February 6, 2007


Race is sensitive subtext in campaign: South Side church's tenets spark criticism of Obama by some conservatives (Manya A. Brachear and Bob Secter, February 6, 2007, Chicago Tribune)

[C]onservative critics already have begun a buzz on the Internet about a far less known part of his biography: his adherence to the creed of the prominent South Side church he attends, Trinity United Church of Christ. The congregation posits what it terms a Black Value System, including calls to be "soldiers for black freedom" and a "disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness."

In an interview late Monday, Obama said it was important to understand the document as a whole rather than highlight individual tenets. "Commitment to God, black community, commitment to the black family, the black work ethic, self-discipline and self-respect," he said. "Those are values that the conservative movement in particular has suggested are necessary for black advancement.

"So I would be puzzled that they would object or quibble with the bulk of a document that basically espouses profoundly conservative values of self-reliance and self-help."

In his published memoirs, Obama said even he was stopped by Trinity's tenet to disavow "middleclassness" when he first read it two decades ago in a church pamphlet.

Somewhere Lee Atwater is salivating.

Obama trying to quit smoking--again (Christi Parsons and Manya Brachear, February 5, 2007, Chicago Tribune)

Obama (D-Ill.) resolved to quit his cigarette habit over the winter holidays, just weeks before his expected presidential campaign would make photographers and reporters an even more regular part of his life.

He said in a Monday interview that, although he has never been a heavy smoker, he has quit for periods over the last several years but then slipped back into the habit. [...]

The incentive to quit is great for any office seeker, as increasingly negative attitudes about smoking translate into political pressure not to do it--or at least not to be caught doing it publicly. At a time when most willing public figures also are expected to serve as role models, those with unhealthy habits face intense pressure to leave them behind.

Americans haven't elected an open and unabashed cigarette smoking president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, though others such as Lyndon Johnson smoked on occasion. The rules seem also to extend to political spouses such as First Lady Laura Bush, who found it necessary to quash her habit, or at least take it underground.

The Underground Nail Road?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 6, 2007 9:37 AM

Quitting smoking is so . . . middle-class.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 6, 2007 10:00 AM

I am waiting to see photos of Baraka Hussein Obama computer-edited to depict him in in Middle Eastern dress--you know, with that little sheet wrapped around around his head. I daresay the gentlemen reminds me constantly of Khadaffi--a real "separated-at-birth resemblance.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 6, 2007 10:32 AM

"I'm po' and proud and I intend to stay that way"?

Posted by: ratber at February 6, 2007 11:27 AM

"Yo, 'bama. Bumma 'port, bro?"

Posted by: JR at February 6, 2007 1:14 PM

It's gonna be a strange election season. Each side has a candidate that its partisans WANT to vote for for reasons having little to do with their positions (which they don't know much about)--Obama & Giuliani. Each side has a candidate that its partisans don't really WANT to vote for but who appears unstoppable based on money & name recognition--Hillary and McCain. The ridiculous race by so many states to move their primaries so early means that money will be the deciding factor, and also means that one or both parties will probably end up suffering severe buyer's remorse.

Posted by: b at February 6, 2007 1:43 PM