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Obama on FNS
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chris Wallace and Barack Obama sat down today for an interview.

The transcript is here. Mixed reviews from the leftosphere. Some liked it, some weren't at all impressed. Most recognized that Obama was taking the opportunity of an interview on a network considered to be right leaning to distance himself from the far left. He even went after the Daily Kos.

This was all about trying to sell himself to the demographic which watches Fox with the assumption they're not his normal constituency.



How well will that go over with "progressives"? Heh ... you can imagine. The next thing you know, he'll be talking about school vouchers for heaven sake. But this is all a ploy to sound reasonable and to laud the other party for some good ideas in the interest of being considered a uniter and someone not immune to considering ideas from "the other side". Of course his voting record isn't very indicative of such a propensity, and Wallace brings that up. Obama waves it off by declaring that he voted with a very liberal record because the bills were written to be polarizing. Uh, yeah, that works.

And this one. This one is so obvious as to be a bit cheesy. Speaking of taxes:


Wright and Ayers? A couple of points to be made here.

First, in answer to those who continue to claim that Wright's relationship with Obama isn't a legitimate political issue, Obama disagrees:


But then, after setting the ground work, he again essentially tries to wave it all off. Wallace tries to pin him down, but Obama isn't willing to be pinned down and again, doesn't handle the question of "what did you hear him say" very well:


This time we have MLK dragged into the equivocation. And Wallace missed the opportunity to explore the theology which underlies the church Wright pastored, that espoused by James Cone known as black liberation theology. So again, Obama leaves the questions hanging while admitting they're legitimate questions about his values.

He even admits as much when Wallace follows up on his last statement:


The answer, of course, to all of his questions, is "yes". But with the questions about the church - not those he's raised, but that have been raised by others - still unanswered, the evaluation of his values and any conclusion about them remains incomplete. And the same applies to the questions raised about his relationship with William Ayers. Obama again soft-pedals it and, frankly his answer is again completely unsatisfying to those who understand who Ayers is and what he did and also know that Obama's political career was launched in their livingroom back in the '90s.

About Iraq and Gen. Petraeus - this was an interesting exchange:


If you got a 'warm and fuzzy' out of that, you're a better person than I am. For all his "I'm willing to listen" you've just heard a man who is not and would not be willing to listen to a damn thing when it comes to Iraq. And while he's right about the job of the CiC, he's using it as a rationalization that is difficult to argue with instead of laying out reasons why a change of mission is both necessary and critical at this time, given the increasing probability of success in Iraq if we stay the course.

Debates with Clinton:


Politically I understand the strategy. However, as I've mentioned before, such a strategy carries an inherent risk, and with polls narrowing (in fact some have Obama and Clinton tied), it may not be worth the risk to hand as determined an opponent as Hillary Clinton a gift like this.

Finally, what I consider to be the quote of the interview. It pertains to race looming as a major part of the campaign. Wallace points out that the Clintons are claiming the race card was used on them. Others are saying Clinton used it when he invoked Jesse Jackson's run in SC in the '80s. Whites backed Clinton 63 percent to 37 while blacks voted for Obama 90 to 10. 12% of whites who admitted race was a factor went for Clinton by more than 3-1. Asks Wallace, "for all your efforts to run a post-racial campaign, isn’t there still a racial divide in this country that is going to make it very hard for you to get elected president?

Obama essentially rejects the notion that race will be the deciding factor in this run for the Presidency:
If I lose, it won’t be because of race. It will be because, you know, I made mistakes on the campaign trail, I wasn’t communicating effectively my plans in terms of helping them in their everyday lives. But I don’t think that race is going to be a barrier in the general election.
Ummm ... "mistakes" and "communication". Of course it couldn't be the message itself, could it?

Where in the world (*cough* Kerry *cough*) have I heard all of that before?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

This was all about trying to sell himself to the demographic which watches Fox with the assumption they’re not his normal constituency
Everytime FNC mentions Hillary or Obama, they should preface it with the disclaimer "When they needed to pander to the far left, they refused to participate in a debate on this network, but now that they need to pander to our viewership, they’ve agreed to appear"

Written By: shark
URL: http://
"This time we have MLK dragged into the equivocation."

Obama is right about MLK. Dr. King is one of my historical heroes, so I wrote a paper on him in college during which I learned that he had two distinct phases as an activist. As a civil/political rights activist, Dr. King was as close to a latter-day Founding Father as we had in the 20th Century. He achieved the apex of his civil rights activism with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the same year he was awarded a highly deserved Nobel Peace Prize.

However, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, American black dissatisfaction continued and protests intensified, especially in the North, over economic inequalities, police brutality, and other perceived and real race-based injustices. Many northern American blacks were unimpressed with King’s political activism, because they already weren’t affected by Jim Crow laws, and the same white northern liberal allies that King cultivated for his southern civil rights campaign did little to address race-based issues close to their homes.

By 1965, the upcoming generation of more-radical black activists such as Stokely Carmichael, though they respected King, sought to replace King’s peaceful, inclusive, patriotic themes with the angrier and separatist ’black power’. If a turning point in King’s activism can be pinpointed, it’s the unfriendly reception given to King by the LA black community during the Watts riots when he went there to appeal for peace.

As a widely learned man, King was aware of the economic plight of poor American blacks and democratic socialism appealed to him, which he expressed when he received his Nobel Peace Prize, but his activism had been focused on political rights. Perhaps, the delay was due to King’s own well-educated, nurturing, and relatively affluent background - he grew up as a privileged and idealistic American. After his Watts experience, King became increasingly radical in his sweeping class/race-based economic activism, which was tied directly with his anti-war activism (he linked the rejection and failure of his domestic economic initiatives with the Vietnam War). King also expressed bitterness towards whites and distanced himself from his white allies from the civil rights movement. Already famous for his religious oratory, King also took on an increasingly evangelical, strident tone. He would even dismiss disagreements from fellow black activists by claiming he spoke the "Lord’s truth".

What does this say about Obama’s ties to Wright and Obama’s ability to become a transcendant President? I don’t know, but I do know our heroes and our American history tend to be complex and not everywhere appealing.

Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
Obama is right about MLK.
So I assume you can find equivalent MLK quotes to match up with Wright and, of course, demonstrate MLK’s embracing of black liberation theology?

That, in my opinion, would make him "right" about MLK. Otherwise it seems no different than throwing granny under the bus or attempting to compare relationships with Coburn and Ayers.
Written By: McQ
Hillary’s blogs are digging into Obama - Ayers and coming up with interesting connections. Obama ran a Developing Community Project in Chicago. It was funded by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, cofounded by Bill Ayers. It seems that Ayers was Obama’s boss for 6 years.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama worked for the Chicago Law Firm of Sidley Austin. Guess what other lawyer worked there - Bernadette Dohrn. It’s unusual to hire a lawyer who can’t practice because of her criminal past, but Dohrn was recommended by the CEO of Commonwealth Edison - Thomas Ayers - her father-in-law.

When your enemy is trying to commit suicide, let him alone.

It’s all happening!

Written By: Arch
URL: http://

This is the Obama statement I was responding to: "People I think noted that, if you run back some of Dr. King’s speeches, we always play "I have a dream," but if you look at his sermon in Riverside church for example, when he spoke out fiercely against the Vietnam war, there’s some pretty jarring comments there as well."

I didn’t hang onto my notes and source materials, but I should be able to dig up the paper and copy the quotes and cites I used.

As far as Black Liberation Theology, I wouldn’t attribute that off hand to MLK. Really, I don’t know enough about BLT to say either way, but at least I don’t recall ever seeing the term connected to MLK. As you mention in your post, if BLT is the core controversial issue and it’s the *political* belief system of Obama’s community church and mentor of 20 years, then I would like to see Obama comment on that directly.

Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
But this is all a ploy to sound reasonable
Yes, of course, everything the other side says which is reasonable is a ploy because you’ve already decided that they are unreasonable and can’t be trusted. Sort of a kind of ODS now, eh? Obama really had a good interview, I think. Hillary did him a favor by giving him a foreshadowing of what he’ll have to handle in November, and while a few on the fringes will try to get into "black liberation theology," and push the guilt by association claims to their illogical extreme, thats for blogworld, not the real world. At Fox Obama showed a glint of that Reaganeseque quality. I’ve been getting skeptical as to whether or not he really has the political skills to pull off a victory, but I think he does — plus, he’s pretty disciplined.

McCain has political skills too, this will be a fascinating race. I think he’s laying the groundwork for an effective campaign, even though it’s been almost invisible thanks to the Democratic fight (which is a good news/bad news situation for McCain). McCain is not so disciplined, and that could end up being his Achilles heel. Then again, Bill Clinton was able to overcome a lack of discipline far more extreme than McCain’s!
Written By: Scott Erb
One of the Bill Ayers/Bernadine Dohrn excerpts currently making the rounds from an SDS reunion last year includes Dohrn quoting MLK about the US being "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world."
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Here’s the fuller context. I’m sorry that MLK came to such a negative opinion and that it should have been eagerly used by the Weather Underground to justify their violence. It’s good though to look at the fuller context of MLK’s remarks and note the sad, thoughtful tone as contrasted by the angry, almost gleeful ranting of Rev. Wright when he was calling for "God damn America."
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
My third reason grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years - especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action.

But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.

Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Sorry for breaking up my post into fragments but I kept getting rejected by the site censor. It seems that the link below was the offending item.

http:// www. common / views04 / 0115-13 .htm

Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Remove the spaces in the above link to use it.

www. common dreams .org links seem to be banned here.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Anyway, that was Martin Luther King speaking at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967—a year to the day before his assassination.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Eric Chen has a pretty good grip on this.

I have always said that Malcolm X and and MLK were on crossing trajectories when they each died. Malcolm was becoming a lot more reasonable, and Martin was headed into neo-Marxist race and class theory. The most interesting question to me is whether he was just looking out for his own political marketability: pandering to rising black militance. This would make him a cynic, of course, but that was the path of least resistance by 1968.
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—
Yes, of course, everything the other side says which is reasonable is a ploy because you’ve already decided that they are unreasonable and can’t be trusted.
The take away from the Wright/Ayers associations is that Obama can’t be trusted.

Written By: Don
URL: http://
He achieved the apex of his civil rights activism with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the same year he was awarded a highly deserved Nobel Peace Prize.
The Republicans were pushing CRAs since the 40s, and in the 60s JFK and finally LBJ backed the effort.

It was congressmen (mostly the Republicans) and LBJ who made it happen.
Written By: Don
URL: http://

I dug out my college paper about Dr. King. Here are relevant-to-this-thread MLK quotes I used in my paper, with cites:

“Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.” (King, “I Have a Dream”)

Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 1964, King was publicly confronted with the questions, “What now? In what direction is the civil rights movement headed?” In answer, King told an audience at the University of Oslo, “The time has come for an all-out war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed . . . . the wealthy nations must go all out to bridge the gulf between the rich minority and the poor majority” (Carson, Autobiography, 261).

Comparing the United States to Norway, King stated, “the limited, halting steps taken by our rich nation deeply troubled me” (Carson, Autobiography, 259).

By the time of the 1966 Freedom March, King was becoming increasingly sympathetic to the criticism of white liberals by black activists. In a January 1965 interview in Playboy, King stated, “Over the past several years, I must say, I have been gravely disappointed with such white ‘moderates’. I am inclined to think that they are more of a stumbling block to the Negro’s progress than the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner” (Cone, Martin & Malcolm, 223).

King concluded, “[white liberals] took a stand for decency, but it was never really a stand for genuine equality for the black man . . . it’s much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to eradicate an annual minimum income and create jobs”. Furthermore, while addressing blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, an increasingly bitter King stated, “I am sorry to say to say to you that the vast majority of white Americans are racist, either consciously or unconsciously” (Cone, Martin & Malcolm, 233).

King, in keeping with his intent to “use any means of legitimate nonviolent protest necessary to move our nation and our government” to adopt his domestic program, propagated the image of the United States as the sole cause of Vietnamese suffering, indeed as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” (King, “Beyond Vietnam”).

King increasingly interpreted American government decisions at home and overseas and setbacks to his movement as motivated by racism: “Men of the white West . . . have grown up in a racist culture, and their thinking is colored by that fact” (King, “A Testament of Hope”).

King’s response to disagreement from Whitney Young of the Urban League regarding the Vietnam War was typical: “Whitney, what you’re saying may get you a foundation grant but it won’t get you into the kingdom of truth” (Cone, Martin & Malcolm, 239).

Dr. King . . . would respond to critics of his views about white America, the government, and the Vietnam War with retorts such as “I answered a call which left the Spirit of the Lord upon me and anointed me to preach the gospel . . . I decided then that I was going to tell the truth as God revealed it to me” (King, “Why I Am Opposed”).


Carson, Clayborne, Ed. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Warner, 1998.

Cone, James A. Martin & Malcolm & America. New York: Orbis, 1991.

King Papers Project. The Martin Luther King, Jr, Research and Education Institute, Stanford University.

Meier, August. “The Conservative Militant.” Martin Luther King, Jr: A Profile. Lincoln, C. Eric, Ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1970.

Milller, William Robert. Martin Luther King Jr: His life, martyrdom and meaning for the world. New York: Weybright and Talley, 1968.
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
Thanks, Eric, but I see nothing comparable in MLK’s words (and I’m not waving off the work you did - I appreciate it) to those of Cone and Wright (especially given the context of the times in which they were spoken vs. Wright’s today).
Written By: McQ

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