How Now Brown Voters?

Amardeep’s earlier post on memo-gate rightly inspired a lot of passionate discussion on this site; many of us, whether we were massively disappointed or merely mildly surprised, expressed a strong interest in what the Senator’s reaction to it all might be. For the four of you who haven’t already received this in your inbox, we have our answer (via SAFO):

Senator Barack Obama’s Response to the Indian American Community
Dear Friends,
On Monday, June 18, Senator Barack Obama issued the following statement in response to the concerns expressed by the Indian American community regarding the Hillary Clinton opposition research memo. Senator Obama personally requested that we distribute this letter to the entire SAFO community:
I wanted to respond personally to the concerns you expressed regarding the recent research memo that our campaign put into circulation.
I believe that your concerns with the memo are justified. To begin with, the memo did not reflect my own views on the importance of America’s relationship with India. I have long believed that the best way to promote U.S. economic growth and opportunity for American workers is to continually improve the skills of our own workforce and invest in our own scientific research, technological capacity and infrastructure, rather than to try to insulate ourselves from the global economy.
More importantly, the memo’s caustic tone, and its focus on contributions by Indian-Americans to the Clinton campaign, was potentially hurtful, and as such, unacceptable. The memo also ignored my own long-standing relationship to – and support from – the Indian-American community.
In sum, our campaign made a mistake. Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign – and in particular myself – responsible for the mistake. We have taken appropriate action to prevent errors like this from happening in the future.
Please feel free to share this letter with other members of your organization or leaders in the Indian-American community. I look forward to our continued friendship and exchange of ideas – during the course of this campaign, and beyond.
Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Hmmm. I had to read it a second time, to find the answer to the burning question in my mind, namely what, if any action was taken against the person who did the hit job. Once again, for the cheap seats and the distracted:

We have taken appropriate action to prevent errors like this from happening in the future.

What is “appropriate action”? According to a fresh article from the chocolate post:

The campaign said the new policy is to ensure that senior staff will review materials before they are distributed publicly. [WaPo]

Now THAT is a brilliant idea.

So, what do you think? Is the candidate’s response good enough? Not enough? Should we dismiss it as lip service? Is Barack back in your good graces?

97 thoughts on “How Now Brown Voters?

  1. Lets not turn this into Macacagate

    What the friggedy froo is up with this -gate suffix for every scandal? Why didn’t the practice become to call it Watermacaca? Or Watercontra?

    The only place where I like the current, ahem, convention is for the DC madam scandal. That should be callgate.

  2. that’s it? no sensitivity camp? shouldn’t he have to wear a turban for a week and kiss amardeep’s bum or something? you guys are easier than paris hilton in a limp bizkit tour bus. can’t you at least play hard to get like pamela harriman? oh, what has monica done to you libs?

    That was pretty damn funny. :-D

    Though I have to say, it wasn’t like this came from Obama himself; had he been busted on camera saying this stuff, I’m pretty sure the castigation follies wouldn’t have been far behind. But a memo sent to the Clinton camp from some staffer or group of staffers…it’s stupid, it’s wrong, and it shouldn’t be tolerated, but I can give Obama himself the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

    I think I’d speak for a lot of Mutineers when I say that I personally would not give him another freebie. Two strikes, he’s out. I’ll allow him to pin this racially inflammatory tail to someone else’s ass, but if it happened again, I think he’d deserve phataak! one tight slap.

  3. The “free pass” reaction for “my [not mine] guy” is exactly what the politicians bank on when it comes to having excuses made for their behavior. We see this on both sides of the aisle and unfortunately this has contributed to the culture of unaccountability from our elected empty suits. El Presidente and his continued support for the illegal alien amnesty bill is a perfect example of this paradigm. BHO could have excreted the proverbial load on the [insert racially identifying group here]-community and some would find a reason to excuse the behavior because he is “their guy.” Either he stands for the purported values that one is associating with him (in which case the subject incident would not have happened) or one needs to reassess their pedestal placement of the not only the subject politician, but all politicians (as a general matter of course). We humans have the tendency to be blinded by when the faith and emotion of idolatry replaces the cold hard logic of reason.

    Politicians should not be held only responsible for their behavior but also the behavior of those that they volitionally choose to surround themselves with. Passing the buck of responsibility to one’s subordinates is not the best indicator of one who will excel in a leadership position. However, accepting the typical hand-wringing apologies from these politicians is exactly the reason for why they feel no responsibility to the electorate.

  4. You paint a bleak, and nihilistic picture, 53 · DSummoner. There can be no good. Everyone is just out for themselves.

    Or, just maybe, Ocham’s razor is at work. The simplest solution is the correct one. Some dumb staffers did a dumb thing–send out a document containing xenophobic innuendo about which the candidate (it being a large operation) was not aware. When he found out (among the 1,000 other things he has going on) and it sank in, he repudiated the action as not being consistent with his values, background, or upbringing. Said it was “unacceptable,” “stupid,” etc. And maybe he actually meant it. What a concept.

    This is Barack Obama we are talking about, people. Civil rights lawyer and lecturer in civil rights law at the University if Chicago. Community organizer. Grew up in largely Asian Hawaii. Grew up partly in Indonesia. Uses the word “rupiah” in his book “Dreams From My Father.” Talks about his Indian friends in that book long before he got into politics. Champion of pluralism and bringing everyone to the table.

    This would be like Hillary Clinton suddenly announcing that women should not be president.

    Please people, get a grip. Exercise some common sense. This is not George Allen with the ficus tree with a noose on it in his office, and the Confederate flag, with the mom who just happened to grow up in French Tunisia where the word “Macaca” was used to describe dark skinned people. This is Barack Obama. I defy any of the bloviating people on this site to read “Dreams From My Father” and tell me it’s consistent with someone who would want his campaign staff to issue a memo like that.

    I fear for the jury system if all the people on this site who do not seem to be able to process circumstantial evidence that points to innocence were put in charge of deciding guilt or innocence.

    There’d be a lot folks swinging from George Allen’s ficus tree.

  5. Neither bleak nor nihilistic my friend… simply realistic. Then again, I put no man or woman on a pedestal and certainly place no politician on a pedestal. The action of the staffers does not excuse BHO from responsibility in that he is person in whose name the subject work is being done under. There are two lines of thought that I have in regards to the subject memo. Neither deals with the content specifically. The first line of thought deals with the surrounding of oneself with staffers that are stupid (for a lack of a better word) enough to not have thought through the effects of the memo. Surrounding oneself with idiots produces what we have now. Moronic ideas of spreading democracy to those mired in the 7th Century. The second thought is that those that sent out the memos were utter geniuses. The memo served to show the role of Clinton as the panderer to those from the country where middle class and upper class jobs are being outsourced to and from where competition is being imported by big business to undercut the wage market. The staffers, knowing that the plebecy would rise to defend “their man,” realized that a simple ambiguous apology from BHO would be sufficient to quell any feelings of discontent or anger from those that are involved in race identity politics that have hitched their proverbial horse to the BHO “minority superstar” train. My interpretation of what I am seeing here falls along the lines of this paradigm as more than a few have excused the behavior of the BHO campaign (when they would never give such a free pass to someone that was not “their man”). The BHO campaign has not only made Clinton look bad in the eyes of those fearing global market competition but has been excused by those who self-identify most with those that were used as the scapegoat. Stupidity or abject political genius… I am unsure as to which is the case (from the a priori perspective). What is clear to me is that politicians will continue to as they wish to achieve political power as long as the electorate turns a blind eye to their behavior and to the behavior for those that act in their name. The unresponsive nature of local, state and Federal government can only exist with either the tacit or open approval of the electorate. As long as we (the collective) excuse their behavior… we deserve what we get.

  6. This says it all. H-1′b’s need to stop whining. When you’re struggling to pay your bills and feed your family, you’ll do your best to keep jobs here. I have no sympathy for Indians working here.

    While it’s not possible to stop globalization in its tracks, what we can do is make sure we have a government that’s looking out for our workers,” Obama said. “We can do more to create a government that’s creating quality jobs here in America, and we can do more to create a government that’s helping workers who lose their jobs.”

  7. Lots of us looking desperately to nurse a grievance here, methinks… Obama reaction is more than good enough for me, and much better than the mealy-mouthed initial responses to political blunders that we have come to expect from our public figures.

  8. Nice thoughts from BHO, but what are the specific mechanisms by which he plans on brining this about? How is government going to create more jobs in America (particularly those that are the most subject to foreign competition)? Is BHO going to enforce the immigration laws that prevent semi-skilled and unskilled illegal aliens from flooding the blue collar job market and turning what used to be blue collar jobs that Americans could afford to work at and support their families at the wages offered into the typical pabulum of “jobs that Americans won’t do?” Is he going to curtail the “free trade” nature of the US involvement in the global marketplace by making it more difficult to send jobs offshore while limiting the legal importation of foreign workers that undercut the US wage market? Is he going to engage in corporate taxation policies that make it less desirable to use American labor? Is he going to expand the scope of the Federal government to produce more sucklings at the teats on the boarhog that is the Federal government? Is he going to raise taxes on Americans that produce to fund another boondoggle Federal “social” program that has either no objective merits for determining its efficacy or having such metrics ignored? What are the specifics of his positions on these issues? The answers to these questions are difficult for politicians because making the choice that is the “best” one (on a given issue) for Americans is not necessarily the choice that is appealing to every group in the political coalition. These questions apply not only to BHO but to all politicians running for the presidency.

    BTW, before anyone that is inclined to have the monosynaptic reflex of playing race-identity politics make outlandish personal claims about me… My parents were first generation legal immigrants from India (UP). I was born and raised here in the States and identify myself as an American without any hyphenation. I see the fiduciary role of the US government as being solely to its citizens (regardless of race, creed, color or national origin).

  9. Dsummoner — such an evil genius, that Obama. But enough about him — let’s talk about you. Who exactly is your perfect candidate, the one who has no idiots surrounding him? Maybe Tom Tancredo? Pat Buchanan? Manju?

  10. Well, he’s not getting any love from Russell Simmons. A variation of this also appeared in the nytimes about a month ago.

    Simmons: “I think about one-fourth of his campaign contributions came from small donations made over the Internet, even though he collected more than any other Democratic candidate from Wall Street people. So at the end of the day, he’s controlled, too. That’s my point. He’s a mouse, too, like everybody else.

    source: http://www.blackagendareport.com

  11. “regardless of skin color or camouflage, the politician may be identified by subtle shifting plumage. a mark of this bird’s maturity is that the plumage changes are undetected by most . . ..” – from the SM Chapter of the Audobon Society

    Why Barack Obama Needs a Whuppin’

    (Anyway, anyone’s better than Cheney, they say that his pace maker is a dead man’s switch hooked up to the button. If it stops, the nukes launch.)

  12. [off topic Russell Simmons got “served” by Stanley Crouch on Oprah- post Imus debacle; he looked a bit mouselike himself after that. Blackagendarport reads like its stuck in the ’60′s. I do not want to be judged solely on my race- so I don’t present all my views, issues ,aspirations etc solely in a b-w paradigm, I don’t see anything to be gained by expecting ‘others’ to want to map onto that either.

  13. russell simmons on the gandhi index

    vegetarian/vegan: +1

    cleaning up foul/demeaning language: +1

    non-violence: +1

    walked/organized a salt march: +.5 (sold many sneakers so that others could walk far)

    assist minority groups: +1

    honest: +.5 (may have overstated earnings when selling Phat Farm)

    good walking stick: +5 (chauffer driven car, big improvement)

    bramacharya: -1 (separated, dates young, beautiful models

    gandhi score: 9 out of possible 8 (a good car may have unduly influenced his score)

  14. He’s forgiven and achieved redemption in my book. Time to order up my Obama bumper sticker.

  15. 54 and others wrote:

    “This is Barack Obama we are talking about, people.”

    The issue is not what the candidate actually believes in. I really doubt all those well-educated republican congressmen with gay staffers, but who insist they are homophobic and that they don’t believe in evolution, reflect their actual “values, background, or upbringing”. (racism in those like Allen are another story)

    The problem with the memo wasn’t that its authors hated or harbored racist tendencies towards those of Indian descent. It was the calculation that it was ok to marginalize them for political expedience. It is THIS that makes repubs, who don’t care about homosexuality either way, insist that homosexuality is a moral violation — they think it is expedient to marginalize homosexuals and court evangelicals.

    When McCain gave a talk at Falwell’s Liberty university, we did not think that he’d suddenly become homophobic or overly religious. The lesson we got that he too bought into the lure of political expedience of marginalization.

    The campaign spokesperson, a day after the memo was out, was insisting that there was nothing wrong with it. Obama, if he thought it was so “stupid” and “caustic”, intriguingly waited for a good few days before giving his response.

    To gauge the response from media and elsewhere and then realize it was no longer thought “expedient” to marginalize India and Indian Americans in favor of protectionist anti-free-trade sentiment.

    I’m more sad than angry to be honest, as Anna had said in an earlier post, we can no longer keep him on a pedestal. As some others had pointed out, he was a politician, so we shouldn’t have put him on a pedestal in the first place. oh well.

  16. He’s certainly not back in my good graces because 1) I held him to a higher standard and 2) he’s staging a presidential campaign; so to allow a statement like that to be distributed without senior staff and/or Obama’s approval is inexcusable. It doesn’t mean he’s off my ballot. It just means he’s, to use a Colbert-ism, “On Notice”.

  17. He’s back on the right page with me. The apology seemed sincere and adequate, and in taking much of the blame himself, he has shown a measure of leadership I haven’t seen in any politician in a while.

    To those asking for the staffers to be fired – firing someone isn’t the only way to handle a situation. There could have been real consequences, short of termination, to those who orchestrated it. We may never know. Firing a good staffer who shows one lapse in judgment is the worst form of management. If indeed the campaign has learned from this experience and put in place new procedures and instutionalized a new sensitivity, then they have achieved the best possible outcome out of this. Firing someone doesn’t fix the problem.

  18. Obama’s apology is as specious as Hillary’s (wait, she didn’t apologize, did she!) for her pro-Iraq war vote.

    My vote still goes to Barack.

  19. Dsummoner — such an evil genius, that Obama. But enough about him — let’s talk about you. Who exactly is your perfect candidate, the one who has no idiots surrounding him? Maybe Tom Tancredo? Pat Buchanan? Manju?

    I have not seen nor do I expect to see a perfect candidate. Here is what I am looking for when it comes to political candidates – policy positions. My ideal candidate would work tirelessly to reduce the Tetsuo like bloat of the Federal government. He/she/it would work to remove unnecessary federal government interference in the lives of the citizenry (nanny statism, blue laws, etc.). Social programs would be revamped such that they would have objective metrics for judging their success (metrics to which they would be rigorously held). Spreading democracy, world police and world socialism would not be part of the US foreign policy. Individual liberty and constitutionally guaranteed rights would be respected (first, second, fourth, eighth Amendment rights, etc.). Healthcare reform would actually be reform in the form of reversing the most anti-competitive measures of those enacted from the Flexner Report (years of training is a nice canard for physician after-expense compensation rates but the actual reason is supply side restriction of domestic providers). Finally, no ideal candidate would be talking about taxes without mentioning cutting them.

  20. I like how one of my fellow desi politicos referred to this incident: “small aloos.” This wasn’t a macaca moment. We’ve got bigger problems. Let’s move on.

  21. zorn, i wouldn’t be surprised. racists are just as likely to be liberal. the only difference is the opportunities they take to vent it.

  22. Friends, Barack Obama just had a conference call with many Indian-American supporters from around the country and here are some of the highlights from the Senator as quickly as I could transcribe them.

    Let me cut to the case on this. This was one of the dumber things I have seen not just in our campaign but in campaign annals. This was so far flung and so antithetical to who I am, where I come from, and what I’m about. It’s almost comic for me to have to be in this position. But I have to take responsibility for it because it came out of our shop. This is as angry as I’ve been since I have become a Senator. Neither I nor top lieutenants in the campaign saw this before it went out. [It showed] complete insensitivities that I don’t fully understand. I have said this publicly. This was wrong given my own biography and everything I’m about, which is making sure everyone is included, and that everything is in, and in foreign policy, that our interests are wrapped up with the interests in other countries, particularly India. This will not happen again. This was inexusable. I am really pissed about it.

    Obama went on to ask for our “recommendations” and “necessary clean up.”

    One participant thanked him for his leadership on cleaning up the issue and he responded quickly

    This was sort of a no-brainer.

    Ever the professor, he added that it was a

    Good teaching moment. What I emphasized to all of my staff–and we have a diverse staff, including prominent Indian Americans and Asian Americans on staff–is when you start getting caught up in the toxic political atmosphere things like this happen and you can’t let things like this happen.

    Another participant pointed out that on Page 17 of Dreams From My Father, written in the 1980s, Obama mentioned the Indian and Pakistani friends who gave him money.

    Obama responded again that he had friendships with Indian Americans going back decades, long before any other candidates, and that this was inconsistent with his upbringing and background given that he had a

    Mother doing development work, that he was living in South Asia.

    He has an

    Affinity there that is just unmatched.

    The Senator added drolly,

    This was a good exercise in humility; walking on glass purifies the soul.

    (I joked in response that he hoped the Senator would not undergo much more “soul purification.”)

    Asked what discipline has taken place:

    People are being disciplined. I made a decision not to fire people. The reason is that although this was dumb memo, there were individuals involved who acted out of ignorance and stupidity as opposed to malice. I made a judgment that they were sufficiently chastened that I made a decision to handle it without termination. They are in the doghouse and they know they are in the doghouse and the entire campaign knows they are in the doghouse and they have lost a degree of freedom.

    Asked what took the Senator personally from from Friday through Monday afternoon to personally respond:

    As for what took us so long, that just has to do with the news cycle. I didn’t hear about this until basically Friday morning. I was watching ESPN Sports Center. David Plouffe [the campaign manager] put out the initial statement [expressing regret]. Sunday was Father’s Day. Monday was the first opportunity for me to do it live to media, and I did that in Iowa.
    I wanted not just to send out a statement, but to express these things to reporter in a direct and personal way.
    Obviously, I’m not thrilled to have to be devoting all this time to a self-inflicted wound. But I understand that it is necessary to rebuild relationships I want to have for a lifetime.
  23. Basu: In revealing flaws, Obama scores points

    By REKHA BASU REGISTER COLUMNIST

    June 19, 2007

    Politics can be an underhanded, hypocritical, grubby affair. No matter how many presidential candidates start out pledging to rise above it, it’s the rare one who gets through the process without taking the low road at least once.

    You could blame the stress, the growing length of campaigns that make front-runners the targets of attacks, or the press for our endless quest for salacious scoops. But whatever the reason, once tarnished, it’s hard for a candidate to recover.

    Barack Obama has positioned himself as someone who stays above the fray, sticks to the issues and offers an alternative to the old political gamesmanship. So, people were disappointed recently to see his campaign resort to questionable tactics to discredit Hillary Clinton, his leading opponent for the Democratic nomination. And no one was more so than the Indian-American community.

    A document prepared by the Obama campaign and slipped to reporters took aim at Clinton’s support from an Indian-American businessman and companies that do business in India. It referred to Clinton as “Mrs. Clinton D-Punjab.” Punjab is a state in northern India, and Clinton had joked that she could win a Senate seat in Punjab because of her ties to the Indian community. But the issue is touchy because of the outsourcing of jobs to India. The document landed in the Clinton campaign’s hands, which shared it with the media. Obama’s campaign apologized, but the senator himself hadn’t commented until Monday in a meeting with Register staffers.

    The question first came up after he was talking up how his global background – his father was from Kenya, and he lived in Indonesia – had helped shape his perspective, and discussing the need to understand how people in the rest of the world feel.

    It seemed an appropriate time to mention that, after having been on vacation and away from the news, I’d called my parents in India on Father’s Day and learned about the memo from them. It made the Indian papers and was angering Indians in both countries for its disparaging tone.

    Calling it a “screw-up” by the research side of his campaign, Obama said that neither he nor senior staff had seen the memo, and that it was “stupid and caustic” and unreflective of his views. He said he’s had longstanding support from the Indo-American community, and that outsourcing is a complicated issue.

    Obama went on to candidly reveal some of the internal conflicts we seldom get to see that go on in the minds of candidates.

    “Look, I’m running for president, and there are certain conventions we engage in. I have to raise money. It would be wonderful if we didn’t. Opposition research is part of the game that’s played, partly because you guys rely on it for stories.”

    “I’m not so naïve as to believe I can win without being rough and tumble,” he said. But he noted there’s a big difference between putting out a memo contrasting candidates’ positions or pointing out the hypocrisy of another’s, and taking “cheap shots.”

    This memo was a cheap shot, he said, but acknowledged there is a constant temptation to “play the game as it is played,” and that it’s his job to make sure the campaign resists that temptation. He said he has to “make sure I’m pushing a culture that reflects the culture I want in the White House when I’m president.”

    That includes the need to be mindful of how he debates, he said: “We’re trying to get better, and I’m trying to get better.” But he admitted, “There are times I find myself slipping into the sort of caustic ‘tit for tat’ politics that is typical…”

    The senator didn’t try to gloss over the subject or pass the buck. He spoke unguardedly and sincerely. After that, his tone seemed to change from upbeat and jovial to more somber.

    For the press, which can be jaded and guilty of trying to rationalize our own sometimes caustic tactics, it was a valuable moment of candor. It made Obama seem real and flawed, just like the rest of us and – more importantly – willing to work on it.

    He had many more things of value to say Monday, but for that willingness alone, he’d already scored high in my book.

    REKHA BASU can be reached at rbasu@dmreg.com or (515) 284-8584.

  24. 71 · DSummoner:

    Tetsuo like bloat of the Federal government

    Was that an “Akira” reference? Gawd.

    Subodh, thanks for sharing. Good comments, and much more in line with what I’d expect from Obama. I really don’t think this plays into the “politics of marginalization” alluded to above, or rather, I believe that the memo was not an attempt orchestrated by Obama himself to play into marginalizing those of Indian descent. I’m sure (as he states) he wasn’t too thrilled with having to take time away from the campaign to address this kind of stuff, but at the same time, it’s early, and it seems as though he’ll come out of this with no lasting damage.

    So “small aloos,” indeed.

    So far, the Democrats’ political maneuvering has been quite a bit less charged than the Republicans’. I really hope this isn’t the start of overt dirty pool within the party ranks.

  25. Was that an “Akira” reference? Gawd.

    Absolutely. Puts a rather distinct picture in one’s mind… does it not?

  26. the Democrats’ political maneuvering has been quite a bit less charged than the Republicans’

    May be because they are more desperate than Dems? This may be the last chance for Rudy G, Johnny M etc..

  27. As an African American, I can understand your outrage and alarm, but let’s remember the creed to judge a man by the totality of his deeds. Obama has spent his entire adult life working for justice and equality. Moreover, his own family crosses the racial and cultural spectrum, including a step-father and sister of South East Asian descent. Perhaps he should be running a tighter ship, but his campaign is litrally only 4 months old and will suffer a lot of growing pains. Hillary Clinton has been organizing for decades. Reading some of the posts, it’s clear that we all need to check our racial sensitivity. Given his life’s work and message of inclusiveness, which is a political liability in itself, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  28. Pied piper: I’ve been called a lot of names here at SM: facist, racist, Uncle Tom, Brown Sahib. But you’ve gone too far. I am not a liberal democrat. that’s it? no sensitivity camp? shouldn’t he have to wear a turban for a week and kiss amardeep’s bum or something? you guys are easier than paris hilton in a limp bizkit tour bus. can’t you at least play hard to get like pamela harriman? oh, what has monica done to you libs? Well, at least we know what Tash looks like.

    What now, Manju? You’ve exposed my identity as ObamaGirl, seen what I look like in a string bikini and aired my love song to Barack, you sure you don’t wanna switch to the dark side? ;)

    Oh, and the MONICA reference? Priceless. Priceless! See Manju, us libs aren’t the only ones who don’t play hard to get. Sometimes matey, YOU are as easy as Jenna Bush at a ‘Promise Ring’ Christian Camp.

    All together now people…’B to tha A to tha R-A-C, K-O-B-A-M-A…’that’s song’s as embedded in my head as the image of my red OBAMA peekaboo panties…

    If only you saw the videos I made for John Stewart, Al Gore and Dave Chapelle…

    sigh.

    …But then again I haven’t seen you strutting your stuff for Giuliani, Bush, Ayn Rand, Ann Coulter and the rest of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.TM.

    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours? Call me. xxxxxxxx

  29. Barack Obama is completely unqualified to be President (and this has nothing to do with his recent faux pas regarding India). Obama is a “candidate” because the Democratic Party (perhaps in league with Hollywood) had him speak at their 2004 Convention — and suddenly he became an overnight “media star.” His biracial origin, light complexion, eloquent speech and Harvard education made him an “acceptable black.” But he has done little or nothing to distinguish himself as a Senator in Illinois. He will disappear from the national stage as quickly as General Colin Powell (remember when he was “hot”?) did.

  30. I don’t think it was too much to worry about. Some dumb staffer probably forgot that what is a joke among staff probably should not be put in a memo. And if for some reason obama and his campaign is anti-indian, I’d rather see the knife coming from the front than coming from the back.

    if romney wins the the GOP nomination then I’m voting for the weed lady since I live in Utah.

  31. from Reason Magazine

    “Obama Just Got Less ‘Brown’ Friendly,� reads the Indian American blog Sepia Mutiny. The US-India Political Action Community, having elicited one tepid pseudo-apology from the Barack Obama campaign, then demanded an acceptably contrite expression of contrition. Barack Obama’s macaca moment is hardly the campaign killer that George Allen’s proved to be, but the spectacle of a Kenyan Kansan would-be president deflecting criticism from pro-trade Indian Americans is at least more interesting.
    Barack’s (second) apology is thorough and appropriate, but he has flirted with these sentiments before. At a speech after the Virginia Tech Massacre, Obama explained that “There’s also another kind of violence that we’re going to have to think about. It’s not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways.� What kind of ways? Well, for one: “the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country.”
  32. Yeah, I’m also still disturbed by, “More importantly, the memo’s caustic tone, and its focus on contributions by Indian-Americans to the Clinton campaign, was potentially hurtful, and as such, unacceptable

    It’s a copout. That’s not saying that he doesn’t believe what the memo said or that he thought it was wrong because it was wrong. It positions him such that it appeases both sides. I’m hearing that a lot from politicians, that “I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone, I didn’t mean to cause anyone pain and I regret that.”

  33. The only thing that makes me feel a little better about it is that he didn’t read the memo before it was sent.

  34. I used to like Obama a lot, but I don’t see how I can retain support for a guy who can’t even properly control his own campaign. I’d prefer that he be a racist anti-Indian who could hide his bias (like a lot of Republicans do) for the sake of politics than a pro-Indian who has no idea what’s going on in his own house.

    This is the second situation I’ve read about, where Obama lost control of his own people. I sense a bad/negligent leader…

  35. I’d prefer that he be a racist anti-Indian who could hide his bias (like a lot of Republicans do) for the sake of politics than a pro-Indian who has no idea what’s going on in his own house.

    So you’d rather remain blissfully ignorant rather than accept the apology of a guy who is running a huge campaign and can’t possibly be expected to have complete oversight of it all the time. Not sure what that says about you. Never mind, I do.

  36. namantra, #93:

    “…lost control of his own people.”

    You’re kidding me, right? So the most important thing in this free country is absolute control of “your people” (in this case, volunteer campaign workers)?

    And that’s far more important than not being RACIST? Or having a sane political stance?

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

  37. Well yeah controlling his “people” is more important because if he can’t control his “people” as President then it won’t make a difference what his stances are, the only thing that will matter are the stances of his “people”.

    So you’d rather remain blissfully ignorant rather than accept the apology of a guy who is running a huge campaign and can’t possibly be expected to have complete oversight of it all the time. Not sure what that says about you. Never mind, I do.

    Well I guess my logic is that if he can’t run a “big” campaign, I have no idea how he plans to run the world’s only superpower, which in some ways includes running the whole world.

  38. Apparently, with Obama, the buck passes here. Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune of June 21, 2007 detailing a pattern. I don’t know if it is just an accident, but it does make you wonder.

    Obama again blames staff for miscues

    By John McCormick Tribune staff reporter

    June 21, 2007, 10:55 PM CDT

    Despite often-lofty rhetoric that he plans to bring the nation a “new kind of politics,” Sen. Barack Obama has surrounded himself with operatives skilled in the old-school art of the political back stab.

    Yet when Obama was criticized this week for opposition research memos critical of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s ties to India and Indian-Americans, he was quick to blame his staff.

    “It was a screw-up on the part of our research team,” he told editors and reporters with The Des Moines Register. “It wasn’t anything I had seen or my senior staff had seen.”

    That is starting to sound familiar. It was at least the third time since February the Illinois Democrat has blamed his staff for a glitch.

    When Obama assembled his crew early this year, he brought together a team with a long track record for the sort of caustic rhetoric he has pledged to avoid, just as other presidential candidates have done by hiring people similarly talented in the art of opposition research and attack. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) even hired some of the very people that trashed his 2000 presidential bid.

    From his campaign headquarters on the 11th floor of a high-rise on Michigan Avenue, Obama’s political warriors range from a research director with extensive experience in throwing darts from Democratic National Committee’s offices to a communications director who once worked for a group that ran a controversial ad that used an image of Osama bin Laden to attack Howard Dean.

    Obama’s latest campaign hiccup started with documents that sarcastically questioned Clinton’s ties to India that were pitched to reporters on a not-for-attribution basis. The documents later became public, angering many Indian-American supporters.

    The documents questioned links Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her husband, the former president, had with various companies that outsource American jobs. One included a headline that referred to Clinton as the Democratic senator from Punjab, a reference to a joke Clinton had made last year at a fundraiser.

    In making his apologies for the flap, Obama sought to reassert one of his strongest selling points: that he is an agent of change who is capable of changing the tone of the nation’s political debate. But as Obama and his handlers well know, it is a tricky balance between staying above the fray and proving to Democratic activists that you are tough enough to take on the Republican nominee.

    “There are times where I find myself slipping into the sort of caustic tit-for-tat politics I think is typical,” Obama told Iowa’s largest newspaper. “The environment pushes you in that direction oftentimes.”

    Such statements have created a higher standard for Obama, one that does not always jibe with the group of political operatives who encircle him.

    Obama’s research director, Devorah Adler, for example, was tied to a controversial 2005 Democratic National Committee research memo distributed to reporters on a not-for-attribution basis about then-Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. It suggested he had participated in “anti-civil rights and anti-immigrant rulings” as a judge and had failed to win mobster convictions as a prosecutor.

    Obama’s campaign declined to say whether Adler had seen the India documents before their release or whether she is part of the senior staff. “We’re not going to get into the internal machinations,” spokesman Bill Burton said.

    Obama’s communications director and one of his closest advisers, meanwhile, was once employed by a group that ran a television ad shortly before the 2004 Iowa caucuses that used a picture of bin Laden to criticize Dean’s foreign policy credentials at a point when Dean was the Democratic front-runner.

    At the time, Robert Gibbs was working with a shadowy group called Americans for Jobs, Health Care & Progressive Values. The so-called 527 political group paid for the ad, but refused to disclose in a timely manner who was financing the effort because federal law did not require it to do so.

    Shortly after the ads started running, a labor union that had endorsed Democratic rival Richard Gephardt of Missouri acknowledged contributing $50,000 to the group, but said the ads had gone too far.

    The group had begun running ads in Iowa in early December 2003. One that ran before the bin Laden ad had featured Dean, side-by-side with President Bush and compared their records of support for the National Rifle Association.

    Gibbs was also involved in a dust-up in February from which Obama was quickly forced to distance himself.

    When Obama contributor and Hollywood mogul David Geffen slammed the Clintons, triggering the Clinton campaign to demand that Obama return money Geffen had raised for Obama, Gibbs showed his campaign could play tough.

    “We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters,” he said at the time. “It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom.”

    Obama later distanced himself from that comment, saying he had been flying from Los Angeles to Iowa at the time. “I told my staff that I don’t want us to be a party to these kinds of distractions because I want to make sure that we’re spending time talking about issues,” he said. “My preference going forward is that we have to be careful not to slip into playing the game as it customarily is played.”

    In a lower profile incident, Obama also blamed his staff in May for his missing an event for firefighters in New Hampshire. “My staff had already scheduled some things and they couldn’t wiggle out if it,” he said at the time. “They heard from me a little bit because I wasn’t happy I couldn’t be there personally.”

    mccormickj@tribune.com

    Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune