Tick Tock. . . Tick Tock. . .
The audacity of. . . what now?
For those of you who missed it, the Obama campaign launched an attack on Hillary Clinton laden with racist, anti-Indian code to make Lou Dobbs proud. In fact, the Obama opposition research memo calls Senator Clinton “(D-Punjab)” and quotes Lou Dobbs prominently in support of its arguments. Go read the whole thing.
The non partisan US India Political Action Committee is asking Obama to respond directly to his campaign’s use of racist stereotypes, but so far, here’s the Obama campaign’s version of taking responsibility, with no word yet from Obama himself (emphasis added):
“Barack Obama has been a longtime friend of the Indian-American community and our campaign is fortunate to have strong support from Indian Americans across the country. The intent of the document was to discuss the issue of outsourcing, but we regret the tone that parts of the document took,” he said in the statement.
Hey, look what that crazy document did, all by itself, taking that offensive tone and all.
For the record, I’d be quite happy for the Democratic presidential hopefuls to make the differences among them more clear for the voters. Right now these differences are blurred as they appear afraid to open up a cycle of mutually assured destruction, but the voters need to see who’s on audition and what they each have to offer.
Senator Clinton’s views on trade, and her associations with known union busters like Mark Penn, are all fair game. But if Obama’s “new kind of politics” means he’s willing to throw people of color under the bus to make the point, well, I’d have to say, I suppose that’s information we should all have as well.
The longer Obama is personally silent about all this, the more he owns that memo written by a staffer.
Tick tock, tick tock.
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. This went up around 7:30 pm Eastern Time:
Obama calls Clinton memo ‘dumb mistake’
NEWTON, Iowa – Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) on Monday said his campaign made a “dumb mistake” when it circulated a memo criticizing rival
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s financial ties to India.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama disavowed the memo which carried the headline — “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)” — and referred to Bill and Hillary Clintons’ investments in India; her fundraising among Indian-Americans; and the former president’s $300,000 in speech fees from Cisco, a company that has moved U.S. jobs to India.
“It was a dumb mistake on our campaign’s part and I made it clear to my staff in no uncertain terms that it was a mistake,” Obama told the AP in a brief interview in which he referred to the memo as “unnecessarily caustic.”
Last Thursday, Obama’s campaign sent the memo to reporters, demanding that it not be attributed to their campaign. The Clinton campaign obtained the document and sent it to journalists. Since then, it has created a furor in the Indian-American community and raised questions about Obama’s claims that he is above attack politics.
“It is not reflective of the long-standing relationship I have had with the Indian-American community,” Obama said in the interview.
“The issue of outsourcing is a genuine and important issue but to refer to one particular country was, I think, an error and I let all of us know that we’ve got to be more careful about how we communicate,” he said.
In a statement on his Web site, Obama said he was not aware of the contents of the memo before it was distributed. The Illinois senator said he was responsible for the mistake and the campaign had taken appropriate action “to prevent errors like this from happening in the future.”
The campaign said the new policy is to ensure that senior staff will review materials before they are distributed publicly.
UPDATE II: I hate to pile on, but this Obama statement is really weak. The memo was not just “unnecessarily caustic.” It was xenophobic and bigoted, but whatever, I guess. Somehow Obama gets a pass on this that I doubt any other Democratic candidate would get.
Also, he asserts in this version of the story that he “quickly apologized.” Really? Where? Apologized for what, for the actions of the junior staffers he’s now holding out as the culprits? For lax management? That seems to be what he’s claiming is his wrongdoing: his senior staff was insufficiently attentive to the opposition research shop.
Saying you’ve “apologized” does not make it so, and if that original statement quoted in the main post is the earlier apology to which he refers, well, I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means. Of course, in reality, Obama knows the difference between actually apologizing and pushing race baiting oppo into the media bloodstream without thinking he’ll pay a price for it. Given that so much of the interest in the primaries is candidate biography and personality based, rather than about ideas and ideology, he may well be right.
This torment of the English language is part of the infection in our national politics, not the solution, in my view.