Senior Correspondent

No end to demonization of Obama? (FCN, 05-06-2008)

WASHINGTON ( – Despite combined attempts by the presidential campaigns of both Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), and political pundits in the corporate-owned media concerning the National Press Club appearance of his former pastor, Sen. Barack Obama headed into the May 6 Indiana and North Carolina primary balloting shaken, but still on his feet.

Sen. Obama won a narrow victory in the presidential caucuses on Guam, a Pacific island U.S. territory. In a special election May 3, a Louisiana Obama supporter captured a congressional seat which had been held by Republicans for the previous 33 years, even after Republicans tried to turn that campaign into a referendum on the Illinois senator.


Louisiana State Rep. Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. beat Republican Woody Jenkins by three percentage points, overcoming a barrage of ads from GOP committees that tried to paint Mr. Cazayoux as an ally of Sen. Obama and of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). In addition, three more super-delegates announced their support for Sen. Obama including a prominent former Clinton ally, Joe Andrew, the Democratic National Committee chairman from 1999 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Mr. Andrew called for other Democrats to join him and “heal the rift in our party.”

Even the firestorm over the April 28 National Press Club appearance of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright has not done irreparable harm to the Obama campaign, according to Dr. David Bositis, Senior Research Associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

“No. I don’t think it’s done irreparable harm. I would actually go so far as to say it’s just been a minor distraction,” Dr. Bositis told The Final Call.

“Sen. Obama is on the way to getting the Democratic nomination. I do not see how Hillary Clinton is going to be able to catch up with him, and he will be close to a prohibitive favorite to win the general election,” Dr. Bositis continued.

In fact, it is what Dr. Bositis and others perceive as Sen. McCain’s almost certain defeat in November which may be fueling Sen. Clinton’s campaign’s relentless attacks against Sen. Obama.

“The reason why Hillary Clinton and the Clinton campaign seem to be going so headlong into attacking Sen. Obama, and seem to be obsessed with getting the nomination at all costs, is because they have a very strong sense that whoever the Democratic nominee is, will win in the fall,” said Dr. Bositis.

Other seasoned political observers agree.

“I think that people are focusing on form over content. They’re looking at appearance over substance,” Tom Porter, a former dean at Ohio University, who served as chief strategist to the 1984 presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, told The Final Call. “On the one hand Black people were concerned that this prince who’s running for president could be derailed. As such, they’re analyzing the results, as opposed to how the results were obtained,” Mr. Porter continued.

“One needs to go back to the Jesse Jackson campaign in 1984. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama were both ‘played’ because now, Black people are fighting with each other, Hillary Clinton is rising in the numbers. But it has absolutely nothing to do with Jeremiah Wright. From the very, very beginning they were looking for something,” Mr. Porter continued.

“We cannot continue to allow outside forces to control our politicians or our politics. We will never be free. We cannot allow, years of this man’s (the Rev. Wright’s) service to be thrown out the window, because the lesson of the Jackson campaign in ’84 was: once (the Rev. Jackson) threw Min. (Louis) Farrakhan under the bus, they threw (the Rev. Jackson) under the bus with him.”

And while so much focus recently has been on race and “patriotism” concerning Sen. Obama and his former pastor’s controversial statements which were all taken out of the broader context in which they were said, both Senators Clinton and McCain have their own political “baggage” according to Dr. Bositis. He points out that in polls, Sen. Clinton’s unfavorable ratings are greater than her favorable ratings–47 percent favorable; 49 percent unfavorable.

“If you think back to the 1990s during the Clinton administration, Democrats were devastated during the Clinton years. The Democrats lost the House for the first time in 40 years and they lost 30 state legislative bodies, and many governor’s races,” he said.

“Other Democratic elected officials did not fare well under the Clintons. A lot of Democrats, and I suspect, ‘Numero Uno’ Nancy Pelosi, remembers that very, very well.

“The Clintons have used race. Which I did not expect during the remainder of my lifetime,” Dr. Bositis continued. “You should realize, I study and follow racially polarized voting and voting rights, and have for many years now, and for groups like Southern Republicans and Southern conservatives, it would not surprise me at all to see them engaging in racial tactics in terms of elections, but I never expected to see a Democratic presidential campaign to mobilize race to attract White voters again in my lifetime, but the Clintons have.

“But on the other hand, I don’t think race is going to be a main issue in the general election. John McCain has his own pastor problem, which is a thousand times worse than Sen. Obama’s problem with (the Rev.) Wright. And ‘Pastor Bush’ is a weight around McCain’s neck, and he is going to drag McCain to a significant, probably a quite significant loss in the general election. I like to call him ‘Pastor Bush.’ He does seem to think he’s a religious leader sometimes.

Dr. Bositis emphasized that he was not speaking about either the Rev. John Hagee or the Rev. Rod Parsley, or any other prominent Republican supporters who have made caustic, racist, homophobic, even un-American statements, but who have escaped the kind of non-stop criticism to which the Rev. Wright has been subjected.

“I was speaking about Pres. George Bush. This coming election between the Democrats and the Republicans is going to be a referendum on George Bush and the Republican Party. “I would have to speak for two hours, in the voice of an auctioneer, to enumerate all of the things that are wrong with the country right now. Starting with: we’re in a recession, inflation, there’s a housing crisis, not only do you have foreclosures, people can no longer get home equity loans, people are being shut out of avenues of credit they had before. You have the dollar dropping precipitously against foreign currencies. You have record high oil and gas prices. People can’t afford to even fill up their cars.

“Even more unbelievable, you have food issues. I never, ever imagined that there would be food issues in the remainder of my lifetime in the United States. You have food issues. You’ve got an unpopular war where there’s no end in sight. You’ve got tremendous federal debt that’s going to have to eventually be dealt with. You have close to 50 million people without health insurance.

“If you turn off cable TV and actually look around the country right now, the country is in a colossal mess. And the response that’s going to happen to the colossal mess, is to punish the people who are responsible for the mess, and that is George Bush, and John McCain, and the Republicans. John McCain has made it easier for the Democrats, by largely adopting positions associated with George Bush.

“So, do I think Rev. Wright represents an irreparable problem for Sen. Obama? I would put it more in the category of a passing distraction,” Dr. Bositis concluded.