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Obama Slip of the Tongue Reignites False Claims That He is a Muslim.

According to the Washington Times, some anti-Obama people (not the McCain Campaign) are spreading the "Obama is a Muslim" falsehood — again (tip to Althouse).

Obama, who seems awfully gaffe-prone recently, referred to "my Muslim faith" on ABC this morning. Obviously, that was a simple slip of the tongue. Ironically, it happened while Obama (who has usually not been especially unfair) was engaged in making perhaps his sleaziest [most unfair] personal criticisms so far: trying to smear the McCain Campaign as being behind the false Muslim claims ("these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand"). When George Stephanopoulos pressed him, Obama backed off to some extent.

Althouse has the video. Here is a transcript from the Washington Times:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mention your Christian faith. Yesterday you took off after the Republicans for suggesting you have Muslim connections.

Just a few minutes ago, Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, said they've never done that. This is a false and cynical attempt to play victim.

OBAMA: You know what? I mean, these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand. The...

STEPHANOPOULOS: The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections.

OBAMA: No, no, no. But the — I don't think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let's say, and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But John McCain said that's wrong.

OBAMA: Now, well, look. Listen. You and I both know that the minute that Governor Palin was forced to talk about her daughter, I immediately said that's off limits. And...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But John McCain said the same thing about questioning your faith.

OBAMA: And what was the first thing the McCain's campaign went out and did? They said, look, these liberal blogs that support Obama are out there attacking Governor Palin.

Let's not play games. What I was suggesting — you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you're absolutely right that that has not come...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Christian faith.

OBAMA: ... my Christian faith. Well, what I'm saying is that he hasn't suggested...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has connections, right.

OBAMA: ... that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either.

What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith — something which I find deeply offensive, and that has been going on for a pretty long time.

What an unfortunate distraction from the genuine issues, even the genuine issues of the candidates' personal history. I don't think this nonsense helps either side.

UPDATE: Reading the first hour of comments, I see that most commenters below do not read the exchange the same as I do.

Here is how I see it.

Stephanopoulos says: "Just a few minutes ago, Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, said they've never done that. This is a false and cynical attempt to play victim."

Obama clearly responds: "You know what? I mean, these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

The two guys just mentioned were McCain's campaign manager and McCain. It is "these guys [who] love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

As I see it, that's the unfair attempt to smear the McCain campaign, not what Obama said when challenged on that charge. IMO, as Obama sees himself slipping (temporarily) behind, he is willing to make unproven charges that he probably wouldn't have been willing to say a week ago: that these guys are throwing rocks and hiding their hands.

And Obama would probably have gotten away with it if Stephanopoulos had been willing to accept that. But Stephanopoulos pushed back and forced Obama to back down, Obama finally admitting: "Well, what I'm saying is that he [McCain] hasn't suggested ... that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either."

So when McCain's campaign manager is raised, Obama says, "these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand." But when Stephanopoulos points out that he has no basis for making such a reckless charge, Obama admits that they haven't thrown rocks on this issue.

Most of you — at least most of you commenting — see it differently, and focus only on Obama's final position, the one he settles on after Stephanopoulos won't accept the original charge. In this view, there is only one view expressed, the final one.

So we see things differently. And commenters have already pointed the opposite position below. That's what makes a discussion.

2d UPDATE: Ann Althouse, whose post was the trigger for this post, originally saw things much as my early commenters did. But she has now come over to my view on it. Indeed, she takes the next step (which I didn't and wouldn't) of speculating that Obama is projecting his own campaign's behavior onto McCain's campaign.

We know that some of the attacks on Palin's mothering skills do come from people in the Obama Campaign (Howard Gutman of his National Finance Committee). But these are not "hidden" attacks; they are on the record.

Interestingly, I went back to look at how Obama handled the Jack Ryan revelations in his 2004 campaign. Ryan was the Republican whose divorce papers were unsealed, revealing that he had suggested to his wife that they have sex in a public club. Ryan then withdrew from the race.

Here is part of an April 3, 2004 Chicago Sun Times article on Obama's efforts in that one, just before the bombshell divorce files were released:

Barack Obama reversed his position on Republican rival Jack Ryan's divorce file Friday, calling on fellow Democrats to refrain from trying to inject it into the campaign.

"I don't think it's an appropriate topic for debate," Obama said.

Obama has consistently said that his campaign would not focus on Ryan's 1999 divorce from TV actress Jeri Ryan.

But when he first made that pledge, Obama refused to call on other Democrats to follow his lead.

"It's going to be up to other people to determine what's appropriate and what's not," Obama said the day after his March primary victory.

Since then, Mayor Daley called on Democrats and the news media to avoid delving into politicians' divorce records, and Ryan urged Obama to insist all Democrats lay off the matter.

Speaking at a taping of the WBBM-AM radio program "At Issue" on Friday, Obama took that additional step and insisted he was not being inconsistent.

"I'm not the policeman for what the media and everybody else does," Obama said. "What I can take responsibility for is my campaign and those people who are supporting me. And to the extent that people who are supporting me, including the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic [Senatorial Campaign] Committee are engaging in these kinds of things, I would urge them not to do so because I think Illinois voters really want to focus on those issues that are going to help them in their lives." . . .

Obama pledged Friday that even if the media uncovers something embarrassing, he would not try to capitalize on it.

"I can say unequivocally that this is not something that we are going to be focused on in our campaign," Obama said.

Ryan spokeswoman Kelli Phiel called Obama's remarks "a bit hypocritical," because the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already e-mailed reporters copies of news media articles about the divorce controversy. . . .

A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee official said they would have no problem adhering to Obama's request. . . .

"Other than our standard procedure of forwarding stories around to talkers and politicos about some races, I don't believe we've engaged in any on-the-record commentary about his divorce files," he said.

08 voter:
"Obama (who has not been especially unfair before) was engaged in making perhaps his sleaziest personal criticisms so far: trying to smear the McCain Campaign as being behind the false Muslim claims."

Don't you think that this is an exaggerated statemeent? Sleazy? A smear? He was simply stating that some of those who spread the rumor are allied/affiliated w/the McCain campaign. This is similar to a statement I heard time and again just a few days ago -- that Obama supporters were spreading the Palin pregnancy switch rumor -- even though Obama had explicitly stated that Palin's family was off-limits.
9.8.2008 1:55am
Cro (mail):
He's not a Muslim. He mispoke. The end. I wish.

What the hell is going on this election?

I think the problem started with Dan Quayle and the potatoe. Since then, any little mispronouncement is fair game. Slate even had "Bushism's" that I think Eugene Volokh spent some time deriding.

So, turnabout is fair play. Either we forgive everyone for mis-speaking, or we have to put up with this. It's bizarre that we focus so much on gaffes as if they are meaningful. It's a sad cycle, because the emphasis on gaffes makes politicians more careful of what they say, which makes them say fewer substantial things, which increases the focus on gaffes as a clue to what they really think.

BTW Obama seems to be a mis-speaker on the level of GWB. So far, this hasn't mattered, but I think it will come into play now that more people are paying attention.
9.8.2008 2:02am
Christopher Cooke (mail):

Oh, I see, Obama smeared McCain by admitting that neither he nor the top echelons of his campaign were behind these assertions. Makes alot of sense.
9.8.2008 2:02am
08 voter:
Ann Althouse (from her blog): It's clear in the full context that he's giving the McCain campaign credit for not participating in spreading the rumor that he is a Muslim. He's not saying he is a Muslim. Quite apart from that, let's not stoop to portraying "Muslim" as the equivalent of evil. That's ugly and destructive.
9.8.2008 2:10am
James Lindgren (mail):
Christopher:

Obama only backed off AFTER Steph. wouldn't let him get away with it.

I fairly characterized the behavior that Obama was trying to do; you pointed to the language he settled on after his unfair attack was effectively countered by Steph.
9.8.2008 2:11am
Palin-Jindal 2012?:
It's not that big a gaffe. He probably just meant something like "my (alleged) Muslim faith."
9.8.2008 2:12am
Jim at FSU (mail):
For what it's worth, W is pretty eloquent when he has a teleprompter to read. Things only explode when he decides to wow the crowd with his ability to answer questions off the cuff (he doesn't have said ability). There is every indication that Obama is similarly non-gifted in this particular area. Obama's advantage over W is that he is more aware of this failing and tries to minimize risky encounters like Saddleback.

If you think the secret muslim meme is funny, wait till you see the debates. The closer the race becomes, the more stress-induced gaffes Obama is going to make. I predict debate number 3 (the final one) has the potential to produce a supernova of (hilarious) failure, especially if McCain gains a lead by then.

Not going to make any predictions about Palin/Biden, though I expect it is only a matter of time before Biden puts his foot in his mouth. But this is kind of like predicting that there will be a top ten list on the Letterman show.
9.8.2008 2:13am
Dave N (mail):
What I took from the printed excerpt is Obama saying

1) McCain and his upper echelon and his top aides have not suggested he was a Muslim;

2) Some people in "the Republican camp" have spread malicious rumors that Obama is Muslim;

3) It is unfair for McCain to somehow link liberal blogs who were busy libeling Sarah Palin and her daughter just because these liberal bloggers suppor Obama--even though Obama appears to be trying to create some kind of linkage between "the Republican camp" and the McCain campaign.

By the way, I do not believe that Obama is a Muslim. Never have. It is an idiotic charge, but so was the leftist blogosphere's claim that Palin's son is really her grandson.
9.8.2008 2:16am
Gullyborg (www):
two things:

First, I think GWB is horrible with a teleprompter. Likewise, he is bad when faced with extremely one-sided negative questioning. Off the cuff in a casual environment, he is brilliant. Consider his experience with the bullhorn at Ground Zero.

Second, the moslem gaffe is not nearly as bad as the guns and babies gaffes from Obama/Biden today:

link here

By the time these gaffes have had their play, McCain will be up around Reagan 1984 levels of popularity.
9.8.2008 2:16am
Christopher Cooke (mail):

Yesterday you took off after the Republicans for suggesting you have Muslim connections.

This is the part of Steph's question that I wonder about. Did Obama go after "Republicans" or the McCain campaign for this stuff?

If the former, I hardly think this was unfair and I wonder why Steph brought it up. Clearly, Republicans are likely behind these stories, as part of an effort to "scare" voters. I saw the interview this a.m., and didn't see Obama ever say "John McCain is behind this" He said, in the portion you quote, that "Republican commentators closely aligned" were. Is that true or untrue? You don't prove it is untrue, and i don't see how it is a smear unless it is.
9.8.2008 2:28am
holdfast (mail):
Bush can (or could) do the teleprompter thing on topics he really cares about - the GWOT and cutting taxes. On everything else he just phones it in. I am also convinced that he has become much worse over the last 6 years - like he is trying to overanalyze everything he says to see how it will be spun, and as a result all that comes out is stutters. Obama is similar (esp at Saddleback) but instead of stutters he spits out half-formed thoughts. LMAO.
9.8.2008 2:29am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
You know, if you use certain expressions regularly, they pop up when you are planning to use them. It does make me wonder if "my Muslim faith" is an expression that perhaps gets used by Obama in private.
9.8.2008 2:31am
llamasex (mail) (www):
Obama: Well, what I'm saying is that he (McCain) hasn't suggested... that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign's upper echelons have not, either.

Jim Lindgren: Obama (who has usually not been especially unfair) was engaged in making perhaps his sleaziest [most unfair] personal criticisms so far: trying to smear the McCain Campaign
9.8.2008 2:32am
James Lindgren (mail):
Read the context again:

Steph refers to "Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager."

Obama clearly responds: "You know what? I mean, these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

Two guys were just mentioned: McCain's campaign manager and McCain. it is "these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand."

Only AFTER Steph. points out how unfair that claim is does Obama exclude the top echelons of the McCain campaign.
9.8.2008 2:35am
llamasex (mail) (www):
James, If you read it again Obama is talking about Republicans, not the campaign people. Obama then clarifies this (misspeaking in the process), his point was always that republican operatives (like those at Fox News who spent half a day focusing on the false Madrassa story really bring the fake story to the masses) not the McCain Camp. Steph is the one who brings up Rick Davis.
9.8.2008 2:39am
ChrisIowa (mail):
and some are saying he's better prepared than Palin?
9.8.2008 2:43am
tvk:
Clayton, that is a smear and you know it. Coming in a thread about smears, the irony kills me.
9.8.2008 2:57am
tvk:
Jim,

I think the context of "these guys" is fairly said to be ambiguous. The preceding paragraph had references to both "the Republicans" and then "Rick Davis."

If you want to be charitable to Obama, then his use of "these guys" can reasonably be construed to refer to "the Republicans" as the subject of the prior line; and Steph then just clarified the topic of the conversation to which Obama agreed. If you are less charitable to Obama, then he tried to smear Rick Davis until Steph forced him to back off. I think both interpretations are possible.

Human speech often generates ambiguities like this. I don't think we can make a definitive call here.
9.8.2008 3:05am
Dave N (mail):
If he were intellectually honest, Jukeboxgrad will argue, as he did regarding Palin's explanation about the teaching of creationism, that Obama's first response is the accurate one:
I think it's fair to conclude that her "initial statement" is the more authentic expression of her personal beliefs.
And we all know how intellectually honest Jukeboxgrad is.

I wait with baited breath for Jukeboxgrad to prove me right.
9.8.2008 3:35am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
While I would not vote for the fellow regardless of his faith, nor any, I would say it's a 50-50 tossup between he meant:

"My Moslem faith,: literally or

"My (alleged) Moslem faith"

Just giving him benefit of the doubt, as he is answering questions,,,
9.8.2008 3:54am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

You know, if you use certain expressions regularly, they pop up when you are planning to use them. It does make me wonder if "my Muslim faith" is an expression that perhaps gets used by Obama in private.


If Obama were a crypto-Muslim, why would he refer frequently to "my Muslim faith"? He wouldn't be able to talk about it to very many people, and the few people who knew he was a Muslim would not need lectures on it. I don't see any reason to believe that Obama would frequently use this phrase if he were a secret Muslim.

More likely, "my Muslim faith" is the result of his frequently referring to "my Christian faith", with "Muslim" substituted for "Christian" because what was under discussion was the allegation that he is a Muslim.
9.8.2008 4:00am
Jerry F:
The Israeli Insider had an interesting article showing why this really suggests that Obama is a secret Muslim:

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Politics/13078.htm

I don't quite agree with this analysis, but for the good of the country I hope that it spreads in conservative blogs. If McCain made a similar gaffe you can be sure that the Obama camp would not be reluctant to interpret it in the worst way possible.
9.8.2008 4:03am
Math_Mage (mail) (www):
The way I read it, Stephanopoulos was deliberately confounding Republicans (in the initial statement) with McCain's campaign (in the followups), which resulted in Obama's confusion. At the same time, Obama's comment doesn't make sense if he's talking about right-wing blogs, because they certainly don't hide their hands - the only people who could be "hiding their hands" would be the McCain campaigners directing smears of Obama while McCain denies it from the top. And Obama's initial statement was before Stephanopoulos had a chance to screw with him. So everyone screwed this one up.
9.8.2008 4:09am
Mmmmm-hmmmm:
This is worse than being publicly reminded by Joe Lieberman about Shia and Sunni? Or the outright lie of "thanks, but no thanks" about the Bridge to Nowhere?
9.8.2008 4:11am
BillW:
I'd disagree that Obama has "usually not been especially unfair". At least twice in the last few months, he's said the Republicans were planning to smear him for his "funny name" and being black. One time he specifically accused McCain.
9.8.2008 4:28am
Hoosier:
Palin-Jindal 2012?--That sounds right to me. Ijust think the "Obama is a Muslim" issue is easy to solve: How are his girls being raised? If he is a crypto-Muslim, then, since his girls are being raised as nothing-but-Protestant . . . WOW. Now THAT'S crypto.

Two points:

He needs to be more careful than to accuse "these guys" of anything like that. Unless he's actually pointing at some people, of course.

More infelicitous language: Best not to use the phrase "throw a rock" when Muslims are the topic of discussion. No?
9.8.2008 5:02am
Nels Nelson (mail):
This is only a gaffe in the sense that he set himself up for a YouTube mash-up. His meaning was clear in the context of the interview, especially when you watch (not read) his correction and response to Stephanopoulos.
9.8.2008 5:07am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
If he were intellectually honest, Jukeboxgrad will argue, as he did regarding Palin's explanation about the teaching of creationism, that Obama's first response is the accurate one


The two situations are so dissimilar that no "intellectually honest" person would try to compare them. In the Palin situation, a whole day went by, and she had lots of time to think about what she said, and to consider the reaction. And the first statement was clear, and the second statement was clear. They were just different.

In this instance, we're trying to parse a short conversation, where there's a lot of room for ambiguity. I find that none of it is terribly clear. Here are some aspects that I think haven't been mentioned yet. Steph said this:

You mention your Christian faith. Yesterday you took off after the Republicans for suggesting you have Muslim connections. Just a few minutes ago, Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, said they've never done that.


A problem is that I don't know exactly what Davis said. Therefore there is some ambiguity in "they" (which I highlighted). It could be interpreted either way:

A) Republicans in general (which were mentioned in the prior sentence).
B) McCain and the top echelons of his campaign.

Subsequent parts of the conversation take on extra ambiguity when we recognize this bit of ambiguity.

There's another aspect of the situation that I think is relevant. Obama mentions how quickly he slapped down the baby-gate rumor. And he actually did this very quickly and emphatically, as I recall.

By comparison, I think the Obama=Muslim business has bubbled and festered along for quite a while, and I don't know exactly when McCain spoke up about that. I think Obama is trying to make a point about this chronology. He's saying that he immediately condemned the baby rumors, but nevertheless McCain was quick to try to pin those rumors on him. Whereas McCain was perhaps not so quick to slap down the Obama=Muslim rumors. This slowness on McCain's part could be what Obama means when he says "these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand." In other words, stand by silently while you watch someone throw the rock, and then wait a while before condemning the rock-throwing. Which means you are complicit in the throwing. I think in a way Obama might be saying this: 'if McCain was sincere about this, his complaint would have been very quick and emphatic, as mine was.'

I wait with baited breath for Jukeboxgrad to prove me right.


The proper spelling is "bated." Normally I don't mention this sort of thing, but for some reason that one triggers my copy-editing instincts.
9.8.2008 5:17am
David M. Nieporent (www):
If he were intellectually honest, Jukeboxgrad will argue, as he did regarding Palin's explanation about the teaching of creationism, that Obama's first response is the accurate one
No such luck, not that I think you're shocked by this.

Instead, we get an argument that doesn't make any sense at all, unless the flow of time reverses itself in JBG's world; the amount of time between the first and second statement may reflect on the validity of the second statement, but can't possibly have any bearing on whether the first statement represents a person's true feelings.
9.8.2008 5:26am
paul lukasiak (mail):
What I find astonishing is that Obama is now blaming the the GOP for the "Muslim" rumors. During the primaries "these guys" were always identified as "the Clinton campaign" -- suddenly, its "the Republicans" doing it.

Obama isn't helping himself with these transparent plays of the victim card. Perhaps if he'd not made the false allegations against the Clinton campaign on this and other issues, these kinds of claims would have more resonance. But when you make false claims of 'racism' and 'Muslim rumor spreading' to win a primary, its difficult to take these accusations seriously a few months later in the general election campaign.
9.8.2008 6:15am
A. Zarkov (mail):
This whole campaign seems to concentrate on irrelevant topics. I would like to know the candidates positions on things like the Freddie and Fannie nationalization. Their policy on non-proliferation, and on whether we should re-process nuclear wastes or send them to the Yucca Mountain repository. There are a zillion important items that a president must set policy on, and so far I'm not getting much information on that.
9.8.2008 7:12am
LM (mail):

During the primaries "these guys" were always identified as "the Clinton campaign" -- suddenly, its "the Republicans" doing it.

Just saw the clip. It's clearly ambiguous.
9.8.2008 7:49am
just me (mail):
1. It is clear that he wasn't saying he was a Muslim. That was a slip of the tongue.

2. I think this was actually a backhanded smear on McCain and his campaign. Basically saying McCain was spreading the rumors and hiding that fact.

I think Stephanopolis actually did a pretty decent job of trying to pressure Obama on this issue and didn't let Obama get away with the accusation.

I have seen this clip edited to show many things to date-but the exchange from beginning to end shows Obama making an accusation he can't back up, and being forced to back away from that accusation. The whole "muslim faith" thing really isn't a big deal.
9.8.2008 7:54am
Hoosier:
For the LAST TIME:

OF COURSE he's not a Muslim. They'd NEVER have a cross-dressing atheist drug-dealer.

Enough with the slurs already!
9.8.2008 8:06am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
BTW Obama seems to be a mis-speaker on the level of GWB. So far, this hasn't mattered, but I think it will come into play now that more people are paying attention.


More people? Like who? Certainly not the media, who are too busy salivating over who gets to break the news of the first Palin gaffe so they can get on with their Palin-as-Quayle meme to pay attention to any Obama gaffes.
9.8.2008 8:27am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Does anyone have a link to what Stephanopolus is referring to here...

Yesterday you took off after the Republicans for suggesting you have Muslim connections.


(I tried finding a news story like that, but couldn't.)

IMHO, the only people who buy into the "Obama is a Muslim" story at this point are the kind of people who would never support Obama anyway, and are simply looking for a "hook" to hang their opposition on. If Obama is raising this as a GOP smear at this point, he's playing the victim card.

To a very large extent, media coverage is driven by what at least one campaign wants to talk about -- and its pretty easy to tell what the campaigns want to talk about by what certain columnists write about. I haven't seen any of the usual conservative suspects trying to push the "Muslim" theme, but the liberal columnists have been all over the "personal" stuff about Palin -- and as we saw with the "racist" and "RFK/assassination" smears during the primaries, the Obama campaign is very good about pushing smears then decrying them.

In other words, I think that the Obama campaign sent out word that Palin needed to be attacked, and attacked hard -- they probably didn't say "talk about Palin's personal life", but they didn't have to.
9.8.2008 8:46am
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
You know, it's actually true that Palin said "thanks but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere. Specifically, she said "Thanks!" when the project was firs passed. "But" then it became politically unpopular so she said "no thanks."
9.8.2008 9:43am
rarango (mail):
Agree entirely with Zarkov--there is a hell of a lot going on in the world and at home; and yet we as a nation are letting this campaign be driven by moonbats and wingnuts on the extreme left and right.

Sad to say, neither candidate appears able to control their lunatic fringes, although I guess that is what the internet has wrought. Anyone who thinks that Obama is a muslim has to somehow ignore his long association with a Christian church. (and please lets don't rehash that issue).
9.8.2008 10:09am
Helpful Hints from Harry:
"his long association with a Christian church"

Here's a helpful hint from Harry:

If someone says "I don't think that man is Christian," that does not imply the someone thinks the subject is Muslim.

This has been a helpful hint from Harry.
9.8.2008 10:19am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Stephanopoulos was deliberately confounding Republicans (in the initial statement) with McCain's campaign (in the followups), which resulted in Obama's confusion.

If Obama can't handle Stephanopoulos, why should we believe that he can handle negotiations with Iran, Russia, and so on?
9.8.2008 10:29am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> You know, it's actually true that Palin said "thanks but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere. Specifically, she said "Thanks!" when the project was firs passed. "But" then it became politically unpopular so she said "no thanks."

One difference - Palin representing AK as a state politician. She had no power to allocate money.

Meanwhile, Biden is making his kid rich and Obama is sending money to his cronies - they're actually voting.

Folks are offended that an earmark opponent might seek an earmark. I don't see it. The designated hitter rule is an abomination, yet I wouldn't expect an opponent who was an AL manager to refuse to use it. Instead, I'd expect him to try to get on the rules committee and try to change it.
9.8.2008 10:34am
Neo (mail):
It's quite obvious when watching the video that Obama looks tired, so it was only natural to flub.

One can only wonder if the 3 AM calls from his pollsters are taking a toll on him.

I'm sure that the Republicans would like to help him with the problem by sending him on a long vacation.
9.8.2008 10:37am
alkali (mail):
I get the sense that

(1) the senior staff of both campaigns have relationships with the media where they can say, "Hey, you should look at X" where "X" is something they wouldn't assert on the record, and

(2) the senior staff of the other campaign can get wind of such efforts, and publicly complain "Hey, the other side is pushing story X, which is a smear."

The problem is that all we see of this dynamic is the complaint at the end of the process, and we don't know whether it's correct, mistaken, or a deliberate falsehood.
9.8.2008 10:51am
Houston Lawyer:
It is unbecoming for a presidential candidate to whine about how unfair his opponents are. Palin avoided this in her acceptance speech the other night and was rewarded for her performance.

You should use your surrogates to go after the unfair attackers. In Obama's case, his surrogates are ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBS, Newsweek, etc.
9.8.2008 10:51am
Simon P:
So is George Stephanopoulos part of the evil media the McCain campaign has been attacking over recent days in order to deflect any genuine criticism of Palin?

I mean, by now I'm past expecting even-handed consistency from Jim Lindgren, but even if one were to accept his reading of this interview, I hardly see how it is noteworthy. McCain's campaign is on the order of ten times as sleazy as this attempt to associate an unsavory media story with McCain's campaign. Yet this is what you talk about, Jim? This is what requires this kind of attention and detail?
9.8.2008 11:19am
Hoosier:
If I were Obama, and it were clear that I was going to lose--I'm behind 25 points in the polls, and it had just been revealed that Biden refers to Pelosi as "that crazy Dago commie"--I would seize the opportunity.

I'd go on O'Reilly, live, and halfway through, shout: "May the Flames of Islam consume your degenerate lifestyle!"

But, hell, I'd do that even if I were winning. Because I think it would be ace. So that's probably why Obama does better in politics that I do.
9.8.2008 11:21am
A.W. (mail):
Jim,

Two wrongs don't make a right, but at the very least every reporter should throw this in his face the next time he says mccain gets shia and suni confused. He got his own faith confused, apparently.

By the way, remember that promise to fire anyone who attacked Palin's daughter. Go check over at NRO's the campaign spot. Apparently he has broken that pledge.

Hey you know what Obama means in Swahili? Phony.*

* Note, that is not actually true, just a joke. I don't want to start another damn internet rumor.
9.8.2008 11:33am
David M. Nieporent (www):
BTW Obama seems to be a mis-speaker on the level of GWB.
Come on. Bush's malapropisms are exaggerated, as Eugene has pointed out. But he's a really bad speaker, who often flails when he's off his talking points. Obama isn't that bad; he's merely ordinary, rather than the polished speaker he comes across as in prepared speeches.
9.8.2008 11:33am
DR:
See? He's clearly a Muslim. Busted.
9.8.2008 11:34am
SeaDrive:
Don't you love it that when someone who can't type a two or three sentence comment on a blog implies that a candidate should be able to spend 10 hours a day in front of a camera for whole year without making a mistake?
9.8.2008 11:39am
rarango (mail):
Neo: Boy, if Obama doesnt function well without sleep, then Hillary was right about getting that 3 AM call (I keed, I keed)
9.8.2008 11:40am
nicestrategy (mail):
My guess is that the Obama camp is frustrated at having the media's overreach, this time about Palin's family, blow back on them, not unlike in New Hampshire earlier in the year. If anything negative about one's opponent gets attributed to the campaign, it is tempting to point out that the most malicious and out and out false things being spread have come from the far right fringe.

I understand the temptation, but it is weak, not substantive, and probably bad political tactics. Then again, I'm not a low information voter that is prone to believing that either candidate's budget plan adds up or that Palin turned down federal largess in re: the Bridge to Nowhere. If one campaign is going to lie through their teeth and be rewarded for it... yeesh, that's just not a good sign for the health of our democracy in a mass media age. At least the early TV age had some kind of quality filter in place.

McCain called the press his base. The media constantly repeats the conventional wisdom about McCain being a maverick, or his being politically immune from criticism because of his POW status (Brokaw of all people!), etc. The press bias is to the sensational, but they like both candidates at some level. The liberal bias meme is malarky. Too bad people are foolish enough to believe this trope no matter what the circumstances, because it obviously works.
9.8.2008 11:42am
Shertaugh:
"Smear." Great word, Jim.

But "he wants to raise your taxes." Not a smear.

"He wants to put a bureaucrat between you and your physician." Not a smear.

What, exactly, is a "Smear"?
9.8.2008 12:15pm
Hoosier:
By the way: Do Muslims use the phrase the "Muslim faith"? I've never heard it, but that doesn't mean all that much.
9.8.2008 12:35pm
Hoosier:
Too bad people are foolish enough to believe this trope no matter what the circumstances, because it obviously works.

What's the difference between a trope and a meme?

Are they interchangable? Does a meme have to be spread through those internets contraptions?
9.8.2008 12:40pm
byomtov (mail):
At least twice in the last few months, he's said the Republicans were planning to smear him for his "funny name" and being black.

Yeah. It's not like any Republican has accused him of being "uppity," for example, or that commenters even here on this oh-so-reasonable blog never stress his middle name, or talk about how "certain expressions" lead themto suspect he's a Muslim.

Look. This stuff is out there, and it's nasty, and it's being spread by someone.
9.8.2008 12:43pm
matt b (mail):
imagine for a moment that palin said, "my grandson, trig, is love by the whole family. oh, yeah, i mean my son, trig."

some gaffe, huh?
9.8.2008 12:44pm
Hoosier:
Yeah. It's not like any Republican has accused him of being "uppity," for example . . . and it's being spread by someone.

Was thi something that one GA legislator said once ? Do you have other quotes? Because otherwise, it is being spread by . . . well, you.

or that commenters even here on this oh-so-reasonable blog never stress his middle name

It is his name. If it embarasses you, that says something about . . . well, you. Again.

or talk about how "certain expressions" lead themto suspect he's a Muslim.

He is not a Muslim. But it's best for all if we refer to this sort of thing as something other than a "smear". Right? Such canards should not be repeated because they are factually wrong, and aimed at some people's baser instincts.

But there is nothing inherently wrong about being a Muslim, unlike, say, being a traitor. So repeating the lie that he is a crypto-Muslim is something other than a smear. (Asserting that he is a liar because he's actully a cryto-Muslim? Now that's a smear.)
9.8.2008 1:10pm
Hoosier:
Shertaugh

I can't say we have a defintion we will all agree on. But, for what it's worth, here is my candidate for the "Coolest "Post-racial Smear":

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Smear
9.8.2008 1:12pm
Jane (mail):
So, the McCain camp would "throw a rock and hide their hand"?

I find this a very interesting accusation. I have always believed that people tend to accuse other of doing what they themselves would do. It is much harder to imagine someone doing what you would consider well "out of bounds". (I believe this tendency is called "psychological projection").

So, I find this is an interesting comment in light of all those ugly Palin smears, which some have said the Obama camp was encouraging behind the scenes. Not proof of anything, just makes me think, huummmmmmm......

BYW, I have read these silly Obama = Muslim smears, and note that they are generally pushed by 'fringy' commenters but not given much credence by the mainstream.
9.8.2008 1:59pm
Virginian:

How are his girls being raised?


Until recently, they were being taught that God damns America, that our government created AIDS, and that we deserved what we got on 9/11.

Assuming the kids, unlike dad, were paying attention on Sunday mornings.
9.8.2008 2:08pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Stephanopolous is a right wing hack!
9.8.2008 2:22pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
BTW, many accusation of lies against McCain by Thom Hartmann:

* that he lied about Obama's health care plan
* that he lied about Obama's tax plan regarding oil companies
9.8.2008 2:23pm
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
Anagram:

RUNT MCCAIN HAD AN IDEA = MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
9.8.2008 2:33pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
Every time I hear one of these adament denials, "I'm not a Muslim," I'm left with an unfullfilled desire to hear the refrain from that great Seinfeld episode, "not that there's anything wrong with it."

If I were a Muslim, I don't know what would offend me more -- people trying to scare voters by insinuating that a candidate shares my faith, or using words like "namecalling" and "smear" to characterize the behavior of those labeling others Muslims.


...oh, are you gay?

What? Uh, blech, hell no! Don't smear me like that. (Not that there's anything wrong with it).
9.8.2008 2:54pm
Sarcastro (www):
DeezRightWingNutz does kinda sound gay to me, what with the testicle name and all.

And if he says he's not, then he's homophobic cause he wouldn't correct me unless he hated gay people!
9.8.2008 3:34pm
Steve Reeve (mail):
Hoosier,

"What's the difference between a trope and a meme?"

That's irrelevant - it was a typo - it should have been tripe.
9.8.2008 3:45pm
Sarcastro (www):
memes are just baby tropes, yes?
9.8.2008 3:46pm
Yankee Southerner (mail) (www):
these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand


An et tu quoque comment?
9.8.2008 3:50pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

But there is nothing inherently wrong about being a Muslim, unlike, say, being a traitor. So repeating the lie that he is a crypto-Muslim is something other than a smear.

I disagree. If the intention and the effect are deceptive and pejorative, it's a smear. That's true even if the pejorative is implied ("he's un-American"), and regardless of how much ignorance or bigotry you need to make it pejorative. The South Carolina push polling about McCain having black babies was the same kind of thing. If a smear shouldn't be pejorative, that just makes it a loaded smear, which is even worse. As in "When did you stop beating your black, Muslim children?" In other words it's a smear that piggy-backs on other smears, e.g., of Islam, African-Americans....

It is his name. If it embarasses you, that says something about . . . well, you. Again.

For the same reason, I'm surprised if you believe that. Again, the intention and effect are deceptive and pejorative. It's irrelevant that the smear relies on intervening ignorance and bigotry.

(Have you tried Firefox? It spell checks as you go along.)
9.8.2008 4:16pm
Asher (mail):
I don't even see that he misspoke. He's saying that McCain hasn't made false claims about his belonging to the Muslim faith.
9.8.2008 4:18pm
LM (mail):
Now I see that Sarcastro said the same thing I did, but in a fraction as many words. Damn superheros will make us all obsolete.
9.8.2008 4:24pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
I thought memes traveled in tropes...

meme:trope::bird:flock
9.8.2008 4:50pm
Hoosier:
Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon:
Anagram:

RUNT MCCAIN HAD AN IDEA = MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE


It doesn't really count if you start with what you want to say, and then construct the hidden message backwards.

Read some of Nabokov's short stories. And make sure you find all of the anagrams, acrostics, and other hidden messages. Come back when you've got that done.

Thanks!
9.8.2008 6:02pm
Hoosier:
LM :
Now I see that Sarcastro said the same thing I did, but in a fraction as many words. Damn superheros will make us all obsolete.


How many times must we go over this?

Sarcasm is not a super power!
9.8.2008 6:04pm
Hoosier:
LM

(Have you tried Firefox? It spell checks as you go along.)

Yeah, that's what I usually use, and I forget that spellcheck isn't on when I launch in a different browser. Ugh! My apologies.
9.8.2008 6:06pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier, No apology necessary. Other people's typos don't bother me, but mine do. I figured you might feel the same way.
9.8.2008 6:22pm
Hoosier:
LM—Seriously, thanks. I'll have to make sure of the browser I'm using.

So as a 'thank you,' I'm going to cut out a relevant part of your earlier post, in order to make you look like a raving bigot (Nothing personal. I just haven't been having as much fun with slander as other posters here.)

Hoosier:


But there is nothing inherently wrong about being a Muslim


LM— I disagree.


Then I say something like: Those were your EXACT WORDS! Didn't you write those words? JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!

See how much fun you can have when you cast off intellectual integrity? This move also helps you get tenure! YAY!
9.8.2008 6:36pm
wfjag:

How are his girls being raised?

Until recently, they were being taught that God damns America, that our government created AIDS, and that we deserved what we got on 9/11.

Assuming the kids, unlike dad, were paying attention on Sunday mornings.


But, Virginian, you cannot prove they were there when such things were said, as Sen. Obama pointed out, there was no proof that he was there when such things were said.

Why does Sen. Obama's campaign increasingly remind me of "Racehorse" Haynes' explaining how he'd respond to a suit alleging that his dog had bitten someone?


Say you sue me because you say my dog bit you. Well, now this is my defense:

My dog doesn't bite.

And second, in the alternative, my dog was tied up that night.

And third, I don't believe you really got bit.

And fourth, I don't have a dog.
9.8.2008 7:06pm
LM (mail):

This move also helps you get tenure!

Then do it. Think of it as saying what your torturers want to hear. It doesn't mean you're surrendering, just surviving to fight another day.
9.8.2008 8:13pm
byomtov (mail):
Hoosier,

Yes, it was one moron of a Georgia congressman. So what?

It is his name. If it embarasses you, that says something about . . . well, you. Again.

No. It doesn't embarrass me. It should embarrass you that so many commenters on your side stress it. Why do you think they do that? Do they use McCain's middle name? No. Pretending not to understand is ridiculous.

Asserting that he is a liar because he's actully a cryto-Muslim? Now that's a smear.

You finally got one right. Obama says he's a Christian. So all your pals claiming he's a Muslim are engaging in smear tactics, by your own definition. You going to call them on it?
9.9.2008 1:09am
Anonymous #000:
It should embarrass you that so many commenters on your side stress it.

When Leftists call Andrew Sullivan a conservative, they have no idea what "our side" is. In other words, the only people I've seen bringing it up for months are the ones complaining that people have ever brought it up. Way to bury the story.

You going to call them on it?

Plenty of people with conservative credentaials have, but that doesn't have bearing on what Hoosier himself thinks (which I believe he's already clarified, but it's easy to miss comments contents -- so you should have said "have you," not "will you").
9.9.2008 1:17am