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Posted by on Dec 18, 2007 in Politics, Religion | 9 comments

Clinton Supporter Bob Kerrey Continues To Raise Obama “Muslim” Issues


The “Muslim issue” continues to be raised regarding Democratic Senator Barack Obama and it’s coming from (could you guess?) a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton.

(See Shaun Mullen’s post and my post for background on what has happened with the Clinton campaign.)

And, now, it seemingly continues.

Today, Obama is still being linked to Muslims in the media..and it’s coming from the same camp that earlier had a supporter attempt to raise Obama’s youthful drug use. The camp of a candidate who has admirably denounced the “politics of personal destruction” over the years.

The latest comes from former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Hillary Clinton supporter:

Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president Sunday but stirred a continuing controversy by noting her chief rival’s name is “Barack Hussein Obama” and that Obama had Muslim ancestors.

“It’s probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim,” Kerrey, who made a failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination won by Bill Clinton in 1992, told The Washington Post.

Benefit of the doubt:
he really likes Obama and is happy a Muslim is running. Less charitable: he is raising the issue in a way that he has “plausible deniability” and can say why he likes the fact that he’s Muslim.

“There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal,” Kerrey said after the kickoff of a five-day tour of Iowa by Clinton. “He’s got a whale of a lot more intellectual talent than I’ve got as well.”

Kerrey had pondered a potential Obama endorsement before deciding on the New York Democrat. And while Kerrey’s comments were ostensibly made as a compliment to Obama, they resurrected a troublesome issue for the first-term junior senator from Illinois.

But not everyone is accepting that this was just an innocent slip of the tongue…because of of a follow-up comment Kerrey said. Matthew Yglesias writes:

[Kerrey is] now following up on his “Barack Hussein Obama” remarks by alleging that Obama attended a “secular madrassa” whatever that’s supposed to mean. The Obama campaign’s been pretty successful at painting Team Hillary as unduly nasty and, frankly, the stuff they were dishing out previously was child’s play compared to this BS.

And, indeed, the fact that this is being raised — even with a smile and proclamations of admiration — by a supporter of Ms. Clinton, coming on the heels of the attempt to get the drug allegation sleaze into the media news cycle (in the end it was successful) does suggest there is a concerted attempt to raise Obama’s negatives.

In several emails, readers have asked me to bluntly state how I feel about this issue since I am a quintessential independent voter who has been all over the place (perhaps more a typical California independent voter). So here it is:

I start out each campaign reading and watching the candidates. I do each post separately — NOT trying to do a post to help or hurt a candidate. I have said many favorable things about Ms. Clinton. (Her campaign even once ran ads on this site.) But this seeming attempt to link Obama with Muslims has one clear goal: to peel voters away from Obama and free them up for Ms. Clinton to harvest by appealing to anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States that lumps in all Muslims with the reprehensible 911 attackers.

Any candidate whose camp appeals to bigotry for votes whether directly or indirectly won’t get my vote in an election. Any candidate who runs such a poor campaign that they can’t get the word out that raising the Muslim issue is done, finished, not the kind of politics we want in a country where there are SERIOUS ISSUES to be discussed does not deserve the keys to the Oval Office because he or she will have shown to be lousy administrators.

If they can’t coordinate a basic instruction to stick to issues and not do anything that could be construed to be a personal attack, how can they be trusted to run a federal administration?

The other unmentionable issue is this: doesn’t raising the Muslim issue coming on the heels of raising the drug issue suggest that, if some of these folks thought they could get away with it, they would raise the race issue, too?

What’s unfolding in this episode is smelly Karl Rove-style politics — even if in a way that seems or is unintentional. It’s the kind of politics many of us independent voters do not want to see dominating the White House and many independent voters will likely reject it at the ballot box actively or by staying home if we don’t like the tactics of one candidate and the policies of the other.

Is this all a mistake? Just innocently raising the issue? Didn’t he say nice things said about Obama, too?

Yes, he did say some nice things.

But he has raised the Muslim issue in several ways now. And we wrote about the drug issue being raised just a few days ago.

From what my parents told me, I didn’t fall off the turnip truck….

And neither did many other independent voters, who are watching this seeming attempt to raise negative personal issues about Obama that an honorable opposing campaign that truly didn’t endorse the politics of personal destruction would not raise.


Taylor Marsh
USS Neverdock
Real Clear Politics
Ari Melber at the Huffington Post

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Joe, farther down on this page there’s a cartoon showing an elephant labelled “Rightwing Nuts” typing the claims “Hillary is a lesbian” and “Obama is a Muslim” into his computer. Is Bob Kerrey a “rightwing nut”?

    The fact is that in this case it isn’t the VRCW or the Republican noise machine that’s trying to tar Sen. Obama with the Muslim brush. It’s a fellow Democrat. The reality is that that those most likely to make incendiary claims are one’s political opposition for political purposes and, in the case of a primary, the political opposition is within one’s own party.

  • Dave: did you see my note under that? Not ALL nuts are right wing. It says that under the cartoon. I put that there on purpose.

  • DLS

    “New York Democrat” — bwahahahahahahahaha

  • jammer

    Oh please. Can you just get it over with now and list for us all of the things about Obama we are not permitted to mention because it is racist or negative and out of bounds. Maybe a new version of his book could be issued with blacked out portions ala Valerie Plan Wilson’s book after the CIA got done with it so we know what part of his history and background cannot be discussed.

    I had thought Obama had the toughness to make this race and be president but i am beginning to wonder given the whining from his camp and supporters at the most ridiculously light jabs. This tactic of complaint re racism and muslim slinging will get him absolutely no where in the general election, unless you want to concede a whole heck of a lot of Red or Pink states right now.

    Politics is a rough sport. Anyone studying JFK’s or RFK’s campaigns knows that. Obama is fighting hard and has basically called HRC a liar. I think she is permitted to fight back without everything she does being instantly attacked as negative, racist or more Clintonism. Look at the way the Repubs are slugging it out. Thats what you can expect in the general election. Allow your man to be fully vetted or you will be in for some shocks next year if he is the nominee. And these shocks wont be deflected by charges of negativity or racism.

    By the way, a secular madrassa is a secular school in Arab parlance. Madrasah (Arabic: ?????) is the Arabic word for any type of school, secular or religious (of any religion). It is variously transliterated as madrasah, madrash, medresa, madreseh, madrassa, medrusha, or madressa. There you go Matt Yglesias. Its called Google. Use it.

  • DLS

    Can you just get it over with now and list for us all of the things about Obama we are not permitted to mention because it is racist or negative and out of bounds.

    Anything negative is “racist” [sic] and out of bounds.

  • Davebo

    Can you just get it over with now and list for us all of the things about Obama we are not permitted to mention because it is racist or negative and out of bounds.

    No one is telling you what you can or can not say about Obama. Feel free to say whatever.

    Myself, I’ll judge the sentiment on a case by case basis. As I did with Kerrey’s remarks.

    Of course you aren’t running for president so what you say or what your supporters say isn’t really ground breaking news.

  • truflo

    I think this will have a negative effect on the Clinton campaign. For seven years we’ve had the fear game from the Bush Administration. Looks like we’ll have another 4 at least if Hilary wins through in 2008.

    This kind of thing seems to work on republicans, but democrats? Her numbers will continue to drop.

  • Megaman_X

    Eeeek! And to think this git almost ran for Senate in Nebraska! Thank goodness he chose not to. Let the GOP retain that seat…I sure don’t want this reactionary butthead in the Democratic caucus!

  • DLS

    Meet Hillary’s possible Vice Presidential selection.

    Heh, heh

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