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“Just forget what I said before. I’m saying something different now.”

The text of Barack Obama’s speech on race, Wright and the election is up on Politico right now. I just had to highlight a specific passage though because it makes reference to the crux of what has been a bitterly divisive primary season- the accusations of racism:

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

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

Maybe you English majors out there can help me out but doesn’t this passage seem incredibly passive? Like, “mistakes were made”, that classic style of the person who doesn’t want to take responsibility for his role in something? The mistakes happened all by themselves. The accusations of racism just “bubbled” up out of nowhere (“like farts in a jacuzzi” -ronkseattle). It wasn’t Obama’s campaign and members of the black community who were righteously indignant by the so-called “racist” remarks of the Clinton campaign. No, they never picked through speeches with fine toothed combs looking for the tiniest fragment of a phrase that could be deliberately misconstrued as racist. It was never their intention to highlight these fragments so as to alienate Clinton from the constituency she has served her entire career. It just… happened.

Obama is saying, “Wow! We were shocked, *shocked* that racial tensions bubbled up before the South Carolina primary. No one could have predicted that the media could take a couple of unrelated phrases, slam them into a couple of other unrelated phrases and create a racial firestorm that would kill the African-American votes for Clinton.”

And it was only in “the last couple of weeks” that racism has been discussed ad nauseum. Well, no, this is technically incorrect. It has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race has had a negative effect on Mr. Obama. His campaign seems to have benefitted, apparently through no actions of their own, from the negative impact of accusations of racism towards the Clinton campaign and up to this point, that was all ticketyboo with him.

My, my, for a post-racial candidate for president, he spends an awful lot of time focussing on race than, you know, actually what he would do as president. Can we get back to the economic policies and foreign policy discussions now please? I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time with the country falling apart than to devoting our energies to issues deliberately cooked up and calculated to divide us. Oh, and maybe if Obama has been burned by the race issue, through no fault of his own, of course, maybe he will stop trying to stir it up.


106 Responses

  1. Great analysis, riverdaughter. As I posted on the previous thread, it bothered me that Obama didn’t take any responsibility for his own participation in race-baiting–not that I’m surprised. He also did not deal in any substantive way with the gender issues and how they have helped him.

    Thinking back over the speech, I am also troubled by the way Obama spoke of Geraldine Ferraro and his attempt to make her comment equivalent in some way to Wright’s. I just don’t thnk Ferraro deserves to be trashed as she has been, and what she said really cannot be equated with the kinds of things Wright has said.

  2. Please please Please Obama just shut up and sit down. Do your time in the trenches!

  3. BB: Yes, I noticed the lack of gender specifics in Obama’s speech as I skimmed it. Good point. For the moment, I would like to focus on what Obama has done to create this racial tension through his own campaign’s negative techniques. There will be plenty of fodder on the gender side of things as well. But one thing at a time. 😉

  4. Meanwhile, in the real world, a new poll shows Obamamessiah has fallen to 26 points behind Clinton.

  5. I actually disagree, I think he should have been speaking honestly about race from the very beginning.

    He promoted the idea that he was post-racial, and his supporters too often rhapsodized that he would be able to transcend the racial divide in this country simply by being his awesome self.

    If he had talked about how racism is not over and how we need to start having real discussions about how we can deal with it institutionally, he would have been my pick over anyone for the Democratic nomination. He had a real opportunity to be a leader with this issue.

    Had he started his campaign with something like this speech, the impact of Wright would have been minimized. He could have said, “As I’ve been saying all along, blacks have a legitimate reason to be angry in America. However, as MLK said, anger is not the solution…”

    Instead, he has used his race as a double-edged sword: to get AA votes on the one hand, and to divide the Democratic Party on the other. It was incredibly cynical and disgusting, in my opinion.

    We should all be united in our contempt of the Republics and how they have all but destroyed everything good about this country. Instead, we are convinced that Hillary is evil or Obama is a terrorist. It’s ridiculous, and I’m sorry, but it’s Obama’s fault.

    I was holding out faint hope for a combined ticket before this. Now I’ve completely given up.

    Obama could have been an awesome VP. Now he is toast.

    What a waste.

  6. This speech is bound to stoke the race embers some more if Obama does not have specifics on how he could unite the race. Oratorical speeches that is not followed by policy would just make the division widen some more because the pro side would be clinging to every word of the speech and then be disappointed when the speechwriter does not meet their expectations. That is why action is important before those disappointments manifest itself more and more.

    Lets just all hope that Obama would deliver on the specifics later on.

  7. he should’ve left Ferraro alone instead of bringing her up, by name, in that speech. She is not the same as Wright. Oh, and the Obama campaign sent her comment all over the place and CREATED that controversy to begin with, if you heard Ferraro talking about it on ABC. so dishonest.

  8. He did say this as something he didn’t want to do:

    For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

    Not pouncing on “gaffes” by Hillary supporters is a good idea — but I’m not sure whether he meant that as only an admonition, or an admission of what has already happened. Also, I don’t think the Ferraro statements, which were a gaffe, are the equivalent of the more incendiary statements by Rev. Wright, which are not being, and cannot be, portrayed as a gaffe.

    Having said all that, I think Obama’s speech was a good one, and there were some nice touches (including admitting the prejudices of his own white grandmother) but I am skeptical of whether this will resolve the Wright controversy. And yes, it would have been very nice for him to speak out clearly against sexist comments in this campaign. That would have shown real leadership.

  9. Contrary to claims made by Obama and his minions he now admits that he was, in fact, in attendance during some of Rev Wright’s controversial(hate-filled) sermons. This was no doubt a pre-emptive move on Obama’s part. Surely he knows that photographic evidence is in existence and he must be on record correcting previous claims(lies). The MSM however will ignore this admission. We will be treated to endless blathering’s about how moving this speech was. How he has been heaven sent to help us rise above. Other then the above, I have to say one of the more interesting moments of this speech was when he tossed granny under the bus. Very loving. Very classy. Ought to play real well in South Philly.

  10. Bringing Ferraro into the speech reveals his true objective for it. Mr. Peace and Love is far from it. Does his continuing tartuffery know any bounds?

  11. For so many talking heads on teevee, Obama could just belch in the microphone and they would say this was the greatest speech since… MLK?… RFK?… JFK?… Ronald Reagan?… Sermon on the mount?… (Make your pick). They simply refuse to address the issues surrounding the speech and focus on the tingling they felt wherever.

    Mickey Kaus does a pretty good job below and that was today’s speech.

    Obvious Non-Trivial Gotcha: These two Obama statements do not sit easily together!
    1. “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.”
    2. “When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
    Let me repeat what I’ve said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn.
    … And while Rev. Wright’s statements have pained and angered me …. [E.A.]
    If he was so agonized “at the beginning” of his campaign that he was thinking of leaving the church, why did he then reassure people during that campaign that his church wasn’t controversial? … [And is this a “new kind of politics.”–ed Yes, that one’s always there too!] …

    Add today’s and you have many facts Obama couldn’t square.

    But hey, let’s focus on the greatness of the speech and the quality of the writing.

  12. Hmm. He did tell Major Garrett on Fox that he wasn’t there when the controversial statements are made. What he really meant was, well, yes, sometimes he was.

    At any rate, it seems.. does this speech match what he’s done? There are some things that bothered me.. the ambiguous use of the “we” to deflect responsibility for what happened in South Carolina and how “we” treat “gaffes” by Hillary supporters. And his poor grandmother.. did she ask to be drawn into this? It’s a nice speech. I am having trouble getting beyond the race card played against the Clintons.

  13. Wellesley College
    1969 Student Commencement Speech
    Hillary D. Rodham


    got it from mydd, commenter by jentwisl

  14. But all in all I wonder if people are going to buy, this time, that a nice speech solves everything. I just don’t know how you square it. It’s a teachable moment now that this controversy has happened.. but does leadership mean reacting to the media to find that moment, when it’s politically necessary to do so to save yourself? I don’t know.

  15. MABlue, you are right. I think I remember reading about the applause he got for sneezing.

  16. Typical Barack Obama:

    Give flowery speeches about unity and hope, but below the table, thwart the hopes of entire states to be part of the democratic process.

    When are people going to be honest about Obama’s MO?

  17. As I just wrote on myDD regarding the line in the speech about his grandmother.. I’d be hell of worried if I were a friend, acquaintance, or ally of any kind of Barack Obama at this point because I’d never know when he’d turn on me or use (and maybe mischaracterize) what I thought was private conversation as fodder for a speech or book, in service of one of those pairs of convienient polar opposites (who aren’t really) that his rhetoric is founded on.

  18. Have the MSM been rapturously complimenting the speech? Comparing it to MLK? I thought it was good, but MLK? Isn’t that denigrating MLK, and thus….oh, never mind.

    This is tough stuff. If this is a “teachable moment,” then Obama ought to be taking more responsibility for the race-baiting coming from some of his own supporters, and the generally sexist themes running throughout politics in general. That might have turned a good speech into a great one.

  19. Arrrghrrrr*%&#*!!!!!

    Obama camp: HRC is taking the low road

    I am starting to viscerally detest the Obama campaign and it really pains me.

  20. Nice speech (we knew that it would be). Lots of flags and lots of emotional references to what makes America great…..

    I believe that Barack has achieved three main things in this speech to his advantage:

    1) stop the negative news cycle in the main left-leaning cable stations. Fox will not give a sh**t about his flowery speech but I doubt CNN or MSNBC will show Wright videos for the next few days, or at least under a different light.

    2) Pander, further, to the AA community in PA (particularly in Philadelphia).

    3) . “Justify” Wright’s sermons in the context of an American society who tolerates racial injustice.

    I do not know how this will play among Democrats but if he ends up being the Democratic candidate after the primary, probably the Republicans will win the GE.

  21. “Pander, further, to the AA community in PA (particularly in Philadelphia).” Of course. It’s all the fault of that old white “low information” biddy, Geraldine “Hillary” Ferraro.

  22. […] have the same reaction to his speech as Riverdaughter, but she raises a good point about his passive references to the use of race during the campaign.  Obama’s use of vague and passive language like she points out has bugged me to no end this […]

  23. Well, that’s beautiful – right after Obama’s speech about everyone coming together, Axelrod’s on the phone with the media flat out saying this:

    “They would do anything to win, and that means anything,” David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, told me Monday. “There is a frenetic energy around them to commandeer this election in any way they can.”

    Axelrod went on: “She is the ultimate Washington inside player. She is always asking, ‘How do we wire the vote? How do we wire the system to get the results we want?’”

    Wow. just wow

  24. riverdaughter,

    No problem. I realize I was getting OT with the gender issue.

    Looking back, the first time I was aware of the Obama campaign injecting race into the campaign was in Iowa, when Bill Shaheen said that Obama’s drug use would be a problem in the general election campaign, and that Republicans might ask if he had also sold drugs. Of course it was a stupid thing to say, but it never occurred ot me that here could be a race angle to it until a certain poster (whose name begins with Geek) on DK started ranting about it. I recall that at the time, most people did not make the race connection.

    It seems to me that after that the Obama campaign began to twist comments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their surrogates to make them look racist, and the ranting about it in the blogs never stopped. It really makes me wonder if certain people at DK were really operatives. I know that the particular posted I referred to above was working in Iowa other states.

  25. daria-g,

    According to the Politico article, these comments were made on Monday, so I think you’re right. I wonder why they waited until right after the speech to publish the story? I would love to have Axelrod produce actual quote from Hillary in which she said what he claims she is “aways saying.” He is worse than Karl Rove.

  26. The campaign of the “Uniter” is run by a bunch of vicious thugs.

    I just have to see David Axelrotten’s mug or read anything from David Soufflé and my gag reflex kicks in.

  27. Obama gave an incredible speech. He answered a lot of my questions and I believe most Democrats will be satisfied- if not orgasmic. Probably Independents too.

    However I wonder….if Hillary gave a similar speech about sexism and gender issues in the US, would she be as lauded as a ground-breaker and praised by the national media the same way Obama is?

    I’m guessing NO. I’m guessing she would be dismissed as a divisive whiner.

  28. I can’t believe we’re going to have a primary where the 4th and 8th largest states in the Union doesn’t have a say as to who the nominee will be. On the other hand, Wyoming with its 8000 voters (ok 8500 voters) has more of a say than Florida or Michigan (combined total 2.5 million – likely more had there been revotes or the DNC been competent).

    As for Obama’s speech, he threw Ferraro (again) and his own grandmother under the bus. I’ve always been taught to never air out dirty laundry, and Obama did just that.

  29. How decisive was this speech? Does this mean everyone with a copy of the tapes will just pack them up and forget about it?

    Did he address the concerns of Mom & Pop Regular Voter as they contemplate their upcoming primary vote?

    Has he eased the fears of Senator & Governor SuperD as they decide who they’ll support at the convention?

    I’m so committed, I can’t tell.

  30. katiebird,

    I don’t think the speech is going to change people’s concerns about Wright, because more stuff is going to come out. The right wing noise machine is not going to drop this, and they are bound to find video of Obama in the audience during some offending sermonizing by his pastor. I still think he’s done. On reason I think so is because Axelrod is still hamming Hillary. Winning candidates do not need to go negative on their opponents. Axelrod is clearly scared.

  31. roseOred: I totally agree. Because we as a people know in our bones that racism is bad, and we are ashamed of it when we see it.

    Sexism, not so much. Women who complain about sexism are rigid, inflexible, too soft, too hard, blah blah blah. How many times have I heard those words tossed around when I, or a female colleague, complained about a sexist practice or remark — even though the men in the firm are committed,
    ideologically, to womens’ rights. People don’t lke to see themselves as the bad guys. Whites have accepted that they are collectively the bad guys when it comes to racism. Men have not truly accepted that they are the bad guys when it comes to sexism — especially since there are still a significant number of women who don’t care about gender issues, or are willing to play a fairly traditional female role. You don’t see many people of color saying, hey, its cool if you continue to discriminate against me.

    Boston Boomer:
    I guess when Axelrod made those comments, he hadn’t gotten the memo about Barack’s upcoming speech. Or maybe, because Axelrod’s statements aren’t “about race” they’re perfectly acceptable. So what if they continue to portray Hillary as a ruthless, castrating Lady MacBeth.

    Nice speech, nasty campaign manager. Very old politics.

  32. Kbird: Jeralyn at talkleft thinks he was successful at soothing the frazzled nerves of his supporters and African-Americans who were angry that he threw Wright under a bus. But she doesn’t think it will work for the people who weren’t on his side to begin with. The question is, how did it go over with the undecided? I suspect it didn’t work so well with them if the intention of the speech was to shore up his base. It means he was seeing some erosion in his formerly solid supporters.

  33. I don’t think we’ll find out the Wright effect (non-effect) until new polling comes out or elections are held on the upcoming states.

    I do hope Hillary can gain among African American voters in PA. Mayor Nutter will be a great help on this regard, but we’ll see what happens on election day.

  34. I watched a bit of Obama on the Newshour and he said that the Church is overwhelmingly white. i dont hink he gets it – Americanss overhwhelmingly dont like their country damned by anybody – it aint a color thing.

    Someboy said somewhere that they dont think the Demz in Congress actually want to win – that the country is in such deep garbage that they rather hold the Congress than the WH and make the next GOP president sit in the sh*t instead of them.

    Interesting idea.

  35. ps – yes, Riverdaughter – very passive. Meant to unite us all in what we saw not what he and his did.



  36. I’ve been lurking(?) for a few days around and haven’t felt that I’d add anything to the conversation by joining…

    I heard the speech. I think the MSM will LOVE it and give yet another free pass and free advertising to the obama campaign.

    I think the demographic of the typical obama voter may also be the demographic that generates the best advertising revenue for the MSM news channels. I don’t think they will provide an in-depth examination of this message when the bread and butter is on the line.

    Oh, yes – I’m a 40-ish, white, female, data analyst/architect type. Classic HRC supporter type.

  37. I haven’t seen the entire speech yet. Just snippets on tv before going to lunch. Luckily most people were at work and school or still asleep. However, I feel the media will play this speech over and over again for at least the next several days.

    I don’t know what to make of it. I think the Obamabots would’ve found it inspirational regardless of what he had said. Last night my Obamabot friend wrote a blog post on how if real life was like the “West Wing”, Obama would be president by tomorrow after he gives his speech on race. I was like, are you kidding me? Is this why these young white male idiots are voting for him? Because they want to live out their West Wing fantasy? It’s ridiculous but clearly this is working for a lot of people, especially idealistic youth and African Americans.

    On the other hand, I think more people are catching on to the fact that his campaign really is “just words” and no action or specifics. Is Obama just going to concentrate on giving speeches about race during his presidency or will he actually fix the economy, the situation in Iraq, and the health care crisis? While Obamabots are having an orgasm today, others are becoming more cynical about his presidency. I can just feel the mood changing. More people see him as a fraud. I only hope FOX continues showing more videos on Rev. Wright and will not let down regardless of what Obama or Moveon.org says. I’m hoping they find a tape of him at one of these sermons in the next month or so.

  38. jjmtacoma: welcome to the blog full of old, stupid bitches who are geeks for Clinton!

  39. Not that this is too reflective of the general public, but I’m listening to the Michaelangelo Singorile show right now on the Sirius gay radio channel. The speech isn’t going over very well with his audience. It reminds them of the McClurkin episode, where Obama seemed to be trying to make everyone get along without actually dealing with the real hurts that real people feel.

    I’m going to try listening to Fox News for awhile right now. They are getting lots of e-mail on the speech.

  40. […] Of course, looking at comments from our best of friends, it is clear that we can be terribly blind to good […]

  41. Words, just words.

  42. I have been listening on and off to MSNBC in the background while working at home. I did listen intently to the speech, and I thought it was good, but not “transformational.” It is getting generally good reviews on MSNBC, not surprisingly. It’s being called “historic” by Norah O’Donnell. Gene Robinson, also not surprisingly, thinks it was a great speech.

    I haven’t been on other blogs, with the exception of TalkLeft. Views are mixed but mostly positive. I’m afraid if I even clicked on the Great Orange front page, my head and body would implode.

  43. riverdaughter : Am I among “old, stupid bitches who are geeks for Clinton”?

    I know this campaign has turned me into a feminist but a bitch?

    If so, then Black is the new Bitch. Actually, kinda sounds good to me.

  44. Boston Boomer: I’m not gay nor Jewish. I’m actually half black and even I was offended by Rev. Wright’s sermons. I think his sermons should be a red flag for those who are gay or Jewish that Obama’s core religious beliefs are anti-semitic and homophobic. Obama has associated himself in the past with homophobic black religious leaders so none of us should be surprised that he had such a close relationship with someone like Wright. I wouldn’t trust anyone who goes to a church like this to be openminded about gay rights or be pro-Israel. Just something these two constitutencies should really consider if they are still on the fence about Clinton and Obama.

  45. MABlue: I think bitches may have become cool this year. We could rename 2008, “The year of the Bitch”. It has a certain ring.

  46. WS, on March 18th, 2008 at 2:32 pm Said:
    I can’t believe we’re going to have a primary where the 4th and 8th largest states in the Union doesn’t have a say as to who the nominee will be.

    Now that we can see that an electoral college system does not work at the party level either, can we go back and deal with voting and tallying the popular vote, period????

  47. Hey, I thought 40 was the new 30 or something! I guess I’d have to admit I resemble the rest – I’m just not sure I’m ready to embrace ‘old’ 😉 Thanks for the welcome.

    I truly hope the speech gets a hard once-over and the contrast to the campaign messaging coming from axelrod is at least contemplated.

    I hope the home lending problems, gas prices and weak dollar are all fixed in the morning too.

  48. The real story is:

    – Obama essentially lied to us last week when he said he wasn’t in the church during the remarks. Yes, in a legal sense he can say he wasn’t in the church during statement X, but he admitted he was there for some of these “controversial remarks” after telling us he wasn’t.

    – Obama lied about NAFTAgate. He told us no one talked to canada, but a senior adviser had talked to Canadian officials about Obama’s rhetoric being political

    – Obama’ appears to be lying about Iraq as his former senior foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, went to Europe and stated that Obama wouldn’t be running an Iraq policy based off something he came up with “as a candidate”.

    – Today Obama talked about unity and getting rid of divisive politics, but his chief political strategist is trashing Hillary Clinton’s character.

    Barack “Don’t pay attention to what I actually do” Obama needs to be held accountable.

  49. gq: you are right, of course. However, it is all about sound bits.

    rd: better a geek for Hillary than a fool for Barack.

  50. jjmtacoma, you’re just a young whippersnapper! And you left out world peace.

  51. Disenfranchised Voter,

    I’m not gay or Jewish either, but I hate bigotry in any form. I’m learning more about Pastor Wright today. I had heard that his church was inclusive of the gay community, but I guess that’s not really so.

    Michaelangelo Singorile just had a really interesting interview with a woman who is an African American minister and lesbian who is working on her doctorate and Harvard Divinity. I didn’t get her name, sorry. But she has been studying Obama and Wright for the past two years and has attended services at Wright’s church on many occasions.

    She said that Obama is not being honest when he characterizes the examples we have seen so far as exceptions. She says they are very typical of Wright’s sermons. She says that Obama joining the church in the first place was a calculating move (which we know) to pander to the community but that if he wanted to run for President he shouldn’t have gotten so close to Wright. Although the UCC is generally a very inclusive church, the one Obama attends is Afrocentric and not friendly to gays. She feels that Obama didn’t really deal with the issue and it will continue to come up.

  52. What I’ve read about Obama joining the church was that he arrived in Chicago to be a community organizer, but that as a mixed race, Ivy League graduate who grew up in Hawaii, he had little credibility with the community. He joined the church because it was socially active and attended by many of the people he was trying to work with.

    Nothing wrong with any of that. And if he were merely an attendee of that church, I don’t think Wright’s statements would be having much affect on Obama’s candidacy, whether or not they were the “exception” to Wright’s sermons.

    It’s hard, though, to tout your association with someone (as Obama did with Wright), and then try to disassociate yourself from him.

  53. I’m sorry, but when have “we heard” Obama’s candidacy described as affirmative action or a way for white liberals to cheaply purchase racial reconciliation? Has anyone EVER said that? WTH? I don’t think white liberals’ support for Obama has anything to do with race and everything to do with gender, although they’ve been quick to use teh historic nature of the race (which in their mind is only one -sided) to gloss over their sexism. Maybe Clinon should start making up inflammatory statements that “we’ve all heard.”

  54. MABlue:

    “Axelrotten and Soufflé” Heh, that sounds like a couple of ambulance chasers.

  55. Perhaps joining that church was to pander, but sticking with that church–especially remaining so close to Wright, in particular, for so long–shows me that it’s a reflection of his views. Do you think Wright would be so enamored with someone who didn’t feel his righteous indignation? If Obama doesn’t agree on some basic levels to Wright’s views, does it not show that Obama is unable to challenge and persuade divisive people to have a new perspective, thus, undercutting his candidacy?

    If you read his autobiography, it seem as if he felt quite hurt and had problems with the (white) women in his life: his mother (who he implied had a fetish for men of color) and his grandmother (notice he mentioned her today and not his grandfather, which is odd considering white men are not exactly known the most racially sensitive group). When you add that to Wright’s misogynistic undertone in his furious attack upon HRC and his slam of Natalee Holloway (a white girl who just “gave it up”) it looks like a pattern.

    Again, Obama, was a young black man without a black father figure, who purposely chose this man to be one of the most influential people in his life.

  56. Davidson: Hmmm, there may be a lot of truth to what you say. But something tells me that Obama joined the church for more self-promoting reasons as well.

  57. Today and tomorrow will be good days for Obama in the MSM, as most days have been until very recently. And then more video will surface of Uncle J., as well as new video that shows Obama nodding along to his mentor’s racist rants. And even if Michelle keeps a dirty Barack sock in it, later this week it will become clear that, as the pundits like to say, the needle hasn’t moved–except away from Obama for those voters who will actually decide this election: the so-called Reagan Democrats, who will be McCainocrats if Obama manages to game the Democratic nomination. How far away from Obama the needle moves will depend on how much new video surfaces, on how long Michelle can keep a sock in it, and on how much people notice that Obama was lying earlier about what he heard and when he heard it.

  58. mimc: Actually, *I* have mentioned the Affirmative Action angle. And the reason I mentioned it is because if Obama wins the nomination by suppressing FL and MI or by swiping half of the delegates that he didn’t earn, the Republicans are going to use that term relentlessly against him. He will represent everything the angry white Republican and Libertarian male loathes about the Democratic party: He will have been given extra points to push him over a more qualified candidate and he is AA. It just doesn’t look good. I’m not saying it’s right but this is a perfect narrative for the Republicans to use going into the fall. It will distract us from every other issue as the Democratic party is hopelessly split and the Republicans point to it and say, “See, we told you so.” It won’t matter that he is a much better candidate than McCain.
    That is my nightmare scenario and it seems to be coming true.

  59. Davidson: I’ve been making the same sorts of analysis in my head and I’ve come to the same conclusions as you have . Obama has mommy issues and a problem with women and white women in particular. It is quite interesting that he would be completely fine with throwing his grandmother under the bus. Perhaps this is a big f- you to the majority of white women in this country who support Hillary. An underlying message that white women who don’t support him are racist? He still depends on the white male vote to help him win the remaining primaries but I think he really hates women for supporting Hillary and some of that hatred was already there as a black child growing up with white women. Sad.

  60. mimc: when have “we heard” Obama’s candidacy described as … a way for white liberals to cheaply purchase racial reconciliation?

    That’s the gist of the “imaginary hip black friend” idea, isn’t it?

  61. You people sound like a bunch of insecure Hillary Clinton supporters in your churlish put-downs of Obama. Why don’t you take a cue from your own candidate and give him credit where it’s due.

  62. RD: Yes, he did it for both reasons: political and personal. Obviously, black churches are influential in Chicago politics.

    On a personal level though, I cannot imagine sitting through a sermon that vilified members of my family, let alone looking to this “man of God” as a mentor.

    And, the religious exploitation is most worrisome. It is one thing to speak for yourself; it is another to believe you speak on behalf of God Himself, especially when you exploit such power to condemn others to fiery deaths.

  63. indeed, racial tensions just bubbled to the surface — like farts in the jacuzzi — and nobody would own up to ’em.

  64. “like farts in the jacuzzi” Hahahaha!

    Hi Riverdaughter! Good post. And here I am your old biddy English major. You are right about the passive voice. These two sentences are classic passive voice:

    “And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.”

    “On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.”

    Usually you can spot the passive voice readily if you see a verb preceded by “has” or “have.” Has given, was given, is given, would be given, that sort of thing.

    But this is passive, too:

    “We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary.”

    because there is no assigned responsibility for the “racial tensions bubbling to the surface.” He is implying here that they just bubbled to the surface “like farts in the jacuzzi.” Hahaha. That slayed me.

    I loved your statement about the phrase “mistakes were made.” When one of my English professors was discussing passive voice and how it is applied by politicians, she used that phrase. That night I watched a snippet of the GOP debates on the internet (I don’t use tv) and there was John McCain speaking of Iraq and saying, and I quote, “Mistakes were made.”

    In 1946 George Orwell wrote a great piece called Politics and the English Language. You can read it here: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

    Great comments everyone. I’m happy to be here.

  65. Btw, I appreciate the summaries of the speech. I cannot watch that man talk and I can’t bear to read what he says because basically I don’t believe a word he says.

  66. synductive: why don’t you urge him to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations? Why don’t you ask him why he must insist on strictly applying the rules and disenfranchising millions of innocent voters?
    Oh, nevermind. We know why. He’ll do anything to win.

  67. Rosaleen: Thanks for the English lesson.

  68. Rosaleen: These two sentences are classic passive voice:

    “And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.”

    “On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.”

    Those statements don’t assign responsibility, and they’re impersonal, but they’re not really passive voice, IMHO. Passive voice would be more like this: “the discussion of race in this campaign has been given a particularly divisive turn”; “my candidacy was implied to be an exercise in affirmative action.” Like in the famous “mistakes were made,” we get to read about the verb but not about the noun that _did_ the verb.

    This rhetorical device you’re highlighting is more like the “some people say” routine. It’s active, in that the subject does the verb, but we don’t get any details about the subject. The _discussion_ has taken a turn — we won’t say anything about who’s doing the discussing, just that discussion is occurring. We’ve _heard_ an implication — but who made that implication is an exercise left up to us.

  69. Flip: I have to side with Rosaleen on this call. In the first instance, he is saying “discussion of race in this campaign has taken” , but he never says who is discussing. In the second instance, he is saying that “we’ve heard the implication” but he does not say who is implying this.
    The missing actor may not be technically the passive voice but it’s damn near close and the result is the same: his campaign has been the passive receiver, not the active agent in any of the nastiness.

  70. Agreed on passive receiver vs. active agent. I tried to say something very similar (but more drawn-out) in my second paragraph. I was just nitpicking the “passive voice” label for it.

  71. I really worry about many of you. Regardless of who you support – you really should listen to what everyone is saying. I get the feeling much of your information boils down to: “I heard” somewhere or “someone said” something. I try to follow all of the candidates the best I can (and no – I’m not saying I know all that is said by the candidates). However, most of what I read here is so far off base (with respect to Obama and Hillary) – I feel sick. Of course you are all free to say what you like – I just hope you listen and think a little more before doing so.

  72. DisenfranchisedVoter: I keep trying to convince myself that it’s not true, but the pattern is too clear. And it explains why he looks at Sen. Clinton the way he does. I always thought his glare was just way too personal.

    Idontknow: You’re right. You don’t know.

  73. The “I heard” or “someone said” device is _rampant_ among Obama supporters, Idontknow, best embodied in the DailyKos and TalkingPointsMemo comments, which are _heavy_ with this kind of thing:

    1. A Hillary supporter says something, X.
    2. We’re told that X crosses a line of some kind.
    3. “It’s not just a supporter — it’s Hillary’s campaign, so Hillary herself might as well have said Extreme Version of X”
    4. Then later, “I can’t believe Hillary said Extreme X”
    5. Then “Hillary always says Extreme X.”
    6. Then “Because Hillary always says Extreme X, I believe she might as well be saying Y.”
    7. Go to 4. _Avoid_ going back to 1.

    This is how Andrew Cuomo saying “shuck and jive,” which was _not_ a description of Obama _at all_, becomes proof that Hillary Clinton is running a racist campaign.

  74. Idontknow: Thank you for visiting The Confluence. We realize that you have a choice of blogs on which you can express your opinion. We encourage you to exercise that choice if our site makes you nauseous. Do not be concerned that your leaving will offend us. We assure you that we will not be insulted and wish you a speedy recovery wherever you may land.

  75. Where we tonight shall camp?….The top blogs of the day. the newest report , see and reply me some comments. Thanks.

  76. Still waiting for all the folks talking up debunked WorldNetDaily lies about Obama and the Reverend Wright to say a single bad word about John McCain’s good buddies Rod Parsley and John Hagee.


    Look, garbage smears hurt us all. Hillary’s positives haven’t budged upwards one little bit in the past few weeks of anti-Obama smears — in fact, they’ve gone down. I originally backed Edwards, but I didn’t like smears against any of the candidates. I’ve been one of Eliot Spitzer’s strongest online defenders even though he’s a Clinton superdelegate. And anyone who’s read my blog over the years knows I’ve gone after anti-Clinton smears whenever I see them.

    The funny thing here is that the extreme Hil fans bash the extreme Obama fans, yet sound almost exactly like them. (I love the commenters who quote “poll numbers” but then somehow fail to link to their source for them. Nice way to show your rationality and credibility. Not.)

  77. Here’s Glenn Greenwald on the silly smear jobs perped against Reverend Wright (and why the conservatives are getting a free pass for things that make Wright’s comments look meek):

    But the idea that America deserves terrorist attacks and other horrendous disasters has long been a frequently expressed view among the faction of white evangelical ministers to whom the Republican Party is most inextricably linked. Neither Jerry Falwell nor Pat Robertson ever retracted or denounced their view that America provoked the 9/11 attacks by doing things to anger God. John Hagee continues to believe that the City of New Orleans got what it deserved when Katrina drowned its residents and devastated the lives of thousands of Americans. And James Inhofe — who happens to still be a Republican U.S. Senator — blamed America for the 9/11 attacks by arguing in a 2002 Senate floor speech that “the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America” because we pressured Israel to give away parts of the West Bank.

    The phrases “anti-American” and “America-haters” are among the most barren and manipulative in our entire political lexicon, but whatever they happen to mean on any given day, they easily encompass people who believe that the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attacks, devastating hurricanes and the like. Yet when are people like Falwell, Robertson, Hagee, Inhofe and other white Christian radicals ever described as anti-American or America-hating extremists? Never — because white Christian evangelicals who tie themselves to the political Right are intrinsically patriotic. Does Douthat believe that those individuals are anti-American radicals and that people who allow their children to belong to their churches are exercising grave errors of judgment?

  78. phoenix woman: Maybe you are not distinguishing between Hillary advocacy and overt hostility for Obama. It seems like there is a much finer line for such things among Big Blog Store readers. Is that what this is all about? Are you trying to diss our nascent movement by equating it with Obama’s full assault? I think they are completelt different. For one thing, we are not mean. We’re snarky. For another, we’re not deluding ourselves. We know what the outcome is likely to be.
    However, I will say that in the last couple of days, many, many so-called people “not taking sides” have made an effort to tell us how we have slipped into DailyKos like madness when it comes to Obama. And I know and *you* know that nothing could be farther from the truth. But we aren’t going to bring a knife to a gunfight.
    So, Back. Off.
    Go find a nice gardening site if you want a moment of zen and garden gnomes.

  79. Dear Phoenix Woman, Comments here should really be directed to posts or other comments on this post. And inserting that ‘crickets’ line is just silly. How are we supposed to reply to your comment before you’ve even posted it?

  80. As for Obama’s speech, if any fault can be found with it, per Greenwald, it’s that the guy who wrote it — namely, Obama himself — trusts the American people to be reasoning humans and not to fall for deliberately deceptive interpretations of his words and actions:

    I haven’t written about the Obama speech yet (video here) because I spent much of the day reading the instantaneous reactions of virtually everyone else, and because the issues raised by the speech are complex and my views about it are somewhat ambiguous. Personally, I found the speech riveting, provocative, insightful, thoughtful and courageous — courageous because it eschewed almost completely all cliches, pandering and condescension, the first time I can recall a political figure of any significance doing so when addressing a controversial matter.

    There were numerous manipulative tactics which the average cynical political strategist would have urged him to employ, and none of those were found in his speech. It was as candid and sophisticated a discussion of the complexities of race in America as any individual could possibly manage in a 45-minute speech, particularly one delivered in the middle of a heated presidential campaign and a shrill political controversy. Then again, I found the whole Wright “controversy” manufactured and relatively petty from the start, and worse, the by-product of a glaring double standard, so the speech obviously wasn’t aimed at people who had the beliefs about this whole matter that I had.


    But in Obama’s faith in the average American voter lies one of the greatest weaknesses of his campaign. His faith in the ability and willingness of Americans to rise above manipulative political tactics seems drastically to understate both the efficacy of such tactics and the deafening amplification they receive from our establishment press. Even Americans who authentically believe that they want a “new, better politics” may be swayed by the same old Drudgian sewerage because it is powerful and ubiquitous.

    Petty, personality-based demonization works, and the belief that it won’t work any longer in the absence of a major war against it may be more a by-product of faith and desire than reality. Obama’s calm reason and rational (though inspiring) discourse are matched against very visceral images and psychologically gripping strategies. As Pam Spaulding said in commenting on the Jeremiah Wright videos:

    That said, people have to acknowledge part of the reason for the discomfort lies in Wright’s delivery of the message. It’s so black, isn’t it? It sounds militant to tender ears outside the traditional black church. . . .

    I want to turn the discussion back to race, because I think this episode with Rev. Wright exposed the whole “scary black revolution” primal fear here. . . .

    When I heard Wright, I heard a delivery not unlike the unhinged gay-bashing Rev. Willie Wilson . . . . The delivery sounds so angry, so harsh to many. You get the feeling, based on the reaction out there, that people are afraid Barack Obama by association, is some sort of Trojan Horse of Black Anger waiting to be unleashed, prepared to exact revenge on white society by pulling their wool over their eyes by appearing friendly, “articulate” and non-threatening. In other words — not that [Wright] kind of black guy.

    In 1988, those deep-seated, lurking fears were stirred up perfectly by Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes in order to defeat the Willie-Horton-loving Michael Dukakis. The entire Obama campaign is predicated on the belief that it is no longer 1988.

    And now I’ll step back and see how long it takes for my comments to be pulled, Free-Republic style, from this blog. Adios.

  81. I was going to vote for this man. It didn’t matter to
    me what the color of his skin was. But listening
    to that preacher and knowing that the preacher
    is an advisor to someone who is wanting
    to run the free world makes my skin crawl.
    I’m sorry, but I cannot buy that Obama has only
    been advised on say, what color socks
    to wear to a christening, or the golden rule.
    The preacher hates America, in his own words.
    Obama talks and talks and says nothing.
    And as far as race being divisive, what about the fact
    that we have two political parties that
    are divisive? Where is that coming from?
    What does race have to do with it?
    The man is being advised privately by
    an influential figure who hates this country,
    preaches hatred, and is promoting Obama
    as a victim, someone who has been disadvantaged.
    Rich white people? Excuse me, but
    I don’t think Oprah has been denied power
    and money. Not all rich people are white
    and not all poor people are black.
    Sure, as an American who loves my country
    I want change. But what kind? And at what
    cost to my own personal freedom?

  82. My comments ARE directed towards this post. It’s about Barack Obama’s speech and how it handles the whole Wright non-scandal, isn’t it?

  83. katiebird: People should know better than to pass on smears that start in WorldNetDaily or NewsMax. I don’t care whose candidate they help or hurt. The WND people made their bones beating up on the Clintons in the 1990s and have never stopped. When you pass on or promote smears and lies that originate from right-wing smear hatcheries, you’re hurting the party and America if for no other reason than that you’re allowing the conservative smear merchant to claim a false respectability and even-handedness: They can say “See, we’re not just a right-wing oppo site! These Democrats love us!” I’ve told this to Obama fans passing around Whitewater bilge that was debunked by Gene Lyons back in 1996, and I’ll tell it to Hillary fans eagerly using WND and ScaifeMax garbage.

    And now I really will leave and let you have the last word.

  84. PW, the Wright thing is an ISSUE, not a scandal.

  85. Phoenix Woman: We’re not freepers but many of us do disagree with you that Obama’s speech was the best thing since sliced bread And we certainly disagree with idea that a speech on race could be as uplifting as MLK’s “I have a Dream” when it gratuitously equates Geraldine Ferraro’s clumsy phrases with Wright’s personal beliefs on race and country.
    As for it being scary, I didn’t find Wright’s words scary. Many of them made sense although many others revealed a level of insensitivity for women and a tendency to see the state of the nation exclusively through the lens of past indignities. But I am not my mother or her neighbors and what *she* saw and heard is quite different. She was in her 20’s during the 60’s and sees race relations in terms of the civil rights movement, of which she was a supporter, and violent race riots, of which she was NOT a supporter.
    Finally, Obama and the DNC and many, many other Democratic activists have fallen into a trap that not even the GOP could scheme so deliciously. Glenn and others would like us to stop what we’re doing and have a national discussion on racial issues. Well, that would be all cool and groovy except that we’re in the midst of a competitve primary season going into the most important general election in our nation;s history. It is very, very distracting. I think you can safely assume that most Democrats are very post partisan/gender and want to get on with it already and talk about qualifications. But we keep getting dragged back into the racial crap and it is not helping us get the ball down the field.
    Now, please stop entertaining us with these pointless comments and go haunt another blog. We don’t remove comments unless they are overtly hostile to us. Pointless ones we just ignore.

  86. This is probably the most asinine response to the speech I have, and hopefully will see.

    “…for a post-racial candidate for president, he spends an awful lot of time focussing [sic] on race than, you know, actually what he would do as president. Can we get back to the economic policies and foreign policy discussions now please?”


    This speech is a direct response to Clinton and the media bringing up race, considerably more than Obama ever has. He was all but literally forced to make this speech because everyone else is focusing on race.

    A consistent theme of his campaign – and more embarrassingly appropriate because this post is in response to it, this speech – is the same as yours: move on. You seem to be misunderstanding where that commentary is coming from and who it is that is actually playing the race card.

  87. Politics, politics, and simply more ugly politics is changing this election. Many now look at Obama in a different like because of what the minister of his church has been saying. If the media could record every word from our friend we perhaps wouldn’t have too many friends, also we would be look at in a different light by others. Friends are great to have don’t get me wrong. But, friends will say what they want to say. We don’t always see thing like our friend or family, but we respect there opinion. That is how they feel and we can’t do anything about. But, we all have our own choices to make. What is being said and report in the media is politics. It’s all part of the game.

    It ‘s really crazy because you got a bunch of adults getting involved in he said she said when we tell our children or student don’t get involved in this all the time. How childish is this? If I believe that blue is blue, yet my brother would say that blue is green and dangerous outsider would look at me when I didn’t say what my brother has said. Why are people looking at Obama he did say anything strange. It is a true saying that we must watch the company that we keep. But, I have to ask this when have we become responsible for the words that come out the mouths that we can’t control. This is politics had it highest. If Obama and Clinton say not another word for the rest of the campaign the press would take the words of those that are associated with them and make a story to push their own agenda.

    We all know that that is true. We all know that it stirs up people. We definitely all know that it sales papers, increase tv rating, and exalts the one who got the story first. Lastly, it helps the one who they desire to win (I almost forgot controversy sells).Obama and Clinton are forced to respond to these commits made by those who they are associated with when if not reported it wouldn’t sell paper, increase viewer rating or any thing like that. The power of the media can turn heads and turn people minds around about a person.

    It’s really crazy to see adults get involved in this he said she said stuff. I like Obama and I like Bill and Hilary Clinton. If I had a choice and I do I will choose the person that will stick with the issues. Media smoke screen, obstacles, and this he said she said should be avoided at all cost. Although, this stuff has help both parties it’s just not right. We as American are all better people than this. There are more important issues at stake here. The issues are political, but what is really at stake here is bigger than politics. This is about life or death. It’s about having freedoms or having them taken away. We should never let politics, politics and ugly politics stand in the way of this.

  88. “On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action”

    This is not a passive voice sentence (or independent clause really). The verb phrase “have heard” has no. “Is” is a linking verb and has no voice.

    “that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.”

    This is a passive voice independent clause. The verb phrase “is based” is passive.

    “On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide”

    This is an active voice independent clause (and adjective phrases). “Have heard” is active. “Use” is active. “Have” is active. Even “to express” and “to widen,” both infinitives, are set in the active. As they should be.

    “but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.”

    There are two verbs here, “denigrate” and “offend,” they are both active. Though note that the semicolon used here is incorrect in strict punctuation terms but makes stylistic sense because of the length of these phrases.

    “We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary.”

    This sentence has two verbs, “saw” and “bubble.” They are both active.

    This is not complex. “Assigned responsibility” and “has” and “have” are not necessary nor indicative of the passive voice.

    “I was hit by John.” This sentence has assigned responsibility (John hit me) and no “have” or “has,” yet it is passive.

    I have received a blow. This sentence has no assigned responsibility and uses “have” before the “received.” It is an active voice sentence.

    Once again, this is not complex.

  89. NicholasG: I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing. I’m not going to get dragged into a pointless argument about passive/active tenses. Most of us are pretty clear on why Obama chose to use language the way he did. Maybe we should just move on.

  90. “Maybe you English majors out there can help me out but doesn’t this passage seem incredibly passive?” -riverdaughter

    “I’m not going to get dragged into a pointless argument about passive/active tenses.” riverdaughter

    … sorry, it’s just too easy.

  91. Benrmli: What is your purpose here?

  92. Everybody has and will continue to spit in the punch bowl… unfortunately it is what’s required of all politicians. Frankly, this very trait a great president may make, given the world today.

    Remember, it’s policy, people. Policy.

    I could care less what anybodies minister has to say, and I could care less what a staffer has to say. Time to move on.

  93. Today I’m just pointing out your inconsistencies which, according to you, are an important part of someone’s credibility.

    You request the help of an English major and then decline someone’s educated and valid points in direct response as pointless.

    You neglect to mention or even give credence to the fact that Obama’s speech was given as a reply to others speaking of race, something he has quite well avoided bringing up or, at the very least, hinging on. In fact, your thesis (attack) relies on ignoring that. His speech addresses accusations based wholly on his race and comments taken out of both traditional and rhetorical context made by someone affiliated with Obama, not Obama himself. And yet, according to you, it is Obama focusing on race, certainly not the Clintons (“Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in ’84 and ’88.”) or anyone associated with them (“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.”) who have been fully focused on the real issues.

    I just find it amusing and thought others reading your insights might find it informative or amusing as well. If I or logic offends I’ll take them elsewhere. I just thought opinion might be welcome, you know, on a blogging site, even if it contradicts yours.

    Simply put: “I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time with the country falling apart than to devoting our energies to issues deliberately cooked up and calculated to divide us.”

    I agree, wholeheartedly in fact. But you couldn’t be more wrong about who is doing just that.

  94. benmrli: One of us needs to sit and think about how it could possibly be the case that Clinton would ever benefit from playing the race card. Short answer: there wasn’t any way she could benefit.
    There is no reason to discuss the English segment of this post further until you tell me how she could have benefited from bringing race into the election.
    I’m waiting.

  95. If Obama was hurt by the injection of race then how the hell did this happen? Odd. And the day after his surprising loss in NH. Huh.

  96. benmrii, I think your points are well taken regarding grammatical structure. I will say that I found Sen. Obama’s willingness to sacrifice his grandmother without admitting his own racist errors a little meanspirited. Well, more than a little.

    I thought it was kind of crappy.

    Anyway, your further point hinges on Obama being the victim of racist smears. And that is not so. There are several well-reasoned blogs on this very issue (and naturally, I didn’t write them down but I betcha somebody here will come up with ’em) that analyze this who-said-what-said-nyah-nyah-nyah stuff pretty well.

    Anyway, I’ll go from memory and if I mess it all up, whack me and we shall try again. Fair?

    Let us begin with Sen. Clinton’s New Hampshire primary. Do you recall hearing Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (followed quickly by Eugene Robinson) saying that her victory was an instance of the Tom Bradley Effect?

    Basically, that people lied to pollsters on exit because they were too ashamed to admit they couldn’t vote for a black guy.

    It was crap. Unmitigated, pure, unadulaterated crap. And no one dared question it.

    Jesse Jackson did win South Carolina in ’84 and ’88. He won around 1,000 delegates as I recall. This is historical fact. And he said, “It ain’t over till it’s over. And then it ain’t over.”

    I didn’t think he would win the White House as Pres or VP, but I liked him then and I like him now. Back then I had some serious questions about his resume—not because he was a black guy or a preacher (though that slowed me down a bit), but because he’d never held elective office before. He wasn’t qualified for the job.

    I’m really tired of Ms. Ferrarro getting slammed for what Sen. Obama said himself:

    Obama acknowledges, with no small irony, that he benefits from his race.

    If he were white, he once bluntly noted, he would simply be one of nine freshmen senators, almost certainly without a multimillion-dollar book deal and a shred of celebrity. Or would he have been elected at all?

    See, I find this insightful and honest—Sen. Obama recognizes the power of marketing in an election. His lifestory helps to package him and set him apart from his opponents. Part of his lifestory is his ethnic background.

    And in marketing terms, it may have even been his USP—Unique Selling Proposition. I think I could make a pretty good argument that his bio is his USP. His marketing message is that because of his USP, his insight into the human condition because of his life experience, means his judgment is more sound despite his age and inexperience.

    So first things first: the USP. (I can understand if you totally disgaree with me on all this marketing crap. But I think I’m right. And remember that David Axelrod is a marketing guy.)

    So, with all of the possible contenders on the stage at that first debate, why was Sen. Obama and not Sen. Biden or Gov. Richardson a serious contender?

    Each is qualified for the job. Gov. Richardson also has a pretty interesting lifestory with tremendous potential marketing appeal to a substantial portion of the electorate. So why Sen. Obama?

    Because he was young, handsome, charismatic, and has a quintessential American lifestory. It’s beautiful. It is the sort of bio that would make a marketing professional…well, I was going to use a rather indelicate term not usually used in polite society unless it’s preceded by “ice.”

    The political ads write themselves.

    This does not in anyway diminish his achievements. He’s not a neophyte, fercryinoutloud, and I would never say he is. Quite the opposite–he’s an old style politician from an old style and corrupt political machine. He just hadn’t spent enough time slogging around its sewers yet.

    Sen. Clinton also has a rather compelling bio, though her ads are harder to write and she’s crappy at giving speeches. This is not to denigrate her accomplishments or her ability to envision our more perfect union.

    I would argue her ability to see what we could be may be superior to his. I also believe her ability to achieve goals to make us a bit better far exceeds his. But I digress.

    Sen. Obama’s message of new politics fits the image crafted from his USP. Hope and yes-we-can and that stuff. It’s powerful but by its nature it is empty of specifics. Because no on expected him to get this far.

    Now his messaging about his superior judgment based on his USP. Well, this is tough to sustain under scrutiny. He admits he doesn’t know how he would have voted if he had had to vote. He also has a voting record in the U.S. Senate almost identical to Sen. Clinton’s. He stated his position on the war was the same as Pres. Bush’s.

    So now he stands up and says he’s been against the war all along. He didn’t vote to cut funding (it would not have endangered the troops in anyway—there were plenty of votes). He’s voted based on political principles before—see his discussion with the Illinois Planned Parenthood regarding voting against certain abortion practices in the Illinois state senate.

    Then we have Tony Rezko. Sen. Obama didn’t hardly know him. then he kinda knew him and accepted contributions from him. Then, okay, yeah, he knew Mr. Rezko pretty well and still considers him a friend and admits he accepted even more money than he originally said. And then he admitted if he’d had more epxerpience, he’d’ve been able to spot Mr. Rezko from the get-go and wouldn’t be having to answer these questions in the first place.

    Not that there isn’t what the average bear would call good judgment.

    I could go on and on—I won’t. I’ve taken up my share of server space for the day. Suffice that Sen. Obama’s message lacks credibility.

    He isn’t the New Politics. He’s the same old politics in a cool new wrapper. He’s not a New Hope (geez, did I just make a STARW WARS reference?). He’s a politician who needs a bit more time balancing a budget, making payroll, and losing more battles than he’s won.

    That’s right: he needs to lose. Really get totally walloped and get back up a again. Doris Kearns Goodwin has said that resilience is the hallmark of a great president. Sen. Obama has not been whacked around enough to tell me, anyway, if he has that quality.

    Oh, and IMHO, Big Box Bloggers may have a very difficult time distancing themselves from Sen. Obama as more bad news come out is because they are firmly convinced they would never fall for the packaging.

    They are way too smart for that.

  97. The fact that you’re accusing the Obama campaign of trying to stir up the race issue is laughable. Obama can’t be blamed for Bill Clinton’s remarks comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson, nor for Ferraro’s recent ludicrous comments. As for your desire to see Obama move past this and on to substantial issues, perhaps you were too busy analyzing yesterday’s speech on race to pay attention to today’s speech on Iraq. Obama doesn’t seem to spend all that much time focusing on race, but political bloggers and media talking heads sure do!

  98. P.S. – On behalf of benmrli, it’s pretty self-evident that Hillary would benefit from polarizing the voting populace along ethnic lines since whites vastly outnumber blacks in this country.

  99. riverdaughter: I’m happy to be that “one.” Here are four points; taken together I believe they answer your challenge:

    Clinton is white.

    Obama is black.

    They are both running for president.

    Many people are, to some degree or another, racist (see below).

    And, since I won’t be able to post for a while, I will acknowledge a pair of likely responses:

    “Hillary is a woman, you don’t think she has it hard too? You don’t think people are just as sexist as they are racist?”

    I certainly agree that people are sexist and that I am sure there are people who will not vote for Hillary, or even take her seriously, simply because she is a woman. I do not consider that valid, condone it, or find it to be anything but ignorant and shallow.

    That said, let me know when Obama sinks to playing the gender card and we can discuss that further.

    “You don’t think people noticed he was black in the first place? How does focusing on race hurt him when people can see he’s black without the help of Billary?”

    Any sociologist or psychologist worth a nickel will tell you that there are – to oversimplify – degrees of racism. There are those who would burn a cross on Obama’s front lawn or call him an “abomination” because he was born of a white mother and black father. There are those who, while less inclined to join the KKK, will not consider voting for him solely because of his race.

    And then there are those who are at times wary of someone different than themselves… people of a different nationality, gender, culture, religion, financial situation, sexual preference, etc. At some level, if we are honest with ourselves, we are all like this. We stereotype, we judge, we assume certain aspects of someone, based initially on what category we place them in, before we truly know them.

    So, no, I do not agree that there “[isn’t] any way she could benefit.” Nor do I find it coincidence that the strategy was employed as exit polls showed Obama eating away at Clinton’s support among white Americans (who, Byron Hussein Johnson reminds us above, outnumber blacks by a significant margin in our country).

    Want to elicit those fears, those feelings of concern over someone different, someone that we are at some level ready to stereotype for how he is different to the forefront? Simple strategy: bring race to the forefront… make sure people focus on the fact that Obama is a black man.

  100. Thanks benmrii (and others) – ideas worth thinking about.

    I also apologize for my post yesterday – saying this blog made me “feel sick” was rude and unwarranted. Not uncommon for me – but uselessly rude nonetheless.

    Nicholas G – was this active?

  101. Riverdaughter: The Obama “speech” and his many other speeches are filled with indirect attributions and hits. I am not sure it is the passive voice so much as it is a rhetoric and style that “minces words” and is loaded with nuances and dances. (re: I don’t think my church is particularly controversial, he is wrong but he is an ok guy et al) I think the new Clinton Ad on Obama’s Iraq positioning with clip of the S. Powers comments, nails him and is a great example of what happens in all of his deliveries. What was a blinking neon sign in his race speech was his assertion that he had heard these comments in church when only days and hours before he clearly meant to leave us all with the impression that he had not heard them. Shelby Foote had a very good article in the WSJ yesterday on all of this. The comparison of Wright to Pat Robertson and Hegge is certainly valid but what people forget to add is that Robertson and Hegge and their rhetoric is doesn’t sell with the main street voter any more than Wright will sell. Bush’s proximity to the evangelicals was always political; he has no 20 year mentorship with Robertson or others of that ilk. The real issue, what difference will it make? If you look at some of the polling numbers, Hillary does seem to be gaining in some areas. If you look at positive/negatives on each candidate, clearly the winner right now is McCain. What I fear is that regardless of who wins this thing, we may be so damaged as a political party that we can not beat McCain. I also know that I have to concede my bias. I can not see the Barack Obama that loyal and dedicated Obama supporters see. I have looked and for me he is not there. They can not see the Hillary Clinton that I see. They may not have looked but it is pretty clear they do not see the person I see. When we began this primary season, I was so proud to be a Democrat and I was proud of every one of our candidates, including BO. Today, I am discouraged deeply about our party; what has happened in the primary is only more weight on our disappointment with the Democrats who came to power in 2006. Thank you for your ever insightful posts and for keeping this blog a place where Clinton supporters can have a space to process what is happening without being demeaned. Jangles

  102. Byron Hussein Johnson, I’m not sure if your post is directed at me. Either way, you raise some good points.

    Would you agree that Sen. Obama’s message is that we voters must trust his judgment despite his lack of experience? That is what makes him the choice for the Democrats and the nation?

    If so, then looking at the senator’s record, statements, and surrogates is kind of necessary to accurately judge if his judgment is sound, right? At minimum, it’s fair.

    On the Iraq war, the senator himself said he did not know how he would have voted had he been in the Senate. Now, I agree that he spoke out in 2002 against the war and I applaud that.

    But he had a national stage at the 2004 Dem convention and didn’t speak out then. He could’ve voted against funding the war and chose not to. So for him to now say he’s always been against the war… well, that could be true. But how would I know?

    I’m to take his word for it? Hm. Or I could judge his actions, which say to me that when it is politically expedient not to speak out, the senator won’t. If there is little political risk, he will.

    Nothing new with politicians flip-flopping and all that. Afterall, the name of this blog is, “Just forget what I said before. I’m saying something different now.”

    But Sen. Obama offered himself out as a new kind of politician with a new vision for America. So why didn’t he speak out when he had a national platform?

    As far as race, the senator from Illinois has himself said he has benefited from his race. So when someone repeats what he says and is called racist, then the same standard should apply to him as well, yes? He’s as post-racial as…well, the rest of us.

    So would you agree that when he points to his grandmother as an example of racism and does not once admit to his own, that’s kind of a crummy thing to do? She’s powerless here. And he took advantage of it. That’s not something to admire.

    And would you agree that if a man positions himself as offering a new kind of politics he had better be careful when playing the old kind?

    For example, the shilly-shallying regarding Tony Rezko. And with Rev. Wright. And now testing the waters regarding if he will or will not live up to his campaign finance pledge that he signed.

    I get why he wouldn’t live up to that promise—he’s gotten more money than he ever though he would. Again, good for him. I would even agree that people were saying they supported Sen. Obama by giving him money.

    Just as the senator was saying he supported Rev. Wright by giving him money. In this instance, he is asking me to believe he didn’t hear some of the more controversial of the statements from his pastor. Huh. Well, what about the really really stupid ones? Did he speak up against those?

    He might’ve, though I have no evidence to support that. In fact, if he kept to his actions of not speaking up when it was not politically expeident, then he probably didn’t. he didn’t want to damage his relationship with a well-connected pastor from a megachurch.

    As far as the senator’s speech today, I listened to part of it. I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet because I ahd to go out and work on the house we’re building. But without any hesitation, I absolutely agree with him that we should be as careful getting out as we were getting in.

    But why didn’t he say it out loud into the mic at the 2004 Convention?

    It would be disingenuous at best to pretend that the senator is not playing politics here. Of course he is. Insisting that Sen. Clinton had no standing (!) to question whether he was against the war is…ridiculous. Of course she has standing. We all have standing.

    I’ve looked at the senator’s record. I looked at the campaign he’s run. I find many admirable things in the man and his efforts. This is not bullshit. And I would have admired him even more if he’d stayed in Illinois and cleaned up that mess.

    It would’ve been downright heroic.

    But he didn’t. He chose this campaign and asked me to trust his judgment based on one vote he never had to make.

    Talk about cherry picking.

  103. How could he not focus on race when he is being hit with it everyday? Race was never an issue ( out loud ) until he won Iowa and Hillary was afraid her was taking the next state also. Then it was Bill Clinton that got that ball rolling, and it has been rolling every since. You really don’t believe that was a campaign plan all along with the Clintons? Did you forget hearing that they weren’t worried about Obama because they intended to use the race card? And now he finally gives up and gives a whole speech about this issue ( taking a huge risk ) and that still don’t make some people happy. As I see it, you have no intention of doing anything but harassing him, no matter what he does.
    How about demanding some accountabliity from the Clinton camp? No, instead you will make excuses about why she shouldn’t come up with her tax returns,( even though she demanded them from her other opponent in 2000) or releasing the records they have hung onto for years. Oh, she released those,however, almost have of it was blacked out..Transparency is just a word she keeps throwing out there because it sounds good and that is what she demands from Obama.
    Wright sounds like someone with anger issues, however, how is that Obama’s problem? How will that effect how he handles government problems? I attended a church for 4 years and I was not happy with the pastor, not all of the time anyway. He had a different way of thinking on some issues, yet, his sermon’s were usually pretty good and he was there for the people when anyone needed him. He left and we ended up with a different pastor, same thing. In fact I don’t know many people who see eye to eye with everything their church leader says or does. We can’t even say that about our spouse, yet we usually don’t leave them, we work things out. This guy is retired and is no longer an issue in this church. He should be making amends, not Obama. Obama has stated his defense regarding the matter why should he have to continue, on a daily basis, to say the same things about this? It is clear to see, if you are willing to look, that Obama is not Wright. He should be judged on his merrits and not those of someone else. I expect that for myself and I certainly try to give it to others.

  104. riverdaughter: Obama is saying, “Wow! We were shocked, *shocked* that racial tensions bubbled up before the South Carolina primary. No one could have predicted that the media could take a couple of unrelated phrases, slam them into a couple of other unrelated phrases and create a racial firestorm that would kill the African-American votes for Clinton.”

    No one has responded to this claim, but I think it’s worth commenting on. For me, the most striking thing about Obama’s speech was the way he resisted the tone of bogus indignation that characterizes so much of our political discourse. He wasn’t “shocked *shocked!*” by anything, instead he offered a careful and genuine description of the still-too-fragmented state of race relations in this country. Really, wasn’t the point of the speech that we ought to stop being shocked by each other’s expressions of resentment and move on with the people’s business?

    Nuance. Passion. A genuine desire to improve our politics. The courage to demand that voters look each other in the eye with respect. The trust that voters can consider the toughest issues we face with an open-hearted desire for truth.

    Unfortunately, as evidenced by most of the comments on this board, that trust is likely misplaced. Obama’s victory has never seen more necessary, nor less likely.

  105. linda, I disagree that Sen. Clinton’s strategy was to play the race card. If it had been, then why didn’t she have her campaign force Rev. Wright’s videotaped sermons to the forefront in October? Or November? Or December?

    That would have been much easier. And before you lay at her door that she leaked them or something–the church sells the pastor’s sermons.

    As far as disagreement with your pastor–yes, I can see that. People don’t always agree with the statements made in church. Totally agree with you. But I have been and remain troubled by Sen. Obama’s failure to admit the closeness of his relationship with a man who helped him understand who he was and how to choose his path in life.

    He tried to treat him like an old uncle. What crap. This appears to be a treasured relationship—and why not say so from the beginning?

    (And please, don’t charge that I would have switched had he embraced this man who was like a father to him. I’m not a politician and I have no constituents to please other than the cats, who are Republicans, damn their eyes. I’d have preferred Sen. Obama stand by his man, so to speak.)

    There’s nothing new here. This is the same old politics. Part of Sen. Obama’s pitch is that he is the New and the change-y, when in fact, he is not. He is a politician. A very good politician.

    You will agree that Pres. Clinton never denigrated Sen. Obama’s candidacy by calling it a “fairy tale,” won’t you? Because he didn’t. He was speaking directly to Sen. Obama’s stance on the war—which you’ll agree has been eloquently spoken but poorly acted on.

    When the senator had a chance to act on his principle of ending the war, he did not. That his campaign pictured the opposite is a fairy tale.

    That’s not racism or bigotry—it’s a fair assessment of his record. That it was turned into some kind of racist slur is total garbage. And it wasn’t Sen. Clinton who did that, though she was blamed for it.

    And why, when asking specifically about Sen. Obama’s record, surrogates, and documents (he is the Change guy, afterall), the response seems to be, “Make Hillary do it!”

    That’s not what I’m asking. That’s not what I’m commenting on. Once I strip away the marketing message of change-iness, I’m left wondering if Sen. Obama is ready for this job. I’m not wondering about his intellect or passion—he’s clearly smart and passionate, as is Sen. Clinton.

    At least give her that.

    I’m wondering about his resilience. His tenacity. And his ability to get things done.

    And I think we’ve come to different conclusions about that.

    mikeinnj, I have said I thought the speech was good. Not great, but good. And there have been presidents in recent history who have spoken directly and passionately about racism and bigotry in the United States. Remember Pres. Clinton’s speech? You know, the Million Man March?

    That was also a good speech. Not great, but good. And important. At least give the former president that.

    But I must disagree with your statement that voters won’t look directly at our most difficult issues. That simply isn’t true. We do. Pretending the junior senator from Illinois transcends race or is post-racial is just crap.

    He’s a proud, accomplished, intelligent, eloquent black man. His heritage is part of who he is, just like my heritage is part of who I am, and yours is part of yours. He has a real shot at the White House because he has worked hard and taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to him. He’s had a bit of luck (Jack Ryan’s nasty business, for one) and he can be ruthless in his desire to win, such as what happened to Alice Palmer.

    People will or will not vote for him for all sorts of reason—maybe because he’s black, maybe because he isn’t, maybe because he’s too intellectual, maybe because he doesn’t wear a tinfoil hat.

    Choosing not to support him doesn’t make me racist or stupid—and calling me so is really not the way to win my support. I’m not saying you did that (though supporters of Sen. Obama’s have), but you kinda implied because I can’t groove on his message, there’s something wrong with me.

    Maybe I just don’t see that change can happen without seeing what kind of change it’s going to be. It’s not enough to hope. You can’t eat hope. You can’t pay the phone bill with hope. You can’t stop a war with hope.

    I also must ask, and I’m not trying to pick a fight here—but why, when Sen. Obama does some lawyering it’s called “nuance” and when Sen. Clinton does it, it’s called “deception?”

    Please, these are genuine questions. I am partisan, but not irrevocably so.

  106. Riverdaughter – I did not drag you into a pointless argument. There’s nothing to argue. I simply answered your question.

    I’m sorry you did not like my answer. I admit it was pointed.

    I can’t help that I get annoyed by people simplifying a relatively remarkable, though imperfect, speech about race relations in America, while at the same time making plain their misunderstanding of middle school grammar. It hints at a trend of laziness, the kind of laziness that encourages three intelligent individuals to run three impressively small-minded campaigns.

    This is my mistake for linking to a blog I knew nothing about.

    Don’t Vote ’08.

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