Monday, May 19, 2008

Obama's excuses

Barack Obama has some creative explanations for why he's going to lose in Kentucky.
"What it says is that I'm not very well known in that part of the country," Obama said. "Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it's not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle."

Obama has been trying to introduce himself to Kentuckians using a series of biographical TV ads, as well as fliers, including one that shows him at a pulpit in front of a church’s cross and pipe organ.

He acknowledged that he’s trying to “reverse a lot of misconceptions” about his background. He is a Christian, although some e-mail chains have said he is a Muslim.

“Part of it is because there have been these e-mails that have been sent out very systematically, presumably by various political opponents, although I don’t know who,” he said. “And there are a lot of voters who get their news from Fox News. Fox has been pumping up rumors about my religious beliefs or my patriotism or what have you since the beginning of the campaign.”
He had the same excuse for his loss in West Virginia.
Greg Pollowitz helpfully supplies a map of the United States. In case the senator from Illinois needs a review - Kentucky and Illinois actually border each other. Historically a lot of Kentuckians helped settle Illinois. Think of Abraham Lincoln's family. Arkansas just isn't so close.Last week, Obama attributed his 41-point loss in the West Virginia primary, in part, to his short tenure on the national stage.

"I'm not well-known there," Obama said. "You know, some of these e-mails and rumors that have been talked about penetrated in West Virginia [more] than they have in some other states."
According to Obama, West Virginians and Kentuckians are so behind the times that they haven't heard enough about Obama to get to know him. Maybe they don't get TV or the Internet there in Kentucky and can't find out about the probable nominee of the Democratic Party? Maybe they've missed the six times he or his wife have been on the cover of Newsweek in the past year. Maybe they've missed Oprah's announcement of her support of Obama. It must be that they just don't get any TV or newspapers there.

Oh, wait. They must get TV and the Internet because they're getting Fox News and the Internet. Obama has access to some secret Nielsen numbers to tell him that Kentucky Democrats are more likely to watch Fox News. And that they're more likely to receive and believe those emails than residents of other states. Ah, it must be because they're just dumb Kentuckians who haven't yet seen the light about the Obamatopia. That's why they need those fliers with pictures of Obama speaking in a church with a large, lighted cross in the background. Remember the fuss when Huckabee had an ad wishing voters a Merry Christmas and people said that the bookcase in the background served as a floating cross? That became a storyline for several days. But there seems to be barely a whisper when Obama puts out fliers talking about being a "committed Christian." I guess that is what he needs to do to appeal to those stupid Kentuckians who don't know that he's Christian. (Maybe the Obama campaign needs to send one of those fliers to the editors of the New York Times who gave space to Edward Luttwak who wrote about the possibility that Muslims would regard Obama as an apostate from Islam.)

I suspect that Obama's religion problem is not that Kentuckians believe an email they got several months ago saying that Obama was secretly a Muslim but that they listened to Jeremiah Wright and wondered how Obama could stay so long in Wright's church and not have glommed on to the tone of Wright's black liberationist theology, just as Stanley Kurtz concluded from reading the Trumpet, the magazine put out by Obama's church.
To the question of the moment--What did Barack Obama know and when did he know it?--I answer, Obama knew everything, and he's known it for ages. Far from succumbing to surprise and shock after Jeremiah Wright's disastrous performance at the National Press Club, Barack Obama must have long been aware of his pastor's political radicalism. A careful reading of nearly a year's worth of Trumpet Newsmagazine, Wright's glossy national "lifestyle magazine for the socially conscious," makes it next to impossible to conclude otherwise.

...I obtained the 2006 run of Trumpet, from the first nationally distributed issue in March to the November/December double issue. To read it is to come away impressed by Wright's thoroughgoing political radicalism. There are plenty of arresting sound bites, of course, but the larger context is more illuminating--and more disturbing--than any single shock-quotation. Trumpet provides a rounded picture of Wright's views, and what it shows unmistakably is that the now-infamous YouTube snippets from Wright's sermons are authentic reflections of his core political and theological beliefs. It leaves no doubt that his religion is political, his attitude toward America is bitterly hostile, and he has fundamental problems with capitalism, white people, and "assimilationist" blacks. Even some of Wright's famed "good works," and his moving "Audacity to Hope" sermon, are placed in a disturbing new light by a reading of Trumpet.
Maybe those silly Kentuckians know that Obama has been a mbember of a church for the past 20 years and that news didn't serve to make them lean to supporting the senator from their neighboring state. Obama might think that to know him is to love him and that explains why Kentucky, or West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, or Ohio voters didn't warm up to him, but the excuses are getting a might bit thin these days.