The [Thursday] Papers
I would really like to get away from this Obama stuff, if even for just a day, but the media madness is just too much to let go.
First, there's the Tribune's Eric Zorn accusing Hillary Clinton of lying because while Obama said the Republicans were the party of ideas for the last 10 to 15 years, he didn't say they were the party of better ideas.
That's a stretch. Obama's remarks - to a conservative editorial board he was trying to woo - were admiring and approving. Not only is Clinton's interpretation reasonable and fair, it's a lot more accurate than Obama's later rendering of his comments about Ronald Reagan which Zorn curiously does not call a lie.
I'll let Zorn blog commenter "Ajax" handle this one.
"Obama, in the January 21st debate:
"' What I said - and I will provide you with a quote - what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to.'
"Obama, in his remarks to the Reno editorial board:
"'He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating,' Obama said. 'He just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.'
"Read it all again if you want, you won't find 'he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests' or 'an agenda that I objected to' in there, or synonyms or implications along those lines."
Beyond that, Clinton never mentioned Ronald Reagan at the debate, even though Obamaphiles like Zorn are trying to throw her praise of the former president in other contexts back in her face. As Bob Somerby writes in The Daily Howler, Obama surely knew this but "played dumb."
But yes, this is a bit of a sideshow compared to the more recent occasion of Obama playing dumb - and lying. Will Zorn & Co. take their man to task for this whopper about Tony Rezko?
"My relationship is he was somebody who I knew and had been a supporter for many years," Obama told CBS on Wednesday. "Nobody had an inkling that he was involved in any problems."
The Sun-Times's Mark Brown - who, like Zorn, plans to vote for Obama - today writes "That's such an understatement that it borders on a falsehood."
What more would it take to cross the line over into a lie?
After all, Rezko was not just another contributor but a friend of Obama with whom he traded favors, a man he reportedly described as his "political godfather," and the person he turned to when he needed help buying a $1.65 million mansion - at a time when the state's political and media establishment had far more than an inkling that Rezko was in a bind; they - and I - were already speculating on when he would be indicted.
"And let's not forget this is somebody who bought the piece of real estate adjoining Obama's home, then sold the senator part of it, in a strange transaction about which key details have never been disclosed - owing in part to the curious refusal of the real estate agents and prior owners to discuss it," Brown writes.
And why has this transaction never been adequately explained?
Let's put it this way: Reporters would do well to ask Obama what kind of strategy discussions he's had with David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs about how to handle his Rezko connection, and if Daley-like evasion was what they settled on.
Of course, Brown has to make the obligatory Hillary Clinton reference to con man campaign contributor Norman Hsu without mentioning his connection to Obama; Whitewater, in which the Clintons were exonerated after multiple investigations including Ken Starr's; and Monica Lewinsky, in which, last time I looked, it wasn't Hillary Clinton who was the one getting a blow job in a White House pantry.
There are plenty of reasons to not vote for Hillary Clinton - starting with her vote on the Iraq war - but that's no reason to abandon reason and truth.
But now here comes Mary Mitchell today writing that "maybe it's time for [Obama] to turn over the Lewinsky card."
And what card would that be, exactly?
But that's the least of Mitchell's problems today, as she channels Bob Novak in questioning how Hillary Clinton could possibly have been influenced by Martin Luther King in 1963 when she was a Goldwater Girl. As has been thoroughly debunked, these are hardly incompatible concepts - particularly for a high school student, as Hillary Clinton was at the time.
(Speaking of Novak, here's another occasion when he and Obama played dumb. Was Obama lying? Has he retracted his comment? Will Novak ever be forced to write a correction?)
And now, for liberals, it turns out that it really was about sex. "Really, if Obama had done in the Illinois General Assembly what Bill Clinton did in the Oval Office, white folks would have chased him out of office and barred the door."
1. Obviously Mitchell is not familiar with the Illinois General Assembly.
Then there is Mitchell's sudden though wrong realization that "the Clintons presided over a scandal-plagued White House."
1. Outside of Lewinsky, what scandals? None of the other "Clinton scandals" ever proved out. But suddenly liberals have decided Rush Limbaugh was right.
Speaking of Cook County, Stella Foster today writes about the "odd omission" of Barack Obama's name from the Cook County Democratic Party's list of endorsed candidates.
There's a good reason for that, though. As the Tribune's Rick Pearson reports on the paper's Clout Street blog, the Obama campaign didn't want his name on the list.
"We were working with Obama's people," county party chairman Joseph Berrios says. "We did what they wanted us to do."
"Berrios said the Obama campaign 'wanted to time it. They wanted to approve any press release,'" Pearson reports.
Gee, why do you think that is? I bet if the campaign has its way, Obama's name will never appear on a list of candidates approved by the Cook County Democratic Party, the epitome of old, change-resistant politics.
Finally, Capitol Fax impresario Rich Miller, who is also in the tank for Obama, wrote on Wednesday that "We've been hearing for weeks from the national punditry that Barack Obama hasn't been fully vetted by the media. I think that's mostly wrong, and I angrily told that to a national reporter who called me last week . . . for the national types to claim that Obama's past is mostly unknown is just a total crock."
Tell that to the Sun-Times reporters who broke another Rezko story just four days ago - or reporters at the Los Angeles Times, Harper's, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Hill and Politico who have broken stories that have been all but ignored by a hometown press that - with some exceptions to be sure - seems to think they should cheerlead harder than anyone else in the country instead of scrutinize the favorite son more than anyone else in the country.
In other words, if the Chicago media says they love Obama, check it out.
Comments welcome but, as always, you must include a full, real name to be considered for publication.
Posted on January 24, 2008
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