Weigel Predicts

In regards to whether the questions about Obama are now over, Dave Weigel predicts:

Does it end the "questions" about Obama? No. I’d expect the focus to shift now to Obama’s college records and writings

Indeed, this has been the turn of late in some recent comment threads here at OTB.  I expect it will only get worse.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    The left went after Dan Quayle for his college records for years. He refused to release them. I don’t blame the right for trying the same thing (although I think Quayle was a unique target because he said so many dumb things it made people wonder), but I wonder how many of them stood up for Quayle at the time.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    I believe people were calling for George W and John Kerry’s college records too. It’s just the nature of opposition research, and the politics of personal destruction.

  3. I think that there is a difference for people calling for records and becoming obsessed with them.

    In the case of Bush and Kerry it was about discovering grades. In Obama’s case it is about trying to discover some deep secret. For examples, see jwest’s comments on my “Campaign Like its 2008” post yesterday.

  4. Linda says:

    I think the “Obama obsessed” will constantly be looking for something (anything) that he may be “hiding”, and would not even be happy if his entire life was an open book.

    I am no Obama fan, but I’m tired of all this mania over his “secrets”.

  5. jwest says:

    Steven,

    My extensive research into magna cum laude Harvard grads has unearthed the startling revelation that most can accurately name the number of states in the U.S., can pronounce the word “corpsman” and they are aware that people in Austria don’t speak Austrian.

    We are still analyzing the results as it pertains to Obama.

  6. mantis says:

    So your extensive research (i.e. head up your ass) has revealed to you that no magna Harvard grads have ever misspoken in public before? Fascinating. Please share your research methods.

  7. jwest says:

    Mantis,

    There is no such thing as “misspeaking” anymore.

    Just ask James or Doug or Steven. Whenever someone says something in a campaign that is wrong or is not the immediate answer people expected, the speaker is declared an idiot and unqualified for office.

  8. mantis says:

    There is no such thing as “misspeaking” anymore.

    Oh, I see. Well, I’m glad to hear you are owning up to your many racist statements here. Good on you.

    Just ask James or Doug or Steven.

    Ok. Steven, is there such a thing as misspeaking anymore? I think there is.

  9. Steven says: yes, there is such a thing as misspeaking. Indeed, Steven is rather unaware of anyone around here ever saying otherwise.

  10. PD Shaw says:

    In the case of Bush and Kerry it was about discovering grades

    Ostensibly, but the real reason was to find something embarrassing. Similarly, the search for military records was to find something embarrassing.

    Imagine if we could find out that Obama never took an economics course, or worse yet, he failed economics. The new facts would introduce themselves into the jokes and way we talk about the President, though nothing had really changed, perceptions would.

    But it’s also about establishing that Obama received preferences based upon race, the same as people wanted to belittle B & K’s accomplishments due to family connections.

  11. @PD:

    I think that this goes beyond the typical looking for embarrassing info, as it ranges into the whole affirmative action/race issue. I have tired of being patient and giving people the benefit of the doubt on the whole thing, to be honest.

    Why can’t we debate policy?

  12. mattb says:

    Steven says: yes, there is such a thing as misspeaking. Indeed, Steven is rather unaware of anyone around here ever saying otherwise.

    Steven, the problem with a number of commentators here is that they are explicitly only interested in winning. And in doing so emphasizing that their assumed view of the world is wrong. And to do it, they will play every game that they accused the other side of.

    It never was about discourse or conversation. It’s all about “Winning!” (and I mean it in that way that Charlie Sheen constantly “wins”).

    Jwest (as the immediate example on the con side) has no interested in sharing reality and is happy to alter his view (while executing beautiful acts of verbal acrobatics that would make both Clinton and Glenn Beck among others proud) in order to stay right. And all that matters to him is his own performance.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for particularly good trolling (or jestering). The best of trolls is always working to reveal something about the people that they are conversing with (other than their general intelligence and humility). As far as I can tell (and perhaps this is so meta I just miss it), all that J cares about is maintaining his personal view that he’s always right no matter what damage it does to a shared reality (this is the magic of Tiger’s Blood).

    For example, he’s asking us to Google and point out a moment when he ever said the birthers were right. And I’m sure, careful as he is, he never said that. Nor do I particularly think he believes that Obama was born outside the US. All that said, no matter what way the situation resolved it could always be presented by him as proof of Obama’s failure.

    Prediction: when Obama likely wins in 2012 (which all signs still point to), J will be the first to say that he never specifically predicted a Republican victory. At the same time, there’s also no possibility that a re-election could be due to Obama’s acumen as a politician or his track record. He’ll always be unqualified and, in general, whatever Republican who runs against him will always be qualified.

    To be fair, there are more than enough people who also did this with Bush. Ah the interwebz.

  13. mattb says:

    Why can’t we debate policy?

    To the degree that all of this is about affirmative action, one could argue it’s all about policy. But of course, even starting from position would require both sides being honest.

    And the immediate response to your comment will of course be that, because we frame the debate as about affirmative action, it’s further proof of our inability to look beyond race. And to understand that we need look no further than to attacks on Bush’s record as a student. Or Palins. Because things in politics are, of course, always equivalent.

  14. Trumwill says:

    Either demands for academic records are legitimate or they are not. I don’t think they get to be legitimate because we think the motivation is this when it comes to Politician A, but it’s more nefarious in the case of Politician B.

  15. @Trumwill:

    I don’t think that candidates ought to have to release academic transcripts–to me, proof of degree is more than enough.

    I do think, however, that not all requests are alike and that yes, some are more nefarious than others.

  16. mattb says:

    I have an issue with the release of academic records, if for no other reason than they are fundamentally not public documents. To the degree that there needs to be vetting of specific claims, that can be accomplished without having to release the actual transcripts (and, btw, I feel the same way about GWB’s or Palin’s transcripts).

    As far as things not being equal, once one steps back and see’s the pattern here, it’s exceptionally difficult to argue that these requests being made of Obama don’t have a barely concealed subtext:

    1. He can’t possible be a legitimate citizen.
    2. He couldn’t possible have deserved to be at or graduated from Occidental, Columbia or Harvard on his own merit.
    3. There’s no way he should have been the editor of the Law Review.
    4. He couldn’t possibly deserved to have taught at the University of Chicago.
    5. There’s no way he could have written two books.
    6. He didn’t deserve to become a Senator.
    7. He isn’t qualified to be president.
    8. Start back at #1

    As a side note, I can’t speak for Occidental, Columbia. or Harvard, but as a UofC grad, trust me, nobody survives at that school on the Prof level if they don’t belong there. Even part-timers.

    Clinton might have been a filanderer, and his wife a killer, but the two of them at least were broadly acknowledged (even by those on Right Wing Radio) to have the skill to be there (granted these were backhanded acknowledgements – aka “slick Willy”). Much of the treatment of Obama in Conservative media and by may “libertarian” and “conservative” posters on OTB always focuses on the same cluster of issues: unqualified, anointed (i.e. doesn’t work), in over his head (or above his station?). Coupled with the “not one of us” and “doesn’t share our values” and the direct “enemy” and “crypto-muslim” material that comes from the far right… it’s not that hard to connect these dots.

  17. @mattb,

    I that your list and basic thesis are spot on.

  18. Herb says:

    Cuz nothing says “electoral victory” more than sifting through an incumbent’s academic record….

  19. jwest says:

    There seems to be reluctance on the part of some to look into the academic and other records of our elected officials. Some even go so far as to suggest we accept a degree as the final proof of achievement.

    Does this pertain to everyone, or only Obama?

    Are questions of how someone gained entrance to elite institutions only to be made against conservatives or is it fair to probe the process for liberals too?

    Some probably believe the right should follow the lead of democrats and accept the full Obama story just as liberals never questioned George Bush’s acceptance into Yale and Harvard. Luckily, there were willing sources in those institutions to leak Bush’s records, so the messy business of calling for their release was mainly avoided. Everything sure seems fair so far.

    Considering Obama was elected to the state senate by questioning the qualifying documents of his opponents, and then was elected to the U.S. senate by shamefully having a friendly judge unseal divorce papers, any discussion of accepting anything from Obama at face value is ridiculous.

  20. mattb says:

    Again:

    [Obama] was elected to the U.S. senate by shamefully having a friendly judge unseal divorce papers, any discussion of accepting anything from Obama at face value is ridiculous.

    See:

    6. He didn’t deserve to become a Senator.

    I forgot the entire trope of “chicago thug” (do I even need to link thug?)? Plus this ignores the fact that there were a lot of people — including Ryan’s fellow Republican primary competitors — who were attempting to get these documents made public. And the two Chicago papers as well.

    Not to mention that Ryan, while still running pulled some crazy stuff as well.

  21. mantis says:

    Some probably believe the right should follow the lead of democrats and accept the full Obama story just as liberals never questioned George Bush’s acceptance into Yale and Harvard. Luckily, there were willing sources in those institutions to leak Bush’s records, so the messy business of calling for their release was mainly avoided. Everything sure seems fair so far.

    So make some friends with some less-than-ethical people at the colleges Obama attended and see if you can find someone to leak the documents. Fair’s fair.

    Considering Obama was elected to the state senate by questioning the qualifying documents of his opponents

    First of all, he was elected by voters, not by “questioning.” Regarding proper election documents, so what? That happens all the time. Do you think people who don’t follow the rules should get a pass from their opponents?

    and then was elected to the U.S. senate by shamefully having a friendly judge unseal divorce papers

    The Chicago Tribune did that, not Obama. Liar.

    any discussion of accepting anything from Obama at face value is ridiculous.

    Well then why have you been demanding he release documents, dumbass?

  22. jwest says:

    Mattb,

    Did those two Chicago papers also sue to have Obama’s birth certificate released?

    I can’t seem to find any record of that happening.

  23. jwest says:

    Mantis,

    Try to give an intellectually honest answer to this question:

    What is the more relevant document that members of the press should seek to discover?

    A: The constitutionally required proof of natural born citizenship for the presidency.

    B: The sealed records of a child custody dispute of a senate candidate.

  24. mantis says:

    What is the more relevant document that members of the press should seek to discover?

    Relevant to what? You seem to think the press exists to satisfy whatever racist conspiracy theory you have in that addled little chunk of slime you call a brain.

    The constitutionally required proof of natural born citizenship for the presidency.

    Several things wrong there:
    A) The Constitution does not require “proof,” and certainly does not detail what form any proof would take.
    B) Obama released his legal birth document, as issued by the State of Hawaii, which conclusively proved he is a natural born citizen, in 2008. Why would the press need to look for a document that has already been released to them, dumbass? When looking for your keys in the morning, after finding them, do you keep looking?

    Now you try to give an intellectually honest answer to this question:

    Why are you so f*cking stupid?

  25. jwest says:

    Mantis,

    I know this whole thing is unfair to you, but this is the venue you chose to play in.

    As you know, I don’t resort to expletives or insults in my comments to you and others. This is because I can use truth, logic and intellect to make my points and counter the ravings of the left. You, on the other hand, have difficulty addressing even the easiest questions with anything approaching a cogent answer.

    You’re liberal, so no one expects you to have the capacity to carry on a truly interesting debate, but you could work on some of the fine points of civil discourse. When you continue to rely on ranting like a child instead of simply saying you were wrong or you don’t know the answer, you diminish what little respect people have for you.

    If you promise to try harder to be nice, I’ll promise to go easy and not make a fool of you so often.

    Deal?

  26. mantis says:

    This is because I can use truth, logic and intellect to make my points

    You’re funny. Tell another one.

    You, on the other hand, have difficulty addressing even the easiest questions with anything approaching a cogent answer.

    My answers are quite cogent. You’re just too stupid to understand, which is why you don’t even bother to respond to me destroying your silly argument. You just whine about me.

    So let’s try again:

    A) The Constitution does not require “proof,” and certainly does not detail what form any proof would take.
    B) Obama released his legal birth document, as issued by the State of Hawaii, which conclusively proved he is a natural born citizen, in 2008. Why would the press need to look for a document that has already been released to them, dumbass? When looking for your keys in the morning, after finding them, do you keep looking?

  27. mattb says:

    J … you are honestly not even worth the time I took to type this.