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Obama's Dilemma with Farrakhan's Endorsement

Earl Ofari Hutchinson at the Huffington Post has a good handle on the Louis Farrakhan Nation of Islam dilemma for Obama, and why it matters -- and why Obama tried to avoid an outright rejection of Farrakhan during the Tuesday night debate.

Here's the first three paragraphs of Hutchinson's analysis and the conclusion, click through here for the rest of the article.

Here's what a spokesperson for Democratic Presidential contender Barack Obama said when he got wind of former Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's virtual endorsement of Obama's White House bid: "Senator Obama has been clear in his objections to Minister Farrakhan's past pronouncements and has not solicited the minister's support." Farrakhan made the glowing tout of Obama at the NOI's annual Savior's Day confab in Chicago. Obama's denunciation of Farrakhan was blunt and pointed. But he did not reject Farrakhan's implied endorsement.

Even after Hillary Clinton publicly demanded that he forcefully reject Farrakhan's endorsement, Obama waffled. He weakly said after more Clinton cajoling that he rejected the endorsement. He still did not mention Farrakhan by name. A candidate shouldn't need to be prodded by his opponent to emphatically reject the endorsement of a controversial, and in the case of Farrakhan, much vilified figure. Obama, of course, does not endorse Farrakhan's views, politics, or his organization, and he has made that clear on more than one occasion.

Yet his failure to flatly say he does not want his endorsement is no surprise. Farrakhan may be a controversial and much vilified figure but he is not a fringe figure within black communities. He is still cheered and admired by thousands of blacks. They are also voters too and most have embraced Obama with almost messianic zeal. This zeal has been a driving force in powering Obama's surge past Clinton. Many blacks are exhilarated by the prospect that a black man will sit in the Oval office. In other words, Obama is a racial fantasy come true for many blacks.

and the conclusion:

But Obama also knows that he doesn't just need black votes. Any Democratic presidential contender will get the majority of black votes. That was the case with Democratic presidential contenders Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Both still lost. He needs blacks to turn his drive to the White House into a crusade. They must make a spirited and massive rush to the polls. Farrakhan can help insure that some of that spirit and some of those numbers are there. Obama can't publicly applaud him for doing that. But he can't totally reject him either. That's Obama's Farrakhan dilemma.

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Comments (12)

Steve Crickmore:

This is kind of ancient history isn't it?

The anti-Semitism so often attributed to Farrakhan is indeed a part of his past rhetoric, even though Farrakhan has gone on the record repeatedly in recent years to repudiate the twenty-year old comments that initially raised ire and fear among many.
Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

If this is "ancient history" what exactly was Barack Oabama denouncing in such strong terms in that video clip above before Clinton forced him to actually outright reject Farrakhan's support?

Steve Crickmore:

You know why, Lee..In a word or acronoym, AIPAC. It is not Canada or Britain that the US has a special relationship with... but Israel.

Lee Ward:

Yes, I do know, what I didn't understand was how this concern could be dismissed as "ancient history" when in fact it is very and relevant to a very important Democratic constituency.

Clinton had to pull Obama's rejection out of him. She nearly had to stand on his chest and pull it out with pliers, which I find totally amazing.

But as I've said many, many times, Obama is not the progressive in this race, Clinton is more progressive than he, and I think this is yet another glaring example that points to that.

You can't look back at Obama's record in Illinois and in the US senate as any indicator of what he'll do in the White House. He sees himself as the great consensus builder which, by definition, means he'll cave in to both sides to get his goal.

"Caving" is not progressive!

In his zeal to be president, Mr. Obama waffles left, right, and center. His campaign appears to be not be ideological driven, but ego driven - he wants the job, and he will do amazing things to see that he gets it.

Steve Crickmore:

Lee, I don't know what the statue of limitations on anti-semitic remarks is. Farrakan made som anti-semitic remarks decades back, but so has Hillary, according to her erstwhile friend and political operative, Paul Fry and his wife in this CNN report. In order to be consistent, maybe Obama should denounce and reject Hillary as well. Would that satisfy you?

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

The Clintons' denied it, so who knows - but you're obviously ducking the question again - just like Obama...

So, getting back to the question:

What I didn't understand was how this concern could be dismissed as "ancient history" when in fact it is very and relevant to a very important Democratic constituency.

Why did you dismiss this as "ancient history" when it's relevant enough for your candidate Barack Obama to vociferously denounce (but not reject until forced to) on national television?

Clinton didn't think it was ancient history...

Obama didn't think it was ancient history - at least, he didn't say that...

Tim Russert obviously thinks it was relevant...

Clinton isn't mentioned once in the post above, Steve., and since Obama's camp is so eager to write her off just ignore her - she's toast. So rather than dig up more Clinton-bashing rumors published by a reporter from National Enquirer, just answer that simple question and I'll be happy.

It's really a mystery to me as to why Obama supporters leap off the page and run in a different direction -- looking for a club to hit Hillary with -- when confronted with simple question about their candidate... and it's a relevant question for all Democrats.

Steve Crickmore:

Lee, I have forgotten exactly what Farrakhan said. It was 20 years ago..I know it was bad but just because Russert thinks it is still so relevant to dig these comments up, repeating himself doesn't it make it any more relevant.

Unfortunately, when you start unravelling or decoding the whole New Testament it is filled with anti-semitic innuendo, the reference to the carefully chosen name of Judas for one.

The Germans repudiated Hitler and within fifteen years Kennnedy was proudly saying "I am a Berliner" when he went to Berlin.

What I am saying if we rejected everything that had been anti-semitic most of us would be living and working alone.

And of course, the Clintons are going to deny Hillary's awful anti-semitic remark (they never apologize or repudiate) but the other three people in the room, all of whom worked for the Clintons vouched for it. This was also printed in Time magazine before they withdrew it in subsequent editions when leaned on by the Clintons.

This is not so much about an ill tempered and stupid remark Lee, in the heat of battle. It is fact that they have had these offensive scraps all their lives not only with themselves but with friend and foe alike, but alwys feel they can get away with their mischief and for the most part they have.

Bill Clinton physically tackled his chief aide Dick Morris one time in a Little Rock campaign and punished him square in the face. Hillary as is her custom told Morris to deny the incident ever took place. If the Clintons had learned to control their temper and discipline themselves and not their flunkies they might still be in this race.

I can't rember in your posts ever reading about what you ever saw in Hillary other than she is a fighter. They are almost always exclusively about Obama and his shortcomings. He is only human and has many faults as he said in the debate (I don't know which one).

AS you know, I have always said Hillary had an awful temper and could get easily rattled and that would probably in the end get the best of her ..and it showed in this debate to everyone.. This is why she has plummetted in the Rasmussen national poll and her Gallup tracking has also sunk after the Tuesday debate. She has lost like a 10% difference to Obama in two days, which she could ill afford. People finally see she doesn't have the temperment to be a president. This was the talking point of the debate.

Kleiman says not only is Obama "feriociously smart but he will be the smartest president since Jefferson" and he seems to have little talent for anger"..

He won't cave in to conservatives but he will listen to them.

Lee Ward:

On the subject of caving -- which is actually putting us back on the topic of this post -- Hillary has complained about this - and it's valid -For example, Barack starts out giving away universal health care by not requiring a mandate - he starts out in a non-progressive position, and will then have to move towards the Republicans even further to reach a consensus.

He will have to cave even further in order to get their support and agreement - that's the way Obama-style consensus building works.

Oh, that's right - progressive Obama supporters have decided it's ok if Barack has on the job training, so this is perfectly all right.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

And then there's this:

"Wicked and false Jews"

At an NOI-sponsored event in February 2006, Farrakhan provoked accusations of antisemitism in Illinois by stating that "These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood. It's the wicked Jews, the false Jews that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality, [and] Zionists have manipulated Bush and the American government [on the war in Iraq]" [29]

Source: Haaretz- By Shmuel Rosner
Last update - 01:58 24/03/2006
Headline: Illinois blacks, Jews in row over Farrakhan remarks

So this isn't"ancient history -- twenty years old."

Steve Crickmore:

These are their starting points of both plans..As you know Congress will have alot to say about the make up. And there is going to be much back and forth. We have almost a year to go..I understand the Masschusettes plan is very similar to Hillary's. Let's see how that works out. More of it goes into effect this spring I understand.

Public policy was one of chief areas of interest when I was at university and studied the Family Assitance Plan under Pat Moynihan( who Hillary ignored in her first attempt at health reform even though he was head of the Senate Finance Committee).. Public policies as Moynihan said in class, in practice often undermined the very ojectives they were set up for.- The law of unintended consequences. For example welfare ended breaking up families on a very low income or no income because it meant that fathers left home or moved so that then 'single mothers' could get family assistance. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of trial and error in both these two different plans. Whatever gets the US closer to the single payer would be my suggested answer.

I'm now reading your comment and have googled Farrakhan.Pretty heavy stuff. Obviously Farrakhan hasn't changed his spots.

Completely reprehensible remarks! This makes it easier for Obama in the sense to dump Farrakan more clearly. I thought 'the Nation' was a Jewish publication and they were the one's that led me astray with the article of his 20 year old comments and his repudiation. My apology.

I never have understood militant blacks antipathy to jews. After all Jesus was called a rabbi all his adult life. I think it is based on bigotry and ignorance.

I'm afraid militant blacks, or someone like Al Sharpton down the road is going to be big problem for Obama. Yes it is dilemma, but I think he can handle it. I must go for the night.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:
I'm now reading your comment and have googled Farrakhan.Pretty heavy stuff. Obviously Farrakhan hasn't changed his spots.

Completely reprehensible remarks! This makes it easier for Obama in the sense to dump Farrakan more clearly. I thought 'the Nation' was a Jewish publication and they were the one's that led me astray with the article of his 20 year old comments and his repudiation. My apology.

The apology is called for, Steve, but I don't believe it's your fault. I know you were only reaching for information that supported your candidate, and thank you for taking the time and effort to recognize the reality of the situation. I bought your quote at face value as well, and should have investigated further, sooner.

This is perfect example of how the dialog in this campaign has been distorted by the mainstream media which, in this case as they've done so often before, leaps to Obama's defense and spins this story as being ancient history old news, Tim Russert spin, etc.

And that spin gets picked up by the fevered masses of Obama supporters, and the lies spread like wildfire.

That is why I post what I do, Steve. The truth has often been distorted by Obama supporters and/or the mainstream media so badly it's turning into a national tragedy.

The Messiah spoketh, and once Barack declared this a non-issue the mainstream media provided the fodder and the army of Obamatrons provided the legs, and just like so many issues surrounding Obama the lies are spread.

The Democratic cause is not well served by bullshit, and there is WAY too much of it coming from the Obama side of the table - enough so that Obama appears to be the Democratic nominee at this point as result.

All based, to a significant degree at least, on lies and crummy reporting.

Steve Crickmore:

Lee..I had just finished reading the Nation article before you wrote your post. I had assumed it was factual. I can see his worst remarks, worse than the ones you quoted were 23 years ago. I haven't read about Farrakhan for a long time. Despite their hobbyhorse of slanging Judaism, Black Muslims, have done some good things getting blacks off the dead end of crime and drugs and they are very strict; so you have to expect some obligatory slanging of Hollywood and its mores. Farrakahan did talk about 'false Jews' that's not very nice but false Christians is that much better, and on 'Zionists manipulated the Bush government on the war in Iraq'. It is certainly true that the neocons have. He could have finessed it better but hey he is a radical minister. I don't think America is ready for transcending religion quite yet.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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