Obama exaggerates family’s Kennedy connection

Posted by: ST on March 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm

The Washington Post Fact Checker section catches BO in another example of him embellishing his and his family’s history:

Addressing civil rights activists in Selma, Ala., a year ago, Sen. Barack Obama traced his “very existence” to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kansan mother.

The Camelot connection has become part of the mythology surrounding Obama’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. After Caroline Kennedy endorsed his candidacy in January, Newsweek commentator Jonathan Alter reported that she had been struck by the extraordinary way in which “history replays itself” and by how “two generations of two families — separated by distance, culture and wealth — can intersect in strange and wonderful ways.”

It is a touching story — but the key details are either untrue or grossly oversimplified.

Contrary to Obama’s claims in speeches in January at American University and in Selma last year, the Kennedy family did not provide the funding for a September 1959 airlift of 81 Kenyan students to the United States that included Obama’s father. According to historical records and interviews with participants, the Kennedys were first approached for support for the program nearly a year later, in July 1960. The family responded with a $100,000 donation, most of which went to pay for a second airlift in September 1960.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton acknowledged yesterday that the senator from Illinois had erred in crediting the Kennedy family with a role in his father’s arrival in the United States. He said the Kennedy involvement in the Kenya student program apparently “started 48 years ago, not 49 years ago as Obama has mistakenly suggested in the past.”


Obama’s Selma speech offers a very confused chronology of both the Kenya student program and the civil rights movement. Relating the story of how his parents met, Obama said: “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Junior was born. So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama.”

After bloggers pointed out that the Selma bridge protest occurred four years after Obama’s birth, a spokesman explained that the senator was referring to the civil rights movement in general, rather than any one event.

What I want to know is, where’s the outrage? Remember Romney’s statement in his “Faith in America” speech about how he supposedly saw his father, then-Governor of Michigan George Romney, march alongside MLK, a remark that liberal bloggers and their cohorts in the MSM jumped on as a “lie”? The coverage on this for days was relentless, to the point that Romney backpedaled and claimed he never literally saw his father march with MLK. Witnesses came forth and said that they saw Gov. Romney marching with MLK, but the myth that his son totally fabricated the story persists to this day.

Will we see similar blanket, wall to wall coverage of Obama’s latest faux pax, one of many he’s been caught in on the campaign trail? I won’t hold my breath. Mitt Romney didn’t enjoy the “messiah-like” status that the media bestowed long ago on Barack Obama.

Clearly, there is a concerted effort by BO to link himself and his family with the Kennedys, partly because the media and historians have painted the JFK presidential days in particular as Camelot-like, and partly because of the overrated status of not only JFK but the Kennedy name in general. To be looked upon favorably by the Kennedys, as well as to be compared to JFK and/or RFK in a positive light, has been, over the last 40+ years, an aspiration of many a liberal politician. Like, for example, in 2004 when Dem candidate for prez Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and his supporters started using his middle initial when saying his name: “John F. Kerry” – clearly in an effort to draw favorable comparisons to JFK, whom he had met a few times in the early 60s. Let’s also not forget the pictures we saw of Bubba Clinton when he was a young man, shaking hands with JFK in 1963. It was a meeting he talked fondly about on more than a couple of occasions. And while the endorsement of BO by several prominent Kennedy family members including Senator Ted didn’t help him in Massachusetts nor California, the symbolism of the metaphorical “passing of the torch” from Ted Kennedy wasn’t lost even on Obama skeptics like myself.

That said, to recap, we know now beyond a shadow of a doubt that Barack Obama has a penchant for “overstating” things (and that’s putting it charitably): His family connections to JFK, his ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘involvement’ on contentious legislation, his ‘commitment’ to Afghanistan, his claim that his campaign is responsible “only to the people,” his ‘accomplishments’ while a State Senator in Illinois, and, among other things, the ‘courage’ it took to give a speech opposing the Iraq war in October 2002, a speech he gave in front of an anti-war crowd, and one that was made three months before he declared his intentions to run for the US Senate.

A couple of things he’s understated: His close ties to indicted Chicago money man Tony Rezko, and his mentorship with the hateful Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who Obama now calls his “former pastor,” not because BO left the church in protest but instead because Rev. Wright retired last month from TUCC. That doesn’t change the fact that Obama has had a close bond with the Reverend that goes back 20 years. BO now cleverly downplays his relationship with Wright by saying that Wright was merely his “pastor” but as recently as a little over a year ago, Obama was calling Wright his spirtual mentor as well as a “friend” and a great leader.”

With all this exaggerating and downplaying, along with the misleading statements Obama gives to both the press and supporters alike on a routine basis, we’re supposed to believe he’s “different” from all the rest in what way, again?

Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.

Update/Related: Via Stop The ACLU: Barack Obama – “”Look, I got two daughters β€” 9 years old and 6 years old” he said. “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.”

His squarely leftist view of abortion isn’t surprising, but the phraseology is interesting coming from a supposedly ‘mainstream Democrat,’ and like MM, I’m wondering how this will play with the pro-life Democrats in PA … and beyond.

What’s next? Him calling an unborn child a “parasite“?

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  • 5 Responses to “Obama exaggerates family’s Kennedy connection”


    1. G-Monster says:

      ST-I think the overstatements by Obama are pretty good. Hillary is a great mentor.

      I liked the overstatement by Hillary that she was named after the guy who climbed Mt. Everest.


      And the recent one where she had to duck and cover from sniper fire when she landed in Bosnia.

      Can’t wait to see what these 2 will come up with next week.

    2. Great White Rat says:

      ST says:

      Obama has a penchant for “overstating” things (and that’s putting it charitably): His family connections to JFK

      The really ironic part is that today’s Democrat party has completely repudiated so much of what John Kennedy said and did, while treating him as a demigod.

      For example, this is probably John Kennedy’s most famous quote:

      And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

      Now seriously – can you picture Obama, or Clinton, or any Democrat of national stature today saying that? The Dems long ago abandoned the idea of taking responsibility for anything, let along doing something for America. Want proof? No one is doing more for America than our armed forces. Need we take a trip down memory lane and recall the way the Democrat leadership – people like Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, the Clintons, John Murtha, et al, have denigrated them at every opportunity?

      But asking what America can do for you – now THAT’s the Democrat way. The entitlement mentality is alive and well there. Their candidates spend most of their time playing “Can You Top This” on what new giveaway they can promise.

      How about this Kennedy quote:

      Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.

      Or this one:

      We stand for freedom. That is our conviction for ourselves; that is our only commitment to others.

      To today’s Democrats, with the notable exception of Joe Lieberman, any price is too high, any burden is too heavy, any hardship is cause to quit, friends are to be sacrificed, and foes are to be appeased. Nor do they have the conviction or commitment to battle for liberty. That, basically, is the entire Democrat position on Iraq.

      On the home front, let’s not forget that JFK was a tax-cutter. Ronald Reagan and George Bush both pointed to Kennedy’s successful tax cut policy when proposing their plans. But you’ll have to look long and hard to find a Democrat today who doesn’t think the government isn’t entitled to more of your paycheck.

      Finally, it seems JFK foresaw the state of the current Democratic party. See if this quote doesn’t describe Obama, Clinton, Reid, Pelosi, and the rest of the gaggle:

      There will always be dissident voices heard in the land expresing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side, and seeking influence without responsibility.

      Actually, Kennedy never spoke those words. They were from the text of the speech he was to deliver at the Dallas Trade Mart on November 22, 1963.

      Reference for all quotes is here.