Obama Admits Error on Kennedy Family's Role in Bringing Father to U.S.

Barack Obama's campaign has acknowledged Sen. Obama made a factual error in stating the Kennedy family paid for his father's emigration from Kenya to the U.S. in 1959.

Addressing civil rights activists in Selma, Ala., a year ago, Sen. Barack Obama traced his "very existence" to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kansan mother.

The Camelot connection has become part of the mythology surrounding Obama's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Research subsequently revealed the Kennedy family didn't make a financial donaton until 1960.

Contrary to Obama's claims in speeches in January at American University and in Selma last year, the Kennedy family did not provide the funding for a September 1959 airlift of 81 Kenyan students to the United States that included Obama's father. According to historical records and interviews with participants, the Kennedys were first approached for support for the program nearly a year later, in July 1960. The family responded with a $100,000 donation, most of which went to pay for a second airlift in September 1960.

The Obama campaign has acknowledged the error: [More..]

Obama spokesman Bill Burton acknowledged yesterday that the senator from Illinois had erred in crediting the Kennedy family with a role in his father's arrival in the United States. He said the Kennedy involvement in the Kenya student program apparently "started 48 years ago, not 49 years ago as Obama has mistakenly suggested in the past."

Obama's version:

In his speech commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the Selma civil rights march, Sen. Obama linked his father's arrival in the United States with the turmoil of the civil rights movement. Although the airlift occurred before John F. Kennedy became president, Obama said that "folks in the White House" around President Kennedy were looking for ways to counter charges of hypocrisy and "win hearts and minds all across the world" at a time when America was "battling communism."

"So the Kennedys decided 'we're going to do an airlift,' " Obama continued. " 'We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is.' This young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country. He met this woman whose great-great-great-great-grandfather had owned slaves. . . . So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born."

The Washington Post provides the accurate history:

A more accurate version of the story would begin not with the Kennedys but with a Kenyan nationalist leader named Tom Mboya, who traveled to the United States in 1959 and 1960 to persuade thousands of Americans to support his efforts to educate a new African elite. Mboya did not approach the Kennedys for financial support until Obama Sr. was already studying in Hawaii.

During his 1959 trip to the United States, the 29-year-old Mboya raised enough money for scholarships for 81 young Kenyans, including Obama Sr., with the help of the African-American Students Foundation. Records show that almost 8,000 individuals contributed. Early supporters included baseball star Jackie Robinson, who gave $4,000, and actors Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.

As to who paid for Obama's father to study in the U.S.:

According to a letter on file in the Mboya papers at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, "most" of Obama Sr.'s early expenses in the United States were covered by an international literacy expert named Elizabeth Mooney Kirk, who had traveled widely in Kenya. Kirk wrote to Mboya in May 1962 to request additional funds to "sponsor Barack Obama for graduate study, preferably at Harvard." She said she would "like to do more" to assist the young man but had two stepchildren ready for college.

Obama has used the connection to highlight his roots to the civil rights movement:

Obama's Selma speech offers a very confused chronology of both the Kenya student program and the civil rights movement. Relating the story of how his parents met, Obama said: "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Junior was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama."

After bloggers pointed out that the Selma bridge protest occurred four years after Obama's birth, a spokesman explained that the senator was referring to the civil rights movement in general, rather than any one event.

The article concludes with details of Obama, Sr.'s life after his return to Africa:

Obama Sr. never quite lived up to his enormous potential. He achieved his dream of studying at Harvard after graduating from the University of Hawaii. He divorced Dunham in 1963 and married another woman.

He returned to Kenya and became a close aide to Mboya, a fellow Luo tribesman, at the Ministry of Economic Development. According to his old "drinking buddy" Ochieng, he antagonized other officials with his "boasting," was "excessively fond of Scotch" and ended up in poverty "without a job." He got into frequent car accidents, one of which led to the amputation of both his legs. He was killed in another car accident, in 1982, at the age of 46.

So, Obama was mistaken. It happens. Just like Hillary has been mistaken. Obama used the mistake to buttress his connection to the civil rights movement. Hillary's critics say her Bosnia mistake was used to enhance her foreign policy experience. Do they cancel each other out? Is one more relevant the other? Will either impact the nomination process?

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    Jeralyn, in a fair world the mistakes would.... (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Maria Garcia on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:18:44 PM EST
    ..cancel each other out. Neither are really that big a deal. They are the kind of embellishments that not only politicians, but everyday people make all the time. However, they won't cancel each other out because I doubt that Obama's "mistake" will get very much play beyond this article.

    I agree (none / 0) (#16)
    by PennProgressive on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:41:34 PM EST
    with Maria Garcia (above). Hillary's mis-statements have already been viewed as something that fits a pattern: "Hillary and Bill will say and do anything to win the election." In endless TV programs she has been made fun of and portrayed as a "serial exaggerator". I guess in MSM only Craig Crawford looked at the  video of Hillary's arrival at Bosnia and came away with a different view. Senator Obama's mis-statement on the other hand will be  viewed only as a mis-statement---without any type of motive attached to it. None  of them should matter but Hillary's already has and will continue to matter negatively. The timeline of  financial donation is "too complicated" and there  is  no video to go with it (unless somebody uses the footage of Obama's speeches where he talks about Selma or the Kennedy connection--but I doubt that will happen. Also there will be some statement from the Kennedy family in that case). But I will not  be  surprised if this actually helps  Obama. The  narrative may focus on how his father without any money coulld attend Harvard and that  Obama represents that anything  is possible in America.

    The question is (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by Andy08 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:21:06 PM EST
    will the media play over and over and over for a full week videos of these errors (plural!) and make over and over and over demeaning jokes of Barack Obama as the have done with Hillary Clinton?
    Yeah right...Of course they won't.

    Do I want them to do to Obama what they did to Clinton? No.

    But it goes to show the cheap and unprofessional "journalism"  we have these days in most of the media....

    I do (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by dianem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:15:56 PM EST
    I want them to treat Obama AND McCain exactly the same way they treat Clinton.  

    I understand (none / 0) (#62)
    by Andy08 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:06:53 PM EST
    how you feel; but Obama has some really serious problematic issues. Here is a great piece today by
    Charles Lipson who is a Professor of international politics at the University of Chicago. And I bet he knows a thing or two about local Chicago politics...
    Four Stumps in the Water for Obama

    Half of the issues (none / 0) (#63)
    by Andy08 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:09:49 PM EST
    that Lipson raises already make Obama unelectable in the GE for me. People should think hard and seriously about those.

    As I recall, the absolute proof that Hillary lied (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by MarkL on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:22:53 PM EST
    was that her remarks on Bosnia were in a prepared text. Yeah, that makes a LOT of sense to me, too!
    So, will the same standard be applied to Obama?

    This will have no impact on the nomination (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by standingup on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:26:41 PM EST
    First, it is unlikely the press will pick it up as a narrative for a news cycle as they did with Hillary and the Bosnia trip.  This will only become a campaign issue in the general election where the Repbulicans will use it to attack Obama's integrity.  Unfortunately the list the Republicans can use is growing instead of shrinking.  

    Makes ya think (none / 0) (#12)
    by Stellaaa on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:31:08 PM EST
    #1, reason leadership supports Obama is that he does not have the Hillary negatives.  Hmmm.  Great way to pick a president.  

    Misspoke?? He flat out lied. (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:26:54 PM EST
    If he is so stupid that he can't see that saying that the Selma march brought his parents together when he was born three years before it happened is an easily disprovable lie, then he is too stupid to be president.

    According to the article I read about (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:38:47 PM EST
    his mother and her life, she met her second husband in Indonesia, not the US. So that story won't hold water either.

    well, as Hillary's namesake (none / 0) (#75)
    by dem08 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 07:43:27 PM EST
    Sir Edmund Hillary would say, the story of his parents meeting alone disqualifies him.

    Or did he tell (4.33 / 3) (#17)
    by zyx on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:42:55 PM EST
    a fairy tale?

    ding! ding! ding! (1.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Josey on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:42:53 PM EST

    I knew this 6 mos (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by waldenpond on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:30:42 PM EST
    ago.  He doesn't fess up to anything until he's pushed up against the wall.

    I put this in the late night item, but I'm going OT because I like it..... Joe Scarborough on Clinton...


    It'll be interesting . . . (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Doc Rock on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:48:37 PM EST
    . . . to see if this gets even half the hype of Clinton's blip last week!

    I'm Not a Fan (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Randinho on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:10:18 PM EST
    Of either one of them. I was an Edwards supporter and regret that he's no longer in.

    I have to say this however: if someone had really faced sniper fire, they would remember it and not make that kind of mistake.

    meh (1.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Nasarius on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:38:43 PM EST
    Hillary may have been unclear in some of the statements, but she was talking about the threat of sniper fire, not claiming she was actually being shot at.

    She muddled some rather old memories and probably exaggerated a bit. She wasn't claiming she was on the front lines of a battle or anything.


    Nonsense (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Randinho on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 03:34:30 PM EST
    Here's what she said on at least one occasion:

    "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

    It doesn't get any clearer than that.


    See for yourself (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Randinho on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 03:52:18 PM EST
    There's Plenty on Both Sides (none / 0) (#44)
    by Randinho on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:15:22 PM EST
    Or inflating your role in peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.

    Did you read what Gary Adams said (none / 0) (#78)
    by hairspray on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:24:11 AM EST
    about her role in the peace process?  Or did you prefer to read  David Trimble the unionist leader who stymied the process for years?

    I Have No Idea Who Gary Adams (none / 0) (#84)
    by Randinho on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:25:33 PM EST
    But I do know who Gerry Adams is and here's what the wife of the deputy to the US Ambassador to the UK at the time of the meetings said recently:

    Regarding Michael Dobbs's March 26 Fact Checker article, "Clinton Appears Weary of Taking 'Sniper Fire' ":

    I was the wife of the minister (deputy to the ambassador) of the U.S. Embassy in London at the time the Northern Ireland negotiations and the Bosnia crisis were taking place. I also had a "proper" job as a lawyer at an American firm.

    Did I, with my husband, attend and actively participate in meetings on Northern Ireland, which included Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley and other dignitaries involved in the peace efforts? Of course.

    Did I, per my husband's suggestions, at dinners pass on messages to British government ministers regarding the desirability of their "getting on board" initiative X or Y? Of course. Would I consider this to be foreign policy experience? And would I put it on my curriculum vitae as such? Of course not.

    I have found the notion that one absorbs foreign policy experience just by being a spouse increasingly offensive as the presidential campaign has progressed. It demeans Hillary Rodham Clinton, who by all reports, has gained experience altogether separate from her husband since she became a senator, some of which no doubt can legitimately be categorized as foreign policy. It also demeans women like me who have built their experience and their résumés on what they have done on their own. I am glad that Mr. Dobbs's article and this week's developments have finally exposed this shallow shell game. [My emphasis]

    Actual Link (none / 0) (#85)
    by Randinho on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:28:25 PM EST
    To her letter here.

    That certainly is one person's opinion (none / 0) (#86)
    by hairspray on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 03:37:56 PM EST
    isn't it?  To assume that proximity has nothing to do with experience is linear thinking at its best.  Proximity and experience are not mutually exclusive and there seem to be different opinions about "how much" Hillary contributed to a protracted and convoluted years long process.  Linear thinking assumes a stimulus/response type of action whereas system thinking assumes a hundred possible variables acting to create critical mass. John Hume, Gerry Adams and even George Mitchell have supported Hillary's role in a system strategy and frankly I will buy that rather than the ambassadors wife.

    I Think It's Pretty Clear (none / 0) (#87)
    by Randinho on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 07:57:57 PM EST
    That she's been exagerrating not just with this, but a number of things.

    Obviously the proximity of bullets had nothing to do with her experience in Bosnia.


    Lets not forget the single mother (none / 0) (#89)
    by hairspray on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 10:04:10 PM EST
    story by Obama, or the growing up with "street Children" in his stories.In addition, the story about Rezko never having been in his new house, etc. I could go on and on as well.  Since both parties have embellished their "stories" a bit I think it is telling that like a dog with a bone you cannot see the forest for the trees.  More importantly is his lack of committee meetings on his Europe/NATO responsibility. Another issue is his inability to pass any bills in the State Senate until they were handed to him by an insider. Answering present to avoid a "paper trail". There are a lot of more important flaws in the stories that matter about Obama.

    Juat for the Record (none / 0) (#88)
    by Randinho on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 08:10:39 PM EST
    Here's what Mitchell said:

    Well, I haven't seen the exact words that she has used to describe it. I've gotten a lot of calls from reporters who've told me what she said, but I think her statements are generally accurate to the extent that they've been relayed to me.

    Yeah, that's a ringing endorsement /snark>


    Obama's mistake (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by AF on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:11:35 PM EST
    Is far more similar to Hillary's mistaken statement that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary than her Bosnia comments.

    1. Obama's Kennedy mistake -- like Hillary's Hillary mistake, but unlike her Bosnia mistake -- was not based on first-hand experience.

    2. Obama's Kennedy mistake -- like Hillary's Hillary mistake, but unlike her Bosnia mistake -- was unrelated to his qualifications to be president.

    For the record, I don't think Hillary's Bosnia mistake was that big a deal.  But Obama's Kennedy mistake is much less of a big deal.  

    Wasn't This Once A Law / Criminal Defense Blog? (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by expertlaw on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:13:59 PM EST
    How can anybody read this blog and not have some idea of the screwball tricks our memories can play on us.

    I made that very point (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:44:05 PM EST
    about Hillary and her Bosnia remarks. That was a memory issue with how she remembered an experience she had. (See the comments to this thread about the candidates' exaggerations.)

    The Obama father remark is different in that it doesn't involve how he remembered something he experienced. Even if (and I think it's unlikely) his parents told him about the Kennedy family paying for his father's coming to the U.S. to study, he still should have verified it before using it in a speech to establish credentials on civil rights issues.

    I'm inclined to think this and Bosnia cancel each other out in terms of import, but Hillary has a much better excuse -- the fallibility of memory.


    Obama's mistake was careless research, (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by halstoon on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:38:45 PM EST
    something that should not be overlooked. His was an academic exercise, and a Harvard Law graduate should be better at researching or vetting researchers than that.

    Sen. Clinton's mistake was apparently to completely create a new memory that never happened. How one suddenly remembers being shot and running for cover may seem dubious, but let's accept it on its face.

    As a presdiential candidate, however, Sen. Clinton should have researched or had someone else research--especially after contradictions were brought forth--what really happened.

    I say they cancel one another out. Both exhibited poor fact-finding ability and shotty analysis of the past. Both should be embarrassed.

    well (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 05:56:37 PM EST
    I'm not really sure obama's story is attributable to just "carelessness".  I think he wanted to tie himself to two specific democratic totems - the kennedys and selma (remember too that the way he told it made it sound like the kennedys were in the white house at the time).  So he fudged facts.  It's like he had to come up with something on the level of that old pic of wjc shaking jfk's hand.

    I don't think it's that big of deal - on its own.  But I do see it as part of a pattern of him claiming credit and "ownership" of things that he shouldn't.  It's annoying - not every moment of our history conspired to bring us the one.


    Well said. (none / 0) (#71)
    by halstoon on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 06:50:54 PM EST
    Now, do you really think Sen. Clinton had nothing to gain from her heroic story of dodging bullets in the name of diplomacy? Or in talking up her role in Northern Ireland peace talks? Or inflating her role in SCHIP? Or downplaying her support for NAFTA??

    I'm not going to deny anything you said about Sen. Obama. I just ask that you put your analytical talents to work on dissecting Sen. Clinton to an equal level.


    Hillary had a number of learned (none / 0) (#77)
    by hairspray on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:17:17 AM EST
    people supporting her assertions.  Gary Adams of Ireland, David Gergen and Carl Bernstein on NAFTA and numerous children's advocates like the Edelman family on SCHIP.  Your sneering dismissal about the facts when people I respect disagree with your statements strengthens my belief as it is evidence based and not partisan inspired. I heard Leon Panetta speak on C-Span recently and was outspoken in his support of Hillary's domestic and foreign policy experiences.  Wes Clark and about 30 field officers have supported her ability to be CIC.  I have my evidence, not your partisan sneering.

    She also had George Bush telling her it was a (none / 0) (#79)
    by halstoon on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:35:08 AM EST
    good idea to go to war with Iraq. Your point is? My comment was not even directed at you.

    Who supported her memory of dodging bullets as she bolted for her car?

    The Boston Globe chronicles her exaggerations on SCHIP.

    A former Clinton aide who has crossed over exposed her inflated foreign policy resume.

    The Telegraph introduces us to a Nobel Laureate who says Clinton is "a wee bit silly" for inflating her role in Northern Ireland.

    You can cite your evidence, but I'll actually source mine.

    Do you honestly believe she honestly believed that she and her little girl had been fired at by snipers as they ran to their car?? Did she really think the president and her country's military put her in that position??


    I looked into factcheck.org (none / 0) (#82)
    by hairspray on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:05:36 PM EST
    for a quick review of the facts around SCHIP, NAFTA and foreign policy reviews.  The Boston Globe story was pretty much debunked and this quote from  Sen. Ted Kennedy said, "The children's health program wouldn't be in existence today if we didn't have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue." At the time of passage in 1997, Sen. Kennedy said, "we pay tribute to Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has made the issue of children's health and well-being her really first priority in this country, and she was of invaluable help, both in the fashioning and the shaping of the program, and also as a clear advocate, in terms of having an effective outcome, during the discussion and the debate on the children's health issue."

    Factcheck.org says "Despite disparagement from political rivals, we find she deserves ample credit for expanding children's health insurance."
    There is more I could do to refute your other assertions but I don't think I am allowed on this site to do too much of this.


    Various people have different takes (none / 0) (#83)
    by hairspray on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 12:11:32 PM EST
    on "how much" Hillary contributed to certain foreign policy activities, but the bottom line is that Obama had NONE and hasn't even held a committee meeting on NATO/Afghanistan/Europe in the last few years. So defend that!! No, rather attack and keep the issue off of what Obama has none of?

    sorry (none / 0) (#49)
    by halstoon on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:39:27 PM EST
    remembered being shot at, not being shot.

    no she didn't create a new memory (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:46:36 PM EST
    she most likely had her original memory influenced by post-event information or by pooling of information or something else. See my comments on this thread.  I think she had a blended memory -- she didn't intentionally create a new memory.

    On a technicality, I never claimed her (none / 0) (#54)
    by halstoon on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 03:18:29 PM EST
    creation was intentional. I also tried to make it clear that at some point she did come to believe the story as she told it. How that happened is really not important.

    What is important is that after having doubts raised about her memory, she did not have someone check it out, thus opening herself up to a CBS 'gotcha.' It was careless. That is all I said, and I said the same about Barack.


    TeamO's double standard: BO forgets but HRC lies (4.50 / 6) (#1)
    by Ellie on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:13:01 PM EST
    This shifting standard is in full play at TeamO cheerleading sites. Take Ari Emanuel, please ...

    The real experience Hillary Clinton gained during her years in the White House has finally been revealed: she learned, just like her husband, how to manipulate words to cover up her lies.

    Obamapologist Ari Emanuel, who must, by his own measure of integrity related to familial proximity, apparently be as much of a lying sack as his brother, congress critter Rahm.

    (Apparently, Ari is incapable of distinguishing two entirely separate human beings as capable of having two entirely separate brains, records, skill sets and so on ... if one of those human beings is female, that is.)

    I agree with O-Mama (none / 0) (#74)
    by dem08 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 07:41:07 PM EST
    That is an important distinction. Hillary was there on the Tarmac, wrote about it, etc.

    I still blame her staff, not her, for her mistaken narrative. Hillary's staff allowed one of her strengths to be turned into a national joke because she told the story at least 5 times after people started to question the "rush for the car" version. And the story of our Armed Forces protecting her while she was visiting them to Thank them is a solid gold story which Obama cannot match.

    One problem for The Clinton's is that they are a known quantity. People don't think Obama sounds like Wright, so that story had minimal damage. The Bosnia story has hurt Hillary Clinton.

    I am a former fan of The Clinton's, but I think she was badly served by her staff on this one.


    Tip of the iceberg (4.33 / 6) (#8)
    by Stellaaa on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:26:00 PM EST
    This and many other fictionalized narratives are what make the Obama mythology.  People do not like non-fiction, they love fictionalized lives.  Biggest problem Hillary has, she speaks so clearly that she gets caught.  Obama muddles his history, his achievements, his positions and his core values in that modern touchy feelly post partisan language that it's hard to pin him.  Three card monty with language.  

    Who is Barack Obama? (5.00 / 3) (#26)
    by Anne on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:11:37 PM EST
    And why does he feel it necessary to construct a history for himself, rather than just be who he is?

    We know the part about Selma is wrong, we know the part about the Kennedys is wrong, we know he was not honest about Wright, we know he fudged and waffled and avoided on Rezko - and I am still not convinced we know all the details there - we know he exaggerated his drug use (my theory is that "experimentation" is just so ordinary, so he had to make it about "overcoming" something), we know people have come forward to say that things he wrote about in his books was not exactly correct.

    This is a lot of "misspeaking," in my opinion.

    If it's fair to ask why Clinton "misspoke," then I think it's fair to ask not just why Obama misspoke, but why he keeps conflating his own life in ways that always - always - elevate him and add to the mystique and sense of this race being a destiny being fulfilled.

    Really - I have no idea who he is or if anything he says is true.  And I know that there has to be a GOP oppo team that is, at this moment, researching every "fact" Obama has written or spoken and will have a full quiver of arrows come November, should he be the nominee - it will make Kerry's treatment by the Swift Boat Vets look like nothing.


    Maybe by conflating his own life... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Maria Garcia on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:24:16 PM EST
    ...he's just trying to be transformative, or Reaganesque.

    But, but, but.. . . (none / 0) (#39)
    by nemo52 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:58:11 PM EST
    it's a new kind of politics!

    Like Getrude Stein (none / 0) (#42)
    by facta non verba on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:10:10 PM EST
    once said of Oakland, "there is no there, there."

    The man has accomplishments, Punahoe, Occidental, Columbia, Harvard Law, community organization, the Illinois State Senate, the US Senate but somehow it all does not seem enough to Barack. He seems to require ever larger heaps of fairy tale myth creation. The whole David Alexrod ad campaign centers on this creation of a larger than life, a once in a millenium saviour, a persona who only exists on celluloid who thinks himself exceptional. There are times when I wonder has Obama had this life-long roadmap or has success and ease of achievement then led to seek more? Despite his real life success, as a public servant what can one point to as an accomplishment? Speeches are events, not accomplishments. Election to a higher office? What's left after the Presidency? The Taft career path?


    Well, there have been some suggestions (none / 0) (#67)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:50:01 PM EST
    over at DKos..LOL One thread I read a while ago said that he should, at the end of his second term, nominate HIMSELF for the Supreme Court. I assume this would be after one Justice retires or dies. Then he would lead the Supreme Court to a new liberal day, and all would be well in America. Or something like that. Given his record of going for higher office every three years, I think he will resign at third year of his first term and run for God. Snicker.

    Why construct a history? (none / 0) (#72)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 06:51:17 PM EST
    The Selma "history" created a bond with black Americans which had not existed before. Black people, at the time, were at least as open to Clinton as Obama. After the "Selma" story, coupled with the recasting of Bill Clinton (the "fairytale" episode) and Hillary Clinton as racists, black people shifted en masse to Obama.

    That's the reason for that little bit of constructed history.

    The "Kennedy" tale served the purpose of identifying himself with Jack Kennedy - the fresh face - the charmer with the charming wife who beguiles all they meet. The brilliant Harvard man - etc.
    Caroline Kennedy went for it. Maybe it influenced Ted to endorse him. Who knows?

    The point is, the reason for the Kennedy "Camelot Connection", is self evident.

    Both of these fabrications are self-serving political exercises.

    Since we are comparing fabrications, I find Hillary Clinton's "sniper fire" remark to be relatively benign. I saw actual footage of her visit to Bosnia. The CNN reporter described it as "a danger zone". Watching the footage I thought she looked genuine and warm. The troops to whom she spoke were moved to see her.
    At least she DID something.


    "Three Card Monty w/language" Love it! (4.75 / 4) (#15)
    by Exeter on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:40:16 PM EST
    Actually, you can nail him down on it the media just doesn't do it... at least now. During the general they will. He says things like "raised by a single mother," when that seems to have only been from age two to four or that they "they didn't have much money" when most of his childhood was a life of priveledge. And on and on...

    Fairy Tales (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Athena on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:31:44 PM EST
    Thing is - the elite may fall for Obama's fairy tales but working class voters can spot puffery a mile away.  If his mother was a single mother, then all married mothers are.  That's one lie that women are not falling for.



    No one calls Obama on his lies, (4.66 / 6) (#13)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:32:24 PM EST
    or his inflated resume, or his lack of caring for the community he was supposed to represent in Chicago. All of these things, and more, will be used to destroy him in the GE. All the Obama supporters seem to be under the impression that the press will continue its love-fest with Obama during the GE. Well, given the press is mostly corporate owned and that they back the Republicans' corporate agenda, the chances of the press not seeing him as fresh meat up for grabs is nil. He will be dissected, discredited and dismissed. End of Obama. And won't the Dems have looked like fools for not vetting him properly in the first place.

    truer words were never spoken (none / 0) (#18)
    by Josey on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:43:22 PM EST
    Now if we could just get them on TV!

    Don't worry, (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:54:40 PM EST
    the GOP will have them front and center, 24/7, if he gets the nomination.

    Carville (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Athena on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:28:51 PM EST
    These words were on TV this morning - James Carvilee said that the powder puff tactics in the primary would not match the GOP attack machine coming at the nominee in November.

    Much of the press could continue the lovefest.... (none / 0) (#29)
    by Maria Garcia on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:21:40 PM EST
    ...but I think that sooner or later what the Right has planned for Obama will percolate even above the man crushes held by pundits like Tweety, Fineman, et. al. In fact, I may start a pool, if Obama wins the nomination to pick the date by which the Obama blogosphere will resurrect the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy cry. Right now my early guess would be around labor day.

    The Right owns the media, more or less (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by FlaDemFem on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:35:23 PM EST
    and it will be a bloodbath. Every ethical lapse, Rezko, unheated slums in his former district, present votes, flip-flops, lies about his life, inflation of his resume, every single detail will be bannered across every newspaper in the country, well, most of them, and on the news 24/7. Nothing brings out the sharks like blood in the water, and Obama is already bleeding. If it weren't so tragic, it would be fun to watch. Hubris, thy name is Obama, and we all know what happens to hubris, don't we?

    Which love will prevail? (none / 0) (#68)
    by LCaution on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 05:13:43 PM EST
    In an Obama/McCain campaign, the issue is not some vast right wing conspiracy or corporate ownership (not that I don't believe they exist).  It is much simpler.

    The media love McCain and his "straight-talking". As with most love affairs (see the Obama lovefest), facts do not change the story.  Indeed, I saw Tucker Carlson explain that to, I think, Don Abrams: that it didn't matter what McCain said or did, the narrative was set.

    So, the media will have four choices:

    1. Marry the mistress (Obama) & divorce the wife (McCain).
    2. Dump the mistress. Play "forgive me" with the wife.
    3. Be fair to both.
    4. Be unfair to both.

    I think we can pretty much drop 3. and 4. And, between 1 and 2, well, just let me say that Tweety will probably get chills up both legs from McCain.

    Obama's parsing reminds me (4.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Fabian on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:34:14 PM EST
    much of the Bush administration.  Especially, the run up to the Iraq war where the statements that seemed so ominous
    Dr. Rice then said something that was ominous and made headlines around the world.

    "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." link  

    Does it sound ominous?  Sure does!  But what did she really say that was substantial, concrete, verifiable?  Nothing.  "We are afraid, so we should act!". is the subtext.  There's no reassurance, just more fuel for the public's uncertainty and anxiety.

    What does Obama say re: Wright that is substantial, concrete, verifiable?  Very little, especially when he stops praising and starts criticizing.  

    The object is to suggest something rather than say it.  That way you CYA but still get the message across, still "launch the propaganda".

    I'm inclined to believe... (4.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:43:48 PM EST
    ... this was a good-faith mistake, rather than a deliberate embellishment, given how long ago it happened, and how something like that can be told in a family's personal history often enough that Obama would have never felt the need to fact-check it. Of course, I'm fairly willing to accept Hillary's Bosnia story as one that she had come to believe as well. I don't see either a a particularly big deal.

    When is he going to address his embelishment (3.66 / 3) (#7)
    by Angel on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:24:42 PM EST
    regarding being a Law Professor when he was just a senior lecturer?  The guy lies about so many things it is ridiculous.  This is one reason why the election needs to go to the convention.  There's too much unknown about BO and four months will give everyone more time to see if he has any more skeletons in his closet.

    "Under [threat of] sniper fire" vs. (3.00 / 2) (#38)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:57:25 PM EST
    "The Kennedy Connection" -- the latter sounds more like pimping up the public fairy tale to me.

    The former sounds more like knowing oneself to be always a possible target, particularly when entering a war zone, but mostly from holding a position of prominence where she must always take security seriously in ways that Sinbad the Obamist comedian need not.

    Your comment apologizes for an obvious lie. (none / 0) (#80)
    by melek on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 06:42:02 AM EST
    Both stories were told for political edge, but the sniper lie is by far the less defensible.

    I can barely believe anybody would dismiss HRC's sniper story as "knowing oneself to be always a possible target". At very very best, she misremembers the event, but even that would probably be because of how often she has told it.

    I don't think she would make a bad president just because she told this lie - but its a Bad Lie, no excuses.


    hopefully, this wasn't a big reason (none / 0) (#21)
    by Josey on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:50:30 PM EST
    for the Kennedys' endorsement. Oops!
    But the Kennedys may have made references to Obama's family during their Adoration Tour.

    I'm looking forward to the DKos diaries. (none / 0) (#23)
    by Angry Mouse on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 12:58:32 PM EST
    You know, all the diaries that will blast Obama for being a liar.  For lying.  For being a lying liar.  For being just like Bush.  

    All those diaries they posted for the better part of a week about HRC.

    (Actually, I'm just being snarky.  I don't really want to see those diaries.  I didn't like them about HRC, and I wouldn't like them about Obama.

    Anyone who thinks politicians -- especially the ones running for the highest office in the land -- don't embellish or exaggerate their life stories to create a mythological narrative about themselves...well, I've got an Alaskan bridge you can buy.)

    I think there is a difference (none / 0) (#27)
    by maritza on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:13:21 PM EST
    between Obama's and Hillary's stories actually.

    Obama's story is probably based upon what his family told him on how his father came to the United States.  They probably told him that it was a Kennedy grant that helped his father come to the U.S. and that is what Obama understood.  The difference with his story is that Obama Sr came a year earlier than Kennedy started his grant to Kenyan students.  I can see the mix up.  

    Hillary's story is from her own EXPERIENCE not a story handed down through family lore.  Hillary also kept REPEATING this Bosnia sniper story even after it had been fact checked by the media and even Sinbad.  She repeated this story as late as St. Patrick's day.  Once it was determined that her story was false than Hillary should not have kept repeating the story but she did for some reason.

    Now that the story of how Obama's dad came to the U.S. has been determined, if Obama keeps repeating the Kennedy story than he would be making the same DUMB mistake that Hillary did.  But I doubt that Obama will do that.

    Uh, my Dad used to tell me (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by magisterludi on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:50:06 PM EST
    my great, great, great, etc grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence for the state of Georgia. About the age of ten I did a little fact-checking that proved my Dad to be quite the leg-puller.

    I saved myself a lot of embarrassment.


    Obama: Walter Mitty of Politics (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Stellaaa on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:00:14 PM EST
    <blockquote>Obama's story is probably based upon what his family told him on how his father came to the United States.  They probably told him that it was a Kennedy grant that helped his father come to the U.S. and that is what Obama understood.  The difference with his story is that Obama Sr came a year earlier than Kennedy started his grant to Kenyan students.  I can see the mix up.  </blockquote>

    Brilliant editor of the Harvard Law Review has a responsibility to check on the family mythology.  

    He knows his mother was not single when she raised him.  The son of a single mother implies a set of social and economic hurdles that he did not face.  She remarried and his grandparents sustained him through the years in Hawaii.   This is Obama's experience.  

    Community Organizers, do not go to bed with slumlords who rip off affordable housing projects.  

    Bipartisan people who have transcended race do not go to a church for 20 years that it's core value is the racial divide of America then deny of any knowledge of tenets of that church.  

    Obama sustains the illusion that he was in the US Senate and voted against the war.  I bet you if you survey his supporters they have fallen for that lie.  


    Shorter version (none / 0) (#35)
    by badger on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:46:20 PM EST
    "I can always make up a plausible excuse for Obama's mistakes, but never for Hillary's"

    If Obama supporters (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by zyx on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:15:58 PM EST
    saw Barry biting baby kittehs' heads off on live teevee, they would start chattering about how it's the most wondrous kind of euthanasia that is possible.  And they would immediately find a story where Hillary Clinton was ever so mean to a cat once upon a time and it was much worser.

    It is almost funny.  Almost.


    And if Hillary tossed her cookies (none / 0) (#65)
    by Randinho on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 04:21:33 PM EST
    Her supporters would be diving to pull her hair out of the way.

    God, how I wish John Edwards had done better.


    I excuse Hillary's story (none / 0) (#46)
    by maritza on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:27:47 PM EST
    about how she was named to be very similar to how Obama's father came to the U.S.  Both are family lore stories.

    Most of these kinds of things (none / 0) (#56)
    by badger on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 03:32:29 PM EST
    (which I do think aren't especially relevant) go to intent. Absent a statement of intent from the speaker, everything else is just speculation.

    However the "What Obama Really Meant" speculators always have a favorable spin, and in the Obama-sphere those speculations are treated as established, verified fact. They aren't.

    Similarly, the speculations about Hillary's motives ("she'll do anything to win", "she wouldn't care about MI/FL if she were the front runner", "she lied about sniper fire") always have negative spin and those speculations are likewise treated as established, verified fact. They aren't either.

    The only fact is that you and I rarely know why we oursleves do things, much less being able to speculate about why candidates do anything. Reality-based means you rely on facts, not speculation that sounds good or appeals to your prejudices. You're supposed to look at evidence and then draw conclusions, not draw a conclusion and then make up evidence for it. Republicans are supposed to be the ones that pretend to create their own reality.

    It's the way campaigns are always run I suppose, but I'm amazed that intelligent people give any credence to any of it (from either side).


    This is like the "Edmund Hillary" error (none / 0) (#37)
    by AdrianLesher on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 01:53:12 PM EST
    not Clinton's Bosnia lie. It relates to a legend that may have been related to a child when young.

    Clinton repeatedly repeated the Bosnia lie, and has provided no convincing explanation why she remembers being in a bullet-proof vest, under fire, ducking and covering, when in fact she was embracing a small child on the tarmac while in the company of Chelsea and Sinbad.

    Her recollection of having been named after Sir Edmund Hillary is, however, quite similar to Obama's  memory of what his parents told him about their youth.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#45)
    by maritza on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:25:48 PM EST
    How Hillary was named and how Obama's father came to the U.S. are stories passed down by family lore so they are very similar.

    The Hillary Bosnia story is her own personal experience and wasn't passed down.  

    I don't have a problem with Hillary's Bosnia story except that once it was determined to be false by the media and Sinbad than she shouldn't have repeated it like she did.


    A "comment" (none / 0) (#50)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 02:39:44 PM EST
    I wrote this comment in response to today's character assassination piece by Frank Rich. The Times chose not to print it. I would let to share my opinion with the TalkLeft readership.

    I saw a contemporary account by CNN of Mrs. Clinton's visit to Bosnia.
    They described it as a danger zone. The soldiers with whom she talked were glad she was there. It was not the kind of place I would like to have been visiting.

    But there's more.

    Obama has told a tale about his mother and father meeting at the Selma march. As we all can figure out, he would have to have been born awhile before his parents met for this to be the case. Nevertheless, the tale forged a connection with American black people that had not previously existed. This, coupled with the framing of both President and Senator Clinton as racists helped Mr. Obama's numbers considerably.

    It also turns out that a tale apparently concocted by Obama to provide a spiritual link to the Kennedy's (the "Camelot connection") has a gaping hole in it. Obama said that the Kennedy family had paid for his father to travel from Kenya to the U.S.A. on a student scholarship and that's how he met his mother. It seems that the reality is Obama senior's trip was in fact arranged by Tom Mboya, a Kenyan, with the help of the African-American Students Foundation. Obama's Sr.'s scholarship was provided by this organization - an African one. It was also supported by prominent black Americans.
    This does hold the same panache for Mr. Obama.

    Not that these politically calculated misrepresentations mean anything to Frank Rich or Maureen Dowd. They are poster children for the veracity of what Geraldine Ferraro said some weeks ago. They're hooked into the idea of Obama, in spite of any reality that might interfere with their sophomoric crushes.

    It has also occurred to me that I have yet to see people writing anything particularly positive about any of the positions held by Obama. No one is writing tomes like "Wow - did you see Obama's health plan? It's fabulous!" Never seen it.
    The pundits with the eyes firmly planted in their navels are just too happy to exercise what they have come to think as their intelligence to attack and destroy Hillary Clinton.

    The Kennedy mistake was chronicled here (none / 0) (#55)
    by halstoon on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 03:31:51 PM EST
    and has been acknowledged by Sen. Obama. Can you post a link to him claiming his parens met at Selma?

    This post claims to cite his fabulism, but what it really does is show that he did have a flaw in his timeline, but not in his intent.

    During his Selma speech, Obama did incorrectly identify the Kennedy family as those responsible for his father's arrival in America. The Kennedys did participate in the same program, but they started a year after Barack's father came to America. Certainly he should have done his homework and avoided this embarrassment.

    In the same speech, he spoke of how his black father met a young, white girl from Kansas, a girl who "had a good idea there was some craziness going on because they looked at each other and they decided that we know that the world as it has been it might not be possible for us to get together and have a child."

    Barack goes on to say, "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama..." Here is where his timeline is still off, but in no way is he claiming that his mom and dad marched at Selma.

    Obama was trying to tie his own existence into the emergence of the civil rights movement, and he did some poor research in putting together his speech. He essentially claimed his mother had the courage to love his father b/c of Selma, but in fact she was even more of a trailblazer, having had him almost 3 years earlier.

    Sen. Obama did a poor job of researching Selma and his speech. I'll not deny nor defend him on that charge. He did not, however--and people should not blindly claim he did--claim that his parents met at Selma.


    A poor job by Obama (none / 0) (#70)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 06:34:09 PM EST
    You are right. I was misled by what he said.

    "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they (his parents) got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Alabama."

    As has been pointed out, the first march on Selma took place on March 7, 1965 (there were three of them). At the time, Barack Obama was three and a half years old.

    My point remains the same, however.
    Obama was shamelessly using the march in Selma to establish his credentials with American black people. He created a false image. To excuse him by saying that he had poorly researched the events in Selma is misguided.

    This is a major event in American history. Didn't he care enough to find out something about it?

    You can excuse him if you wish. I find his use of this event to promote his political ambitions as disgusting.


    I agree it was careless, and I'm less impressed (none / 0) (#73)
    by halstoon on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 07:03:55 PM EST
    with him than before, though I still think he is the best choice for president.

    I have no defense for his actions. I just don't want anyone to be accused of the wrong thing. He did not claim his parents met at Selma; that was my only point. Any other embarrassment from those remarks, he deserves sofar as I'm concerned.
    You just fare better as an accuser when you accuse him of the proper faults.


    I think he would be a terrible choice. (none / 0) (#76)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 30, 2008 at 07:46:46 PM EST
    I reiterate:

    I am accusing Obama of is tying himself to the events in Selma for political gain. I acknowledge I misspoke. He did not say that his parents met at the march. He did, however say, that the fact that his parents married and bore him as a child were as a result of the events in Selma. That leaves an impression - a false one.

    There is no connection between his parents, him and Selma.


    I am biased (none / 0) (#81)
    by mattt on Mon Mar 31, 2008 at 11:43:16 AM EST
    but it must be pointed out that when the Selma march did take place, Obama was too young for kindergarten.  He was sloppy in passing on a bit of family lore, and evidently erred in the direction favorable to his image, which is disappointing.

    Clinton, OTOH, visited Tuzla as First Lady and was trying to use the experience to buttress her reputation for experience and toughness under fire.  She did not offer a timeline that was confused, but repeatedly made detailed statements based on her adult recollection that are at odds with documented fact.

    Apples and oranges.  Clinton's statements are much more exploitable by the GOP, and will have a much stronger impact on voters.