The Che flag controversy: How would JFK have reacted? (MORE: OBAMA USING LINES FROM DEVAL PATRICK’S SPEECHES)

We’re all familiar at this point with the controversy surrounding the Che flag that Fox News – Houston found hanging on the wall of Barack Obama’s “unofficial” (ahem) Houston headquarters, put there by an Obama “volunteer” by the name of Maria Isabel. To recap, here was the Obama campaign’s lame response:

“This is a volunteer office that is not in any way controlled by the Obama campaign. We were disappointed to see this picture because it is both offensive to many Cuban-Americans — and Americans of all backgrounds — and because it does not reflect Senator Obama’s views. Barack Obama has been very clear in putting forward a Cuba policy that is based on one principle: freedom for the Cuban people.”

Yeah, it was an “unofficial” campaign office, but the My Fox Houston report noted that, “paid staffers are expected to man the offices by the end of the week.”

The Obama campaign’s tepid response should trouble anyone in this country who has the abilty to clearly distinguish from right from wrong, and anyone who understands the brutal history of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Since Obama has often been compared to JFK – even by some of JFK’s own family members – columnist Jeff Jacoby has a spot-on piece in today’s Boston Globe asking “What would JFK do?”:

IN 1963, John F. Kennedy was murdered in Texas by a fervent admirer of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In 2008, a large Cuban flag emblazoned with the image of Che Guevara, Castro’s brutal henchman, is prominently displayed in a Barack Obama campaign volunteer office in Houston.

Obama has been widely compared to JFK, most notably by the late president’s brother and daughter. President Kennedy, a stalwart anticommunist, despised Castro and his gang of totalitarian thugs. But when word broke last week that Obama’s supporters in Houston work under a banner glorifying Che, the campaign’s reaction was to brush it off as an issue involving volunteers, not the official campaign. After two days of controversy, the campaign issued a statement calling the flag “inappropriate” and saying its display “does not reflect Senator Obama’s views.” Would JFK have reacted so mildly?

In December 1962, Kennedy offered a blunt summary of the Castro/Che record. “The Cuban people were promised by the revolution political liberty, social justice, intellectual freedom, land for the campesinos, and an end to economic exploitation,” he said. “They have received a police state, the elimination of the dignity of land ownership, the destruction of free speech and a free press, and the complete subjugation of individual human welfare.” Eleven months later, in a speech intended for delivery on the day he was assassinated, Kennedy regretted that Castro’s “Communist foothold” in Latin America had “not yet been eliminated.”

Were he alive today, it’s hard to imagine JFK feeling anything but contempt for those who extol a dictatorship that has been crushing freedom and human beings for nearly 50 years. And it would surely pain him that so many of the cheerleaders are members of his own party.

Read the whole thing.

And speaking of the O-man, he – like Hillary Clinton – is desperately seeking the endorsement of His Royal Phoniness, and graced this state with his presence over the weekend to meet with both Edwards and his wife at their 102-acre estate. Supposedly, Edwards is “torn” on who to endorse. Yeah right – I predict an Edwards endorsement for Obama sometime in the next week.

Update – 11:04 AM: The NYT reports that Barack Obama has been using lines from MA Governor Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign speeches – without giving him credit. They also note that Patrick claiims to not want credit for Obama’s lifting of Patrick’s lines (via Memeorandum). Noted Obama critic and Hillary supporter Taylor Marsh points out that this isn’t the first time it has been reported that Obama “borrows” lines from Deval Patrick. The Boston Globe pointed it out last April:

Not five months later, Obama, his presidential campaign gaining steam, had this to say about legendary Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky in The New Republic: “Sometimes the tendency in community organizing of the sort done by Alinsky was to downplay the power of words and of ideas when in fact ideas and words are pretty powerful. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.’ Those are just words. ‘I have a dream.’ Just words.”

In the midst of his improbable run for office, Obama and his advisers have evidently studied Patrick’s up-from-nowhere victory in Massachusetts and are borrowing themes, messages, and even specific lines for the presidential campaign.


It was Obama who first tested the approach during his Senate victory in Illinois in 2004. Patrick improved on it last year. Now Obama is building on both of those successes as he makes his historic run for the White House.

When a delegation of Massachusetts Democrats heard Obama speak at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting in Washington in February, they could trace the thread, said state Democratic Party chairman Philip W. Johnston.

“We all said that we could have closed our eyes when Obama spoke [and] it could have been Deval,” Johnston said. “To us it was a similar kind of message. It’s a message that transcends partisan politics.”

Isn’t this something? Not only is his political resume and list of accomplishments shockingly thin for a man poised to be Democratic nominee for president, but now the biggest paper in America is emphasizing what the Globe first reported, and between the lines we can read that the “messiah” isn’t always original, and borrows from quite frequently from the playbook of the Massachusetts governor – and vice versa.

Let’s just hope Obama doesn’t borrow this Patrick line, too.

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