Category Archives: Barack Obama

Possibly the Dumbest Challenge Yet to Obama

Ever heard of Wayne Allyn Root? You’re not alone. 

Root is the Libertarian candidate for vice president.  He says that Barack Obama is a commie who only got into Harvard Law School because he’s black.  He also says that he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, although he does admit that some of his best friends are not, in fact, black (see below).

Root and Obama were apparently at Columbia University at the same (“class of ’83”). He says Obama is a big phony because

I didn’t know him. I don’t think anybody knew him. But I know that the guy who writes the class notes, who’s kind of the, as we say in New York, the macha (shouldn’t that be macher? – GB ) who knows everybody, has yet to find a person, a human who ever met him. Is that not strange? It’s very strange.

Never met [Obama] in my life, don’t know anyone who ever met him. At the class reunion, our 20th reunion five years ago, 20th reunion, who was asked to be the speaker of the class? Me. No one ever heard of Barack! Who was he, and five years ago, nobody even knew who he was.

Bitter much?

[I]Don’t know why. Kept to himself…. The only thing I could even imagine is that he talks in his biographies about being, you know, his identity crisis, his “am I black or am I white?” He chose black. And he hung out with a couple of black kids and never went near anybody and his wife? That’s the only thing I can think of. All my buddies are white, what can I tell you! They don’t know him, nobody’s ever seen him, I don’t know what to tell you.

So now I ask out loud in the press, I challenge my classmate to give his GPA against mine. And let’s see if he really is the bright guy they all say he is. What if we discover he got into Harvard with a C average? Is he then the brilliant man America thinks he is? That would be a very good question, don’t you think?

Root’s theory is of course borne out by the fact that Obama failed miserably at Harvard Law, rising only to the presidency of the law review. As lawyers across America know, presidents of the Harvard Law Review are a dime a dozen and generally can only look forward to a career of ambulance-chasing and prosecution of dubious soft tissue injury cases.

John McCain brags that he graduated fifth from the bottom at the Naval Academy.  All we know about Sarah Palin is that she attended five colleges in the six years it took her to graduate.  Joe Biden’s college years were apparently fairly checkered and his grades weren’t great

So I hope that Obama, McCain, Palin and Biden each take up Root’s challenge. 

UPDATE:

I talked to a friend who attended Harvard Law with Obama.  My friend, who still knows Obama and supports his candidacy, raises several of the issues discussed above and some others:

I don’t know what Barack’s grades were at Columbia, but Harvard’s decision to admit him can hardly be criticized. They admitted a guy who went on to, among other things, make law review (a color-blind competition based on grades and/or writing ability), become President of the Law Review, become an influential US Senator at an early age, become a Constitutional Law professor at Univeristy of Chicago, and, of course, the Democratic nominee for President after beating out Hillary Clinton.

While he may or may not have been a straight-A student, no-one has ever criticized his intellect. But I do agree with Root’s implicit thesis that intelligence is very important in whom we select as Present. So let’s look at McCain’s and Palin’s intellectual and academic records please … electing McCain would be trading a President who got through college on a “gentleman’s C” for one who “brags” that he barely graduated. (Palin went to at least 4 colleges, and we don’t yet know what her grades were.) And can there be any doubt that Bush got into Yale because of the color of his skin and the name of his kin? Does anyone think McCain got into the Naval Academy on merit or academic prowess?

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Sarah Palin Interview Watch II

Sarah Palin is now the Republican nominee for vice president.  She has never done an interview as a national candidate.

Yesterday, sassy muckraker Matt Drudge reported that Oprah Winfrey, an Obama supporter, has refused to have Palin on her show. He posted this item:

BIG DILEMMA: OPRAH BALKS AT HOSTING SARAH PALIN; STAFF DIVIDED Fri Sep 05 2008 08:55:46 ET

Oprah Winfrey may have introduced Democrat Barack Obama to the women of America — but the talkshow queen is not rushing to embrace the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket!

Oprah’s staff is sharply divided on the merits of booking Sarah Palin, sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT. “Half of her staff really wants Sarah Palin on,” an insider explains. “Oprah’s website is getting tons of requests to put her on, but Oprah and a couple of her top people are adamantly against it because of Obama.”

One executive close to Winfrey is warning any Palin ban could ignite a dramatic backlash!

It is not clear if Oprah has softened her position after watching Palin’s historic convention speech.

Last year, Winfrey blocked an appearance by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, timed to a promotional tour of his autobiography.

Oprah and executive producer Sheri Salata, who has contributed thousands of dollars to Obama’s campaign, refused requests for comment.   

Today, the story is updated with a statement from Oprah saying that she’d love to have Palin on after the election.  This is of course entirely academic since Sarah Palin refuses to be interviewed (except for the local journalists to whom she might speak in various non-cosmopolitan battleground towns) .

Meanwhile, the LA Times has a breakdown of who will be appearing on which Sunday talk shows.  Notice who’s missing?

Three of the four now-official candidates on the major-party presidential tickets are scheduled to sit down for questions: Democrat Barack Obama on ABC’s “This Week,” his running mate, Joe Biden, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Republican John McCain on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

So no interviews for Palin in the foreseeable future.  Pathetic. 

If Palin is hot to be on Oprah, though, I’d love to see it done this way: Just as the show opens and Palin walks onto the set, Tom Brokaw, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Schieffer or Wolf Blitzer walks on from the other side and is announced as the day’s special guest host. You go girl!

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Electoral Count: Obama 301, McCain, 224

This is all pre-RNC, of course, but it’s nice to see a map this blue:

  Go look at it before it changes.

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Sarah Palin Interview Watch

The way we learn about candidates and their preparedness to deal with difficult issues is through their records and interviews.  Sarah Palin has no record on foreign and defense policy and, despite her speech to the RNC, her views are virtually unknown to the American people. 

By contrast, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and John McCain have been forced to give answers in split seconds to difficult questions — without scripts.  That’s the least we should expect from someone seeking national office.

Sarah Palin is not giving interviews.  The McCain campaign’s defense to the decision to keep her away from difficult questions is as pathetic as anything I’ve ever seen.  Via Swampland:

The American people don’t care to know what their potential president knows about national security, foreign policy, the economy or anything else? Of course not.  We’re only at war in two different countries, facing a resurgent Russia, multiple crises around the world and living with an economy which is deteriorating by the day.

Now we learn that not only will Palin not be available for interviews with the election two months off, she’s leaving the campaign trial and going back to Alaska.

This is a simple cost/benefit analysis by the McCain campaign.  The calculus is this: The campaign loses more if Palin gives an interview in which she looks foolish and unprepared for the vice presidency or presidency than it loses by simply enduring the critisim and suspicison it knows for certain it will face by locking her away. 

The campaign can only have concluded that it is better to face speculation that she’s hiding from interviews solely because she doesn’t know the answers to difficult questions than it is to let her give one and confirm it.  That’s the only reason to take the enormous risk of keeping her stowed away.  

A very good friend’s frequent references to Abraham Lincoln sums it up: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”  And this is the kind of removal of all doubt the McCain campaign is trying to avoid (I can’t find the video, but you get the idea):

Texas Gov. George W. Bush is enduring sharp criticism for being unable to name the leaders of four current world hot spots, but President Bill Clinton says Bush “should, and probably will, pick up” those names. 

The front-runner for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination faltered Thursday in an international affairs pop quiz posed by Andy Hiller, a political reporter for WHDH-TV in Boston.

Hiller asked Bush to name the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan. Bush was only able to give a partial response to the query on the leader of Taiwan, referring to Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui simply as “Lee.” He could not name the others.

Bush gave that interview in November 1999.  The 2000 election didn’t happen until a full year later.  Between the interview and November 2000, he had time to learn the issues.  He hired Condoleezza Rice and studied as hard as could.  Look how well that turned out.  

Sarah Palin has 60 days.

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Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It

A lot was said about John McCain’s decision to appear in front a bright green backdrop the night Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination.  None of it was good.  Much of the criticism dealt with the way bright green made him look even older than he is. This is what that looked like:

Tonight, McCain began his acceptance speech looking spry for a 94 year old, an effect accomplished by clever set construction.

UPDATE:

So far, he’s thanked President Bush for his courageous leadership. As an Obama supporter, I’d like to thank Senator McCain for providing the video for our campaign’s next commercials.

He just said, “change is coming.” How, exactly does that happen when you vote 90% with the Bush Administration? Oh, now I see: he just said he keeps his word. He said he’s got the “strength and backbone” to bring about change. Never mind the voting record and the running mate who refuses to be interviewed, who wants to ban books, outlaw abortion and was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. See how that works?  Change!

McCain says he voted for more troops to be sent to Iraq “when it wasn’t the popular thing to do.”  I suppose that did take some courage.  Wouldn’t it have been more courageous to oppose the Iraq war in the first place? If only we had a candidate who did..

UPDATE TWO:

Education is the civil rights movement of the 21st century?

Education isn’t a civil rights movement.  Gay marriage is.  Preventing discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation is what equal protection means. Back in 2004, John McCain called the disgraceful, politicized, bigoted attempt to amend the constitution to make discrimination against gays permanent “un-Republican.”   That, of course, was before he sought the nomination of the Republican party.

UPDATE THREE:

Did you know John McCain served in Vietnam?

UPDATE FOUR:

Just as McCain exhorted Americans to teach the illiterate to read. . .

On behalf of a grateful Democratic Party, thank you, John McCain.  And thanks to Janice for the catch.

UPDATE FIVE:

Janice and I aren’t the only ones to notice the green background.

UPDATE SIX:

Jed noticed the guy with teh segn to (and has a better picture of it).

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The DNC Has Its Shit Together

McCain = Bush.  That’s all this election is about, and the DNC nails it.

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John McCain Served in Vietnam?

John McCain served honorably in Vietnam.  He cites that service whenever he’s questioned about an issue for which he doesn’t have a good answer.  Instead of describing any particular policy or his twenty six year record in Washington, his convention has been a three day description McCain’s military record.  Expect to hear even more about it in his acceptance speech tonight.

Remember that just a couple of weeks ago, McCain was criticized for his inability to remember how many many houses he owns.  At the Democratic convention, Joe Biden said that McCain couldn’t understand kitchen table issues because he would first have to decide over which kitchen table he would discuss them. McCain ultimately formulated this non-sequitur of a response:

I spent five and a half years in a prison cell, I didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a kitchen table, I didn’t have a table, I didn’t have a chair,” said McCain, citing his history as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. “I spent those five and half years not because I wanted to get a house when I got back home.”

Subject changed.  No longer was the issue McCain’s age, forgetfulness, or inability to identify with the difficulties facing average Americans. 

Intimidated, the media let him off the hook: How can you question a war hero and former POW about whether his memory is what it used to be or whether he understands what life is like for other Americans?  So they didn’t.

When John Kerry ran for president in 2004, Republicans savaged his service in Vietnam.  Republican delegates, in a particularly unpatriotic display, wore purple Band-Aids at their convention to mock what they claimed were exaggerated or falsified descriptions of the circumstances under which he was wounded in battle. 

Swift Boat Vets for Truth, a Bush front group, was vicious.  They alleged that accounts of Kerry’s bravery in combat were exaggerated or even fabricated.  In short, they lied about him

Democrats, by contrast, have gone out of their way to honor McCain’s service, and rightfully so. 

But in ’04, Kerry didn’t help.  His references to his experience in war — like McCain’s — were overbearing and frequently came off as self-serving.  I recall hearing conservative bloviators suggest that he went to Vietnam simply so that he could use it as a resume-booster thirty five years later in a run for president. 

Throughout the ’04 campaign, James Taranto, who writes for OpinionJournal, referred to Kerry as the “haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, who by the way served in Vietnam.”  It’s a great line and effectively mocked Kerry’s incessant references to his service.  It turned Kerry’s frequent references to his service into a joke. 

Kerry’s service itself became a liability.  He was seen as a limp-wristed pansy who didn’t know how to fight a war.  Meanwhile, Bush, who avoided Vietnam and skipped out on his National Guard unit, became a steely-eyed warrior with the fortitude to defend America. 

It was completely absurd.  So where are the mainstream editorialists mocking John McCain for pulling out his service every time he can’t think of a better answer?

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The Point Exactly

Steve Benen makes it:

Seriously, what’s the message of the week in St. Paul? That Republican governing works? No. That Republicans have a legitimate policy agenda? No. That the next four years should be different from the last eight? No. It’s simple: “Your house may be on fire, but don’t trust that man standing outside with a hose, because he doesn’t share your values.”

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Obama’s Convention Bounce

There’s apparently no new state-by-state polling, but the national polls seem to have moved substantially:

Pollster Obama McCain Leader
ARG 49% 43% Obama +6%
CBS 48% 40% Obama +8%
Gallup 50% 43% Obama +7%
Gallup tracking 50% 42% Obama +8%
Hotline 48% 39% Obama +9%
Rasmussen tracking 48% 43% Obama +5%

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Should Someone With Ties to a Radical Anti-American Group be Getting Sensitive Security Briefings?

Yesterday, CNN reported that once officially nominated, Sarah Palin will receive high level security briefings 

from the office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to officials at the campaign and at the DNI’s office.  DNI spokesman Richard Willing said the briefings were on “topics of national security interest.”

Also yesterday,

The founder of the Alaska Independence Party — a group that has been courted over the years by Sarah Palin, and one her husband was a member of for roughly seven years — once professed his “hatred for the American government” and cursed the American flag as a “damn flag. . .

Palin has courted the group over the years. Three years after the controversial interview, in 1994, Palin attended the group’s annual convention, according to witnesses who spoke to ABC News’ Jake Tapper. The McCain campaign is disputing her presence there, but Tapper found two people to attest to it. . .

Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, was a member of the party from 1995-2002 with a brief exception in 2000.

Although the McCain camp denies it, according to the AIP, Palin herself was a member.  

Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which, since the 1970s, has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.

Should we really be sharing state secrets with someone who has ties to radical groups which advocate the removal of American sovereignty over at least a portion of American soil?  I’ve noticed that many on the right think the answer is no:

If Mr. Obama were to apply for a job with the FBI, CIA, or a company manufacturing a top secret product for the U.S. Government, because of his past associations, activities and friends, he would not be able to get a TOP SECRET security clearance.

When conducting a background investigation for a security clearance, one of the questions investigators ask is whether you have had contact with individuals or groups who advocate overthrowing the government of the United States.

Barack Obama has had extensive contact with Bill Ayers, unrepentant terrorist who advocated overthrow of the US government by force. Obams conducted fundraisers at Ayers home, and they sat on a board of directors for the Woods Fund of Chicago.

So when the investigator asks Obams, “Have you ever had contact with individuals or groups who advocate overthrowing the government of the United States?” Obama will have to say “yes” and describe the whole thing.

So…when Obama cannot get a security clearance, who will take the daily National Security Brief…Biden?

We are living witnesses to an incredible media double standard, whereby a Republican vice-presidential candidate’s personal life is being torn apart, while the Democratic presidential candidate continues to get a free ride. Obama has a 30-year history of associating with unsavory characters, beginning with communist Frank Marshall Davis and continuing with Jeremiah Wright and communist terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, which should disqualify him from getting a security clearance in the government that he wants to run.

UPDATE:

A reader makes this great point:

Can you imagine how crazy the right wing would be if Michele Obama was, in fact, a member of a black separatist party? Imagine if that party believed that some isolated enclave of African Americans should secede from the union.  How how is that any different than Todd Palin?
UPDATE TWO:
Allah is all bent out of shape about this story. 
Which is more nuanced, the Covenant House nonsense or the fact that the NYT reporter who pushed the story about Palin being a member of the Alaska secessionist party is still standing by it even though the Times itself has now retracted it? (On its blog, of course, not in the paper itself.)
Isn’t the exit question exactly what my correspondent asked in the first update?  How would the media and the right wing blogosphere react if Michele Obama had belonged to the Black Panther Party?  Look at how worked up they got over her Princeton thesis.  If she’d belonged to an anti-American party (note to patriotism questioners: the Democrat [sic] party doesn’t count), they’d go ape shit.
Sure there’s been some sloppy reporting in the campaign (video evidence below) and maybe the Times ought to clarify where it stands on the AIP story, but isn’t the right being a bit disingenuous? 

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From Shahar Golan: Nice

“Change we can believe in.” 

http://frgdr.com/blog/2008/02/16/mentch-white-house-2/

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Ads Obama Ought to Run in South Florida Right Now

Florida has been trending red since 2000.  (You may recall that Bush v. Gore was something of a squeaker that year.)  Since then, Republicans have more or less gained the upper hand — but it’s still within reach

Cubans and Jews are critical Flordia voting blocs.  As USA Today reported just a month ago

Jewish voters, traditionally Democratic, also favor Obama but not currently by as large a margin as they did John Kerry in 2004. As a result, Jewish voters are “definitely” a target audience for McCain, says Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer. To that end, McCain’s campaign has frequently deployed Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who will campaign in the state next week. “He’s not only a leader, he’s a Jewish leader and they follow what he has to say,” Greer says.

So there is ground to be made up there.  Doing so is far easier today than it was yesterday.

See, Sarah Palin supported Pat Buchanan for president in 1999/2000.  This is from a ’99 AP piece, helpfully discovered by Christopher Hayes:

Pat Buchanan brought his conservative message of a smaller government and an America First foreign policy to Fairbanks and Wasilla on Friday as he continued a campaign swing through Alaska. Buchanan’s strong message championing states rights resonated with the roughly 85 people gathered for an Interior Republican luncheon in Fairbanks. … Among those sporting Buchanan buttons were Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage.

Buchanan’s bigotry, particularly his anti-Semitism, has been evident for years — many years before he ran for president in 1999/2000. 

While she is still being defined, Obama needs to get an ad on radio and television in south Florida pointing out that in 1999, when Sarah Palin decided to support Pat Buchanan for President of the United States, he was on record saying things like

  • After World War II, Jewish influence over foreign policy became almost an obsession with American leaders.

A Republic, Not an Empire. P. 336.

  • I know the power of the Israeli lobby and the other lobbies, but we need a foreign policy that puts our own country first.

Meet the Press Interview. September 12, 1999.

and

  • Capitol Hill is Israeli occupied territory.

– McLaughlin Group, June 15, 1990

As the world knew in 1999, Buchanan has also made a career out of defending accused Nazi war criminals.  In 1987, while working for the Reagan Administration, he provided valuable assistance to wanted Nazis who had escaped Europe and were hiding in our country:

”Buchanan is no help,” said one Federal law-enforcement official . . . ”It appears he’s trying to shut down O.S.I.”

He continued his defense of Nazis in hiding once he left government.  He began referring those those who worked for the OSI — people with names like Rosenbaum and Sher — as “hairy-chested Nazi hunters“. 

Buchanan’s animosity toward Jews continues to this day. Most recently, Buchanan wrote a book letting Adolf Hitler off the hook for World War II and placing the blame for it on the Western Allies. 

Israel is in greater danger now than it has been in decades.  Iran is led by a religious fanatic who has made clear his desire to see it destroyed and ethnically cleansed of Jews.  Iranian proxy Hezbollah plans to attack Jews worldwide. 

Pat Buchanan has made a career out of antagonizing victims of Nazism and sympathizing with those who want to destroy Israel.  Why is that okay with Sarah Palin?  What is it about Buchanan’s views that led her to believe he ought to be president?  Are these the kinds of questions you want to have to ask about someone who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency in less than five months?

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McCain Would Rather Win an Election…

John McCain, in an attack on Barack Obama’s patriotism, says that Obama would rather lose a war than risk losing an election.  He also frequently says that he’s so patriotic that he doesn’t care about any particular election — he always puts country first.

Nobody who lives permanently on planet Earth believes Sarah Palin is qualified to be president.  She’s the former mayor of a town with fewer than 9,000 inhabitants and has been governor of a state with barely more than half a million residents for less than two years.  She has no known foreign policy views and no national security experience.  Before today, McCain had only met Palin once

McCain selected Palin to capture the votes of women — particularly those disaffected by Hillary Clinton’s loss in the Democratic primary.  McCain’s transparent targeting of Clinton voters was evident from the start, with Palin herself praising Hillary for showing such “determination and grace in her presidential campaign.”

Barack Obama picked Joe Biden.  Whatever you think of his politics — and I agree with them of course — you simply cannot argue that he’s not ready to be president.

So who cares more about the country than an election?

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An Ad the Obama Campaign Ought to Run

John McCain’s response to everything is to point out that he was a POW.  When defending himself for not being able to remember how many houses he owns, McCain said that there was a time in his life when he didn’t have any homes, didn’t have a table and didn’t have a chair.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26399647

That, of course, was nowhere near the point.  The point was that he was either too old to remember how many properties he owns or that he’s too rich and out of touch to understand the lives of ordinary people. 

Engaging in a debate with someone with absolute moral authority is a tough one, but the Democrats have to do it to win.  Here’s the ad they ought to run.

A former POW or soldier wounded in battle should say the following into the camera:

Senator McCain, you served this country honorably and well.

Nobody can ever give you back those five and a half years you spent as a POW.

But you are wrong on the issues. You’ve voted with George Bush 90% of the time. You think Americans are better off than they were eight years ago. You think the economy is going strong, which would be consistent with your admission that you don’t know that much about economics. You want to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.

We’re ready for change and that’s just not something you can deliver. For your service and your suffering, our country owes you a debt it can never repay. But it doesn’t owe you the presidency.

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By the Numbers

Barack Obama is 47.  Joe Biden is 65.   Total: 112.

Sarah Palin is 44.  John McCain is 72.  Total: 116.

The Republicans still have it on the strength of John McCain’s decrepitness.

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