There’s lots of Barry Oh! news to cover out there, so much so that I’m going to try and condense all the stories into one post. Here goes:
Two Muslim women at Barack Obama’s rally in Detroit on Monday were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women’s headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.
The campaign has apologized to the women, both Obama supporters who said they felt betrayed by their treatment at the rally.
“This is of course not the policy of the campaign. It is offensive and counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “We sincerely apologize for the behavior of these volunteers.”
“I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to” said Hebba Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer who lives in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. “The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with Muslims or Muslim supporters.”
In Detroit on Monday, the two different Obama volunteers — in separate incidents — made it clear that headscarves wouldn’t be in the picture. The volunteers gave different explanations for excluding the hijabs, one bluntly political and the other less clear.
Verrry interesting. Now, if the Obama campaign really has instituted a hush-hush “no headscarves in pictures” policy, someone fell down on the job here. I suspect there’s no policy involved here, and instead you had a couple of overzealous volunteers not wanting to add fuel to the “Obama’s a Muslim” rumor mill by having him in a photo with any. That said, Marc Ambinder explains why this is a legitimate political issue:
Incidentally: the media covers John McCain’s volunteer/advance work very carefully; this mistake by an Obama volunteer is as egregious as anything McCain’s advance team has ever done — lime green background included.
Yeah, but don’t expect this story to garner even 1/100th of the outrage and uproar that the media generates over every little McCain “scandal.” I mean, we are talking about the Obamedia here.
It’s “let’s feel sorry about Michelle Obama Day” today, as not only did she appear as a guest-host and get the “how dare they attack you” treatment on the liberal View show (video clips can be watched here, and a round table photo is at the end of this post), but in an interview yesterday with CBN’s “Brody File,” her hubby expressed “deep disappointment” that John McCain has not condemned the criticisms about Michelle Obama that have come from various conservatives over the last several months. The McCain campaign responded as follows:
“Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently. Unfortunately, when the DNC was attacking Mrs. McCain, Senator Obama was not strong enough to stand up and speak out against the outrageous charges leveled at her by his party chair, Howard Dean. Obama’s silence speaks volumes, and it’s unfortunate that he would single out others for a standard he himself has failed to live up to.”
Unfortunate, yes, but not unusual, as we all know too well by now.
And speaking of political spouses, ABC News’ Political Radar (and Drudge) are making a big deal out of Cindy McCain’s Good Morning America interview this morning in which she repeated her earlier comments about Michelle Obama’s “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of country” remarks that generated controversy amongst conservatives:
“I don’t know why she said what she said,” Mrs. McCain explains in an interview with ABC News’ Kate Snow airing on “Good Morning America” Thursday. “Everyone has their own experience. I don’t know why she said what she said, all I know is that I have always been proud of my country.”
Snow asked McCain if she was “insulted when Michelle Obama said she was proud of her country for the first time”, referencing remarks Obama made at a Wisconsin rally during her husband’s fight for the Democratic presidential nomination against Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Drudge’s headline for this story reads, “UNLEASHED” but as you can see from the excerpt, Cindy McCain didn’t bring it up – she was asked about it and responded by essentially saying the same thing she did shortly after Mrs. Obama made the statement she did. End of story. On the other hand, First Lady Laura Bush defended Obama’s Proud” remarks early last week, saying she believed they were “misconstrued.”
Last bit of news on Michelle Obama: The NYT published an article today on how Michelle Obama was undergoing a subtle general election “makeover” of sorts. Tom Maguire analyzed some of what was reported and found it – and some of the quotes contained within – lacking.
NAFTAGATE II? We all remember the merry-go-round the Obama campaign sent everyone on a few months ago when it was reported that Obama’s senior economic advisor Austan Goolsbee (who is still with the Obama campaign) told the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago that Obama’s tough stance on NAFTA was little more than tough political rhetoric not to be taken too seriously. Of course, Goolsbee and Obama both denied the story, and Obama made lame statements after the story broke in an attempt to discredit it, saying essentially that he ‘meant what he said’ (cough).
Well, now that he’s safely secured the nomination, Obama’s proving that his denials about the Goolsbee/Canadian Consulate General story were – wait for it – “just words.” Fortune’s Nina Easton reports:
WASHINGTON (Fortune) — The general campaign is on, independent voters are up for grabs, and Barack Obama is toning down his populist rhetoric – at least when it comes to free trade.
In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine’s upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn’t want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.
“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake,” despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.
Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? “Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don’t exempt myself,” he answered.
Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama’s campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.
The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.
As it turns out, about the only thing the story got wrong was who the remarks were made to and where they were made.
Liberal bloggers at both the HuffPo and The Nation are just two of many lefty blogs noting their displeasure with Obama’s general election shift to the center. Question of the day: Are these blogs just now figuring out Obama’s well-documented duplicity? I mean, most political junkies realize that “maverick” McCain is going to flip flop here and there on certain issues, but like I thought Obama was a man of “principle” who stood his ground and didn’t play those tired ol’ Washington political games he accuses his opponents of playing …
The Chosen One also suggested today that Osama bin Laden may not be captured alive, but that he shouldn’t be “made into a martyr” by the US, and implied that it might be a good idea to have OBL face a Nuremberg-style trial:
Obama said he wouldn’t discuss what approach he would take to bring bin Laden to justice if he were apprehended. But he said the Nuremberg trials for the prosecution of Nazi leaders are an inspiration because the victors acted to advance universal principles and set a tone for the creation of an international order.
“What would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr, and to assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism,” Obama said.
Um. Um. Where to start? Jim Geraghty’s got it covered.
Last but not least, as promised earlier – the photo of today’s View panel, seen at the NYT’s Caucus blog:
Photo courtesy: Steve Fenn/ABC