Sunday, March 04, 2007

Obama Meets a Mudball

The headline on the Chicago Tribune story, “Obama calls Iran threat to U.S, Israel,” was a little ambiguous;that Iran is a threat to Israel no one disputes, but Barack Obama’s message, delivered before a the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israel lobbying group, was a little more complex than that.

"One of the most profound consequences of the administration's failed strategy in Iraq,” Obama said, “has been to strengthen Iran's strategic position, reduce U.S. credibility and influence in the region, and place Israel and other nations friendly to the United States in greater peril.”

Some people will dispute the claim on both historical and strategic grounds.

Iran’s antipathy to both Israel and the United States precedes the arrival of President George Bush in the White House. The Iranian revolution, which followed the deposition of the Shah of Iran, began during the administration of former President Jimmy Carter. One of the key participants in that revolution was a student leader featured in photographs showing him in company with blindfolded, captured American soldiers, a nightmare of the last years of the Carter administration. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now president of Iran, has promised on many occasions to destroy Israel, possibly with nuclear weapons; and his prediction and promise likely does not sit well with the gathering that heard Obama fault Bush’s failed strategy in Iraq. Obama’s compatriots in the Democrat Party are now split on the question of strategy. Some prefer an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of American troops; others favor a conditional withdrawal. But the question foremost in the minds of Obama’s audience probably was: Does the Democrat strategic plan, whatever that is, further “reduce U.S. credibility and influence in the region, and place Israel and other nations friendly to the United States in greater peril?”

This is very much an open question, and none of the Democrat presidential candidates thus far have tackled it head on.

“By speaking to about 800 of the committee's members at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers,” the Tribune story asserts, “Obama was able to reaffirm his support of Israel, as voters consider the early presidential field. Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) made a similar speech to the group's members in her home state on Feb. 1.”

Maybe so, maybe not.

But the Tribune story is interesting because it contains this mudball: “Despite the eagerness of local news crews for him to comment on the topic, Obama made no mention of a revelation reported Friday by the Baltimore Sun that he has white ancestors who owned slaves. A spokesman also said he would not be taking any media questions.”

Forget for the moment that Obama’s white ancestors may or may not have owned slaves, an event of no importance at all in the selection of a president. The question that never will be answered in future press reports is: Which camp is supplying the mudballs? That question will not be answered because the media is loathed to reveal its sources even if it could be shown that poison pills of this kind have been furnished by opposition candidates.

We now know, after months of destructive speculation, that secret agent Valerie Plame was a) not a secret undercover agent when her identity was exposed by b) her husband, the much aggrieved Joe Wilson, who was, according to Richard Armitage, then second in command to Colin Powell, a critic of Bush’s adventuresome policy in Iraq, “telling everyone” about his wife’s employment, including c) Armatige, who spilled the beans to noted Watergate reporter d) Bob Woodward, no friend of the Bush administration.

And we now know – as if we couldn’t tell beforehand – that Obama’s mamma was white; this little tidbit first appeared in a conservative publication, but it would be a tad presumptuous to suppose that conservatives are especially interested in knocking off Obama before Hillary Clinton and some of her more unscrupulous handlers have had a chance to paw and claw him in a primary. To this tidbit a mudball clings: Obama’s ancestors may have been slaveholders. It only remains for someone to leak to the press the additional tidbit that the aforementioned slaver was … who? … George Washington? Thomas Jefferson, perhaps?

If it were not so destructive, all this would be very funny. Imagine – the media, which is supposed to puncture pretensions such as these, co-operating in the destruction of good people; who would have imagined the heirs and assigns of Joseph Pulitzer could have sunk so low as to allow themselves to be so used by a bunch of third rate politicians.

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