Right Wing Launches Erroneous Attacks on Obama

One sign that Obama has an excellent chance of winning the Democratic nomination is that he is becoming the target of a number of ridiculous attacks from the right wing. Here’s a few of the latest.

Attack Number One: Obama can’t speak without a teleprompter

This one comes from Dean Barnett at the Daily Standard, which is already a clue that this one is nonsense. Dean claims that Obama cannot speak without a teleprompter:

Shorn of his Teleprompter, we saw a different Obama. His delivery was halting and unsure. He looked down at his obviously copious notes every few seconds throughout the speech. Unlike the typical Obama oration where the words flow with unparalleled fluidity, he stumbled over his phrasing repeatedly.

While we would expect the use of a teleprompter to make somewhat of a difference, Obama has spoken in public many times before without a teleprompter, making this one hard to believe. The video of Obama’s speech at the Virginia Jefferson-Jackson dinner shows that Barnett’s criticism doesn’t hold up:


Besides, if we want to criticize politicians for their speaking style, check out George Bush, with or without a teleprompter.

Attack Number Two: The Che flag

There’s a Cuban flag with Che Guevara on the wall of an office in Barack Obama’s Houston campaign headquarters. This comes from a report on a Fox affiliate which actually reports, “The office featured in this video is funded by volunteers of the Barack Obama Campaign and is not an official headquarters for his campaign.” Although this flag has nothing to do with the campaign, many right wing blogs are claiming that this is a reflection on Obama. James Joyner presents a run down of conservative blog reports on this:

  • Matt Bramanti: “Obama office adores psychotic Marxist thug”
  • Ed Driscoll: “Sixties Radical Chic, Frozen In Amber”

Attack Number Three: The High Tax Candidate

National Review distorts Obama’s tax policies to exaggerate the tax increases and claim he would raise taxes more than Clinton:

This is disturbing news on the taxation front. The Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore says Obama’s tax plan would add up to a 39.6 percent personal income tax, a 52.2 percent combined income and payroll tax, a 28 percent capital-gains tax, a 39.6 percent dividends tax, and a 55 percent estate tax. In other words, Sen. Obama is a very-high-tax candidate. Whether Wall Street has fully discounted this, I have no idea. Probably not yet. But somebody in the investor class ought to be thinking about it, because it’s not good.

Interestingly, at least two of Obama’s top economic advisors — Austan Goolsbee and Jeffrey Liebman — are highly regarded free-market economists. Goolsbee from Chicago, Liebman from Harvard. But somehow their candidate has a very punitive high-tax campaign plan for the economy.

The first important fact that this leaves out is, as The New Republic points out, “This year, the top marginal rate applies only to income above $349,701.” Conservatives are tying to scare many voters who wouldn’t be impacted. Another error is that these numbers assume that Obama would totally eliminate the Social Security cap, but Obama has not advocated this. He has discussed possibly raising the cap, and has also discussed including a donut hole so that those earning under $250,000 wouldn’t be affected. It is also erroneous to claim that Obama supports higher taxes than Clinton as both are advocating rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, and both have discussed the possibility of increasing the Social Security cap.

Clinton Under Attack By Latino Leader

The headline at the New York Post is ‘Super’ Latino Slams Clinton:

A prominent member of the national Democratic Party has circulated a sharp e-mail saying the removal of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle was disloyal to Hispanics and should give “pause” to superdelegates and voters.

The e-mail from, Steven Ybarra, a California superdelegate who heads the voting-rights committee of the DNC Hispanic Caucus, was sent to fellow caucus members in the hours after word broke that Solis Doyle – the most prominent Latina in Clinton’s campaign – would be replaced by another close Clinton loyalist, Maggie Williams, who is black.

The e-mail noted that Clinton, who is looking to Latino voters for a boost in the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4, scored heavily with Hispanics in her California win.

“Apparently, loyalty is not a two-way street,” he wrote. “Latino superdelegates like myself . . . will have cause to pause.”

It is questionable if the decision really had anything to do with race as opposed to job performance, but this is the price Clinton will pay for her attempt to base her campaign on identity politics. Clinton’s campaign has been based largely on sexism and racism as she has appealed to female voters due to being female, regardless of who is the best candidate, and attempted to dissuade white and Latino voters from voting for Obama because she is black. This strategy has largely worked with woman voters, but fortunately many whites are looking beyond race and evaluating the candidates on their merits. Clinton has had some success in her use of identity politics with Latino voters, but it remains to be seen whether she will maintain this advantage in Texas.

There are several accounts of the Clinton campaign shake up on line, such as this report at The Atlantic. The downfall of Solis is attributed largely to arrogance, but this arrogance is seen in the underlying campaign strategy of seeing Clinton’s victory as inevitable:

Such arrogance led directly to the idea that Clinton could simply project an air of inevitability and be assured her party’s nomination. If she wins—as she very well might—it will be in spite of her original approach. As one former Clinton staffer put it to me last spring: “There was an assumption that if you were a major donor and wanted to be an ambassador, go to state dinners with the queen—unless you were an outright fool, you were going to go with Hillary, whether you liked her or not. The attitude was ‘Where else are they going to go?’”

It’s important to emphasize that Solis Doyle was not the architect of the Clinton strategy. It was devised and agreed to by many of the campaign’s top staffers, and the candidate herself signed off on it. But in all my reporting and personal experience with the campaign, Solis Doyle probably embodied it more than anyone else. It’s not unfair that she lost her job; but it is unfair that no other senior staffers appear to be in danger of losing theirs.

Ultimately the accounts of how poorly Clinton’s campaign is managed raise the question of whether Clinton is really the great hands on manager she portrays herself. This, like the idea that her victory is inevitable, looks like just another myth being spread by the Clinton campaign.

Obama Well Positioned To Expand Delegate Lead Over Clinton

Going into today’s primaries Obama has a lead in delegates won at caucuses and primaries while the news organizations have mixed predictions when the super delegates are considered. TPM Election Central has this listing of how various news organizations estimate the delegate count:

CNN: Clinton 1,148, Obama 1,121

ABC: Clinton 1,149, Obama 1,127

NBC: Obama 958, Clinton 904 (Not counting super-delegates.)

CBS: Obama 1,139, Clinton 1,132

AP: Clinton 1,147, Obama 1,142

The number differ both because it isn’t certain how the delegates will ultimately be divided in the caucus states and there is disagreement over where some of the super delegates stand.

Regardless of today’s count, should Obama do well today and win a solid majority of the 168 delegates up for grabs he will overtake Clinton even when the super delegates are counted. This might not make Obama a clear front runner yet, but if he remains ahead of Clinton going into Ohio and Texas she might suffer the same fate as Rudy Giuliani in waiting too long for a big state victory.