Question to Obama and Clinton: Would Anything Be Unacceptable in Having a Muslim as President of the United States?

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I more than anyone else I’ve read have spoken out strongly against the Obama campaign’s promulgation of “identity and mystique politics” — that he by his unique upbringing and exposure to different cultures and the like would bring a radically different decision-making calculus to modern American statecraft.
I’m a wonk — and I appreciate solid policy analysis and ideas. I think rather than resorting to mysticism that there is much in Obama’s profile that shows an ability to requisition smart thinking and organize the building blocks of policy differently than has been done in the past. He showed this on Cuba to some degree. I wish he’d be more expansive. And there is some that I would like to criticize him for — as I have on his health care plan.
But the smear campaign currently underway designed to spread the fear that Barack Obama will somehow be a portal for all things alien, al Qaeda-connected, Muslim related, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Jewish is wrong. I fear that we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg of what those who want to push “high-fear buttons” will try and do to slime Barack Obama.
If the Clinton campaign is behind this, it should stop — and apologize. This kind of innuendo defiles what is good and great about America. . .or what is left of the good part. (Clinton camp denies involvement.)
But I think that the McCain camp as well as many of those not part of any of the campaigns but motivated by a neo-strand of American nativist bigotry will try and swift boat Obama’s unique lineage, about which he should be proud.
It’s a gross part of American politics, and I have a feeling that this bigotry will backfire on those purveying it.
But here’s a question for the Ohio debates that should be posed to both candidates:

DO YOU HILLARY CLINTON — AND BARACK OBAMA — HAVE ANY PROBLEM AT ALL WITH A MUSLIM SERVING AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?

That’s what it boils down to — so let’s put it out there. I want a Muslim to be President of the U.S. to demystify the issue. I’d like to see a Jew as President — and a Buddhist. Perhaps one day we can get some agnostics and atheists in office too.
When Barack Obama was asked about his religion in the past in debates — he quickly got defensive and talked about his Christian views, faith, and upbringing. I think Barack Obama should be able to celebrate his Christian faith — but I would have loved to have seen him embrace the ability of any American citizen of any faith aspire to the presidency.
And I think Hillary Clinton and John McCain should embrace the same. And if not — if they can’t see Muslims on the Supreme Court, in the Senate and the House, as Governors, as scholars, as firemen and county clerks, as whatever they can be in our free society — then they are promulgating a racism that is Un-American.
Zalmay Khalilzad is a Muslim and is Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations — and he’s doing a darn good job in my view — given the circumstances.
It’s time that our candidates stop trying to surreptitiously slime each other — and frankly — they should all be compelled in public to either embrace all religions — including those of Muslim belief and background — or to spit on it so that all can see.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

61 comments on “Question to Obama and Clinton: Would Anything Be Unacceptable in Having a Muslim as President of the United States?

  1. hasha says:

    your right…… i would also like to see a president that is muslim, Indian, Buddhisht.etc; it would be awesome to see the divrse cultures of our world to come up into poltical sectors and share their views with everyone else in this world.

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  2. karenk says:

    Oh the Obama/Muslim smears are gonna come in droves from the Conservative/Neocons come general election time if Obama is the Dem Candidate, so they better get a handle on it. It’s already started from Bill Cunningham-moron-emphasizing his middle name of Hussein as if that alone makes the man some sort of terrorist. But scarier still, is that many people will agree. Me and JamesL seem to be seeing the same side of America.ANd it’s not pretty!
    As I’ve said there is racial bias, I just don’t see Republicans voting for a black man-they are a majority white party, but half are women, that’s why Hillary is a better bet, even though she does incite neocon right wing hatred-those people are not the majority of Republicans.

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  3. Angellight says:

    Barack Obama has had the kitchen sink thrown at him, throwing out his middle name in a negative way, accompanied by a picture of Obama dressed in Somali garb, at the same time being endorsed by Farrakhan — it’s called “Got-Cha” politics, which is the worst kind of politics which only tends to divide and incite fear, it’s called divide and conquer and/or “Swift Boating”, which in reality is an assisination of character even though it is false.
    However, Obama can be of use to America by addressing the need of some to sow divisions and exploit our differences, instead of building on that which unites us, and “The world can use him too, with his reach to the Muslim nations and his middle name making it impossible for the US to walk away from one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in history. A restructuring of this overall policy is due after the demolition of the World Trade Towers. Some people think it’s cool to be cynical. They deride those who show overt respect, admiration, and optimism. Those who still believe they can make a difference. Those who know they have power. This campaign has proven that cruelty is no longer desired as political style in the United States. The people now have a choice. A choice between magnifying the negatives or using the positives. I will say this. Obama has the potential to be one of the greats, but only if the people participate in molding his leadership. That’s the task at hand. He, himself, invites others to recognize his faults not letting them interfere with the work. You can see how the people’s support has molded him already in his quick evolution from weak debating events to the beautiful, strong, elegant, debate he delivered last night..” From: Blogger, J.M., Raging Universe.
    We cannot afford to continue to alienate our allies and friends in the Middle East by insinuating that to have the name Hussein means that you are evil or are to be feared. Do we really want to Convey that? There are many good and decent people with the name Hussein in the Middle East, some of which have been our allies such as King Jordan Hussein. We cannot continue to incite hatred and hostility, with the result of no end of wars in sight. America the world is watching.
    Hillary Clinton, a consummate actress, represents the old-time party politics, the politics of distort, smear, tear and division. She likes to Fight while Barack likes to Unite. Through this whole campaign, Camp Clinton has been Denounced for being Karl-Rove Republican like which she now tries to throw off on Camp Obama. We all know who has engaged in a destructive, divisive and negative campaign. After 20 debates, and over 4 years, Tim Russert finally got her to come close to apologizing about her 35-year experience Yes vote for the Iraq war. Mature individuals apologize and take responsibility for their mistakes. Mature individuals after losing a primary, apologizes to their winning opponent. America, it is about the Past (fighting, distortion and division and getting nothing really accomplished) or the Future (uniting, goodwill and truth and breaking new ground), that is our Choice!

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, both Hannity and Savage were making an issue of Obama’s middle name today. And Savage began the implimentation of a strategy that ties Obama to “Muslim money”, tying it to an insidious and nefarious Islamic plot designed to take over the United States, “one politician at a time”.
    A prediction, if I may. There will be a last minute “revelation” introduced late in the race, tying one or more of Obama’s major contributers to radical Islam. (Steve has obviously underestimated the effectiveness of the fear campaign that has been waged seeking to demonize the Muslims). Such a “revelation”, true or not, will spell the end of Obama’s run for the Presidency. We will have John McCain in the Oval Office, with this piece of shit Lieberman as VP. And then the eradication program, disguised as the so called “GWOT”, will get going in high gear.

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  5. arthurdecco says:

    “I guess Tony Foresta has strong views about religion.” Posted by Ajaz
    So should anyone with any sense. All religions are by definition delusion, even those considered benign.
    Certainly no one who aspires to higher office should be allowed to even campaign for it if they claim to talk with gawd. We’ve all seen plenty of evidence of how that works out for the rest of us, haven’t we?

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  6. agathena says:

    “would have loved to have seen him embrace the ability of any American citizen of any faith aspire to the presidency”
    Let me paraphrase:
    I would have loved to have seen him embrace the ability of any American citizen WHO BELONGS TO NO RELIGION aspire to the presidency.
    I long for the day when religion is NOT an issue.
    Who cares?
    I don’t accept any religion for myself. I especially do not like religions that require dress codes. As a Catholic I was forced to wear a hat in church because St. Paul was a misogynist.
    If people feel they need to belong to a religion they may go ahead and fulfill their need. That’s cool. Just don’t push those beliefs on me.

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  7. Ajaz says:

    I guess Tony Foresta has strong views about religion.

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  8. TonyForesta says:

    There is no religion in this wild and violent world. All the socalled religions are political/economic entities pimping one or another book or fairy tale for power and profit. Religions are all drenched in oceans of innocent blood, and centuries of mysoginy. pathological deception, mass murder, division, and hate.
    Institutional religions are evil incarnate on earth.
    “Man’s only hope for freedom, is to strangle the last king with the entrails if the last priest.”
    “Deliver us from evil!”

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  9. WenG says:

    Obama and Hillary don’t need to answer this question. Their opponents do. I’d rather hear them explain their FISA votes, or lack thereof. Hillary?

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  10. WenG says:

    Obama and Clinton don’t need to answer this question. Their opponents do. That said, anyone want to ask them about their FISA votes, or lack thereof? Hillary?

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  11. Ajaz says:

    David has a very good point. When Malcolm X landed back in the US from Hajj, he said “there i was standing shoulder to shoulder with white, black and yellow man, all wearing the same garb all equal before man and God and here in the US I am discriminated against for being black”.
    Unfortunately the Muslim world has not taken the bull by the horn and denounced fanatics who are killing people in the name of religion. By default these fanatics appear to represent mainstream Islam which is not the case. An overwhelming majority of Muslims have moderate views just like anyone in the west.
    The recent elections in Pakistan is a prime example, where religious parties have been defeated heavily and won only six seats in a 268 seat parliament.

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  12. David N says:

    I am reminded of two things:
    The absurd rantings of Comedian Rush Limberger, screaming at unknown people were complaining that the Republican candidates were all old white men, and asking why they didn’t make the same complaint about the Democrats. This was back when Richardson was still in the race, even, so we had a black, a woman, and a Hispanic.
    But Rush’s audience can’t be expected to notice such a detail.
    More seriously, we recall reading the end of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” Remember that? Remember his talking about how the Hajj was a venue for breaking down social, ethnic, linguistic differences? Amazing that this religion has been used for a message of hate, death, and destruction. But then, we can say the same, repeatedly about Christianity.

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  13. Ajaz says:

    If the CNN survey this morning is anything to go by, 60% of respondents said they have given up religion altogether.
    Sensible people are beginning to realize that the whole religion thing is a hoax after all.

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  14. Matt says:

    Fascinating.
    Look at the recent change in polling data from Real Clear Politics for Texas:
    http://tinyurl.com/2fywx9

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  15. Mr.Murder says:

    Face it, Steve Clemons is on the inner lining of the reality insulation that is our PR machine and he’s simply allowing you to see the coming spin.
    Sen.Barack Obama should ignore these attacks and take the high road like John Kerry did the swift boaters on his way to victo-
    But Sen.Ted Kennedy’s machine backed both campaigns, that makes it all good!
    Except for the fact it doesn’t.
    He had better find ways to address this convincingly. Just because John Edwards didn’t call him Barack Hussein Obama doesn’t mean Dick Cheney and Karl Rove will not.
    This isn’t even the biggest item, it’s not the star on top of the Fitzmas tree. You may come to hope such thin substance as claims about his birth name are the sum total of attacks directed his way.
    Don’t worry, be happy!

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  16. JohnH says:

    Good questions, Susan. I’d like to add one more.
    Q. Why are we in Iraq? No, really. I mean this. No one has ever told the American people why we are in Iraq. Be honest now. No mysterious euphemisms, like “vital strategic interests.” If you can’t be candid with the American people on Iraq, why should we believe anything you say?

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  17. susan says:

    Forget religion, here are some debate questions that I would like the candidates to address:
    Q. Senator, why can’t the Iraqi government meet the basic progress indicators (benchmarks) that we have asked them to work on? For example, why haven’t they passed the oil revenue sharing plan?
    Q. Senator, why can’t the Iraqi government meet the basic progress indicators (benchmarks) that we have asked them to work on? For example, why haven’t they passed the oil revenue sharing plan?
    Q. Senator, why do we have military bases in 130 different countries?
    Q. Senator, why is every dollar collected from personal income taxes go to The Federal Reserve to pay the interest on our national debt, and why do they charge the U.S. Government 9-11% interest on each dollar printed? Is it also true that the Federal Reserve is owned by Europeans, and is about as Federal as Federal Express?
    Q. Senator, why does the executive branch want the telecom companies to receive immunity from prosecution even though the administration insists that no law was broken? Do you believe it acceptable to eavesdrop on American citizens without a warrant?
    Q. Senator, do you believe that the 240 tons of depleted uranium used in Iraq has led to radiation poisoning of our troops and the people in Iraq? How do you propose we clean-up radioactive waste in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    Q. Senator, do you believe that The Global War on Terrorism was greatly exaggerated so as to pass laws that have subjected Americans to the loss of many civil liberties as well and to embroil the U.S. into a war in Iraq that is morally and legally wrong?
    Q. Senator, will you launch an investigation on the handling of the situation in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina and the claims that Americans over 20,000 have died as a result?
    Q. Senator, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of families. The wealthiest 1 percent of families owns roughly 34.3% of the nation’s net worth, the top 10% of families owns over 71%, and the bottom 40% of the population owns way less than 1%. What will you do to rectify this situation where wealth is increasingly held by the top 10% of families by 2-3 percentage points each year, and the middle class is all but disappearing?
    http://agonist.org/

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  18. Bill R. says:

    Good rant, Steve! However, I recall when you were singing the praises of the Romney campaign staff, you said nothing about Romney’s pronouncement that he would not consider a Muslim in his cabinet. The Xenophobia wave is what the Republican party is banking on. John McCain has pronounced us a “Christian” nation. Why are you addressing this question to Democrats?

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  19. Matt says:

    Besides being a bit masochistic, and assuming it’s posed respectfully, I think the question is a good one. Let’s let it all hang out. I think Obama would do a great job answering. Probably better than Clinton, for whom this is a non-issue.

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This whole issue is reminds me of the ethereal fairy dusting that Obama is rendering from the pulpit to his adoring elves.
    Steve, who usually advocates for substantive debate and rhetoric, suddenly offers a suggestion to these candidates that is no less than political suicide.
    It would be my suggestion that Steve sit down for meat loaf and spuds in some middle american dining room, and see just how successful Bush and the media have been at demonizing a few billion of the Earth’s inhabitants. Good Lord, a large percentage of Americans still believe Saddam was complicit in 9/11, thanks to Fox News, the aforementioned assholes like Rush Limbaugh and crew, and the Bush/Cheney rhetoric.
    Steve has underestimated the American public’s ignorance, and the scale of the bigotry, hatred, and fear that this Administration and a complicit media has carefully cultivated and nurtured.
    And just to be fair, the Israelis have played no small part in framing the American public’s perception of the Muslims as well. You want to be labeled an anti-semite? Just call attention to the Palistinian side of the story.
    This one is pretty amazing Steve;
    Idealistically, a ten. But a real fizzler in real life.

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  21. susan says:

    Given the level of enthusiasm for Obama, I think the American people are signaling that a black man with a Muslim father is no big deal.
    What more needs to be said on the subject?

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  22. DonS says:

    IF the general election goes big for democrats — and if the stars are aligned right it will — and if the dem candidates will/have been able to trumpet a message of tolerance, it might appear that the message is subsumed in such a victory.
    IMO, it will not mean any such thing, but only that the stars are aligned; it will have been only one of many possible issues to have been influential in the campaign, and even then it will take a long time to tease out the actual effect.
    In that scenario, I guess it would not hurt to have a message of tolerance trumpeted. After all, at least some of us believe in such equality, and others mouth the words, and I guess the pledge of allegiance talks about “liberty and justice for all”.
    But, overtly, or more likely covertly, the slime machine(s) will seek to exploit the subversive message of tolerance; before, during and after the election.
    We have all seen how ugly politics has become. Even if Obama’s mystique turns our to be for real, its unlikely it will transform politics. The story line of America these days is descending.
    If this were such a damn tolerant country, we wouldn’t need the likes of the SPLC to fight intolerance; the government would be taking the initiave. And we wouldn’t need candidates to affirm their commitment too diversity as a special pleading.
    Part of me would like to turn the clock back to the 60’s when fighting intolerance was an issue that the public needed to confront. But I fear in this post modern world, while we continue to fight the good fight, only the targets have changed (hispanics and muslims are now included), but not the bile in men’s hearts.
    What has changed is that it is no longer not only not fashionable to champion the cause of tolerance, it is politically more dangerous because the neocons, fundies, and right wingers own the moral branding, and the reactionaries own the media

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  23. p.lukasiak says:

    I agree with the others who say that this is not a question that should be asked, because it accepts the framing of the right-wing smear machine.
    Seriously, does anyone doubt that either candidate wouldn’t say that religious beliefs — regardless of whether it Baptist, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or anything else — is not an appropriate criteria on which to judge who should be president.
    And while I’m reluctantly supporting Hillary, I recognize that merely asking the question of Obama feeds into the smear campaign. (Its similar — and not unrelated — to the recent notorious CNN question about Obama’s patriotism.)

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  24. Roger Wehage says:

    Oh please.
    Enough with nationality and religion and race and gender; how about a president with some moral fiber.

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  25. Abby says:

    The fact that this is even an issue worthy of discussion is a tribute to the power of the misinformation spread through the propaganda media, the insanity of the Bush administration and the stupidity of the American people.
    India, a Hindu over-dominated country, has a Sikh as Prime minister and a Muslim as a President, both minorities, and their faith has never an issue worth mention, much less discussion.

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  26. TokyoTom says:

    Steve, I’m sure you know, but Dave Neiwert covers the “nativist bigotry” as you have it pretty thoroughly on his blog: http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/
    Not enough time to go through this thoroughly, but let me note first that it seems very strange to me that you lay a challenge at the feet of the two main candidates for the party of greatest ethnic and religious diversity – each of whom personally manifest the empowerment of diversity in some way – all while studiously ignoring how the Republicans have deliberately been fostering division and identity politics. Why not call out the Republicans?
    Second, let’s not kid ourselves. We’re human and thus tribal, so what groups we identify ourselves is profoundly important to us. That’s why we see conflict across the globe splitting along lines of identity, why Republicans have been effective, and why their game (both domestic and international) is so dangerous. We can fight “bigotry”, but we can’t change human nature.
    In that connection, religions provide an important means of identity, that can often bring together peoples of different ethnicities, language, etc., but we are often left with fault lines between religions. The are secular substitutes for religions that are important to strengthen, but we also can’t deny that many of us naturally still feel the tugs of the ones we grew up with, and somewhat more distant, alienated or suspicious of those of other faiths.
    We will see real progress when a candidate doesn’t feel embarrassed to admit that he’s a seculal humanist/atheist – and not some other religion held by a relative minority like the Muslims.
    In the meantime, in the post 9/11 world we live in and have had foisted upon us, only the naive would really suppose that the best path forward towards national unity is to have the DEMOCRATIC presidential candidates announce that personally, they would have no misgivings in voting for a presidential candidate who is Muslim.
    Regards,
    tom

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  27. Abby says:

    The fact that this is even an issue worthy of discussion is a tribute to the power of the misinformation spread through the propaganda media, the insanity of the Bush administration and the stupidity of the American people.
    India, a Hindu over-dominated country, has a Sikh as Prime minister and a Muslim as a President, both minorities, and their faith has never an issue worth mention, much less discussion.

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  28. mparker says:

    In what way did Barak Obama “hide” his middle name?
    Most Americans do not use their middle names.
    Your issue is resolved.

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  29. TonyForesta says:

    It’s all about the fundamentalism. Fundamentalist jihadist. zionist, hindu’s are all bread from the same malignant fascsist brood and slurry.
    Human beings hold to many beliefs and thoughts, and our founding fathers imbedded into the structure of our Constitution marked and specific prohibitions against, and denying any “religious tests”. “There shall be no religious tests.”
    A qualified individual who wins the peoples is worthy of the presidency no matter what book or prophet he, or she worships in private.
    Fundamentalist freaks of every malignant and fascist flavor are the bane of humanity, and will – if we let them – doom all life on earth to neverendingwar and certain destruction.
    Fundamentalists glorify and worship war, the spilling of innocent blood, wanton profiteering, and domination.
    Fundamentalists muslims, jews, christians, or anyother cult or klan proclaiming it is this or that godz will to kill all those who question, challenge, dissent with, or oppose the fascism, predation, and bloodlust of the fundamentalists are the same exact malignancies wearing different robes, worshipping different books and prophets, but alike in every way in their rank devotion to hate and division.
    I would reject a fundamentalist christian or jew with the same fervor I repudiate the freaks and mass murderers of jihadist islam, because they are in fact the exact same beast.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

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  30. Opinionated says:

    If being muslim is not an issue, and it should not be an issue irrespective, then Obama should not hide his middle name Hussein which is a muslim name. I have an issue with that. See some interesting commentary on haveopinion.blogspot.com

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  31. GermanReader says:

    Some of you folk on here are kinda kooky. I have to say that I feel privileged to read Steve Clemons’ thinking. Of major bloggers, he’s one of the few to actually occasionally interact with his readers and he makes stuff happen in DC.
    From over here in Europe, it really seems as if this guy just wills stuff to happen. He has dominated the Cuba-Castro debate. He called the administration’s direction on Iran before anyone. He and his New America Foundation crowd are plugged into all the right policy circles and getting stuff done.
    Now he’s setting a tone regarding identity and politics.
    Some of you scream your heads off at Steve, but you should be thanking him for the opportunity to post your rants here. Some of the comments are really good though — and I read them as well.
    But seriously, some of you need to lighten up. Steven Clemons is cooking up some of the best political commentary in the blogosphere, and I’ve become an addict.
    just a lurker in Germany’s point of view.
    Thanks Steve for your hard work and insights!

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  32. Carroll says:

    If you use some language to frame him into a corner, he reframes the language, and he does it in language that everyone understands.
    Posted by tomj at February 25, 2008 10:16 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yes he does, I like it.

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  33. Carroll says:

    BRAVO!… Steve!
    I am already sick of the color, religion, sex thing and it’s hardly begun.
    But on the other hand, if I had to make a case for influences of color and religion in the election I would say half black, half white, half Christian, half Muslim…..would be a perfect combination for the next US president, especially now.

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  34. tomj says:

    The problem with all the punditry directed at Obama is that he is literally many steps ahead in the word game. That is, he understands the content of the words he speaks, and he is willing to challenge the newspeak that the media and politicians seem to believe in. If you use some language to frame him into a corner, he reframes the language, and he does it in language that everyone understands. The basis is the natural language that we all use, not the specific-yet-ambiguous language we usually have to deal with. It really takes a lawyer-type to turn this around. He understands the deli-slicer distinctions, and uses it against his opponent.

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  35. David N says:

    Really, this is just yet one more example of the complete capitulation by the Democratic Party into the script on American politics as written by the Republican slime machine (otherwise known as the MSM).
    Thus, we are not allowed to discuss religion in politics and government honestly — that they have no connection — but must claim to be persons of faith in order to pander to the unwashed, and let thinking Americans sit and fume.
    Thus, our economic policies must start from the assumption that the only valid economic theory is the theory of greed — excuse me, free market — and there is no other.
    Thus, the debate on health care has devolved into a debate on how to shove more money at health insurance companies and cheap, ineffective vote buying schemes instead of plans to actually strengthen the economy and the middle class.
    Thus, the debate on national security is mainly in terms of judgment being a matter of the ability to decide who to shoot at. Talking about ideas is difficult when you don’t have any.
    Thus, discussions on the Republican War on Science are treated as he-said-she-said matters of opinion instead of the craven denial of fact and reason that they are.
    Thus, identity politics is the script of the day, because thinking of people as complex individuals is just too hard. Same for ideas: if they can’t be labeled as left or right, we just ignore them.
    The people in this community are much more intelligent than those who swallow the mainstream, conventional wisdom bilge. But we need to recognize the shallowness and cowardice of every one of the presidential candidates.
    And the incredible venality, hubris, and selfishness of Nadir.

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  36. samuel burke says:

    shhhh please dont ask steve to acknowledge that american jews have any power in washington, its the best suppressed secret in america…oppression is what the zionist do best…with power comes responsibility to israels safety.
    at-a-boy steve get all lathered up about the poor muslims and the beating they are taking at the hands of the neocons but please be sure not to place any blame on them directly.
    http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2008/02/when-invoking-t.html

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  37. DonS says:

    Not to echo POA, but I do think you are kidding yourself, Steve, in aspiring to the level of tolerance for “muslims”,except as filtered through the Fox approved version of America. Your level of naivete as to the attitude of the man in the street is surprising. Inspirational, but surprising. To put the dem candidates in such a squeeze seems not very useful. But what do I know.
    You’d have to catch John Doe on a particularly good day to have this fly.

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  38. digdug says:

    Wow.
    You insist Obama take a principled stand upon basically a non-issue ginned up by conservatives, even though it could cause great political damage and cost him the election. Thus also costing all of us the benefits having an intelligent and moderate Democratic President would bring
    Yet, you personally refuse to support impeachment of Bush/Cheney, even though their lawbreaking is well-documented, because you think it’s unrealistic.
    Staggering, truly, your hypocrisy.

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  39. DonS says:

    Steve, what is really important, too, is not just that actual tolerance is exhibited, but that ANY religious orientation is kept the hell out of the oval office. Unless one gets into the murky ground of ” ‘faith’ has a place in the body politic.”
    NOT!
    And I have a strong spiritual practice.

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  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    ROFLMAO!!!!
    Steve, sometimes your naivete amazes me.
    You needn’t ask the candidates this question.
    Instead, you should ask the ignorant brain dead American public sitting in front of Fox News day in and day out, and driving to work with the biggoted hate filled bullshit of Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Laura Ingram, etc, filling their ears. Trust me, Steve, there is a huge segment of the American public lapping this poison up, and if you haven’t listened to these biggoted pieces of crap spew their venom lately, you should tune in just to see what you’re up against. And as long as these people are on the air, there ain’t a preacher’s chance in hell that the American public would put a Muslim in the White House.
    Ain’t you heard man? Theres a major eradication effort going on.
    And heck man, no problemo about putting a Jew in the Oval Office. AIPAC runs it anyway, so whats the difference?

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  41. Mark says:

    I would argue that part of the slime on Obama isn’t just that they try to get people to think he is Muslim, but that he is a secret Muslim. You see, since it is a secret, he must be hiding something.
    The beauty is they get to hit at multiple levels, so people can have a tribalism problem at the gut level while justifying it with a more intellectual sounding problem.

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  42. Jim says:

    Steve,
    Am wondering whether you know about Obama’s speech on Jewish issues in Cleveland, OH.
    There’s good coverage on 2/25/2008 in The New York Sun:
    http://www.nysun.com/article/71813
    Would enjoy having you share your reactions.

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  43. questions says:

    Perhaps we could ask Dick Cheney if his daughter (you know which one) could be president, too?!

    Reply

  44. Adam says:

    Steve,
    One of the reasons I read this blog is because I’m an Obama supporter but don’t want to let myself get “carried away.” It’s difficult to be opinionated and equitable, but I think you’re doing an admirable job of it. Criticisms that are actually fair and seek to build dialog rather than tear down are pure gold. I can’t remember the last time a person of any political persuasion actually called for leaders of all religions, including agnostics and atheists, to be leaders. Thanks for the good post.

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  45. Jason says:

    Steve, I like that you are a realist in many ways yet can still make idealistic appeals to our politicians to avoid tactics that appeal to the dark side of human nature. Tactics that, unfortunately, will be used as long as they continue to work.
    The fear of any politician taking even a somewhat courageous stand is that it will cost him or her the election. In today’s political landscape though, I think it’s something that Obama could pull off without a huge downside. It would be the right thing to do, and may even help him politically in some ways.

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  46. pimothy says:

    If any suggestion is about Obama being a Trojan Horse and then being elected president, forget about such a thing happening.
    Were it to happen and created havoc he would be impeached quickly. In spite that hasn’t happened to Bush and Cheney.
    The public must reject these sort of toxic smears.

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  47. susan says:

    According to a NY Times article:
    http://tinyurl.com/36evwh
    “…More than 16 percent of American adults say they are not part of any organized faith, which makes the unaffiliated the country’s fourth largest “religious group.”
    I am in that fourth largest group and waiting to be pandered to.

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  48. Mr.Murder says:

    King Hussein is one of our greatest allies, when people mention Obama’s middle name it is a good way to highlight that fact. Hussein is simply a name, friends have that name, you cannot judge others for the fact some enemies had the same name.
    One of the most skilled doctors I’ve ever known has the first name of Osama. After Sept. 11th it always brought a sadness to me the fact someone would perhaps deem him bad for his name and the background culture of his origin. He worked at the VA and with transplant clinics that dealt with Champus/Tricare patients, to the highest of standards.
    Usually I use his example to try and help people see past the hate when they try to determine all people of Muslim background or certain ethnicities are so bad. The Osama I know is a lifesaver.

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  49. Greg P says:

    Speaking of the whispering campaign by the Clinton campaign that Obama is somehow not a supporter of Israel (the ties to Clinton staffers and very close surrogates are pretty thoroughly documented in this Newsweek article, http://www.newsweek.com/id/114723 ), I really liked Obama’s response in a meeting with Jewish leaders in Cleveland yesterday – as resported by the JTA:
    “”I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel,” the Illinois senator and contender for the Democratic presidential nominee told a group of Jewish leaders in Cleveland on Sunday. “If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we’re not going to make progress.”
    http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/107170.html
    The fact that he’s willing to point out that one can be a strong supporter of a secure State of Israel, but oppose the Israeli hard right and the settler movement, speaks well of how he might handle the Arab-Israeli issue as president.

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  50. DrSteveB says:

    No! The question should be asked of McCain and every Republican Party leader. They are the ones spreading the this messsage to attack Obama. They are the ones who should be put on the spot.
    Putting Obama (or Clinton) on the spot, only helps those who are spreading this message as a smear tactic. Since that is all it is, a smear tactic, then only those who benefit by the attack should be put on the spot.

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  51. Ajaz says:

    I think opening up the subject will only provide an opportunity to extreme right wingers to make it important. Obama is doing fine thank you regardless of any slants. My suggestion is let the candidates articulate their plans without talking about religion.
    It may well be that reaction to extremism of last few years has enabled a woman and a black to be credible candidates.

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  52. Robert M. says:

    As with Ajaz, its an irelevancy to me, especially as I grew into my political consciousness during the 1960 primaries and general election and was brought up Catholic.
    But the Smear Campaing IS already underway. And where is it coming from? Not from Obama, so why ask HIM that question?
    Nope, your question, Steve, needs to be posed to McCain and Huckabee so as to put them, and their party, the party many of whose members were/are queasy about Romeny’s Mormonism, on record that, of course not, a person’s religion is not irrevelant. What is relevant is how well they do in swearing to preserve, protect, and defend the Consitution of the United States. And by my lights, and by the lights of several judicial decisions, this present occupant as a Christian has done a piss-poor job, and, with Cheney as Cardinal Richelieu, has done what he can to TRAMPLE Our Liberties and the document that embodies them.
    So go as McCain and Huckabee and Romney your question. Heck, you’ve already gotten an answer from Romney.

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  53. JamesL says:

    Thanks for the post. I wish more writers could manage to grant to others the freedom they claim for themselves. My local paper right now is littered with letters demonizing all Muslims and granting immunity to all American actions. Not our fault, none of it, they whinny.

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  54. Ajaz says:

    For those who don’t read Arabic, the script on your blog reads “Alrahman Alrahim” meaning “The Benevolent and Merciful” two of the attributes of the Almighty.
    Being a Muslim myself and a considerably open minded one if I may say so myself, I don’t see how religion matters? Are we not looking for the most able and principled person to be the President?
    Post 9/11 the likes of Pat Robertson resorted to hate mongering against Islam more out of their lack of knowledge of it than hate itself. To bring this up in debates will only stir up more prejudice and hate. So I disagree that religion should be a focal point of the debates between candidates.

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  55. carsick says:

    If he “embrace(d) the ability of any American citizen of any faith aspire to the presidency” then people would think he was covering something up.
    Faith is a very personal issue. If you question someone’s faith they usually get defensive.
    Is Joe Lieberman really Opus Dei?
    The question seems ridiculous on its face. But if Lieberman answered, “Well, what if I were? Is there anything wrong with that?” he wouldn’t get credit for standing for a principle but he would then be labeled “Opus Dei member, Joe Lieberman.”

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  56. JohnH says:

    I heartily agree that it’s time to end the “neo-strand of American nativist bigotry” before it begins. Since McCain and Clinton are both working off the same script these days (talk about plagiarism!!!), it’s hard to tell if either, both, or neither is involved.
    The goals of Republiscum swift boaters’ strategy is now clear: paint McCain as a real American and Obama as dubious, very dubious. Irrespective of the fact McCain welcomes endless war, warrantless wiretapping, water boarding, and consorts with lobbyists. Some American!

    Reply

  57. rich says:

    Thanks for this.
    Much appreciated. We all have an interest in heading off attempts to scapegoat any American ethnic identity.
    I commented on the ‘dressed’ photos, two posts down, but it got hung up in the system.
    Great work as always…
    Rich

    Reply

  58. USD Law Student says:

    Yah really, can we save those types of questions for the general election debates?

    Reply

  59. Concerned American says:

    Excellent comment, but you contradict yourself here:
    “That’s what it boils down to — so let’s put it out there. I want a Muslim to be President of the U.S. to demystify the issue. I’d like to see a Jew as President — and a Buddhist. Perhaps one day we can get some agnostics and atheists in office too.”
    Identity is not dispositive for the creation of insight, but it can prove very helpful in adding depth and breadth to the ordinary insights we see around Washington. The past 6 months of the Democratic primary season are littered with examples to prove that proposition for all but the blind and deaf.

    Reply

  60. SomeCallMeTim says:

    **but I would have loved to have seen him embrace the ability of any American citizen of any faith aspire to the presidency**
    I think Obama would rather be President than an After School Special, like it or not.

    Reply

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