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Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Ayayayayay! Do you know the feeling when you see the words leaving your mouth and you feel like you’ve just missed your train? You can’t catch up with them. They’re off and speeding down the track to a new destination in someone’s ear and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it except stand there on the platform in helpless anguish. That is how I imagine Obama feels right now after this “gaffe”. Totally, completely, f%^&ed:

610 WIP host Angelo Cataldi asked Obama about his Tuesday morning speech on race at the National Constitution Center in which he referenced his own white grandmother and her prejudice. Obama told Cataldi that “The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know (pause) there’s a reaction in her that doesn’t go away and it comes out in the wrong way.”

Man, that’s gotta hurt. I mean, I’m a typical white person and when I walk down the street, I just assume the person coming at me is just another person like me. You know, just minding their own business, making a living, got kids at home, loves his mother, has hopes and dreams for the future. I tried to keep that image in mind when I thought about the Russians  during the 80’s when every other second Reagan  was joking about nuking Moscow.

I’m getting the weird impression that Obama doesn’t understand Democrats.

31 Responses

  1. I wonder how Obama’s mother would have reacted to that statement?

  2. D’oh! That was.. not very artful.

    A man walks down the street
    It’s a street in a strange world
    Maybe it’s the Third World
    Maybe it’s his first time around ..

  3. So how can voters judge a leader’s capacity to govern? The rigors of our prolonged election campaign in a variety of state caucuses and primaries provide some clues about stamina and self discipline. Tears have destroyed some candidates in the snows of New Hampshire while helping others. How a candidate relates to his or her political party platform, while often derided, tells us something about independence and future appointments. But most important is biography. While latter day conversions and acting can disguise character, an integrated life over time is the best source of clues about the authenticity of the next president’s temperament and how he or she will govern.
    Joseph S. Nye Jr. is a professor at Harvard University. His most recent book is “The Powers to Lead.”
    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/03/14/judging_the_capacity_to_govern/

  4. Thursday, March 20, 2008
    Advertisment

    Two days after Barack Obama gave the most important speech of his life, it remains unclear what impact the controversy over Pastor Jeremiah Wright will have on the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. However, early data suggests that it has already had a negative impact on Obama’s chances of winning the general election against John McCain. The good news for Obama is that his numbers have stopped falling since his speech on Tuesday. The bad news is that they haven’t bounced back.
    http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/the_impact_of_pastor_wright_and_the_speech_on_election_2008

  5. Gosh, for all of his alleged talents in ‘bringing people together,’ Obama seems to record nothing but one failure after another.

    Grandma — still scared
    Rev Wright — still angry

    Perhaps Oprah can arrange for the two of them to hug on her show to showcase Obama’s skill set.

    I want deliverables!

  6. prohillary: My mom in PA didn’t think his speech would help either. The only thing that might have helped is if he completely dissociated from Wright. And that he did not do. He considers Wright a friend and the voters of PA are judging him by the company he keeps. It might not be fair but that’s human nature and who am I to say they are wrong? They see a pastor who is angry, derogatory towards Clinton and at times unpatriotic. That is not the kind of attitude they want to see in their president. They hold Obama responsible for his association with Wright’s church. I don’t think it has much to do with racism. Mom said some of her neighbors are a little racist, but then again, many of her neighbors are Republican. But that’s not what turned off my Mom. She didn’t like the disrespect of Clinton or the lack of patriotism. And I don’t think she is going to be called a “typical white person” who fears black people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  7. Speaking of foot in mouth disease, Obama just insulted a lot of voters.

    http://mydd.com/story/2008/3/20/141741/528

    “BREAKING Obama: My grandmother’s a “typical white person”

    by bdog, Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 02:17:41 PM EST

    From Taylor Marsh:

    http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view .php?id=27266

    The radio clip: http://www.redlasso.com/ClipPlayer.aspx? id=8a521134-e10b-4bfb-8aec-690d61794d50

    —————————————- ————–

    Barack Obama was on 610 WIP radio this morning speaking to host Angelo Cataldi. Obama was asked his speech on race in which he referenced his own white grandmother and her prejudice.

    Obama responded:

    “The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know (pause) there’s a reaction in her that doesn’t go away and it comes out in the wrong way.”

    THIS IS IT! DEMOCRATS CAN NOT NOMINATE BARACK OBAMA! THIS IS A GENERAL ELECTION DEAL BREAKER!

    DO YOU WANT A DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE WHO CALLS ALL WHITE PEOPLE RACISTS? IS THAT HIS BLUE-COLLAR VOTE STRATEGY? WHAT IF HILLARY CALLED SOMEONE A TYPICAL BLACK PERSON?”

  8. Geeeez. Amazing that he grew up with a white mother and white grandparents and knows nothing about white people. I guess 20 years of Rev. Wright’s sermons have brainwashed him into thinking all non-blacks are racists.
    His mother must be turning in her grave. Seriously. What is his grandmother thinking right now?! For her own sake I hope she doesn’t watch television or read the papers.

  9. Speaking of foot in mouth disease, will Kerry get run over by Obama just like Obama ran over Ferraro?

    http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/3/20/132145/846

    “NEW JOHN Kerry Video” JUDGE BARACK on the color of his skin ”

    by jayatl, Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:21:45 PM EST

    John Kerry says bluntly that Barack Obama has the potential to “bridge the divide in religious extremism” because he is black.
    Speaking of the race speech from Tuesday, Obama supporter John Kerry gave an interview with a local N.H. paper, reports NBC/NJ’s Mike Memoli. In it, Kerry said the color of Obama’s skin makes him uniquely qualified for president and even reach out to the moderate Islam world.

    VIEW VIDEO OF OBAMA SURROGATE KERRY PLAYING RACE CARD. !

    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vASmAfrB Ss )”

  10. There is no such thing as a “typical white person.” All people are contextualized by things like gender, class, education, religion, ethnicity, location. And, the fact that Obama thinks there is a category of “typical white people” who are afraid of, and react negatively to, African-American people is just scary.

  11. I’m not sure, really how you could “separate” more “completely” than all that Obama’s done so far – making the man retire from the church, dismissing him from the campaign, calling his words stupid and politics of the past… that seems pretty complete. I think the problem here a) is that the media’s parsing condemnations, and what was good for Clinton on Ferraro (did you condemn her enough?) is sauce for Obama (did you distance yourself enough) and b) the personal and political reasons that Obama couldn’t completely dismiss Wright – I think he actually has a bond with the guy, and it would look terrible to the black community in particular. As it is Obama’s been trapped saying “I almost completely give up on him… but not all the way,” and I think a lot of people can’t stand that ind of stuff in politicians. They (we) expect an absolutism that’s probably very unrealistic. I agree the answer about his grandmother was… inartful. But really, what else could he say?

  12. weboy: The “saying” part of it was preceded by the “thinking” part of it. I can think of two thinks he might have done: revised his thinking or put a policeman on what he was saying.
    I prefer the former but it’s too late now.

  13. I want to hear Obama without a tele-prompter more often. That radio clip shows us the real deal.

    How will he deal with our foriegn allies – you know the typical French person, the typical Japanese person or maybe even the typical female person.

    I’m sending Hillary some more money.

  14. It disturbs me that he would reduce his own grandmother to a stereotype.

    This is the woman who encouraged him to succeed, and who helped him finance his higher education–a living, breathing connection to his own late mother (hey, psychoanalyze that one)–and yet after the speech and his remarks today, it seems as though he really harbors antagonism toward her. It is sad and disturbing.

    Beyond that, there really isn’t any excuse to stereotype anybody.

  15. weboy and RD:

    Here is what I posted on TM.com regarding those comments:

    In Obama’s defense:

    I always get frustrated when people try to exploit anything Hillary Clinton says inartfully, and I know the Obama campaign has mastered this art. Isn’t it what we are trying to do here with Obama?

    I know he didn’t mean to be that insulting and I know Hillary couldn’t get a pass in a similar situation, especially from the Obama campaign.

    This story certainly doesn’t merit the big headline it’s getting. Maybe that’s the result of no holds barred politics that has been played by both sides.

    Many rational posters there have disagree with me and they made very reasonable points.
    I blame both campaigns and especially the press for the level of the discourse now. I really think it was a snafu but hey, his campaign dug something in the 12th paragraph of a story in a newspaper no one ever heard of. So this is certainly a case of ” à la guerre comme à la guerre”.

  16. okay, I was pretty sympathetic to Wright’s anger, although I thought it was stupid for a candidate for president to be so close with such a controversial figure as Wright.

    but this off-script remark by Obama makes me wonder if he actively dislikes white people. dood, you’re half-white! deal with it!

    I mean, he really did say in the Greatest Speech Evah that his grandma made racist remarks that made him “cringe.” now he’s saying “The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person.”

    So which is it, Barack? Are all white people racists? Or was your grandma exceptional in the racist remarks that made you cringe?

    What a uniting figure he has turned out to be!!!

    I cannot express how disgusted I am with him right now. The Democratic Party had better not nominate this man.

  17. None of the spin of his speech, by either side, us Hillary supporters, or Obamabots matter, the bottom line, is “wright”, or wrong, the Wright stuff will cost us the general if he is the nominee.

    It will be 527 haymaking during the months preceding the election. These soundbites, will “swing” every swing state to the re-thug-licans side.

    It’s pretty simple.

    Nominate Obama, elect McCain.

    GO HILLARY!

  18. I could have a whole wardrobe of tee-shirts from this election:

    “Typical white person”.
    “Low information voter”
    “Screeching harpie holdout for Clinton”.

    I can’t think of the rest, but there are several.

  19. MABlue: I happen to agree with you 100%. If you start to go down this route, it should come as no surprise if it comes back to bite you in the ass later.
    I feel for him now. He’s probably really screwed himself now and completely unintentionally.
    I hate it when I feel sorry for the anti-hero.

  20. Debate question:

    “Senator Obama, since you characterized your grandmother as a ‘typical white person,’ what characteristics do you ascribe to that ‘typical’.

    I’d pause for that question, before moving on to Nickelodeon as we ‘low-information voters’ frequently do.

  21. It all started because he lied about his grandmother in the
    speech. So now he has to keep it up but maybe his consc-
    ience is bothering him so he can’t keep it up so the gaffes
    start flowing. I have no pity for him whatsoever. He lied
    about her to make himself look better. Inexcusable.

  22. weboy, on March 20th, 2008 at 2:44 pm Said:
    I’m not sure, really how you could “separate” more “completely” than all that Obama’s done so far – making the man retire from the church, dismissing him from the campaign, calling his words stupid and politics of the past… that seems pretty complete. I think the problem here a) is that the media’s parsing condemnations, and what was good for Clinton on Ferraro (did you condemn her enough?) is sauce for Obama (did you distance yourself enough) and b) the personal and political reasons that Obama couldn’t completely dismiss Wright – I think he actually has a bond with the guy, and it would look terrible to the black community in particular. As it is Obama’s been trapped saying “I almost completely give up on him… but not all the way,” and I think a lot of people can’t stand that ind of stuff in politicians. They (we) expect an absolutism that’s probably very unrealistic. I agree the answer about his grandmother was… inartful. But really, what else could he say?

    That’s the point, weboy.

    Obama made his own decisions, to associate, and financially contribute to this very narrowly focused church. No one else did that for him; he wasn’t forced to.

    It’s admirable that Obama stood by Pastor Wright, but Pastor Wright himself is divisive.

    That is why Oprah left Trinity, and that’s why America will leave Obama.

    THAT’S the point.

    And racially stereotyping “whites” or anyone else, is not inartful, it’s hypocritical, after I get slammed for comically starting a sentence with “You people”.

    Sorry, bzzzzt, I respectfully disagree with the point of “what else is he supposed to do.”

  23. Sorry for all of those “points” Now, I’m not sure what mine was, haha!

  24. He did not lie about his grandmother in his speech. If you read “Dreams of my Father” you will find a scene that perfectly captures the type of fear and prejudice that his grandmother had of black men. Yet it is not even he who even castigates her for being prejudiced, but his grandfather, a white guy, does.

    That said, in “Dreams” he provides a very sympathetic portrait of his grandmother that conveys the full measure of who she was loving and flawed. This included acknowledging her role as the breadwinner in he household and holding down a dissatisfying job at a bank that shortchanged her professionally.

    All he is trying to do is convey that through his biracial upbringing he can see both sides. He cited his grandmother as a figure who he knew loved him deeply, but failed to confront her own racial bias. This is far different from throwing her under the bus in the process. Perhaps, its inartfully expressed, but the subtle point he made in the speech on Tuesday and elsewhere is that scrounge of racial prejudice is something that no one is immune to and affects us in ways we frequently fail to acknowledge.

  25. Since Barack got to tell you about his typically white grandmother, let me tell you about mine.

    My grandmother was an elderly, short, hard-of-hearing, white uneducated Republican female who, though sweet as can be was afflicted with arthritis. I am a middle-aged, tall, white well-educated Democratic male who can hear well, trends toward irascibility, and has no sign of arthritis.

    I guess the part that’s typical is “white”?

  26. Obama doesn’t understand Democrats: we’ve come full circle, and it only took a couple of months! This was my initial problem with him, that he didn’t have any regard for the emancipatory movements of the 1960s which were led, on the political front, by Democrats. Insteadm he thought they started well and ended up polarizing America…you know, what we hear from conservatives all the time, except for those so extreme that they don’t concede any initial well-meaningness. That’s the attitude of someone who wants to be our nominee? No gracias.

  27. Your suggesting that Obama is a racial essentialist because he made an inartful or an uncomfortable generalization. I think that’s a hard argument to make given that he himself is biracial, otherwise where would he fit in?

    At any rate, consider the following:

    Do you think its unreasonable for Obama to say, generally speaking white folks are not fond of busing?

    Do you think its unreasonable for Obama to say that white folks typically have more faith in the criminal justice system than black and Latino folks do?

    Do you think its unreasonable for Obama to say that typically white Americans, especially most working- and middle-class, don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race?

    I don’t because saying something is typically the case is not the same as saying that it is indeed true in every single instance. That’s why they called generalizations as opposed to absolutist assertions.

    In truth, to typify something means to be fairly representative instance of a presumably diverse group.

    I like to think tolerant Democrats like you and I have an appetite for this kind of nuanced understanding of society.

  28. This isn’t Tuesdays with Morrie, KUT. The Republicans will twist and distort Wright and now Obama’s “typical white person” and he will be severely crippled in the general election should he be the nominee. He will lose the Reagan Dems just like Kerry did.

  29. KUT, yes, I have a tolerance, as do many people regardless of political affiliation, to understand nuance and slip-ups. I’m willing to let the typical white thing go as unartful because, dammit, we all have done something like it.

    But Sen. Obama’s failure to confront his pastor about these stupid remarks causes me to wonder if he can confront anyone who is politically helpful to him. Seriously, did he even show up for Kyl Lieberman (sp?)?

    Sometimes to unite people, you have to fight. And you have to fight hard. You don’t use your grandma. You stand up for what’s right regardless of its cost to you personally or professionally.

    I wish the senator had made this speech before. Perhaps from the pulpit of his church. Perhaps with a bit more time to think through completely his remarks and too take personal responsibility for the kind of insensitivities of his grandmother and his pastor.

    It takes guts to stand up to your enemies. It takes even more guts to stand up to your friends. Okay, I fear that’s from HARRY POTTER. Regardless, I wish the senator had shown this courage before his back was against the wall.

    And I didn’t put him there. And neither did Sen. Clinton. Sen. Obama knew this was going to be an issue and he waited until it bit him in the boxer shorts to speak up.

  30. KUT: Thanks for sticking it out here. It sounds like you want to believe Obama is well meaning and I think when all is said and done, he is a good man. But maybe he is preaching to the wrong choir. Most Democrats, even the ones supporting Hillary, never considered his race as anything more that an interesting physical feature. There certainly may have been people his grandparents age who had trouble with race but with his own mother’s age, who is *my* mother’s age, there was a gigantic sea change. People like my mother had to work hard to overcome their prejudices and they did. I was raised on MLK and believing strongly in the equality of all. For my children, it is even easier. They don’t even remember a struggle. They just see the fortunate results. And it will get even easier for them.
    So, Obama is out of step with his own constituency. Yes, for sure the Republicans milked race for all it was worth. But Democrats have been willing and waiting for the right person and if he just happened to be a nice shade of brown, so what?
    The problem, as I see it, is that Obama’s campaign cynically used race as a way to separate Hillary from her African-American constituents. Then, with the race genie out of the bottle, he became more susceptible to accusations of reverse racism.
    I feel sorry for him and yet not. The fact that he had a 20 year relationship with Wright is a bit unsettling. The fact that he seems to think there is a “typical white person” who harbors latent racist tendencies is troubling. The fact that he took some bad campaign advice that wound up crippling his nomination is regrettable. But it is better to know right now than after the convention when it would be too late.

  31. Obama getting slammed for his and his surrogates “inartful” comments on race couldn’t happen to a more deserving candidate – but my schadenfreudian enjoyment is severly limited by thougts of the damage being done to the Democratic party in general.

    By all means, Obama should drop out, but the D party’s chances in November were better before all this crap happened. Or more succinctly, I think I agree with MA Blue.

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