Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Real Scandal Behind The 2007 "Race Video?"

The right (namely Fox and the Daily Caller) has been making all kinds of fuss over the 2007 speech then-Senator Obama gave at Hampton University, with Rev. Wright in the audience, in which he supposedly engages is dirty racial politics. This was interpreted by the Right as proof of his racial animus and radicalism, and the media's refusal to hold him accountable. Most of the nonsense behind this has been shot down, although there is one substantive issue in the tape, brought up by Thomas Sowell (HT: Althouse)

Unlike Jeremiah Wright's church, the U.S. Senate keeps a record of who was there on a given day. The Congressional Record for May 24, 2007 shows Senator Barack Obama present that day and voting on the bill that waived the Stafford Act requirement. Moreover, he was one of just 14 Senators who voted against -- repeat, AGAINST -- the legislation which included the waiver.
As to this alleged hypocrisy of his vote, Sowell's leaving facts out: Senator Obama voted against the final bill, but supported an earlier version which included an Iraq withdrawal timetable. FWIW, I would've voted for the final bill, because I opposed a timetable for withdrawal, and I also find it bad form to vote against something that important, even without a timetable. I suspect, as with similar bills, Obama knew the bill would pass, and voted against it as a statement about the war. It's a typical politician move, but I can defend that.

The problem is, he knew the bill would pass, and that it did pass, so it appears that he was lying when he told the audience at Hampton that it didn't pass. I'm not really sure how you square it any other way. Now, as to the racial politics of this, I suspect Obama was making a larger point about frustration in the black community--and used the Stafford Act as evidence. Now, a great number of conservatives were convinced before this "revelation" that Obama is an evil race baiter, and will judge him as such no matter what. At best, he was making a legitimate point using untrue facts. At worst, it was a cynical and deceptive pander.

Deal-breaker? Hardly. Disappointing? Yeah. This is a typical politician move, and I can't really defend it. Not much else I can add. Even if I were to somehow abandon Obama over a few political lies, who would I turn to, Romney? The man who lies as a matter of course? The man whose entire campaign is based on panders, hype, personal attacks and bullshit? I think not.

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