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    August 11, 2008

    Mark Penn: Obama not fundamentally American

    Posted by: Andoni

    "I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values."

    What the fuck? This is an email from Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief strategist and pollster, planning ways to attack Senator Barack Obama during the Democratic primary. Talk of the politics of personal destruction, this is it and from people within his own party. (An article containing hundreds more internal emails from the Clinton campaign will be published by The Atlantic magazine tomorrow.)

    What does Penn's quote mean? How do you measure thinking and values? The fact that Clinton and Obama had nearly identical positions on the issues and as well as nearly identical voting records tells me this is not really about thinking and values - at least objectively. Objectively there is very little difference between the two candidates. So what does Penn mean? Penn is using code claiming that Obama is different, not like us. As gay people we should understand this message perfectly well because we have repeatedly been accused of not having the same values as straight people. It's disgusting as well as untrue.

    Saying Obama "is not at his center fundamentally American" is a clear attempt to paint Obama as un-American. What proof can they produce that Obama's thinking and values are different from Clinton's? None. The differences are that Obama had a foreign born parent and his skin color is black. Does this make his values and thinking different and un-American? I guess if you keep repeating that claim you will find some fertile ground in a sub-section of the electorate who will believe it.

    If you're thinking, oh, but what about Reverend Wright.... let me respond that there is not one shred of evidence that Obama ever repeated, internalized or proposed any of Wright's outlandish ideas. So you cannot use Reverend Wright to say that Obama is not "fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values."

    I cannot tell you how contemptible I find Penn's actions. It's disgusting and reflects very poorly on Senator Clinton and her campaign. I believe public apologies are in order by both Clinton and Penn.




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    1. Kary on Aug 11, 2008 10:51:55 AM:

      I was a big Clinton (Bill) supporter from his first election. My partner was a huge Hillary supporter during this primary. We were guests at the Clinton White House as a couple, where we met them. They have lost all my respect and support in the past 6 months. The veil as been lifted, and for the first time, I at least can glimpse the mindset behind the seething rightwing hatred. They are inauthentic, selfish, arrogant, and unbelievably "entitled" in their own minds. Barack is clearly the choice for progressives and liberals fed up with the old school.

    1. Tim on Aug 11, 2008 1:57:50 PM:

      The same Barak that is the scion of the corrupt Chicago political machine? Heh, yes everything old is new again.

      As for this Andoni, the primary is over, if your unhappy with how someone ran their campaign , so what? Just don't vote for them or give them money.

      But I think your dismissal of Obama's long term friendship of Rev, Wright is grossly inaccurate and unfair. Seeing as how they had a 20 year friendship, he was mentioned prominently in his book, he said he couldn't distance himself from him, (until he threw him under the bus) The baptized his children, and tutored them in gospel. If someone had that kind of impact on your life could you truly say that they had no effect, no lingering memories?

      "If you're thinking, oh, but what about Reverend Wright.... let me respond that there is not one shred of evidence that Obama ever repeated, internalized or proposed any of Wright's outlandish ideas. So you cannot use Reverend Wright to say that Obama is not "fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values."

    1. L. Wieseltier on Aug 11, 2008 2:04:42 PM:

      Anybody that can defend a 20 year close relationship with a race-baiting scumbag like Wright, and/or has no problems with a crooked wheeler-dealer like Tony Rezko, or a couple of murdering terrorists like their "good" Hyde Park neighbors, etc., etc., etc., has absolutely no business complaining about a hired political advisor.

    1. Charlie on Aug 11, 2008 11:35:26 PM:

      Tim, your logic is flawed. It is undeniable that Obama and Wright had a close relationship for a number of decades, and Obama's handling of the situation was a bit of a head-scratcher, but to assert that this close relationship would necessarily result in Obama taking on board Wright's ideas. Maybe someone has evidence that he has, but that's not my point... all I am saying is that your leap is not logical. A free-thinking person can certainly hear the ideas of a respected person and still disagree.

    1. Charlie on Aug 12, 2008 12:04:46 AM:

      But I do agree with you Tim that I'm not sure why this is relevant now. We should elect Obama because he was almost a victim? We should rethink our write-in votes for Hillary?

    1. Tim on Aug 12, 2008 11:43:30 AM:

      "Obama's handling of the situation was a bit of a head-scratcher,"

      I think it's pertinent given his like treatment of everyone else that has gotten in the way of his presidential ambitions. Obama is showing ruthlessness, which is admiral in a politician, however I'd like to see him more ruthless on the foreign matters where our national interests are on the line. This long standing vein of total pacifism in the democratic party is the main reason I've been voting republican on presidential tickets. (yes democratic on senate races)

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