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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Andy Martin says Barack and Michelle Obama mishandled the Iraq/Martin Luther King/President Johnson fracas

Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”





(CHICAGO)(January 15, 2008) Talk about being done in by your supporters. Barack Obama may have lost the presidential race during the past few days. The exchange of "racist" claims by the Clinton and Obama camps has been devastating to Obama. Perhaps Obama is smarter than his supporters and handlers; his wisdom could explain why he took the initiative in tamping down the conflicts concerning Martin Luther King and the Iraq "fairy tale."

The Clintons attacked on two fronts. Without realizing it they may have inflicted direct hits on Obama's command bunker. And, as usual, the mainstream media missed the significance of what happened.

First, Bill Clinton compared Obama's record of fighting against the war in Iraq to a "fairy tale." Immediately Obama's racial warriors—and even Obama's wife—tried to suggest the attack on Obama's Iraq inaction was an attack on his entire campaign. Piffle. Obama is a big pussy when it comes to actually opposing the war. He keeps talking about what he did in 2002, and does not address what he has done since being elected to the U. S. Senate in 2004.

As I do so often, I return to my days as a Fighting Illini in the football program at the University of Illinois. We had players we called "dummy scrimmage All-Americans." These players would hit the dummies with gusto during the week, but would cower when they saw the big guys on the other team on Saturday afternoons. They were terrified of injuries. Obama has always been a Dummy Scrimmage All-American on Iraq. He talked tough when it was safe to do so; and he weenies out now that it is risky not to do so.

Can anyone point me to a TV ad Obama ran in 2004, during his senate race, opposing the war? So far as I am aware, there is no such ad. And, as Bill Clinton made absolutely clear, Obama was in full weasel-mode in 2004 after he won the senate nomination. Obama compared himself to George Bush, and said he kept quiet on Iraq to help Senator John Kerry. Well. Since taking the oath of office in 2005, Obama has been pretty quiet on Iraq, limiting himself to proposing pie-in-the-sky solutions that have no chance of passage, He has done nothing to "unite us." And so Bill Clinton was 100% correct when he called Obama's "opposition" to the war a complete fairy tale. I would go one step further and call it a fabrication.

Barry O thinks that the same bull jive and shadowboxing that passes for discussion of issues in Chicago represents real action. If you want to see real courage, look at Senator John McCain's support of the Iraq war last year, at a time when the conflict was horribly unpopular. That's bravery. McCain is a man. Obama? Well, you'll have to ask Robert Johnson about that. McCain said he would rather lose an election than compromise our men and women in uniform. Would Obama be willing to lose an election to protect a principle? Are you kidding?

On the issue of the relationship between President Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Mrs. Clinton told it like it is. Indeed, I have a dog in this race because I am writing a column focusing on the roles of Everett Dirksen and Paul Douglas, and giving them credit for the civil rights successes of the 1960's. No one owns the 1960's. Not Martin Luther King, not President Johnson, not anyone. It took a collaborative national effort to end segregation.

Mrs. Clinton was only pointing to her wonkish credentials as a "doer" when she juxtaposed the contributions of King and Lyndon Johnson. I don’t think she had a racist intention at all. Without King there would have been no civil rights revolution. Without Johnson there would have been no civil rights revolution. I often spoke with Senator Douglas about Senator, then President, Johnson's contributions. Douglas credited Johnson with the breakthroughs.

But here's the rub. And here is what the mainstream media missed. The issue of King/Johnson and Iraq are only the subtext for Obama's management failure and totally incompetent response. His campaign should have ignored Mrs. Clinton and Bubba. Instead, the response of Obama's supporters amounted to a self-inflicted wound.

Mrs. Obama tried to expand the "fairy tale" comment into a general attack on her husband's campaign, when that was utter nonsense. Likewise, Mrs. Clinton's remarks about Lyndon Johnson were innocent enough. But by trying to respond through a prism of pure racism, the Obama camp devastated itself in the eyes not only of mainstream media but also of mainstream America. David Brooks in the New York Times came close to the core of the disaster when he said that Obama's supporters were using the race card to "make all criticism morally off-limits." Presto.

Mrs. & Mrs. Obama have tried to use race as a defensive mechanism to deflect any criticism of Obama on any issue during the campaign. I suggest that this strategy has and will backfire both with Democrats and ordinary Americans.

Obama has always been careful to be the African-American candidate of "white America." That's fair enough. Whites are a majority. But white voters, not even white Democrats, are going to nominate a team (not just a candidate) that seeks to racialize every campaign dispute. Obambi's record of actually fighting against Iraq policy is poor, and certainly nowhere near as strong as John McCain's criticism both of the old policy and support for the surge. Obama's one speech six years ago is an insufficient foundation for his flatulent rhetoric today. He hasn’t done anything. Criticizing Obama for talking the talk but not walking the walk is fair comment.

Likewise, the civil right battles of the 1960's were a white/black collaborative effort. To suggest that one cannot praise President Johnson's work without diminishing Martin Luther King's contribution is racist nonsense. And it won't work. And it won't sell in November. And it exploded in January.

When I finish my article about Dirksen and Douglas as civil rights lions, I don’t want to be pilloried as a racist for taking away from Dr. King. There were many champions during the civil rights era. We are entitled to worship all of them without diminishing any of them. But the racial hypersensitivity exhibited by the Obama campaign has inflicted a gaping wound in their long-term strategy. That is why Obama was the first to cry "uncle" yesterday.

And, as if on cue, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post appeared today with a column on the racist claptrap in Obama's church magazine, and his church's endorsement of Minister Louis Farrakhan.

But that's an Obama disaster for another day.

Honestly, I don't know who to root against in the Democratic Party. So I just call'em as I see'em. That's bad enough.

NEXT: Obama's religion. Again.

Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers regional, national and world events with over forty years of experience. He is currently a candidate for U. S. Senator from Illinois. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. Columns also posted at; Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639. Web sites:


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