Bob Kerrey Praises Barack Hussein Obama
Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey endorsed Hillary Clinton yesterday, citing her years of experience and preparation. He had some kind words for her chief rival, Barack Obama, that have caused some controversy.
“The fact that he’s African American is a big deal. I do expect and hope that Hillary is the nominee of the party. But I hope he’s used in some way. If he happens to be the nominee of the party and ends up being president, I think his capacity to influence in a positive way without spending a penny the behavior of a lot of underperforming black youth today is very important, and he’s the only one who can reach them.”
Kerrey continued, “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. There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims and I think that experience is a big deal.” He added, “He’s got a whale of a lot more intellectual talent than I’ve got as well.”
ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that many Obama supporters think this praise was a disguised smear, “A clear attempt to raise an issue while pretending not to raise it.”
No More Mister Nice Blog‘s Steve M. is less polite.
Ahem, 95% white Iowa and 96% white New Hampshire, Barack Obama is black in the way those shiftless black teenagers who haunt your nightmares are black. And he’s a camel jockey named Hussein as well.
Kerrey is bemused by the suggestion.
Reached on the phone Sunday evening, Kerrey said that’s not at all how he meant it.
“What I said was an answer to a question,” Kerrey said. He’d been asked by a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald about the fact that the Clinton folks are hammering home the idea that Obama has little experience, while both Obama today and Kerrey in 1992 ran for president in their first Senate term.
“My answer was yes, but I finished third in the primary. Obama’s smarter and more talented than I ever was, and he has two things which are connected to his life experience that give him special capacity,” Kerrey recalled. “First, he is African American and can speak to underperforming Black youth in a way that no other candidate can. He gave a speech in Selma that was incredible, that no white person could ever give. No government program could ever do what Barack Obama can do.
“Second,” Kerrey continued, “his name is Barack Hussein Obama. I know that middle name is seen as a weakness by Republicans, but I don’t think it is. I think it enables him to speak to a billion Muslims around the world.”
Mark Kleiman thinks this more than plausible.
It’s entirely possible that Kerrey meant what he said about Obama’s name doing America good in its foreign relations. I’m more inclined to believe that because I also think that what Kerrey said was true: a big advantage to electing Barack Hussein Obama to the Presidency is that there are a billion people in the world with relatives named “Hussein,” and they’d be less inclined to be our enemies if our leader had “Hussein” in his name. I don’t think that would be a good issue for Obama to campaign on, but it’s still the case, whatever Kerrey’s motivation for mentioning it.
Of course that’s the spirit in which Kerrey meant those remarks. It’s the same thinking that got Joe Biden in trouble when he praised Obama as the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
I disagree strongly with Kerrey and Kleiman about the value of having a president with a Muslim middle name. Indeed, the idea that religious nuts who are willing to murder thousands of Americans would think “Hey, they elected a guy with a Muslim middle name! They must be okay!” is absurd. Hell, they kill plenty of people named Hussein who actually are Muslims; the only thing they hate more than American infidels is Arab apostates.
But Kerry really believes that kind of thing. And he was saying that Obama is going to be a good president some day but that he needs more seasoning.