Fear bombs & bigotry

Michelle Obama “often refers to what she calls the ‘fear bomb‘ that was used against her husband in his [2004] Senate race, as rivals questioned whether someone with his name could be elected,” wrote NBC’s Mike Memoli earlier today from Canton, Ohio.
“Today she acknowledged that it is happening again in his presidential race, and said it’s an example of why America can’t wait for a leader like him to be elected.
“‘They threw in the obvious, ultimate fear bomb,’ Obama said of her husband’s 2004 Senate race. ‘We’re even hearing [that] now…when all else fails, be afraid of his name, and what that could stand for, because it’s different.’ She said rivals use innuendo to play on fears. ‘Just as they’re saying it now,’ she said.”
Interestingly, it’s been reported that Karl Rove, a master right-wing demonizer, warned against this kind of thing at a GOP state executive director gathering in late January, where he reportedly said the safest way to refer to Obama would be “Sen. Obama.”
“The context was, you’re not going to stigmatize this guy…you shouldn’t underestimate him,” one of the executive directors told The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder. “Rove said that the use of ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ would perpetuate the notion that Republicans were bigoted and would hurt the party.”
It’s a game, right? Rove and other high-ups get to say “don’t go there” while scores of right-wing talk radio guys get to play the the fear-bomb record all through the spring, summer and fall. The lowest, most despicable card you can play. And tens of thousands of under-educated Americans are going to lap it up.

53 thoughts on “Fear bombs & bigotry

  1. Rod32303 on said:

    Republicans ARE bigoted.
    Their party is fine.

  2. I’m picturing momma cub bear taking us on a tour of the White House and the two little girls running around the Rose Garden while hubby share a cigar with some world leader.

  3. Wells to Holly: The two most disgusting aspects of the American character — ignorance and racial bigotry — are up for discussion, and you’re joking around and talking about momma bears and cigars? It couldn’t be darker or uglier, and you’re laughing.

  4. This has got to a first in American politics: it is now considered ‘ignorance’ and ‘racial bigotry’ to use a candidate’s ACTUAL NAME!!!!

  5. When you hear crackers like Cunningham and O’Reilly ELONGATE the “Hussein”, well hell yeah it’s ignorance and bigotry. When they mistakenly say “Osama” instead of “Obama,” no one misses the “subtleness.”

  6. stephe96 – come on, you have to get your head out of the sand, man. obama’s name has been the butt of several racist and downright wrong innuendos from many sources, whether it be through another campaign or some talking head on one of thenumerous cable news stations, or the emails that are being sent about claiming outlandish details, all based on his name (and not of which is true). no matter what side of the coin you fall on in the political spectrum, this kind of activity shouldn’t and cannot be tolerated.

  7. Racist? Really?
    Boy, I can’t wait for an Obama presidency. Disagree with him, and suddenly you’re branded a “racist” by people who don’t even understand what that word means. Fantastic.

  8. Having spent part of my youth growing up in Indiana during the civil rights era through the MLK assassination, among white kids who routinely used the n-word when they weren’t saying coon or spook, and whose fathers and uncles belonged to the Klan, I believe I know what the word “racist” means.
    The GOP has hidden its appeals to racists in coded words and phrases ever since Nixon. But the guys who learned from Lee Atwater make sure that pitch is still there in every election, hidden under the code. McCain got a taste of it in South Carolina in 2000. (This is coming from someone who’s lukewarm on Obama anyway.)

  9. With guys like this radio talk host Cunningham, race is not going to go away with Obama.
    Nevertheless, Obama has won. He’s got Hillary beat. He has McCain defeated. Even with another terrorist act, Obama has got McCain beat.
    I saw a recapitulation of Obama’s life on MSNBC the other night, and it really brought home how special Obama is. Here’s a guy who was President of the Harvard Law Review, who did not clerk at the Supreme Court; he did not go to Wall Street; he became a community activist.
    I think this time the mob is correct: he is a different politician and he has great potential.
    People like O’Reilly can call him Hussein all they want. That’s his name. And in high school, he went by the diminutive “Barry.” By any name, he is a remarkable person.
    I wonder if Senator Obama’s demeanor would be different if his father was from Mississippi, instead of Kenya?

  10. The Tennessee GOP press release about “concern for the future of the state of Israel” etc. was truly disgusting. I have to give credit to national Republican leaders for denouncing it. Though it could all be some elaborate plot to have it put out there without appearing to have the support of the party or the candidates. John McCain could fix a lot of this by picking JC Watts as his running mate, but that doesn’t really help him internally within the GOP.

  11. Here’s the REALLY bothersome part: Is Michelle Obama – and by-proxy her husband’s campaign – really naive enough to regard pointing out that his middle name is Hussein is the WOST THING a competitor can do to him in a political campaign??

  12. Josh: “Disagree with him, and suddenly you’re branded a “racist” by people who don’t even understand what that word means.”
    Disagreeing with him’s one thing. Using his cultural background as an argument for disagreeing with him is another.
    Indy: Yes, those anti-Obama ads from the Clintons which emphasized his middle name were just coincidence.

  13. Of course Rove lets the conservative media minions do his dirty work. It’s the same with Bush and Rush.
    “And I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that’s how she really feels — that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever — then that’s legit. We’ll track it down.”
    O’Reilly’s typically boneheaded and moronic comment is revealing of how much unconscious bigotry simmers under the surface of quite a few right-wingers.
    But like the study shows, I’m sure O’Reilly is a happy conservative.

  14. christian, its not an excuse, but it is a factor, that O’Reilly is very very stupid. I can’t forgive him some of his most egregious sins, or his arrogance, but just the other night I was flipping through while the man was asking his guest if the Dinosaurs would hunt us or respect our dominance.

  15. //This has got to a first in American politics: it is now considered ‘ignorance’ and ‘racial bigotry’ to use a candidate’s ACTUAL NAME!!!!//
    Please cite a single instance (in this election cycle) where ANOTHER CANDIDATE’S middle name has been emphasized–or even mentioned–by his or her opponents. What’s Hillary Clinton’s middle name? John McCain’s? Mike Huckabee’s?
    And isn’t it fascinating that John McCain shares a name with John Wayne Gacy? You know what that means.

  16. “O’Reilly’s typically boneheaded and moronic comment is revealing of how much unconscious bigotry simmers under the surface of quite a few right-wingers.”

    For O’Reilly/FOX News, there’s nothing “unconscious” about anything viewpoint put forth, these comments are refined in the Ailes bunker/think tank and spewed up on O’Reilly, Gibson et.al. … this is the red meat for their viewers. They throw out a talking point and it spreads like wildfire on the internet and the MSM, all part and parcel of the right wing noise machine.

    “Please cite a single instance (in this election cycle) where ANOTHER CANDIDATE’S middle name has been emphasized…”

    Exactly.

    This presidential campaign will be, perhaps, the ugliest in American history… every good and bad thing about our country is going to rise to the surface and there will be blood.

  17. “This presidential campaign will be, perhaps, the ugliest in American history…”
    And if so, it’ll all be on the media and proxies. McCain is too smart to do anything that’d be read as “beating up on the black guy,” and Obama doesn’t seem to have the ability to actually throw a real punch rhetorical or otherwise.
    This is the year ahead of us: A nonstop deluge of leaked photos and scandalous memes coming from every corner of the media aimed at both candidates and coming non-stop… and both candidates responding to every one with “that didn’t come from us.” And in most cases, it probably won’t have… though you can bet your ass that if things pan out the way they seem primed to for the Dems, Bill and Hill will be sabotaging the CRAP out of Obama’s campaign so they can run again in 4 years instead of 8. Seriously, the McCain camp may as well cut their mudslinging budget in half, the Clintons will do it all for them. You think that photo of him dressed up like Haji is the WORST they’ve got?

  18. “This has got to a first in American politics: it is now considered ‘ignorance’ and ‘racial bigotry’ to use a candidate’s ACTUAL NAME!!!!”
    I’m sure Alexandre Battle in Miami, Florida, totally agrees with you:
    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/culture/2007/02/15/
    You and Alexandre should both go to this sight:
    http://www.shopmetrospy.com
    and buy your “Barack Osama” t-shirt or maybe the other t-shirt declaring, “Osama, Obama or Chelsea’s mamma.” I’m sure both you and Alexandre can agree a slogan like that is neither fear-mongering, racist nor misogynist. It’s just a couple of names and a fact put together. Now, Obama bin Laden is playing the “race card” if he points it out … gee….shocking….he would….think…you’re…….. a racist.

  19. How is using “Barack Hussein” at all racist, by the way? It’s a cheap way of evoking Saddam, sure, but racist?
    Oh, and being “racist” is not simply using a naughty word. That’s bigoted, prejudiced, etc. “Racism” is the inherent belief in the genetic superiority of one race over another. Using the “n-word” or even not liking another race doesn’t qualify.

  20. Josh, until you’ve been on the receiving end of that word, until you’ve gone to a restaurant and watched everyone stop eating and stare at you (where everyone but you is white), don’t play semantics. Your Webster’s Definition may be correct, the words, better or worse, are interchangeable – bigot, prejudice, racist.
    It’s just that, for most black folk who have felt the true hatred and fear, racist comes closest to describing how THIS side feels when under attack. I don’t know…”they were prejudiced!” or “That was bigoted behavior” doesn’t express the HEAT of the hatred.
    And of course using “Barack Hussein” isn’t racist. You just wrote it, and I don’t think you are racist at all. You did not use it like Cunningham or Limbaugh or O’Reilly.

  21. I’m glad we know all of the candidate’s middle names now. Oh wait, we don’t.
    I actually think Karl Rove isn’t trying to stay above the fray and let the minions do the work (this time, at least) – using this tactic has backfired at best, and Republicans would be wise to avoid it.

  22. But what about using “Hussein” is, for lack of a more correct word, racist? What about it demeans Barack’s race? Like I said, it’s a cheap, stupid ploy to invoke Saddam, and has nothing to do with race. What, are they using it to remind voters that Barack isn’t white?
    If John McCain’s middle name was “Adolf,” I can damn well guarantee leftists would be using it, and it wouldn’t have a single thing to do with the color of his skin.

  23. My God, if a Republican candidate ever had the middle name ‘Adolf,’ these hysterical libs would have to be sedated and restrained for the duration of the campaign.
    And, Rod32303, I’m curious: exactly how are Cunningham et al using Obama’s middle name?

  24. York,
    Was it Karl Rove who circulated a picture of Obama in a turban? No, that was Hillary. Was is Karl Rove who referred to Obama as a coke-dealer? Nope, that was Bill Shaheen, Hillary’s New Hampshire campaign director. Oh, and did Karl Rove ever refer to Obama as an “inexperienced fairy-tale?” Sorry, but that was Bill Clinton.
    Tell me again how the GOP operates?

  25. The talk radio/O’Reiley types will use the “Hussein” thing no matter what. After McCain denouced Cunningham for it, Cunningham said that McCain had thrown him under the bus. The right wing radio guys will never like McCain, for whatever reason. Probably because McCain has integrity.
    As to Rove saying not to use the name, yeah, he knows the radio types will use it, but he can’t stop it, either, even if he wanted to, which he probably does in a year where moderates and unaffiliated voters are going to be so important. Also, letting Hillary and her cronies take the flack for it is something Rove must be loving right now.

  26. The two most disgusting aspects of the American character — ignorance and racial bigotry — are up for discussion, and you’re joking around and talking about momma bears and cigars? It couldn’t be darker or uglier, and you’re laughing.
    Posted by: gruver1

    Shrewd comment Wells…you said “racial” bigotry, I presume because you know that when it comes to *ethnic* bigotry, there is no darker or uglier bigot than yourself.
    Going all in for a mixed candidate like Obama may make you feel hip and open-minded, but that does little to change a decade’s worth of dark and ugly things you have said about italians, hispanics, and women in general.
    Are you really so blind to your own prejudices that you feel in position to take a moral stand on this issue? If so, I’m dumbfounded as to how someone can be so delusional.

  27. The Obama camp wants to have it both ways – they are whining about the unfairness and underlying racisim of the mere mentioning of the middle name, but they will take every opportunity to position their man as the “younger, fresher” alternative to the crusty old white guy McCain.

  28. Stephe, do some research on the meme that Rove spread in 2000 to stop McCain. Something to do with a black baby…
    And Jeff went of the rails on T.Holly. She was merely pointing out that she hoped to see Obama in the big house. Wells gets overtly sensitive at the oddest times…

  29. Let them continue with the ethnic baiting. Obama is a champ when it comes to shrugging off these stupid attacks.
    You know how whenever the press used to ask Rumsfeld a question, he would ignore the question entirely, ask himself a completely different question, and answer that one?
    Obama has been doing the same thing with all these idiotic tactics. Except instead of using this technique to justify an immoral war, he is using it to turn all attacks against him into opportunities to promote his campaign’s issues.
    Say what you will about the man’s experience, but he is a great campaigner, one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. Negative attacks simply don’t stick to him.

  30. Wells doesn’t seem to get T. Holly’s unique style of meta-humor. Neither do I, honestly, and 99.9% of the population.
    I imagine there is someone wearing a tight jacket in a mental institution that would be LQTM.

  31. Obama’s middle name is Hussein. Anyone know McCain’s middle name?
    Didn’t think so.
    That’s because a person’s middle name is irrelevant to his or her ability to be President. And 98% of Americans get that.
    But that is not who the Limbaughs and the Cunninghams and other GOP hit-and-runners are speaking to. They are simply trying to perpetuate the myth that Obama is Muslim. They are hoping the small, ignorant few that believe this to be true will be enough to swing the vote the GOP way. And they have good reason to think this. The last two Presidential elections were won by a fraction of the vote.
    So yes, Hussein is Obama’s name. But that doesn’t absolve Republicans from charges of racism and bigotry when they try to use it against him.

  32. Wells to rocco: There’s a difference between being a bigot, which I am not, and being genuinely disdainful of (a) people who lack the discipline to keep themselves from levels of obesity to such a degree that they could have gotten themselves hired by a circus 50 years ago, or (b) women of any ethnic background who take their 5 year-old daughters to torture-porn movies (that’s where the Hispanic prejudice you’ve referring to comes from — an Hispanic woman was observed by yours truly watching an Eli Roth torture-porner with her little girl), or (c) Tri-state-area Italian-Americans who show an appalling lack of taste in home design and home furnishings. These are aesthetic arguments with societal elements that are vulgar, tacky or self-destructive (as in the case of morbid obesity or exposing your small child to fetishized violence). I fail to see an analogy between this and bigotry based on racial animus or fear of people with a “foreign-sounding” name. I am a smart cultivated guy making AESTHETIC JUDGMENT CALLS. The people who flinch at Barack Obama’s middle name are sad and small and malicious, coming from the lowest place imaginable in response to the potential for healing and moving past the ugliness.

  33. Josh: “How is using “Barack Hussein” at all racist, by the way? It’s a cheap way of evoking Saddam, sure, but racist?”
    It’s racist in the same way that comparing Keith Ellison to a nazi is racist.
    ‘”Racism” is the inherent belief in the genetic superiority of one race over another. Using the “n-word” or even not liking another race doesn’t qualify.’
    No, it’s just an expression of said racism.
    Stephe: “Tell me again how the GOP operates?”
    Inefficiently.
    JH: “but they will take every opportunity to position their man as the “younger, fresher” alternative to the crusty old white guy McCain.”
    If the shoe fits…

  34. “FWIW, the Chi Trib’s archive first kicks out a “Barack Hussein Obama” in Dec 2006, criticizing Rush Limbaugh’s use of “Barack Hussein Odumbo”.”
    You have to love how the modern political climate has devolved to the point of school-yard-level name calling. Explain to me, again, why Hillary’s supposed Washington experience is a positive?

  35. Bocephus, here’s a pretty good explanation, from a NYT blog:
    http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/why-im-afraid-of-the-clintons/index.html
    Make no mistake, the republicans FEAR facing Hillary. Always have.
    “When Hillary Clinton decided to run for president, I promised myself I would not be fooled again. As an equally loyal fan of the Republican Party and of the Green Bay Packers football team, I had come to regard the Clintons the same way I√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢ve always thought about the Dallas Cowboys. I don√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t like them. I root against them. I want them to lose and occasionally find myself wanting bad things to happen to them. But they are very good at what they do. And if someone can knock them out in the playoffs √ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Ǩ¬ù whether it√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s the New York Giants or a senator from Illinois √ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Ǩ¬ù I√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢m just as happy not to have to go up against them when the stakes are at their highest.
    So throughout the Democratic primaries, I’ve been rooting for Barack Obama. The nobler side of me admires him, even across party lines, for the tremendous interest and enthusiasm he has engendered among younger Americans. But the larger, less decent part of me believes that Hillary Clinton would be a more formidable general election opponent for the Republican nominee. She’s certainly on the ropes right now: her campaign has been flailing through the last few rounds of primaries in a way that Clintons are usually able to avoid. But we’ve been losing to Clintons for a long time now: I’d still just as soon avoid her in a general election campaign.
    There√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s something other than superstition at work here: there√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s also a question of ideological positioning. Many of my fellow Republicans don√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢t believe it, but Mrs. Clinton has actually fashioned a relatively centrist career as a senator. By contrast, Mr. Obama√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s voting record has been designated by the respected and nonpartisan National Journal as the most liberal of any of the Senate√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢s 100 members. This is not merely an epithet: it represents a series of policy choices and legislative votes that leave Senator Obama to the left of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Barbara Boxer. Even the most inspirational and inclusive language in the world will face a stern test in the face of accusations on that front.”

  36. And that is correct. Hillary always should have appealed to the right since she acts on a few of its tenents. But boy, they don’t a woman in charge. Goes against the bible, y’know?

  37. And regarding Obama’s middle name, in Time:
    The real problem is that if the right wants to start a whispering campaign about the name Hussein, Obama is only helping them. By cutting short the discussion, Obama is banishing his name to the voters’ subconscious, where the dark opposites of hope √¢‚Ǩ‚Äù bigotry and fear √¢‚Ǩ‚Äù can turn the word over and over again in their minds until November.
    [...]
    No matter what his advisers say, Obama wins nothing by shying away from his differences. After all, Obama is the candidate of change. He should take a cue from McCain’s courage on Iraq. Say what you will about McCain, but he knows he’s the war candidate. And though may have regretted saying it out loud, McCain clearly accepts that if voters don’t buy his vision for the war, he’ll lose. It’s not too much risk for Obama to stake his campaign on voters’ ability to rationally understand the difference between a Hawaii-born Christian and Saddam Hussein, the butcher of Baghdad.

  38. Wells…if your issues stopped with these seinfeld-esque observations, there would be no issue…I myself am embarrassed for and by the choices many Italians make, be it hairstyle, attire, or landscaping. But you seem to zero in on hispanics, italians, and women for issue, after issue, after issue, be it drunk driving, poor parenting, bad luck while washing windows, etc, etc…you always seem to correlate these bad behaviors with the person’s background. I’m not the only one of your readers call you out for this.
    I agree about the use of “Hussein”…it’s a disgusting petition to fear and ignorance…I’m not suggesting you should suddenly become this PC pussy…I love opinions…just don’t act holier-than-thou when you have said a number of things that, had they made the front page of digg, for instance, would have put you in a position with a lot of explaining to do.

  39. And all you rightie Drudge lovers will be happy to know it’s because of him that Prince Harry was pulled back from the front lines.
    Drudge is a piece of shit.

  40. Farris: “Michelle Obama claims the “Emphasise Hussein” tactic was used in Barack’s 2004 Senate race.”
    That’s not really accurate. She equates the name-calling with the same kind of fear-mongering used in the ’04 campaign. She doesn’t specifically state that that was the tactic used at the time.
    gansi: “…But the larger, less decent part of me believes that Hillary Clinton would be a more formidable general election opponent for the Republican nominee…But we√ɬ¢√¢‚Äö¬¨√¢‚Äû¬¢ve been losing to Clintons for a long time now…”
    That Republican Majority Newt managed to win in ’94 says otherwise.
    “By cutting short the discussion, Obama is banishing his name to the voters’ subconscious, where the dark opposites of hope √¢‚Ǩ‚Äù bigotry and fear √¢‚Ǩ‚Äù can turn the word over and over again in their minds until November.”
    I think they’d be more concerned about them being able to afford heating and gas along with their other bills that quarter. But that’s just me..
    “No matter what his advisers say, Obama wins nothing by shying away from his differences.”
    He’s won more voters than the Republican opposition combined.
    “After all, Obama is the candidate of change. He should take a cue from McCain’s courage on Iraq.”
    What courage? McCain’s just saying what he thinks will win with the 19% of Americans who still support Bush’s policies.
    “And though may have regretted saying it out loud, McCain clearly accepts that if voters don’t buy his vision for the war, he’ll lose.”
    Why would anyone buy being in Iraq for 100 years?
    Josh: “He wont win because hes a socialist.”
    That didn’t stop Bush from winning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>