Friday, March 21, 2008

Not So Black and White: Will Racial Politics Foil Obama?

Even Obama Allies Flounder While Talking About the Candidate's Race

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks about Iraq and the economy, March 20, 2008, at the University of Charleston in Charleston, W.Va.

Share In his speech about race Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., challenged the country to have a national conversation about race. He's certainly getting one.

But while Obama suggested the country use the rage behind the incendiary comments made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to move beyond the racial grievances of the past, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign seems to be using the controversy to make the argument to party insiders, or superdelegates, that Obama has too much baggage to win in November.

Asked in Indiana today about these pitches to superdelegates, who will ultimately decide who the Democratic nominee will be, Clinton seemed to acknowledge the arguments being made on her behalf, saying, "My campaign has been making the case that I am the most electable."

Asked if Wright was part of that argument, Clinton only shrugged.

Is that dirty politics?

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said, "There is nothing fair about politics. If you want fairness, you should go into another field."

Clinton needed revotes in Michigan and Florida to help her catch up to Obama in delegates, but that's not happening. Her only path to the nomination is convincing superdelegates to overrule the majority of pledged delegates, and Wright appears to be Exhibit A in her case.

Some are more hesitant about making this case. Presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., today suspended a campaign staffer for sending out a link to a video that attempts to tie Obama not only to Wright but to the black power movement, rappers Public Enemy and Malcolm X.

Former Clinton surrogate Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, continued to inject herself into the racial debate, responding to Obama's comments in his speech that it would be easy to dismiss Wright, "just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro in the aftermath of her recent statements as harboring some deep-seated bias."


Check out the most effective Credit Repair System in America at the Credit Restoration Factory
Listen to their pre-recorded message 24 hours-a-day

Visit and purchase from the Barack Obama store:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Controversial minister leaves Obama campaign

Presidential candidate condemns words but not ministry of former pastor

Obama on Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., condemned racially charged sermons by his former pastor Friday and urged Americans not to reject his presidential campaign because of “guilt by association.”

Obama’s campaign announced that the minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., had left its spiritual advisory committee after videotapes of his sermons again ignited fierce debate in news accounts and political blogs.

Obama did not clarify whether Wright volunteered to leave his African American Religious Leadership Committee, a loose group of supporters associated with the campaign, or whether the campaign asked him to leave.

“I think there was recognition that he’s obviously on the verge of retirement, [that] he’s taking a sabbatatical and that it was important for him to step out of the spotlight in this situation,” Obama said.

Wright was the latest in a series of advisers to Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who have stepped aside as supporters of both candidates trade racially charged accusations.

Obama rejects comments

Obama spoke warmly of Wright, who retired last month as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Wright is a man “I’ve known for 17 years, [who] helped bring me to Jesus, helped bring me to church,” he said.

“I strongly condemn” Wright’s statements, but “I would not repudiate the man,” Obama said. “He’s been preaching for 30 years. He’s a man who was a former Marine, a biblical scholar, someone who’s spoken at theological schools all over the country.

“That’s the man I know,” Obama said. “That’s the man who was the pastor of this church.”

But Obama acknowledged that “there’s no doubt this is going to be used as political fodder, as it has been in the past.”

“What I hope is [that] what the American people will trust is what I believe,” he said, that “my values, my ideas, what I’ve spoke about in terms of bringing the country together will override a guilt by association.”

But the sermons, at least one of which was delivered long before Wright retired last month, revived uncomfortable questions about Obama’s ties to the minister, whom conservative critics have accused of advocating black separatism.

A videotape of one sermon captures Wright using a harsh racial epithet to argue that Clinton could not understand the struggles of African Americans.

“Barack knows what it means, living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people,” Wright said on Christmas Day of last year. “Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain’t never been called a [N-word]!”

In another sermon, delivered five days after the 9/11 attacks, Wright seems to imply that the United States had brought the terrorist violence on itself.

“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York, and we never batted an eye,” Wright says. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is brought right back in our own front yards.”

In a later sermon, Wright revisits the theme, declaring: “No, no, no, not God bless America — God damn America!”

Obama: I didn’t hear inflammatory sermons

Obama took the title of his 2006 autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope,” from a sermon by Wright, who baptized him and officiated at his wedding. He has called Wright “a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible.”

In his remarks on MSNBC, Obama expanded on a brief posting that was made under his name earlier Friday afternoon on the Huffington Post Web site.

“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation,” the posting said, adding that over the years, “Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life.

“In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.”

Obama wrote that he had known of similar statements by Wright over the years, which he strongly condemned. He wrote that he chose to remain in the church because “Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community.”

Clinton adviser gives Obama a pass

There was no formal reaction from the Clinton campaign, but Lanny Davis, a senior adviser, said he took Obama at his word.

“I give Senator Obama completely — completely — the benefit of the doubt that he has nothing to do with this bigotry that’s being spewed forth by this man,” Davis said on MSNBC’s “Tucker.” “For me, that’s all he has to say.

“I think we should stop this guilt-by-association thing, because some of our supporters say stupid things,” Davis said.

But the videos created a firestorm among political observers and commentators.

“Mr. Obama obviously would not choose to belong to Mr. Wright’s church and seek his advice unless he agreed with at least some of his views,” Wall Street Journal columnist Ron Kessler, publisher of the conservative Web site, wrote Friday.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of the Web site of the conservative magazine National Review, wrote Friday that “now we know he’s contributed money to, voluntarily listened to, and publicly defended a cleric who peddles racial warfare.”

Others saw an attempt to “smear” Obama.

“How come righteous Republicans are rarely asked about the views of their spiritual advisers? Or why wasn’t George W. Bush (and the presidents preceding him) forced to distance himself from the anti-semitic comments of Billy Graham?” Ari Berman wrote Friday on the Web site of the liberal magazine The Nation, for which he is a contributing writer.

Why are sermons an issue now?

The videotapes of Wright’s sermons have long been available for sale on the church’s Web site, raising questions about why they suddenly became an issue again late Thursday, NBC’s Ron Allen reported.

Although both candidates have disavowed them, recent exchanges between supporters of Obama and Clinton have focused on themes of race and sex.

Geraldine Ferraro, the Democrats’ 1984 vice presidential nominee, resigned as an adviser to Clinton’s campaign Wednesday after she was quoted last week in a California newspaper suggesting that Obama owed his popularity to his race.

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” she said, according to the Daily Breeze of Torrance. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position.”

Last week, Obama’s foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, a public policy professor at Harvard University, stepped down from the campaign after she was quoted in an interview with a Scottish newspaper calling Clinton a “monster [who] is stooping to anything.”

“You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh,’” Power said, according to The Scotsman.

Last month, Adelfa Callejo, a longtime Latino activist in Texas who supports Clinton, suggested that Latino voters would never accept Obama because of his race. “They never really supported us, and there’s a lot of hard feelings about that,” Callejo said.

And after Obama won the South Carolina primary, Clinton’s husband, the former president, dismissed the significance of his victory by saying it was to be expected because “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice.”

Advisers said Obama and Clinton were distressed by the exchanges and had agreed in a brief conversation on the Senate floor Thursday to work together to put a stop to them.

“They approached one another and spoke about how supporters for both campaigns have said things they reject,” said Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign. “They agreed that the contrasts between their respective records, qualifications and issues should be what drives this campaign, and nothing else.”

The Associated Press reported that an adviser to Obama, speaking on condition of anonymity, gave a similar account of the conversation.

Visit and purchase from the Barack Obama store:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rock star Obama

By Leonard Doyle

Barack Obama has made the cover of Rolling Stone. Unfortunately his ascent to iconic rock star status coincides with one of the most difficult weeks in his still unlikely bid for the presidency. Rolling Stone's editor Jan Wenner compares Obama to Abe Lincoln.

The story The Machinery of Hope: Inside the grass-roots field operation of Barack Obama, who is transforming the way political campaigns are run was obviously timed to go to press just as Obama snatched the nomination from Hillary. As with many of the best laid political (and editorial plans) it was not to be.

Still it can't do much harm to have the endorsement of Rolling Stone & its editor Jann Wenner. 'Like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama challenges America to rise up, to do what so many of us long to do,' says Wenner, 'to summon "the better angels of our nature."'

Despite Obama's stumble while doing the Texas two step on Tuesday its a great piece of reporting, even if the gushing prose now rings a bit hollow.

What Tim Dickinson's piece explains very well though is that Obama's campaign has succeeded against all the odds not by attracting starry-eyed 'Kool-aid drinking' followers who place their faith in his message of hope, but 'by motivating committed activists who are answering a call to national service. They're pouring their lifeblood into this campaign, not because they are in thrall to a cult of personality but because they're invested in the idea that politics matter, and that their participation can turn the current political system on its ear.'

"We're seeing the last time a top-down campaign has a chance to win it," says the political maestro Joe Trippi fresh from running John Edward's underdog campaign. "There won't be another campaign that makes the same mistake the Clintons made of being dependent on big donors and insiders. It's not going to work ever again."

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mainstream Black Columnists and Barack Obama

Saul Friedman:

If race is not an issue in this presidential contest (and I believe it is and will be), then how come virtually every mainstream black columnist has been effusively and unabashedly supporting Sen. Barack Obama, and highly critical of and even caustic towards Sen. Hillary Clinton?

Columnists have every right to their views, even if they are one-sided. They are and should be free to give their points of view. But it’s the unanimity that bothers me, for journalism and columnists are supposed to provide a vigorous marketplace of ideas. They’re supposed to be suspicious of the conventional wisdom. And they’re supposed to do some critical reporting along with their commentary. Haven’t we learned anything from the conventional uncritical rush to war by our leading papers, and columnists?

I don’t know every black columnist working these days on papers through the country. And I’m not counting the right-wing black writers like Thomas Sowell, or Armstrong Williams. But I have read many of the mainstream columnists, who are among the finest writers in journalism. And they are almost as one in their praise of Obama and their ridicule of Clinton.

I would expect all these writers to rightly denounce making race an issue. But I wonder if their near unanimity has made an issue of race. The most prominent black columnists who have been wowed by Obama include Eugene Robinson and Colbert King of the Washington Post; Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald; Mary Maxwell, Chicago Sun-Times; Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune; Les Payne, Katti Gray and Sheryl McCarthy, Newsday, and Cynthia Tucker, editor of the editorial page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which endorsed Obama.

Former NewsHour Media correspondent Terence Smith noted in his blog February 15, that Robinson had posed a two-part question in his Post column that day: “Are the news media being beastly to Hillary Clinton? Are political reporters and commentators…basically in the tank for Barack Obama?” Robinson’s answer was “no and no.” “My view,” said Smith, “yes and yes.”

He continued: “Hillary and her supporters have reason to complain about the tone of their press notices, if not the substance…A barely-suppressed glee often creeps into the commentary when Hillary loses another primary or caucus….By contrast, has the coverage of Obama been overly sympathetic? Have reporters romanticized the junior senator? Of course they have.”

What Smith did not mention, understandably, is that Robinson, who did not respond to my e-mail inquiry about black columnists and Obama, is one of the nation’s best and most influential black columnists, and a leader among Obama’s cheering section. Lately the Post’s Dana Milbank and media maven Howard Kurtz have recognized the unbalanced coverage and have seen it beginning to change, at least in the mainstream press.

Of course, many prominent white columnists, including liberals, have joined in the adulation of Obama and the nasty criticism of whatever Clinton says, how she looks, what she wears. Her most vigorous attackers have included the New York Time duo, Maureen Dowd, who compared Clinton to Dick Cheney, and Frank Rich, who said Sen. John McCain was “channeling” Clinton. But liberal white columnists have not been single-minded.

Newsday’s Sheryl McCarthy acknowledged that virtually every black columnist was supporting Obama, “I see nothing wrong with that,” she wrote me. “For about 140 years blacks have been voting for…white candidates…And now there is finally a viable black candidate who happens to be a very strong candidate. Why on earth wouldn’t they support him?….Aren’t black columnists people, citizens and voters? I can’t tell you why black columnists are largely supporting Obama.” She had supported John Edwards, she said, but switched to Obama because “he seemed to be part of a progressive groundswell and it seemed as if he could actually capture the nomination.”

Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel acknowledged that he did not know of a single black columnist who wasn’t writing positively about Obama, but saw nothing wrong with that. Nor did he think he was supporting him. After he met Obama at a meeting of black journalists, Kane wrote months later, “Perhaps I did meet the first black president of the United States…last summer.” And the rest of the column was filled with effusive praise and not one critical word. He explained, “For me the excitement over Obama by some black columnists is more about his newsworthiness and less because black columnists are supporting him over someone else.”

There is one black columnist, Bill Maxwell, on the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times, who dissents from the effusive coverage of Obama by journalists black and white. And he warned in a March 1 column, “The halo above Barack Obama’s head is dangerous. It is causing a lot of trouble for a lot of people, forcing them into silence…

“Because of the halo effect, too many people are afraid to sincerely criticize Obama for fear of being attacked…Many Anglo Democrats who do not support Obama are keeping their heads down and mouths shut…Most of our acerbic political cartoonists who have no trouble portraying Clinton as a gargoyle have sheathed their rapiers for Obama.”

Maxwell, who has written favorably of Clinton, said, “The attacks against ordinary blacks who do not support the Haloed One are nasty enough, but they pale in comparison with the abuse being absorbed by…members of the Congressional Black Caucus,” including Rep. Charles Rangel, of New York, and Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, who was pressured to switch from Clinton to Obama.

If Obama is elected, Maxwell concluded, “We will be reluctant to challenge him, fearing that the albatross of racism…will come crashing down on us.”

Sunday, March 2, 2008

In Ohio, Barack Obama talks about clean energy

by John McCormick

NELSONVILLE, Ohio – If he was trying to appeal to the working-class residents of Ohio's Appalachia region, it did not look like it, at least on the surface.

In a region long economically depressed, Sen. Barack Obama's first event Sunday did not have the stereotypical blue-collar feel one typically associates with political events in such locations.

The 100 or so invited guests were well dressed, there was little talk about trade or union issues, and classical music (including the "Wedding March") played before and after his appearance.

There even was a multimillionaire in the room: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who endorsed Obama late last week.

Obama, meanwhile, talked about the future, not the past, as he argued for clean-energy technology and again stressed his religious practices to counter Internet-driven rumors that he is not Christian.

In his introduction, Rockefeller showered Obama with praise that even surpassed the highly flattering tributes he typically gets from those who serve as his warm-up acts.

"We grew up in different circumstances," Rockefeller started. "My life was a little easier than his."

Rockefeller said Obama's life experiences have prepared him for both domestic and international matters. "I've always had a feeling that true leaders understand the people they lead and the only way to do that is to be amongst them," he said.

Rockefeller said Obama's ability to inspire would help him fight for the nation's poor.

"The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer," he said. "They need someone they can look to who they trust, who is calm, who has incredible judgment and who is brilliant. The word brilliant is used all the time about Barack Obama and it ought to be used everyday by everybody."

Saying his position as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee puts him in a position to "pretty much know what's going on in every part of the world all the time," Rockefeller said he often saw Obama taking the time to study intelligence briefings in greater detail than most senators. He said he believes he is capable of the "nuanced judgments" necessary for a successful foreign policy.

Rockefeller said he sees Obama's poise when he starts taking "incoming fire" in candidate debates.

"You and I might react differently," he said. "He's always calm. In no way, misinterpret that to think that he's weak…He just is unflappable because he knows himself, because of his brilliance and because of his belief in doing the right thing for America."

Obama made a very brief visit to Rockefeller's state last night, spending the night at a Holiday Inn Express in Mineralwells, a newer hotel that was situated between a strip club and adult bookstore.

With solar panels outside and a flexible-fuel car parked near his podium, Obama spoke at length about the possibilities of a clean-energy economy.

Obama took note of a shoe and boot manufacturer that shut down in the town several years ago, saying that 177 jobs were lost and "many of them were shipped overseas."

Still, Obama said he was "hopeful" about the town's future because they are looking to technology, including alternative energy and fuel cells, for growth.

"What you’re doing, here, is what Americans have always done in times of challenge and times uncertainty: you’re standing up to say that your destiny will not be written for you, but by you," he said. "You’re reclaiming your own future."

Obama repeated his plan for a $150 billion fund over 10 years to boost the green energy sector.

"I’ll pass a law that says 25 percent of our electricity has to come from renewable energy sources by 2025, which will spur the development of new technologies and could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on its own," he said.

Countering suggestions that he is some kind of policy romantic, Obama said his ideas are not "pie in the sky" and noted the nation has in the past made huge investments in its infrastructure.

With coalfields nearby, Obama noted that he comes from a coal state and repeated his pitch for clean-coal technology and made clear he believes coal will continue to be a vital part of the nation's energy supply.

"Clean-coal technology should be part of that mix," he said. "We are the Saudi Arabia of coal."

Obama maintained that the United States could profit from developing clean-coal technology and then licensing the techniques to other nations like China and India. "This could actually end up being an export," he said.

Asked about his faith, Obama said it is a topic that has been subject to "so much confusion that has been deliberately perpetrated." He was referring to Internet rumors that he is a Muslim.

"I pray to Jesus every night, try to go to church as much as I can when they're not working me," he said. "I used to go quite often. These days…I haven't been home on Sunday for several months now."

Http:// Credit repair with a personal touch.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Obama spends heavily to seek knockout blow

He'll try to leverage his financial advantage to force out Clinton

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama greets supporters at a rally in Selma, Texas, on Friday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Taking advantage of his huge financial edge, Senator Barack Obama is buying large amounts of advertising and building extensive get-out-the-vote operations in Ohio and Texas in an effort to deal Hillary Rodham Clinton twin defeats on Tuesday that could end her bid for the presidency.

The intensity of Mr. Obama’s drive is especially apparent on television, where, using his huge financial advantage, he has outspent Mrs. Clinton by nearly two to one in the two states, helping him to eat deeply into double-digit leads in polls that she held just weeks ago.

But after a month in which she raised $32 million — a remarkable sum but still less than the $50 million or more brought in by Mr. Obama — Mrs. Clinton is fighting back. Their expenditures, combined with a travel schedule that sent Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama and their surrogates from border to border in Texas and Ohio, reflect the expectation that the voting on Tuesday may be climactic. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers have suggested that she will bow out of the race if she falters in either state, after 11 straight losses.

Their face-offs are not just on television. Mr. Obama has a town-hall-style meeting in Westerville, Ohio, on Sunday afternoon. Mrs. Clinton just announced one there, too. Mr. Obama will be at Westerville Central High School, Mrs. Clinton at Westerville North High School.

Close races in both states

Polls show the race deadlocked in Texas, while Mrs. Clinton’s lead in Ohio has been whittled away, though she does still lead.

“Senator Obama is spending a lot of money on TV — if this can be purchased, he can win it,” Gov. Ted Strickland, who has campaigned across the state with Mrs. Clinton, said in an interview. “I think we’ve survived the initial blast of the Obama phenomenon, and we’re now holding steady.”

In a sign of Mr. Obama’s confidence and his strategy of amassing delegates wherever he can, he spent part of Saturday in Rhode Island, which with Vermont votes on Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said she remained confident of winning Ohio and Texas and would press on with her campaign, as signaled by her increasingly tough attacks on Mr. Obama.

In recent days, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers have pointed to Mr. Obama’s financial advantage, in what appears to be an attempt to lay the groundwork to stay in the race should she lose by a small margin, or squeak to victory by a few votes in either or both states. “They are dumping a lot of money there,” said Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist, referring to the Obama campaign.

Narrow Clinton victory not enough?

That said, Mrs. Clinton once enjoyed double-digit leads in both states, and her campaign had told supporters concerned about her string of losses that her campaign would get back on track after solid wins in Ohio and Texas. Democrats said that a narrow victory in both states might not be enough to stanch a flow of uncommitted superdelegates — elected officials and party leaders — to Mr. Obama who have until now deferred to the request by Mrs. Clinton’s advisers to wait for the vote in the two states.

Mr. Obama has spent about $10 million on television advertising in Texas from early in February through Election Day, campaign officials said; Mrs. Clinton has spent just less than $5 million. Mr. Obama has spent about $5.3 million for television advertising in Ohio, compared with just under $3 million for Mrs. Clinton, the officials said.

Those figures do not take into account substantial advertising being presented for Mr. Obama by the Service Employees International Union . It also fails to include money that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton spent in Texas on Spanish-language television and radio stations in a competition for Latino voters who Mrs. Clinton had once considered an unassailable part of her base. “I have many friends in Texas; I know your tradition and culture,” Mrs. Clinton said in one broadcasting in Houston this weekend, speaking into the camera as subtitles translate her remarks into Spanish.

Mr. Obama’s financial advantage is helping him beyond the airwaves.

His campaign flew 200 paid organizers from across the country to 10 campaign offices in Texas right after the Feb. 5 primaries, aides said, when some of Mrs. Clinton’s staff members were volunteering to work without pay. Another 150 were sent to build get-out-the-vote networks in Ohio, working for Paul Tewes, who was the Obama campaign’s director in Iowa, where Mr. Obama’s eight-point victory gave his campaign a boost.

opinions of John McCain

Get price Quotes on Jaguar and Land Rover

Free Price Quotes at


Http:// Credit repair with a personal touch.

Http:// Credit repair with a personal touch.

Visit the NEW Obama Leadership Store!

Visit the NEW Obama Leadership Store!