deeply affecting book, published in 1995, when he was beginning to consider running for office, positions Obama as the most literary politician since... since when? (He is also the first presidential candidate to win a Grammy, for his recording of the book).

As an image-building tool, “Dreams from My Father” has been remarkably effective. But it is too unorthodox to serve as a press release. Not only are there damning references to coke sniffing and dope smoking, but the book also offers a detailed account of his gnawing ambivalence as a young man growing up in a double bind.

When he embarks for Kenya to meet his African family he sees himself as “a Westerner not entirely at home in the West, an African on his way to a land full of strangers... I felt as if I were living out someone else’s romance.”

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 63 Nov 11, 2007

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

First major politician of the post-Baby Boom generation

Obama says he looks at “some issues differently as a consequence of being of a slightly different generation,” but there is no strong generational identity in the wake of the boomers, and what Obama calls for is not so much a repudiation of the 1960s generation as a fulfillment of some of its ideals.

Obama suggested he may have “a particular ability to bring the country together around a pragmatic, commonsense agenda for change that probably has a generational element to it as well. America is ready for new challenges. This is our time. A new generation is prepared to lead.“ He promised a new kind of politics instead of the ”24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative-ad bickering, small-minded politics that doesn’t move us forward.“

As the first major politician of the post-baby boomer era, Obama appeals to Gen-Xers who have lived in the shadow of baby boomers and have faced the accusation that those who grew up in the 1970s & early 1980s were self-centered and indifferent to social causes

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 2 Oct 30, 2007

Most decisive moment: transition from high school to college

Q: Presidential biographers are always looking at the turning point in a life, the moment where an ordinary person went on the path to the presidency, the decisive moment. What’s the decisive moment in your life?

A: A decisive moment in my life was the transition from high school to college, because I had gone through a difficult time, not knowing my father, and was, at times, an angry young man. And partly because of the values my mother had instilled in me, those were reawakened in college. And it made me serious about, not just what I could do for myself, but what I could do for other people. It’s what led me to become a community organizer. It’s what led me to go into public service. And ultimately, it’s what led me to this stage.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

High school jock--played football as defensive lineman

[A school friend] said Obama was much larger than most of his peers. Indeed, photos of him in his high school yearbook show a much heavier boy

As a high school freshman, he played defensive line on the football team and was described as a strong lineman, “a real people mover.”

Even with his mother gone, [his grandmother] Madelyn said, Barry was essentially a well-behaved teen who spent most of his time involved in sports. “He was a jock,” she said.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 42-43 Aug 14, 2007

Goal as youth: Leave the world a better place

Obama’s maternal grandmother said, “when he was a young man, I asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said, ‘I want to leave the world a better place than when I came in.’ And I believe that has been his guiding light.”

Obama, without argument, is imbued with an abiding sense of social and economic justice. He is an earnest, thoughtful, occasionally naive man who has a strong sense of moral purpose, a trait driven into him by his ardently progressive mother.

But Obama is far more complex than just a crusading dreamer aiming to “give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless,” in his own oft-spoken words. He is an exceptionally gifted politician who, throughout his life, has been able to make people o

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 6 Aug 14, 2007

Planned on presidency since well before 2004 Convention

He’s always wanted to be president, a close friend of Obama’s, would confide shortly after his 200 Boston Convention speech. “And I’m not sure that he’s even still fully admitted it to himself.” The journey toward that admission finally arrived while he vacationed in his native Hawaii in December 2006.

In just a couple of years, he rose from obscure state lawmaker to national celebrity pursued by paparazzi on his family vacation. He struggled through a self-described “painful year” of just 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night in order to write a best-selling book that would assure his family’s financial security & nurture his burgeoning political career. He would be discussed endlessly in the mainstream and alternative media as potentially the first African American to hold the Oval Office. He became a prideful and iconic symbol for millions of black Americans; and he would secure his role as a major national voice for Democrats.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 6 Aug 14, 2007

Dreams from My Father originally about Harvard Law Review

Obama’s book, originally published in 1995, was called Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.“ As the title suggests, the book chronicled Obama’s life & search for identity in relation to his East African father.

This wasn’t the book Obama originally sold to his publisher. He had pitched them a work about his experience as the first African-American president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. After all, at the time, Obama was a modest 33 years old, and his Law Review presidency was his only claim to any modicum of fame.

When Obama began writing, an autobiographical memoir poured forth. Upon its release in 1995, the book sold a few thousand copies, generated mostly positive reviews, and then it faded into obscurity.

That changed dramatically when Obama shot to national fame in 2004. The publisher quickly ran off several new printings, promoted it vigorously, and the book landed on the best-seller lists, giving Obama the first shot of financial wealth in his life.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 14-15 Aug 14, 2007

Favorite authors: E. L. Doctorow & Shakespeare

Obama began reading voraciously in college. He had harbored some thoughts of writing fiction as an avocation, although it’s an open question whether he seriously considered fiction writing as a full-time profession. Obama himself said he never dabbled in fiction, but others dispute that.

When I asked Obama to name his favorite author, he cited E. L. Doctorow, the critically acclaimed novelist and outspoken political liberal. The next day, during a phone conversation on a different matter, he made it a point to say that he wanted to change his answer--to William Shakespeare.

Some politicians are infamous for casually mentioning high-minded work that is currently on their nightstand in order to give the impression of being a deep thinker. It is difficult to imagine most politicians digesting Shakespeare before extinguishing the bedroom light. Yet Obama’s erudite nature and his own ambitious writings made that answer seem quite plausible.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 15 Aug 14, 2007

To understand Obama, understand Hawaii’s cultural mix

Obama’s wife, Michelle, advised me, “There’s still a great deal of Hawaii in Barack,” she said. “You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.” In fact, the Obamas still make an annual sojourn to Honolulu every Christmas season.

Hawaii’s has grown considerably since Obama’s youth, but the essence of the islands’ mix of various Asian, Polynesian and Western cultures has persevered. Meeting Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in Hawaii, opened my eyes to Obama’s formative years. The atmosphere of [Obama’s school] campus gave me a sense of the unflappable Hawaiian nature at Obama’s core.

The night of his Senate primary victory, for example, reporters marveled curiously at Obama’s exceptionally cool exterior as others around him exhibited jubilation. One of Obama’s greatest talents is that, even in the midst of chaos, he has the ability to project serenity. Hawaii, if not fully responsible, most certainly contributed heavily to this trait.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 20-21&37 Aug 14, 2007

Met Michelle Robinson at law firm; married in 1990

Barack Obama seemed to know almost immediately upon meeting Michelle Robinson that she was his choice for a spouse; the young Miss Robinson was far less sure about her future husband.

She thought it would be improper to date an employee she was assigned to train. In addition, they were the only two African Americans at the law firm. “I thought, ‘Now how would that look?’ ” Michelle said. “Here we are, the only two black people here, and we are dating. I’m thinking that looks pretty tacky.”

Michelle tried to set up Obama with a friend, but he showed no interest in anyone but her. Eventually, she relented and agreed to a date. When Obama married Michelle in 1990, he also married into her budding network among Chicago’s community of successful white-collar African Americans.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 93-94&102 Aug 14, 2007

A reformed smoker but occasionally burns one

I’m a reformed smoker; I think that surprises people. I quit, but then during the campaign, when you’re in a car driving through cornfields, occasionally I bum a cigarette or two. But I did all my drinking in high school and college. I was a wild man. I did drugs and drank and partied. But I got all my ya-yas out.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 23 Mar 27, 2007

Personal story is basis of political desire to unite

Obama’s story--of how, as he likes to say, “a tall, skinny kid with big ears,” who came from nowhere in the continental US, who grew up in Hawaii, forever an outsider, a black kid abandoned at age two by his father, and, for long periods, his mother, raised by her parents in a white neighborhood and looked at askance by all of a more definable hue and tribe, who struggled mightily to find an identity and purpose in life, who never really got to know his father until he was in his 20s and stood by his unmarked grave in a dusty African village, has risen to become a candidate for president and a voice whose call for a union undivided by liberal and conservative, red state and blue, or black and white, springs from his own struggles to find a way to united his own divided heart--seems all the more unlikely.
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 34 Feb 15, 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

First black president of the Harvard Law Review

Obama, a law professor and state senator, has widespread appeal and a compelling story: His father was a member of Kenya’s Luo tribe, born on the shores of Lake Victoria. He met Obama’s mother, who was white, when both were students at the University of Hawaii.

When Obama was 2, his father left the family, returning to Kenya, where he eventually became a senior economist in the Ministry of Finance. Obama graduated from Columbia University in New York, and received his law degree from Harvard Law School. He became the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

He worked as a community organizer in New York and Chicago on job-training programs and other projects, and as a civil rights lawyer. He is now a senior instructor in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Source: Associated Press in Boston Herald Jul 14, 2004

Poverty of political organizers was proof of their integrity

In the months leading up to graduation, I wrote to every civil rights organization I could think of, to any black elected official in the country with a progressive agenda, to neighborhood councils & tenant rights groups. When no one wrote back, I wasn’t discouraged. I decided to find more conventional work for a year, to pay off my student loans and maybe even save a little bit. I would need the money later, I told myself. Organizers didn’t make any money; their poverty was proof of their integrity.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.125 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Racism & Race

OpEd: Elections of underclass occurred in many countries

Reactions to Obama's election commonly adopted Obama's soaring rhetoric [such as one reporter saying], "In no other country in the world is such an election possible."

The rhetoric may have some justification if we keep to the West, but elsewhere matters are different. Consider the world's largest democracy, India. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, which is notorious for horrifying treatment of women, is not only a woman but a Dalit ("untouchable"), at the lowest rung of India's caste system.

And Consider Haiti: In Haiti's first democratic election in 1990, grassroots movements were organized in the slums and hills, and though without resources, elected their own candidate, the populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The results astonished observers who expected an easy victory for the candidate of the elite. True, this victory for democracy was soon overturned by a military coup, but the victory itself was a far more "extraordinary example of democracy" than the miracle of 2008.

Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.213 Jun 1, 2010

1995: Participated in Million Man March

The year 1995 was a banner one for Obama. He had just married Michelle and the couple bought a Hyde Park condo, the first home Obama ever owned. In 1995, Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father, was published, to modest sales but good reviews. He was teaching constitutional law as a University of Chicago adjunct professor and was about to run for the state senate. In 1995, Obama also participated in Farrakhan's Million Man March, a fact he has omitted from his 2008 presidential campaign biography.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.145 Aug 1, 2008

Apocryphal story: race awareness began with skin-bleach ad

Obama claims he came across a picture in Life magazine of "the black man who tried to peel off his skin." Evidently the man had tried to lighten his skin with a chemical process & the result was a disaster. The experience caused Obama to feel the moment of self-doubt he suggests comes to every black child in America "undergoing similar moments of revelation." Obama began noticing there was no one black in the Sears-Roebuck Christmas catalog.

The only problem is that Life reported no such issue ever existed. Obama suggested it might have been Ebony. Ebony's archivists could find no such article, either.

Skin-lightening chemicals had been marketed to African-Americans for decades. Obama didn't have to get the idea from an article in Life. The story of Life magazine is apocryphal at best. At any rate, the memory of the event/nonevent is so firmly planted in Obama's mind that it seems to have become an emotional truth for him, as equally powerful psychologically as a real experience.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 65-66 Aug 1, 2008

Taking a black candidate for granted is measure of progress

Q: What did your daughters say to you [upon Hillary’s concession]? Did they take it as a matter of course that Daddy could be nominated to be president? They never knew what older people know in terms of discrimination.

A: Well, Michelle had a conversation with Malia, who’s our 9-year-old. Michelle said, “You know, Daddy’s about to be nominated for the presidency, and he’ll be the first African American ever to have that happen.” And Malia said, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me. I’ve read these histories about how blacks were discriminated against with slavery and Jim Crow,“ and she sort of ticked it off. But you could tell that there wasn’t that emotional impact on her because she has grown up in this environment where she can take it for granted. And the fact that they’re taking it for granted is a measure of progress in our country. It says something really good about America. It’s a testament to this country’s urge to live up to its ideals, as imperfectly as that is sometimes.

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

Epiphany at age 21 settled his racial identity

Obama spent his first years in college having a good time. He studied, but not too seriously. He dabbled in politics. He started down the same road of withdrawal and anger he had traveled in Honolulu. Then after a long night of smoking, drinking, and listening to Billie Holiday, he considered challenges thrown at him by some of his peers at the college, and had an epiphany. "I rose from the couch and opened my front door, the pent-up smoke trailing me out of the room like a spirit.... Who told you that being honest was a white thing? they asked me. Who sold you this bill of goods, that your situation exempted you from being thoughtful or diligent or kind, or that morality had a color? You've lost your way, brother."

As his father had done at a similar age, Obama, perhaps aware that the chips were down, now threw himself into his studies. At this point, he decided to try to become a community organizer, to help bring about change in black communities through grassroots efforts.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 14-16 Apr 1, 2008

We’ve never really worked through complexities of race

Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America: to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through--a part of our union that we have not yet made perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care or education or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Source: Speech on Race, in Change We Can Believe In, p.222 Mar 18, 2008

Intertwined search for father and racial identity

[In “Dreams From My Father”, Obama comes close to saying] that Obama sought racial identity in his father and a father in racial identity. [In his crisis of identity, Obama writes], “You must help in your people’s struggle! Wake up, black man!”

The father and black identity are virtually interchangeable as objects of Obama’s personal search. The young Obama experienced both his father and his racial identity as absences, while most people enjoy these same things as birthrights.

When Barack Obama is called a “Halfrican,” the point is not simply that he comes from a mixed-race background; it is also that he is a kind of phony, a pretender to blackness. For racially mixed blacks, the search for “authentic” blackness is also a search for personal credibility and legitimacy. Our era of intense identity politics means that such people live under a permanent accusation of inauthenticity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 26-28 Dec 4, 2007

Rooted in African-American community but also more than that

[Obama’s racial] vulnerability was probed in a “60 Minutes” interview near the launching of his presidential campaign. There was an allusion to the mixed-race background and a question how Obama saw himself.

He was “rooted,” he said, in the African- American community, but he was also “more than that.” This is the formulation of a man with a complex identity trying to make himself more recognizable to a society not used to pondering his like. Yet, this is also a formulation that reduces Obama’s identity to a banality. What could “rooted” or “more than that” mean? For that matter, what could “African-American community” really mean? A culture? A politics?

To become recognizable, he processes himself through the same dumb racial math-- he is one thing plus something else--that has been the source of his vulnerability. He collaborates with the racial conventions that made him an odd man out. Yet a great part of Obama’s appeal in broader America can be chalked up to his complex identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 6-7 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

In college, rejected multiracialism for black identity

Joyce was a woman Obama encounters in college just as his is launching an all-out crusade to realize his black identity. Like Obama, Joyce is from a mixed-race background. Obama asks her if she is going to a Black Student Association meeting. She looks at him and then says, “I am not black. I’m multi-racial.”

Joyce opposes blackness out of the same determination to claim an identity that drives Obama to embrace blackness. Obama is determined to distance himself from her & his own mainstream American past. Joyce represents a remarkable new option in American life. Joyce says that whites are “willing to treat me like a person.” Blacks are “the ones who are telling me I can’t be who I am.”

Joyce is Obama’s troublesome doppelganger as he grinds through the self-betrayals that help him belong to blackness. What you want, she murmurs--the chance to be yourself, self-acceptance--is not with blackness; it is in the same mainstream you came from.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 45-48 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

Fans see Obama as opportunity to vote for redemption

The first binding reality for Obama is that his cachet is tied to his status as an iconic Negro. The disciplines of bargaining are a basic element of Obama’s policies. He labors to sell himself as an “optimistic sign from the racial front,” as a harbinge of a new America in which the old divisions of race are transcended. As one fan put it at a recent rally, he is “the guy America is waiting for.” So, you don’t vote for Obama because of his policy positions on health care and school subsidies; he is an opportunity to vote for American redemption.

Obama is bound to the antiresponsibility political left because his fate depends on his ability to offer innocence to whites--this despite the fact that he clearly seems to accept the importance of individual responsibility in social reform. Yet he offers no thinking on how to build incentives to responsibility into actual social policy.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p.116-117 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

Veiled racism in dismissing Obama as “unqualified”

There’s a veiled racism in some of the claims that Obama isn’t qualified to be president. It’s something African-Americans are accustomed to hearing from less-qualified whites who think the black guy is getting the attention and the applause because of his race.

One pundit wrote: “There is nothing he can do to address his major shortcoming: the absence on his resume of the kind of major achievement that qualifies a person for the White House.” Of course, Obama has many achievements, and it is hard to find a major achievement of most senators running for president.

Obama’s experiences challenge the conventional wisdom of the establishment. Obama is a different kind of outsider. He is an outsider accustomed to working with legislators from the other party, and an outsider committed to pragmatic solutions.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 50-51 Oct 30, 2007

Catching a cab, no one questions he’s “authentically black”

Q: Editorials about you never fail to mention the issue of race, that you’re not authentically black enough. How will you address these critics?

A: You know, when I’m catching a cab in Manhattan--in the past, I think I’ve given my credentials. But let me go to the broader issue here. And that is that race permeates our society. It is still a critical problem. But I do believe in the core decency of the American people, and I think they want to get beyond some of our racial divisions. Unfortunately, we’ve had a White House that hasn’t invested in the kinds of steps that have to be done to overcome the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in this country. And as president, my commitment on issues like education, my commitment on issues like health care is to close the disparities and the gaps, because that’s what’s really going to solve the race problem in this country.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 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

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

America’s race and class problems are intertwined

Whether because of New York’s density or because of its scale, it was only [there] that I began to grasp the almost mathematical precision with which America’s race and class problems joined; the bile that flowed freely not just out on the streets but in the stalls of Columbia’s bathrooms as well, where, no matter how many times the administration tried to paint them over, the walls remained scratched with blunt correspondence between niggers and kikes.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.254 Aug 1, 1996

There is some hope of eventual reconciliation between races

If Malcolm X’s discovery toward the end of his life, that some whites might live beside him as brothers in Islam, seemed to offer some hope of eventual reconciliation, that hope appeared in a distant future, in a far-off land. In the meantime, I looked to see where the people would come from who were willing to work toward this future and populate this new world.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 80 Aug 1, 1996

Racism wasn’t merely the cruelty involved, but arrogance too

The older woman in my grandparents’ apartment building who became agitated when I got on the elevator behind her & ran out to tell the manager that I was following her; her refusal to apologize when she was told that I lived in the building. Our assistant basketball coach, a young, wiry man from New York with a nice jumper, who, after a pick-up game with some talkative black men, had muttered within earshot of me and three of my teammates that we shouldn’t have lost to a bunch of niggers; and who, when I told him to shut up, had calmly explained the apparently obvious fact that “there are black people, and there are niggers. Those guys were niggers.” It wasn’t merely the cruelty involved; I was learning that black people could be mean and then some. It was a particular brand of arrogance, an obtuseness in otherwise sane people that brought forth our bitter laughter. It was as if whites didn’t know they were being cruel in the first place. Or at least thought you deserving of their scorn.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p. 75 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Religion

First American president not raised in a Christian home

If Obama ascends to the presidency, he will be the first American president to do so having not been raised in a Christian home. Instead, he spent his early years under the influence of atheism, folk Islam, and a humanist's understanding of the world that sees religion merely as a man-made thing, as a product of psychology. It is this departure from tradition in Obama's early years that makes both his political journey and his religious journey so unusual and of such symbolic meaning.
Source: The FAITH of Barack Obama, by Stephen Mansfield, chapter 1 Aug 5, 2008

Religious Left calls Obama "called" and "anointed"

The same Bobby Rush who had once described Obama [during their 1999 Congressional race against each other] as a man "blinded by ambition" came, in time, to a different view. After Obama entered the US Senate, Rush said, "I think that Obama's election to the Senate was divinely ordered. I'm a preacher. I know that was God's plan. Obama has certain qualities. I think he is being used for some purpose."

Rush is not alone in this. Increasingly, words such as called, chosen, and anointed are being used of Obama. Though these terms have long belonged to the native language of the Religious Right, they are now becoming the comfortable expressions of an awakened Religious Left, of a faith-based Progressive movement. Moreover, they are framing the image of Barack Obama in the minds of millions of Americans.

Perhaps this is what comes from a need to paint politicians in messianic terms. Perhaps this is what comes, in part, from a people believing themselves a chosen nation.

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

Grandmother raised as strict Methodist, but saw hypocrisy

The story of the religious influences that have shaped Barack Obama is best begun with the novel faith of his grandmother, Madelyn Payne. She was born in 1922 to strict Methodist parents. There was no drinking, card playing, or dancing in the Payne household. There were, too, the petty tyrannies that often attend religion in a flawed world: people shunned one another, or lived lives at odds with the gospel.

These hypocrisies were not lost on Madelyn Payne. She would tell her grandson often of the "sanctimonious preachers" she had known and of the respectable church ladies with absurd hats who whispered hurtful secrets and treated those they deemed beneath them with cruelty. What injustice, she would insist, that men who sat on church boards should utter "racial epithets" and cheat the men who worked for them. Barack regularly heard such bitter sentiments in his grandparents' home, sentiments that profoundly shaped his early religious worldview.

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

Mother raised in Unitarian Church with secular values

[Obama's grandparents] Stanley and Madelyn Dunham shed the quaint faith and suffocating values of rural Kansas. They had even begun attending East Shore Unitarian Church--often referred to in Seattle as "the little Red church on the hill"--for its libera theology and politics. Barack would later describe this as the family's "only skirmish into organized religion" and explain that Stanley "liked the idea that Unitarians drew on the scriptures of all the great religions," excitedly proclaiming, "It's like you get five religions in one!"

The Unitarian Affirmation of Faith does serve to hint at what the Dunhams accepted as true: "the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the leadership of Jesus, salvation by character, and the progress of mankind onward and upward forever." However, they were likely skeptics--Barack says that Madelyn espoused a "flinty rationalism"--regarding the divinity of Jesus, whom they would have accepted as one good moral teacher among many but certainly not a god.

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

Mother declared herself an atheist during high school

Ann Dunham was already on a journey beyond the freethinking of her parents, and yet in keeping with the philosophical trends of her times. She had absorbed the broad spirituality and social vision of the East Shore Unitarian Church. Having begun with her parents' religious skepticism, Ann went even further and declared herself an atheist.

During after-school gab sessions in the coffee shops of Seattle, her friends began to realize how fully Ann had thought through her beliefs. "She touted herself as an atheist, and it was something she'd read about and could argue," remembers Dunham's best friend in high school. "She was always challenging and arguing and comparing. She was already thinking about things that the rest of us hadn't." Another friend explains, "[Ann was] a fellow traveler.... We were liberals before we knew what liberals were."

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

Obama's Trinity Church is based on black-liberation theology

On March 1, 2008, in an interview on Fox News, Rev. Jeremiah Wright got into a heated argument, charging that the co-host knew nothing about black-liberation theology because he had not read the writings of black theologians.

Wright was insisting that the inflammatory remarks in his sermons at Trinity United Church of Christ derived from years of teaching that had coalesced into a comprehensive theology known as "black-liberation theology." In other words, Wright was arguing that as off-the-wall as statements from his sermons might sound when taken out of context, those statements were consistent with the teachings of prominent black-liberation theologians.

Black-liberation theology is an inherently radical theology that owes its origins to radical black political thinkers, including Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X.

Deciding to be baptized in Trinity United, Obama had to comprehend he was joining a church whose principles were based on the black-liberation theology Rev. Wright professes.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.176-178 Aug 1, 2008

Moved to & attended church in neighborhood he was organizing

The professional organizer who recruited Obama was known for using Saul Alinsky's technique of extensively interviewing pastors and active church members to identify salient community issues, concerned residents, and respected community leaders.

In explaining his success in organizing Chicago's Back of the Yards, Alinsky said, "the first thing I always do, is to move into the community as an observer, to talk to people and listen and learn their grievances and their attitudes." After being hired, Obama followed Alinsky's rules by moving into the Hyde Park-Kenwood area he had been assigned to organize.

Why did he decide to join Rev. Wright's controversial Trinity Church? Obama openly admits, in terms Alinsky would easily have understood, "I was drawn to the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change." Obama was made to understand that he could not ignore the African-American church if were to succeed as a community organizer.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.184-185 Aug 1, 2008

GovWatch: never a Muslim, but school listed him as Muslim

An anti-Obama web ad in June says: “Question: Was Barack Obama ever a Muslim? He says no, but records showed Obama was in school as a Muslim living in Indonesia and the Obama campaign can’t explain why. Maybe it doesn’t matter if Obama were a Muslim back then, but it does matter if he’s not telling the truth about it now.”

The ad is based on a seemingly solid fact, that Obama was “enrolled as a Muslim” in a Catholic school in Indonesia in 1967, when Obama was six years old. The ad misses out key facts: Obama was required to participate in the school’s Catholic rituals and pray four times a day. Teachers said that he was probably registered as a Muslim because this was the religion of his then-Indonesian step-father. More importantly, the same school ledger that listed Obama as “Muslim” also listed Obama as an Indonesian; gave an inaccurate name for his previous school; and made no mention of his mother. The campaign concludes that Obama “is not, and was never, a Muslim.” [We agree].

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis Jun 13, 2008

In hard times, people take refuge in traditions, God & guns

Q: [to Obama]: Talking to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco, you said people in small towns get bitter, and they cling to guns & religion & antipathy toward people who are not like them. Now, you’ve said you misspoke. Do you understand that some people find that patronizing and think that you said actually what you meant?

OBAMA: I think there’s no doubt that I can see how people were offended. It’s not the first time that I’ve made a statement that was mangled up. It’s not going to be the last. But let me be very clear about what I meant: People are going through very difficult times right now. When people feel like Washington’s not listening to them, then politically they end up focusing on those things that are constant, like religion. They end up feeling “This is a place where I can find some refuge. This is something that I can count on.” They end up being much more concerned about votes around things like guns, where traditions have been passed on.

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

I am a person of faith; and I reach out to people of faith

CLINTON: [about Obama’s comment that people in small towns get bitter and they cling to guns & religion]: I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of faith in times that are good and times that are bad. And I similarly don’t think that people cling to their traditions, like hunting and guns, when they are frustrated with the government. I just don’t believe that’s how people live their lives.

OBAMA: Hillary has been saying I’m elitist, out of touch, condescending. Let me be absolutel clear. It would be pretty hard for me to be condescending towards people of faith, since I’m a person of faith and have done more than most other campaigns in reaching out specifically to people of faith, and have written about how Democrats make an erro when they don’t show up and speak directly to people’s faith. The same is true with respect to gun owners. I have large numbers of sportsmen and gun owners in my home state, and they have supported me precisely because I have listened to them.

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

Religion is foundational; not clinging nor elitist

Q: You said about people here in small towns suffering economic hardship, “It’s not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” It may have come across to many as you attacking their values or their religion, suggesting that people are “clinging” to religion.

A: Scripture talks about clinging to what’s good. My words may have been clumsy, but [I meant] religion is a foundation when other things aren’t going well. That’s true in my own life, through trials and tribulations.

Q: Hillary Clinton says you’re being elitist.

A: My entire trajectory, not just during this campaign, but long before, has been to talk about how Democrats need to get in church, reach out to evangelicals, link faith with the work that we do. The notion that somehow I am standing above that when that essentially describes much of what I’ve been doing over the last 20 years doesn’t make much sense.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Rev. Jeremiah Wright helped bring me to Christianity

Q: You have spoken about how your former pastor in Chicago, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was critical in helping bring you to Christianity and is like part of your family.

A: Well, I actually wrote about this in my second book “Audacity of Hope.” I had worked as an organizer on the South Side. The community was in difficult straits. I had been raised in a spiritual but nonreligious home. But as I’m doing this organizing, I started visiting some churches. Trinity United Church of Christ was one. I visited that church and found the ministries that they were doing on HIV/AIDS, and on prison ministries, and Rev. Wright’s sermons spoke directly to the social gospel, the need to act and not just to sit in the pews. I found that very attractive and ended up joining the church. Now, there’s been this notion that he was my spiritual adviser. You know, he’s been just my pastor--there are areas where we’ve disagreed. [But the recent uproar has been] both a distortion of who he is and what the church has been about.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Exposure to Islam taught me that Muslims can partner with us

Q: You are a Christian, but as a child you had more exposure to Islam than most Americans ever will. How did that shape you?

A: Well, I lived in Indonesia for 4-1/2 years when I was a child. The first school I went to in Indonesia was a Catholic school I then attended a public school, but the majority of the country was Muslim. And the brand of Islam that was being practiced in Indonesia at the time was a very tolerant Islam. The country itself was explicitly secular in its constitution. So what it taught me, and what it still teaches me, as I think about foreign policy now, is that Islam can be compatible with the modern world. It can be a partner with the Christian & Jewish & Hindu & Buddhist faiths in trying to create a better world. And so I am always suspicious of attempts to paint Islam with a broad brush because the overwhelming majority of the people of the Islamic faith are people of good will, as opposed to the overheated political rhetoric of assuming a clash of civilizations

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Kenyan grandfather converted to Christianity & then to Islam

The Obama family traces its modern lineage to Hussein Onyango Obama, a Kenyan member of the Luo tribe born in 1895 near Lake Victoria. Onyango was a restless man of ambition. He was one of the first in his village to wear western clothing, and served wit the British armed forces in World War I. He visited Europe & Sri Lanka as a soldier and briefly converted to Christianity, but abandoned it for Islam and added "Hussein" to his name following the war.

Senator Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was born in 1936, also near Lake Victoria, to Onyango's 2nd wife Akumu.

A pair of American teachers befriended Obama Sr. and helped him apply to US universities. In 1959 he secured admission, after many rejections, to the University of Hawaii to study economics: the institution's first African student.

Obama Sr. wore religion lightly. "Although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition," his son wrote.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 2 Apr 1, 2008

Barack's UCC church motto: Unabashedly Black & Christian

Barack found spiritual solace at the Trinity United Church of Christ, a South Side megachurch: in the community of its predominantly black congregation, and in the sermons of its minister Jeremiah Wright. Trinity--"Unabashedly Black & Unapologetically Christian" its motto--was the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a primarily white Protestant Christian denomination.

Wright, a former marine, built the church from 87 members in 1972 to over 8,500 by the 1980s. The congregatio included people of all races and more than a few celebrities, including television host Oprah Winfrey.

The Reverend, as Obama described him, was acutely aware of the challenges faced by African-Americans. The church he built, however, preached inclusion--and there Obama saw power. "By widening its doors to allow all who would enter, Trinity assured its members that their fates remained inseparably bound. It was a powerful program, more sustaining than my own brand of organizing," he concluded.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 22-23 Apr 1, 2008

Father was raised Muslim but became an atheist

Obama, Sr. wore religion lightly. "Although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition," his son has written.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 2 Apr 1, 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

Registered as Muslim at Catholic & secular Indonesian school

In 1963, Ann returned to college and divorced Barack's father. At the university she met Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian oil company manager. In 1967 he proposed, she graduated, and the three moved to his home on the outskirts of Jakarta. He learned to speak Indonesian and attended the local Catholic Franciscus Assisi Primary School. "The children of farmers, servants and low-level bureaucrats had become my friends, and together we ran the streets morning and night," he wrote later in his memoir.

Obama transferred to SDN Menteng 1, an elite secular public elementary school that served primarily middle- and upper-class children. He was the only foreigner.

For administrative purposes, Obama was registered as a Muslim at this school, as at the Catholic institution, because that was the religion of his stepfather. He learned about Islam for two hours each week. His mother did not belong to any denomination. His stepfather enjoyed alcohol and was not devout. Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 5-6 Apr 1, 2008

I am a proud Christian who believes deeply in Jesus Christ

I am a proud Christian. When you don’t show up, if you’re not going to church, then you’re not talking to church folk. That means that people have a very right-wing perspective in terms of what faith means and of defining our faith. As somebody who believes deeply in the precepts of Jesus Christ, particularly treating the least of these in a way that he would, that it is important for us to not concede that ground. Because we can go after those folks and get them.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Despite attack email, pledges Allegiance & uses Bible

Q: There is a lot of false information about you circulating on the Internet. One e-mail in particular alleges that you are trying to hide the fact that you are Muslim; that you took the oath of office on the Koran and not the Bible; that you will not pledge allegiance to the flag. How does your campaign combat this kind of thing?

A: First of all, let’s make clear what the facts are. I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the US Senate, when I’m presiding. But you know, in the Internet age, there are going to be lies that are spread all over the place. Fortunately the American people are smarter than folks give them credit for. My job is to tell the truth, to be straight with the American people about my vision for where the country needs to go. If I’m doing that effectively, then I place my trust in the American people that they will sort out the lies from the truth and they will make a good decision.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Jan 15, 2008

Attends church with press, to dispel rumors that he’s Muslim

Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday confronted one of the persistent falsehoods circulating about him on the Internet. He went to church.

His attendance at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Mason City, Iowa, with the news media in tow, was as much an observation of faith as it was a rejoinder to baseless e-mailed rumors that he is a Muslim and poses a threat to the security of the US. Obama did not address the rumors, but described how he joined Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago two decades ago while working as a community organizer. “I realized that Scripture and the words of God fit into the values I was raised in,” he told the congregation.

Obama regularly attends church, but seldom with reporters watching. He is known to invoke religious references in his speeches and has said he has a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. He often has said that religion has a place in public life and that faith and politics are not exclusively the domain of conservatives.

Source: Associated Press on FoxNews.com Dec 17, 2007

Joined church that emphasized a “Black Value System”

The terms of the “authentically black” identity are very clear: white obligation to blacks [because] blacks are structurally aggrieved even when no actual oppression is apparent. The point is not that Obama is a blind follower of this identity. Few black are. The point is that he is accountable to it.

Obama is vulnerable to these identity pressures because he needs to “be black.” Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ, a South Side black church with a “Black Value System,” focused on “Black freedom,“ the ”black community,“ & the ”black family.“ That he would join a church this steeped in blackness, with so many other churches available, only underscores his determination to be transparently black.

How can Obama sit every week in a church preaching blackness & not object that he was raised quite well, thank you, by three white Midwesterners? Obama is the kind of man who can close down the best part of himself to belong to this black church and, more broadly, to the black identity.

Source: A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, p. 51-54&69 Dec 4, 2007

Uses prayer to take stock of his moral compass

Obama’s grandparents, with whom he lived during his adolescence, were skeptical Christians who became Unitarians. But it was Obama’s mother who provided him with “a working knowledge of the world’s great religions.”

Obama’s secular upbringing has shaped his approach to religion today: “My faith is complicated by the fact that I didn’t grow up in a particular religious tradition. When you come at it as an adult, your brain mediates a lot, and you ask a lot of questions.”

When Obama prays, he says, he is engaged in an “ongoing conversation with God.” But this conversation is not a delusional belief that a supernatural being is talking directly to him. Instead, Obama uses God as a way to check his own ego. He uses prayer to “take stock” of himself and maintain his “moral compass.” He has a conversation with God in order to ask himself, “Am I doing this because it’s advantageous to me politically or because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.134-138 Oct 30, 2007

Reach out to faith community;faith has role in public square

Q: We’ve heard a lot of talk about Democrats courting the Christian evangelical vote. But there are no commandments saying do not rape, do not torture, or do not commit incest.

A: Yes, there are some inconsistencies and hypocrisy of people who mix religion and politics sometimes. I have said it’s important for Democrats to reach out to the faith community, and the reason is because 90% of Americans believe in God. It’s a source of values. It’s a source of their moral compass. And I know it’s a source of strength for me and my family. I think it’s important for us not to presume that faith has no part in the public square. Look at Martin Luther King, the abolitionists, the suffragettes. We have a long history of reform movements being grounded in that sense often religiously expressed that we have to extend beyond ourselves and our individual immediate self-interests to think about something larger.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Active in the Trinity faith community

Obama has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, a Protestant Church in Chicago, for over 20 years. He, his wife Michelle & his daughters are active in the Trinity faith community.

Obama’s faith shapes his values, as it does for millions of Americans. As he said in a recent speech on faith and politics:

Our values should express themselves not just through our churches or synagogues, temples or mosques; they should express themselves through our government. Because whether it’s poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are moral problems, rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness--in the imperfections of man. And so long as we’re not doing everything in our personal and collective power to solve them, we know the conscience of our nation cannot rest.
Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

Carries Bible on campaign trail, & refers to it weekly

[Beginning in Chicago in the 1980s] Obama evolved from a questioner of religion to a practicing Christian. Along his Senate campaign trail, Obama would never fail to carry his Christian Bible. He would place it beside him, in the small compartment in the passenger side door of the SUV, so he could refer to it often. When I first questioned Obama about his religious faith and ever-present Bible in October 2004, he was uncharacteristically short in his responses. Obama, without fail, would mention his church and his Christian faith when he was campaigning in black churches and more socially conservative downstate Illinois communities.

But in speaking to a reporter, it seemed that he referred to his Bible [less often]. “It’s a great book and contains a lot of wisdom,” he said simply. He said he was drawn to Christianity because its main tenet of altruism and selflessness coincided with his own philosophies. His Christianity would be well received among blacks and some rural whites.

Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 76-77 Aug 14, 2007

Embrace Christ as an ally

You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ because you have sins to wash away--because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 15 Mar 27, 2007

Source of his book title “Audacity of Hope” was a sermon

After Harvard, Obama returned to Chicago where he attended a rousing service at the South Side’s Trinity United Church of Christ. The sermon that Sunday spoke to the myriad hardships--from overdue electric bills to marital abuse and failed schools-- endured by those gathered there. The preacher identified the enemy common to all--despair--and its antidote--one without which no people would ever strive to create a better world. The sermon was called “The Audacity of Hope.” Obama never forgot it.
Source: Hopes and Dreams, by Steve Dougherty, p. 67 Feb 15, 2007

Raised secular, but with working knowledge of world religion

I was not raised in a religious household. For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness. However, in her mind, a working knowledge of the world’s great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. In sum, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.

This spirit of hers guided me on the path I would ultimately take. It was in search of confirmation of her values that I studied political philosophy.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.202-4 Oct 1, 2006

Baptized as an adult in the Trinity United Church of Christ

Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. The typical black sermon freely acknowledged that all Christians (including the pastors) could expect to still experience the same greed, resentment, lust, and anger that everyone else experienced. In the black community, the lines between sinner and saved were more fluid; the sins of those who came to church were not so different from the sins of those who didn’t, and so were as likely to be talked about with humor as with condemnation. You needed to come to church precisely because you were of this world. You needed to embrace Christ precisely because you had sins to wash away-because you needed an ally in your difficult journey.

It was because of these newfound understandings-that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world-that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be ba

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.207-8 Oct 1, 2006

Religious concerns ok, if translated into universal values

Progressives might recognize the values that both religious & secular people share when it comes to the moral & material direction of our country. We might recognize that the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of “thou” and not just “I”, resonates in religious congregations across the country.

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square. To say that men and women should not inject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, mush of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

What our pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. Those opposed to abortion cannot simply invoke God’s will--they have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.216-219 Oct 1, 2006

There’s a call to evangelize in politics

The nature of politics is you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you. Oftentimes, that’s by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is. The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “I have a deep faith” Apr 5, 2004

I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state

I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country, so I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and, at night, you’d hear the [Muslim] prayer call. My mother was a deeply spiritual person. Her view always was that underlying these religions was a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself, but also for the greater good. I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I’m a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “I have a deep faith” Apr 5, 2004

Spent time in both Muslim and Catholic schools

In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended. Just a parched old nun and 30 brown children, muttering words. Sometimes the nun would catch me, and her stern look would force my lids back shut. But that didn’t change how I felt inside.
Source: Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, p.142 Aug 1, 1996


Barack Obama on Scandals

Neighbor Bill Ayres admits 1970s violent radicalism

Bill Ayers lives in Obama's neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to schools together.

The radical 1960s SDS Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers had criminal charges dismisse because of prosecutorial misconduct. Today, Ayers likes to present himself as the "Distinguished Professor of Education" at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Still, in his 2001 book Fugitive Days, Ayers openly admits the role he played as a radical revolutionary leader. Ayers bombed the U.S. Capitol in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972 as part of his revolutionary antiwar activities.

The problem is Obama maintained the relationship with Ayers over many years because it was politically useful to Obama, especially as he first ran for political office from the impoverished, largely African-American South Side of Chicago.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.117-118 Aug 1, 2008

OpEd: Distances himself from 1970s radical Bill Ayres

In Chicago after his college years, Obama developed an extensive collection of radical leftist friends, mentors, and political associates. Obama used many of these political friends to advance his career in Illinois politics, in which leftism is a virtue Today, however, on the national front, in his run for president, these same friends have become politically inconvenient and potentially destructive. The way Obama distanced himself from Ayers is typical of how he has distanced himself from others in his Chicago past. Obama begins by denying that the association was meaningful, then argues that the views of the other person were never his own, and ends with a denunciation of the other person that somehow still does not completely cut the tie.

That presidential candidate Obama has to sever ties with so many key people in his past should alone raise questions about the character for the serious voter.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.118-121 Aug 1, 2008

Tony Rezko: large contributor & active member of campaigns

The pattern of political corruption surrounding convicted Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko and Barack Obama is almost too complicated to follow. What can the Rezko scandal tell us about who Barack Obama truly is?

Rezko gave Obama his first political contribution, $2000 on July 13, 1995, when he learned Obama was going to run for Illinois state legislature. For a year Obama minimized his relationship with Rezko, telling reporters he only had dinner or lunch with Rezko once or twice a year. But when Chicago Sun-Times reporters finally confronted Obama in March 2008 for an extended interview in the newspaper offices, the senator changed his tune. "I've known him for 17 years," Obama finally admitted. "There were stretches of time where I would see hi once or twice a year. But, as I said, when he was involved in the campaign finance committees, then he was an active member." By saying Rezko was an "active member" of his campaigns, Obama acknowledged he relied upon Rezko to help him raise funds.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.152-154 Aug 1, 2008

Tony Rezko helped Obama buy home in prestigious neighborhood

A prestige house across the street from Tony Rezko's came on the market. This new home would be suitable for the family of a US senator. The doctor who owned the property wanted to sell the vacant lot & the house at the same time. The list price just for the home was $1.95 million, outside the reach of the Obama family.

Rezko came up with a solution. His wife, Rita, bought the vacant lot at full price, permitting Obama and Michelle to negotiate buying the house for $1.65 million, a discount of $300,000 from the asking price. Rezko's wife closed on the vacant lot the same day the Obamas closed on the house. She paid $625,000 for the lot, the full asking price.

"Both actions would be clear violations of Senate ethics rules barring the granting or askin of favors," wrote the Wall Street Journal. The Boston Globe reported that Obama had asked for Rezko's advice in negotiating the deal--after all, Rezko was experienced with real estate--and Obama toured the house with Rezko before making an offer.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.165-166 Aug 1, 2008

Segments of Wright sermons were "caricatures of the church"

On May 31, 2008, Obama announced he was leaving Reverend Wright's Trinity Church. Obama made it clear his decision was based primarily on considerations of political expediency: "We don't want to have to answer for everything that's stated in a church," Obama said, but specified, "I am not denouncing the church."

Obama implied that he was being treated unfairly in that the segments of sermons played in the media were "caricatures of the church," complaining that anyone would "accept those caricatures despite my insistence that's not what the church is about." He also persisted in distancing himself from Wright, "Some of the statements the [Wright] made were indefensible and deeply offensive."

Clearly, Obama hoped that by leaving the church, he woul end the controversy. At a minimum, he wanted to be able to wash his hands of any subsequent incidents. Yet, by not denouncing Wright and Trinity Church itself, Obama remains open to continuing criticism as further incidents develop.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.206 Aug 1, 2008

Photographed without hand over heart during national anthem

A photograph published during the Iowa Democratic primary showed Obama standing onstage while the national anthem was being played. Surprisingly, Obama was the only one in the photo who did not have his right hand over his heart. Behind Obama, also standing, were Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton, both with their right hands over their hearts. A large American flag formed the backdrop. A blog cited federal law, subtly making the point Obama lacked respect: "During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart."

Obama explained, "I was taught by my grandfather that you put your hand over your heart during the pledge, but during the Star Spangled Banner you sing!" Obama and his supporters may think it is not important to wear a flag lapel pin or to hold his right hand over his heart while the national anthem is played, but try explaining that to veterans.

Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.253-255 Aug 1, 2008

Mar. 2008: Campaign uproar over Rev. Wright's anti-US sermon

Videotapes sold in the lobby of Trinity Church showed repeated denunciations of the US by Rev. Wright. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. The US, he said, shouldn't have been surprised by the 9/11 attacks. "We bombed Nagasaki, & we never batted an eye," he preached on Sept. 16 2001. Indeed, the former marine said, "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost." Obama said he was not present when Wright gave the sermons at issue.

The uproar that resulted dominated campaign coverage for days and might have derailed Obama's campaign because it cut to core issues of race, national identity and politics.

Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 59 Apr 1, 2008

FactCheck: Took Rezko’s donations, but never represented him

Clinton reminded voters of Obama’s relationship with a longtime contributor who is now under federal indictment, saying Obama was “representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.” Obama responded that “I did about five hours worth of work” with Antoin Rezko.

According to an investigation last year, Antoin Rezko was involved in developing at least 30 low-income housing buildings. A number of the buildings fell into disrepair, collecting housing code violations, and Rezko was sued on many occasions. Obama was associated with a law firm that represented the community groups working with Rezko on several deals. There’s no evidence that Obama spent much time on them, and he never represented Rezko directly. So it was wrong for Clinton to say he was “representing Rezko.”

Obama has known Rezko, however, for many years, and Rezko has been a major contributor and campaign fundraiser for him since Obama’s first campaign for the Illinois state Senate.

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

Gave away all Rezko “boneheaded” donations to charity

Obama’s longtime relationship with a Syrian-born realtor, Antoin Rezko, has dented his image. Rezko, now under federal indictment for favor-trading and fraud, was one of Obama’s first funders, and over the years he contributed about $150,000 to Obama’s various campaigns. Obama’s law firm represented Rezko, and as a state legislator he recommended the developer for state housing grants that netted Rezko and a partner $855,000 in fees. Obama didn’t seem to notice that a number of Rezko buildings in his low-income district failed.

Obama has given all the Rezko money currently in his larder to charity, and he has called the land deal [he made with Rezko for Obama’s personal home] “boneheaded,” putting it down to anxieties about purchasing a first home (though his family had previously lived in a Hyde Park condo). No one has alleged that Obama did anything illegal, but his slip-sliding response to questions about Rezko suggests that, should he succeed, he will not drive every pig from the trough.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 74-76 Nov 11, 2007


Barack Obama on Voting Record

FactCheck: Ranked most liberal in Senate, based on 99 votes

Obama was asked about a recent ranking of senators by the National Journal that rated him the most liberal in 2007. He responded, “An example of why I was rated the most liberal was because I wanted an office of public integrity that stood outside of the Senate.”

Obama’s answer could mislead voters. Although we agree that rankings and labels sometimes don’t have much substance behind them, Obama cited just one of 99 Senate votes selected by National Journal’s reporters and editors for the study. The nonpartisan public policy magazine’s analysis was done according to a rigorous process the publication has been using since 1981. Most of the votes chosen had to do with the minimum wage, renewable energy, health insurance for children, immigration, embryonic stem cell research, and other issues on which it’s not too surprising to see a divide between liberals and conservatives. Clinton ranked 16th most liberal in the Senate

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Politico pre-Potomac Primary interview Feb 11, 2008

Voted with Democratic Party 96.0% of 251 votes.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), was scored by the Washington Post on the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. Their summary:
Voted with Democratic Party 96.0% of 251 votes.
Overall, Democrats voted with their party 88.4% of the time, and Republicans voted with their party 81.7% of the time (votes Jan. 8 through Sept. 8, 2007).
Source: Washington Post, “US Congress Votes Database” Sep 8, 2007

Biggest mistake was intruding in Terri Schiavo case

Q What is the most significant professional mistake you have made in the past four years?

A: Well, my wife may have a longer list. But professionally the biggest mistake that I made was when I first arrived in the Senate. There was a debate about Terri Schiavo, and a lot of us, including me, allowed Congress to intrude where it shouldn’t have. I should have fought more for making sure that families make those decisions and not bureaucrats and politicians.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Voted NO on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice.

Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reference: Alito Nomination; Bill PN 1059 ; vote number 2006-002 on Jan 31, 2006

Voted NO on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Vote on the Nomination (Confirmation John G. Roberts, Jr., of Maryland, to be Chief Justice of the United States )
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination of John Roberts; Bill PN 801 ; vote number 2005-245 on Sep 27, 2005

Member of Congressional Black Caucus.

Obama is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus:

On January 2, 1969, [three newly elected and six previously elected] African-American Members of Congress met as the Democratic Select Committee. On February 2, 1971 the group agreed to be known as the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

The goals of the CBC are to positively influence the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and others of similar experience and situation, and to achieve greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services. The Caucus has not only been at the forefont of issues affecting African-Americans, but has garnered international acclaim for advancing agendas aimed at protecting human rights and civil rights for all people. Today, the Congressional Black Caucus stands 38 members strong.

Upon her election as Chair of the CBC for the 107th Congress, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson expounded: “Whether the issue is popular or unpopular, simple or complex, the CBC has fought for thirty years to protect the fundamentals of democracy. The Caucus is committed to ensuring that the standard of living for minorities in America does not retrogress, but instead rises to meet the expectations of both our ancestors and our children. The Congressional Black Caucus is probably the closest group of legislators on the Hill. We work together almost incessantly, we are friends and, more importantly, a family of freedom fighters. Our diversity makes us stronger, and the expertise of all of our members has helped us be effective beyond our numbers.”

Source: Congressional Black Caucus web site 01-CBC0 on Jan 6, 2001

Reject Bush's Florida electors due to election fraud.

Obama adopted the CBC press release:

There is overwhelming evidence of official misconduct, deliberate fraud and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means that were used to produce George W. Bush’s false victory. The preponderance of the available evidence points to Vice President Al Gore as the actual winner of the most votes in Florida and he should have been awarded the state’s electoral votes.

Vice President Al Gore may have conceded his judicial contest, but that is irrelevant. There is not provision for the concession of candidates in the Constitution. There is, however, a process set out in law for Congress to consider challenges to electoral votes. The Congress, on behalf of all Americans, is the final judge of how much election fraud to accept.

The hearings held by the NAACP clearly showed that there were massive violations of the Voting Rights Act, and that tens of thousands of Floridians were denied due process when they were removed from the voter rolls without notice. Still others were intimidated by police checkpoints set up near polling places. In Miami-Dade and Broward, investigations by independent news organizations have found hundreds of ineligible persons who were allowed to vote. There clearly were significant inequities in assigning what turned out to be non-working voting machines to precincts that were heavily African-American in Miami-Dade. We would not tolerate any of these errors if they took place in some other country. Is our duty to our own country any less?

Millions of Americans have already expressed their public outrage at the myriad injustices which occurred in the making of George W. Bush’s mistaken victory. But public outrage is not enough. The laws of this country provide for the objection which we herein make on behalf of freedom, justice and democracy. We, Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, therefore wholeheartedly object to the acceptance of the presidential electors from Florida.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC4 on Jan 6, 2001

Rated 100% by the AU, indicating support of church-state separation.

Obama scores 100% by the AU on church-state separation

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 AU scores as follows:

About the AU (from their website, www.au.org):

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Americans United is a national organization with members in all 50 states. We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and led by the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director. AU has more than 75,000 members from all over the country. They include people from all walks of life and from various faith communities, as well as those who profess no particular faith. We are funded by donations from our members and others who support church-state separation. We do not seek, nor would we accept, government funding.

Source: AU website 06n-AU on Dec 31, 2006

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Barack Obama on other issues:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
HHS:Tom Daschle
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOC:Judd Gregg
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DOC:Bill Richardson
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
Treas.:Tim Geithner

Former Bush Administration:
Pres.George W. Bush
V.P.Dick Cheney
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
Pres.Bill Clinton
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
V.P.Al Gore
Labor:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
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Page last updated: Jul 23, 2011