20 January 2007

Obama: the smears commence

It looks as if the 2008 presidential campaign is going to be pretty dirty affair, particularly for Barack Obama. Even before throwing his hat into the ring the smear campaigns have started which attempt to portray him as little more than a Muslim version of the Manchurian Candidate.

I must admit I was unaware of the mudslinging until I received my weekly About urban legends newsletter yesterday. It reports that email circulars are currently doing the rounds claiming that Obama is a secret Muslim. The circulars claim that:

His father Barack Obama sr was a radical Muslim

After divorcing his father, his mother married another Muslim and moved to Indonesia. While in Djakarta Barack attended a Wahabist madrassa for two years.

Obama admits that he was once a Muslim

Obama’s membership of the Universal Church of Christ is simply an expedient move to hide his true religious adherence

Needless to say, Obama has never said he was a Muslim at any point in his life and his father was apparently either an atheist or an agnostic by the time he attended university in the USA. After divorcing his father, his mother did marry an Indonesian who was a non practising Muslim. Although he attended both catholic and Muslim primary schools while in Djakarta there is, of course, no evidence that he attended a Wahabist school.

It was not until I Googled “Obama Muslim” and got over a million returns that I realised it was such a contentious issue! Conservative commentators such as Debbie Schlussel had already thrown The “once a Muslim always a Muslim” jibe at Obama – his father was born a Muslim, he is thus a Muslim by definition.

Meanwhile the conservative American magazine Insight alleges that not only did Obama attend a Madrassa (with all the connotations that word has) but that the source of the claim originates from close to Hilary Clinton.

It would seem that he is going to have a very tough fight to secure the Democratic nomination; let alone the presidency. Sadly it does not matter whether any of this is true or not. If people start believing then no amount of correction, clarification or refutation will change their minds. I have no particularly strong views on Obama’s merits as a presidential candidate but this furore has certainly piqued my interest. Just as the Skibbereen Eagle (apocryphally) had its eye on the Tsar, I will have my eye on this story…


beakerkin said...


I predicted the Clintonista attack on Obama two weeks ago. Hilary wants a coronation and is ill suited for a real campaign.

Howard Dean blames the Clintonistas for the circulation of the Scream tape. There is bad blood between Gomer Kerry and the Clintons as well.

However, the obnoxious letter writing campaign started from the UK Gaurdian annoyed plenty of Ohio voters. Americans do not like lectures from across the pond. I tell visitors welcome enjoy your stay and spend money, but be a good guest.

Anonymous said...

According to The Daily Show there have even been (deliberate?) attempts to associate Obama with Osama in the US media.

beakerkin said...


That charge is fiction and 100% not true. The tape played is of a drunk Ted Kennedy making the mistake mostly on the Sean Hannity Radio show.

The clip is one of many that points out how Kennedy's mind is long gone.

Bryan said...

There have been several "mistakes" on the US media that have included "misspellings" and inappropriate backgrounds in relation to stories about Barack Obama, but it is generally thought they are the result of incompetence rather than intent.

The Clinton campaign has no reason to be concerned about Mr. Obama and knows it. Given the level of scrutiny that is always focused on Mrs. Clinton, it would be incredibly stupid for her to be involved, and she is not a stupid person.

As an American let me assure you that xenophobia and racism more than explain the attacks on Mr. Obama without regard to politics. We are a year from any serious politics, so I wouldn't waste too much attention on the US Presidential contest.

jams o donnell said...

Smears are an integral part of politics. Most fanously here was the Zinoviev Letter which torpedoed labour at the 1925 general election. Then there was the Smethwick by leection in 1965 where there was allegedly the slogan "if you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote liberal or labour"

Seeing this arise so quickly struck me that the 08 presidential election is set to be very, very dirty. It really is a "bloody hell" type post!

Bryan, I am not sure either Hilary would have been the source of this smear. She is a hardnosed and very driven woman but is she going to wreck her chance of securing the Democratic nomination. I would have thought such an action would do just that.

Beakerkin while I regularly read the Guardian (which along with the Independent is the best of a bad bunch, paper-wise) I agree with you over the intervention at the last presidential election. I thought it was a dumb move which would probably backfire. If an american had written to me advising me to vote, say concervative, I would have thrown it in the bin.

beakerkin said...


There is far more to this than meets the eyes. Hillary needs overwhelming support in the Black Community to win.
Note that durring Impeachment Clinton made a huge point of praying in a Black Church when the polls left him for dead.

Harlem Rep Charlie Rangel is the Kingmaker in the Democratic party. There was a perfectly fine female candidate set to run in the NY Senate race Nita Lowey. At the time Rudy G was supposed to run and developed cancer. Rangel decided tht Hillary with zero experience or ties to NY was going to be the candidate. Rudy developed cancer and had to withdraw leaving an unknown Rick Lazio to run against Hillary. The reality is even in NY State her support is very soft.

Obama peels away the Clinton lock on the black vote. Even in Vermont where people voted for a homeless looking Socialist Bernie Sanders Hillary is very unpopular. Clinton's support is very soft and she trails in the NH primary.

Obama is a flash in the pan and has done nothing, but neither have Hillary
or Edwards. Electing a Govenor who has run an entity like Gov Richardson makes more sense and only Kennedy became President from the Senate.

I am glad that you remembered the letter writting campaign. The reaction of Ohio voters was far more hostile. The Guardian campaign backfired in a huge way.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

You forgot to throw in the heated morals debate over his admitted use of cocaine, jams. For a lot of people, this combined with his youthfulness, and inexperience lowers any real Presidential chances. Although, if I had to choose I'd vote Obama over the filthy trial lawyer, Edwards, any day.

jams o donnell said...

I daresay there is far more to this than meets the eye Beakerkin. I am not familiar with the details and for all I know the origin of all of this is Loki!

Ultimately it doen't matter if the mud sticks.

I wasn't aware that he had used cocaine ewbl.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Yes. Obama wrote it all out in his memoirs some years ago. Obama's blow confession may BLOW his White House bid. Apparently, he hates people talking about the sixe of his ears too, and he gets quite testy about it. Even with a liberal media pundit like Maureen Dowd.

Just as Newt Gingrich has eyed the Presidency, he is unelectable on moral grounds. People don't look kindly towards a leader who has dumped two wives when they developed serious illnesses like cancer and MS. His third wife is his former mistress. I think character still counts and speaks volumes. While we know that a President is a mere mortal and fallible, I think there are some things that will turn voters against certain candidates.

Just wading through American politic crap is exhausting, jams. I'm amazed at how much you keep up with and know about global governments.

Steve Bates said...

Just wading through American politic crap is exhausting, jams. I'm amazed at how much you keep up with and know about global governments. - EWBL

EWBL, it's easier for jams than it is for us. They have real, honest-to-goodness news outlets in the UK. jams opens his copy of (say) the Guardian and sees world events right there on the front page, complete with explanations of the controversies. What's on our front page in the Houston Comical, um, Chronicle, EWBL? What's on ABC News or in the New York Times that hasn't been rewritten to conform to Karl Rove's latest phone call to the news desk?

I don't mean to idealize UK news sources. But I can't count the number of times I've first learned about American issue in a British publication.

jams o donnell said...

I suppose those isues would play less well in the US than here. Not that it would bplay well here We are not and ultra liberal nation but the UK is less conservative that the US in general... or so it would seem.....

I dont pretend to be that well informed ewbl. I am quite selective about what I read.. There are some things that do leap pit at me and the Obama thing came to me via an urban legends newsletter!

I am a regular Grauniad reader Steve. I like it and the Indy. That is not to say they can't be sloppy... The BBC is still a reliable news source. A lot of our press is utter swill.. the Mail, the Mirror, the Express, teh Sun etc..

Oir tv news is pretty objective.. it is requitred to be, although there are the odd biases which probalby even out over the long run....

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I may deliver the Houston Barnacle but outside the comics, gossip section, food and restaurant reviews and Dear Abby, I don't really read it. I listen to an inordinate amount of talk radio, and find that there are so very many interesting news stories that aren't covered in the mainstream press.

While I generally hold disdain for Karl Rove, he's obviously not manipulating the media. Most of the press is slanted against the Bush administration and they write unflattering things about the man and his policies at every turn. Not that some of it isn't well deserved, mind you.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at the words of Obama's current pastor, to whom Obama has been very close for a long time. This pastor is an Afrocentrist, a Jew-bashing bigot, a frightening extremist.

But then anti-Semitism (and leftist denials that it's a problem) is rampant these days in our country and in the world.

Unknown said...

what is the big about him being a suspected muslim? is being muslim a crime? after reading whats on http://obamamuslim.com I am convinced this is a retarded issue.