Before Rev. Wright, there was Obama’s Mom

May 5, 2008

A lot of “strong personalities” shaped Senator Obama, including the mother he didn’t seem to like all that much if you read his book Dreams From My Father. Obama called his mother “the dominant figure in my formative years. . . . The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics.”

“She was not a standard-issue girl of her times. … She wasn’t part of the matched-sweater-set crowd,” said Wall, a classmate and retired philosophy teacher who used to make after-school runs to Seattle with Dunham to sit and talk — for hours and hours — in coffee shops.

“She touted herself as an atheist, and it was something she’d read about and could argue,” said Maxine Box, who was Dunham’s best friend in high school. “She was always challenging and arguing and comparing. She was already thinking about things that the rest of us hadn’t.”

In his best-selling book, “Dreams From My Father” and in campaign speeches, Obama frequently describes the story of his mother, who died of cancer in 1995, as a tale of the Heartland. She’s the white woman from the flatlands of Kansas and the only daughter of parents who grew up in the “dab-smack, landlocked center of the country,” in towns “too small to warrant boldface on a roadmap.”

Implicit in that portrayal is this message: If you have any lingering questions or doubts about the Hawaiian-born presidential candidate with a funny name, just remember that Mom hails from America’s good earth. That’s the log cabin story, or his version of Bill Clinton’s “Man from Hope.”

But interviews with their friends from Kansas, now in their mid-to-late 80s, and interviews with their daughter’s former classmates and teachers, now in their mid-60s or older, paint a vivid portrait of Barack Obama’s mother as a self-assured, iconoclastic young teen seemingly hell-bent to resist Eisenhower-era conformity.

Boyish-looking, Stanley Ann was prone to rolling her eyes when she heard something she didn’t agree with. She didn’t like her nose, she worried about her weight, she complained about her parents — especially her domineering father. Her sarcasm could be withering and, while she enjoyed arguing, she did not like to draw attention to herself. The bite of her wit was leavened by a good sense of humor.

While her girlfriends, including Box, regularly baby-sat, Stanley Ann showed no interest. “She felt she didn’t need to date or marry or have children,” Box recalled. “It wasn’t a put-down, it wasn’t hurtful. That’s just who she was.”,0,5157609.story?page=2


Obama is Frustrated and Angry Says Wife Michelle

May 4, 2008

Michelle is a kind of Barameter, giving voice to the things that the candidate can’t or won’t say. While he denounced Rev. Wright, she only said she agreed with Barack (“He speaks for both of us.”), and she looked distressed (as I would be if my spouse made me leave my pastor).

From a North Carolina rally, Michelle admits that Barack has something his supporters seem to think he doesn’t: ego, anger and frustration: “Barack is always thinking three steps ahead – what do we need to do to make change.” Her husband was thinking “I can’t let my ego, my anger, my frustration get in the way of the ultimate goal,” she said. “Barack has been characterised as many things that have nothing to do with who he is.”

Right, he has been characterized as a man without ego, anger or frustration. I don’t mind that he has these things, only that there has been this pretense that he is above all that. And after winning Guam by 7 votes (isn’t this known as a TIE?) he ought to be happier, but he predicted a blow out there. He has also been characterized as a Messiah, something Michelle also said he isn’t.

In another “hallelujiah” book by an Obama supporter, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited about Obama and Why He Can’t Win, Shelby Steele, an intellectual who like Obama had a white mother and black father, writes that Obama’s iconic status as an inspirational African-American also represents his biggest weakness.

Steele argues that Obama offers white voters a chance to free themselves from white guilt, but if he becomes too specific about policy or shows flashes of anger about injustice, they recoil. Obama looks “messianic” set against “the shame of America’s racial past”.

If you are an icon, he writes, “you have thoughts to touch everyone’s base, thoughts that recognise and flatter everyone. But you have few visible convictions”.

Anything that helps bring Obama down to earth serves the purpose of reminding voters that he is 1) a politician like all other politicians and 2) a man without an policies or convictions. As Steele said, it works against Obama-as-messiah for him to have any policies. 

Michelle and the Rev’d

May 1, 2008

Michelle Obama won’t speak against the Rev. Wright. She evades the question, says Barack speaks for her (how feminist of her, how liberated!). Give me a break. She chose that church and I don’t think for a minute she wants to leave it. And why does she need Caroline Kennedy sitting next to her?

Promises Obamises:In his own words…

April 26, 2008

Getting to know Mr. Obama…I want to ask him, how is it that Hillary Clinton gets tagged as a liar and you are the messiah? Oct. 22, 2007.

MR. RUSSERT: The last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, said this: Barack Obama, who he thinks has the intelligence and the toughness necessary to be president, but has to be careful about running too soon. Is that a fair comment?

SEN. OBAMA: I think it’s a fair comment, absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think the—President Clinton has some self-interest in making that comment?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, the—I don’t know how the president’s thinking. I’m a big admirer of Bill Clinton’s work. I think that—the one thing I’m clear about in terms of the presidency is, is it can’t be something that you pursue on the basis of vanity and ambition. I think there’s a, there’s a certain soberness and seriousness required when you think about that office that is unique. And at some point, the bargain you’re making with the American people is, is that, “You put me in this office and my problems are not relevant. My job is to think about your problems.”

And so anybody, I think, who’s pursuing it, has to, has to understand the gravity of it, and, and make sure that the reason they want to do it is not simply because they want to see their name in the headlines.

MR. RUSSERT: You’ve been a United States senator less than two years, you don’t have any executive experience. Are you ready to be president?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I’m not sure anybody is ready to be president before they’re president. You know, ultimately, I trust the judgment of the American people that, in, in any election, they sort it through. And that’s, you know, we have a long and rigorous process, and, you know, should I decide to run, if I ever did decide to run, I’m confident that I’d be run through the paces pretty good, including on MEET THE PRESS.

(Videotape, January 22, 2006):

Russert: When we talked back in November of ‘04 after your election, I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?”

Obama: Absolutely. I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.

Russert: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

Obama: I will not.


Further, in a July 24, 2004, interview on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Obama said that while he “didn’t have the information that was available to senators,” he would have voted against the Iraq war authorization:

BLITZER: Had you been in the Senate when they had a vote on whether to give the president the authority to go to war, how would you have voted?

OBAMA: You know, I didn’t have the information that was available to senators. I know that, as somebody who was thinking about a U.S. Senate race, I think it was a mistake, and I think I would have voted no.

BLITZER: You would have voted no at the time?

OBAMA: That’s correct.

BLITZER: Kerry, of course, and Edwards both voted yes.

OBAMA: But keep in mind, I think this is a tough question and a tough call. What I do think is that if you’re going to make these tough calls, you have to do so in a transparent way, in an honest way, talk to the American people, trust their judgment.

From the November 11 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: You were not in the Senate in October of 2002. You did give a speech opposing the war. But Senator Clinton’s campaign will say since you’ve been a senator, there’s been no difference in your records. And other critics will say you’ve not been a leader against the war, and they point to this. In July of 2004, Barack Obama: “I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports. … What would I have done? I don’t know,” in terms of how you would have voted on the war. And then this. “There’s not much of a difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage.” That was July of ’04. And then this: “I think that there is room for disagreement in that initial decision” to vote for authorization of the war. It doesn’t seem that you were firmly wedded against the war and that you left some wiggle room that, if you were in the Senate, you may have voted for it.

OBAMA: Now, Tim, that first quote was made with an interview with a guy named Tim Russert on Meet the Press during the convention when we had a nominee for the presidency and a vice president, both of whom had voted for the war, so it probably was the wrong time for me to be making a strong case against our party’s nominees’ decisions when it came to Iraq. Look, I was opposed to this war in 2002, 2003, ‘4, ‘5, ‘6, and ‘7. What I was very clear about, even in 2002 in my original opposition, was once we were in, we were going to have to make some decisions to see how we could stabilize the situation and act responsibly. And that’s what I did through 2004, ‘5, and ‘6, try to see, can we create a workable government in Iraq? Can we make sure that we’re minimizing the humanitarian costs in Iraq? Can we make sure that our troops are safe in Iraq? And that’s what I have done. Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn’t withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled down and initiated the surge. And at that stage, I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we’re actually worsening potentially a situation there. And since that time, I’ve been absolutely clear in terms of the approach I would take. I would end this war and I would have our troops out within 16 months.

Obamessiah. Listen to Michelle!

April 26, 2008

“Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much.”

 Pope Benedict XVI


If anybody knows about politicians promising messianic things, it is probably Pope Benedict XVI.


Back in July, 2007, Obama had not yet emerged as Obamessiah. And at that time, Michelle Obama had a realistic take on her husband:

‘He has big ears, she has said. A funny name, too. He doesn’t put the butter away. He has trouble making beds. He’s not the ‘next Messiah who’s going to fix it all. In the end, he’s just a man.’”

But then “hope” and “change” and “Yes, we can” gave way to something else. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he said on Super Tuesday night.

It had already begun in New Hampshire: “… a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany … and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama” – Barack Obama in Lebanon, New Hampshire. January 7, 2008.

Gary Kamiya of Salon said in January, 2008:  

Obama’s victory seemed almost otherworldly–as if the laws of space and time had been suspended, and a quality as evanescent and fragile as hope had suddenly become real. I am not a religious person, but it was hard not to feel that his triumph vindicated the essence of what I think of as the secular essence of religion, something even nonbelievers can believe in: the possibility of inner transformation. A transformation at once personal and national.

More recently, Barack Obama said, “I never believe in irreparable breaches. I’m a big believer in reconciliation and redemption,” Obama told reporters in Indianapolis. “So, look, this has been a fierce contest. I’ve said repeatedly: Come August, there will be a whole lot of people standing on a stage with a lot of balloons and confetti raining down on the Democratic nominee, and people are going to be excited about taking on John McCain in November.”

Obama and the (Black) Media

April 23, 2008

The Black Agenda Report is expressing a lot of displeasure at the fact that Obama has not been sharing the wealth. The e-zine is progressive, interesting, varied in its content, and intelligent. Check out its article on how Obama is dissing the black media:

It’s interesting that 90% of black voters went for Obama and 10% for Clinton (roughly), but many white voters went for Obama. This is where he has been spending his advertising, and a lot of the community feels he is ignoring it. Well, yeah.

Michelle Obama was asked a while back why more blacks were not supporting her husband and she said, “They will.” And it’s true now. But just as recently as February that was not true. There was suspicion. Then Obama refused to pay street money in Philadelphia, staff didn’t keep their meeting with black media sales departments, and a lot of people were stiffed and miffed.

To get an alternate response though, see Field Negro: who says black support is not forthcoming for Obama as it ought to be.


Obama on Hillary: Was it love at first sight?

April 21, 2008

Does Obama like Hillary Clinton more than he likes John McCain for president? Hmm… About Hillary he said in Oct., 2006:

“I think very highly of Hillary,” he said. “The more I get to know her, the more I admire her. I think she’s one of the most disciplined people I know. She’s one of the toughest. She’s got an extraordinary intelligence, and she’s somebody who’s in this stuff for the right reasons. She’s passionate about moving the country forward on issues like health care and children.”

This is sounding pretty nice.

By January, 2008 he was coming out swinging like any good competitor:

“I think I will be the Democrat who will be most effective in going up against a John McCain, or any other Republican,” Obama said, “because they all want basically a continuation of George Bush’s policies, [and] because I will offer a clear contrast as somebody who never supported this war, thought it was a bad idea.”

Then after he just LOST A BIG DEBATE on April 17, 2008, he says on April 18:

“I have to say Senator Clinton looked in her element … She was taking every opportunity to get a dig in there,” Obama said Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. “That’s her right. That’s her right to kind of twist the knife a little bit … that’s why she’s only airing negative attacks on TV in Pennsylvania like most places. I understand that because that’s the textbook Washington game.”


Now we all know what he’s said recently with his little finger gesture, but suddenly, he thinks all three of the candidates might make a good president.

Good going.


Obama: Tell Hillary to Stop Picking on Me

April 17, 2008

I think I hear Obama’s spin cycle coming on. How come when he makes a mistake it is never his fault? What happened last night, Barack, did the dog eat your homework? No? It was those nasty reporters and that bad lady who is just running against you to mess with your messianic mission. In his words, to North Carolina voters, about why he sucked–and how if the Republicans do this he’ll get’em!

“Last night I think we set a new record because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people. Took us 45 min. 45 minutes before we heard about health care, 45 minutes before we heard about Iraq, 45 minutes before we heard about jobs, 45 minutes before we heard about gas prices. Now, I don’t blame Washington for this because that’s just how Washington is. They like stirring up controversy and they like playing gotcha games, and getting us to attack each other,” he said.

Just minutes after his campaign ended a conference call on how Senator Clinton has gone too negative over the past couple of weeks, Obama noted, “I have to say, Senator Clinton looked in her element. She was taking every opportunity to get a dig in there. Ya know? That’s alright. That’s her right. That’s her right to kind of twist the knife a little bit,” he said while making a twisting gesture with his hand.

He then scolded, “That’s the lesson that she learned when the Republicans were doing that same thing to her back in the 1990s, so I understand it, and when you’re running for the presidency then you’ve gotta expect it and ya know you’ve just gotta kinda let it, ya know..” As he trailed off, he brushed off his shoulders and laughed.

Obama later told the North Carolina crowd that the debate was good practice for the general election. “If the Republicans come at me I will come right back at them. You know – I’ll be honest with you – I’ll be honest with you – it’s a little harder to do with a fellow Democrat because you know I’m trying to you know, show some restraint. You know I won’t have this much restraint with the Republicans.”

Obama on how “white folks’ll do ya”

April 17, 2008

Nothing but his  own words as always. It’s a little hard to believe that even after hearing and reading these things, Americans either black or white, or of any ethnicity or sex, could believe this man stands for things like hope and change, unless what you hope for is the complete annihilation of the office of the presidency. I admit sometimes I haven’t like presidents, especially the current Pretender to the presidency, GWB. Anyway, let’s have Obama tell his story:

The Silence is Deafening: Obamanimpotence

April 17, 2008

Barack Obama, the world’s greatest orator, rather underperformed last night in the debate against Hillary Clinton. Andrew Sullivan opined that Obama was downright “dreary.” (The Atlantic‘s Daily Dish blog) I logged on with anticipation of finding blogomania and there was one big NOTHING. Sure, there were a few blogs blaming ABC. There were more attacks on Hillary, although not as many as usual. But there was little Obamadoration that wakes me up most mornings. Perhaps he has to admit that “No, we can’t” all the time.

He was a dud. The bomb that failed to detonate. Where was the verbal viagra when he really needed it?

Indeed, the whole thing was such a debacle that the only text one can find on the debate is that bashing ABC. It is impossible to find a transcript or any of Obama’s actual answers to the questions. But thank you YouTube! Here is the objective reality check:

And this is about all I could get that wasn’t just stupid questions about his lapel pin patriotism or Rev. Wright, of whom we have all seen enough for now. I couldn’t get his 50 minutes of hemming and hawing every time he was asked a question about P-O-L-I-C-Y.  Granted, he didn’t have a lot of time, but Clinton seemed to have done her homework. Obama hadn’t.

Enjoy the clips, for the little they’re worth. I would add that I found in last night’s debate the only really seriously lie that Senator Clinton ever told, which is that Obama is electable in November.