Obama As Teflon Candidate

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[Elections 2008: Attacks On Obama]

Imagine a scenario where you have a successful and charismatic former president, a successful former first lady and a senator from the third most populous state in America, a war hero imprisoned in North Vietnam, and one of the most reviled but notwithstanding popular television network, whose most popular program is an instrument for bashing a candidate; then you can understand what Senator Barack Obama is facing.

Of course, I am referring to former President Bill Clinton, the first democratic president to win two terms in office since Franklin Roosevelt did four terms beginning in 1933; and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The war hero is Senator John McCain of Arizona, who in 1967 was captured by the North Vietnamese after his plane was shot down during a bombing and became a prisoner of war for five and half years. The network is the Fox News Channel --netroots, particularly the progressive bloggers, call it the “false news channel—most hated by so-called liberals, but nevertheless appeals to working class Americans.

Lately, though the other networks have borrowed Fox’s modus operandi, especially the ABC News network and CNN, which most Africans watch from Africa.

These forces have combined to tear down Senator Barack Obama, the young ebullient, dynamic, audacious, oratorical visionary half-white half-Black first-term American senator from the state of Illinois. The fact that he is still standing, even with the kinds of balderdash attacks that have been leveled against him is a testament to his endurance, which I call Teflon, therefore the “Teflon Candidate.”

The month of April, 2008, has been particularly brutal for the Obama candidacy. There have been many times when some of us feared that his candidacy was about to implode, due to the barrage of manufactured and spurious attacks against him and particularly the so-called “kitchen-sink strategy” adopted by his democratic opponent, and the fact that he has withstood these attacks, though seriously damaged, yet shows his resilience and his appeal to the better nature of the majority of Americans.

Before we examine what has happened since the second week of March till the end of April, it is necessary to go back and look at these players. Former President Clinton was seen as a successful president despite his sexual problems and ultimate impeachment by the House of Representatives, which the Senate refused to approve.

He was regarded by some African-Americans as the “First Black President.” He was loved, by Africans on the continent. I used the word “was” because of his actions since the campaigning began; Africans on the continent and Blacks in America have suddenly been jolted and presented with his ugly side.

From the beginning, Bill Clinton was dismissive of Obama with the feeling of entitlement to the U.S. presidency that no Black man should dare challenge, after what he “had done for Black folks.” He also was dismissive of Obama when he compared his candidacy to that of Rev. Jesse Jackson, during the South Carolina primary, angering Black voters and solidifying their defection to Senator Obama. Jesse Jackson, we must remember, ran for president twice and during the primaries handily won South Carolina.

As February 5th, dubbed Super Tuesday was approaching, the air of invincibility on the part of Senator Clinton was palpable, at which day, her campaign felt that she would wrap the campaign and be anointed the democratic nominee.
But by the end of the day, Senator Obama had won 13 states to Senator Clinton’s eight, and having also won more pledged delegates 849-838, thereby for the first time passing Senator Clinton in the delegates count.

It was after this shocking change of the political landscape that the Clinton campaign detailed their “Kitchen Sink Strategy,” according to a New York Times February 26, 2008 article: “After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a ‘kitchen sink’ fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum. The effort underscores not only Mrs. Clinton’s recognition that the next round of primaries — in Ohio and Texas on March 4 — are must-win contests for her. It also reflects her advisers’ belief that they can persuade many undecided voters to embrace her at the last minute by finally drawing sharply worded, attention-grabbing contrasts with Mr. Obama.”

The paper went on to detail how the campaign was going to employ the strategy to dent Obama’s momentum. The most blatant display of this so-called “kitchen sink strategy” was the Clintons’ who will answer the phone at 3:00 am advertisement, two days before the Texas and Ohio primaries; the advertisements generated a lot of free publicity for her and scared already nervous voters into helping her win Ohio and the popular vote in Texas (Obama actually topped her in the delegates count in Texas when all votes were tallied). 

Obama’s aura of invincibility was cracked.

The month of April was very debilitating for the Obama campaign. It started with the airing of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s video by Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel, saying some things outrageous to whites, but nonetheless fairly accepted within the Black community. Conspiracy theories abound in the community about the AIDS scourge and how it came to become devastating disease against the Black community.

There are people who don’t see the kind of lifestyle we live as responsible for some pandemic of this disease within the community, as well as in Africa. The Fox News Channel, and especially Hannity has made Obama his punching bag since he declared his candidacy, and the appearance of the Jeremiah Wright video provided him, the channel and the mainstream media the excuse to descend on Obama like a ton of bricks.

The media had bought into the Clinton campaign assertions that Obama had not “been vetted” enough, and the Jeremiah Wright’s utterances provided them with the ammunition with which to cut him down to size. If you had never read the excerpt of what some Americans objected to, when Rev. Wright was talking about African-Americans, here it is:

“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people,” he said in a 2003 sermon. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”

Then referring to the terrorist attack on America on 9/11/21, he said: “"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and Black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” he told his congregation.

The same Sean Hannity of Fox News trotted out the William Ayers’ connection to Obama, though Obama was eight years old when this individual was a member of the Weather Underground, and committing bombings, and then asked ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos to ask Obama the question regarding the relationship; Stephanopoulos dutifully did during the Philadelphia debate and prior to the Pennsylvania primaries. (Obama knows Ayers because they live in the same Chicago neighborhood).

It stands to reason that Stephanopoulos, who was Communications Director at the Clinton White House, and didn’t see fit to recuse himself as one of the moderators, did more than enough to hand Senator Clinton the victory in Pennsylvania.

Of course, we can’t say Obama didn’t contribute to some of his problems in the month of April. Mayhill Fowler, a self-styled Obama “supporter”, people have said with a supporter like that who needs enemies, decided to air in public a private discussion Obama had with some of his supporters at a fund-raising event in San Francisco, California. In that venue, Obama was quoted as having told his audience that, “"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

This was quickly picked by the MSM (mainstream media), and the Clinton campaign, which ran with it and decided that Obama, raised by a single mother, was now suddenly the “elitist,” rather than Clinton who learned how to shoot guns from her grandfather, and went to some of the best Ivy-league schools.

But the most damaging factor was the re-appearance of Rev. Wright, right before the crucial elections that took place on Tuesday in two states, Indiana and North Carolina.

Obama had used the first airing of the Rev. Wright video to make a well-received speech on race in America, and had boosted his candidacy. But Rev. Wright didn’t seem to understand the dynamics of what’s going on; he decided this was the best time to take revenge on Obama for scorning him during the announcement of his presidential candidacy, whereby Rev. Wright was disinvited to be the pastor and to bless Obama’s campaign.

In fact, rather than mellow on how he had been portrayed by the mainstream media, he took the opportunity at his appearance at the National Press Club to inflate the anger and caricatured himself. It came to light that the individual who arranged for his appearance at the Press Club, the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, was a Clinton supporter.

The anger within the Black community is very high, and they condemn Rev. Wright as an egomaniac for choosing this time that a Black man is almost hoisted as the nominee of the Democratic Party to display his apparent lack of decorum.

In conclusion, Obama suffered a lot of brutal bruises, inflicted on him by the press and the Clinton campaign’s kitchen sink strategy. Any other candidate would have wilted in the face of the massive assaults, but this candidate has shown more mettle in the face of enemy fires.

Only a Teflon candidate, in the mold of Ronald Reagan, could achieve that; and that individual is Senator Barack Obama.




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