Clinton, “Taking Obama at his word”.

Why isn’t that great, Clinton is going to take Obama’s word for it, you know, she’s going to trust that he’s being honest when denying he’s muslim.  Of course the first part of this has to do with the fact that it’s not a smear, others have pointed this out.  But it’s not about that, it’s about the continued use of this lie by the right as a means to scare more Americans over things that just aren’t true.  So why would Clinton want to say something like this rather than just “reject” or “denounce” the rumor itself.

Ben Smith at Politico posted about this yesterday and he includes the youtube clib and transcript (behind the cut).


“You don’t believe that Senator Obama’s a Muslim?” Kroft asked Sen. Clinton.

“Of course not. I mean, that, you know, there is no basis for that. I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn’t any reason to doubt that,” she replied.

“You said you’d take Senator Obama at his word that he’s not…a Muslim. You don’t believe that he’s…,” Kroft said.

“No. No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know,” she said.

“It’s just scurrilous…?” Kroft inquired.

“Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors, that I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time,” Clinton said.

As Smith puts it, it is something we can expect a lot more of if Obama is the nominee, but this would be the case for any Democrat.  John Kerry, war hero, who would have thought he’d be smeared as he was?  I don’t know if anyone saw that coming.  For me, I think at least these are things that are already being anticipated and acknowledged.  It’s the fact that Obama has the capability to inspire people beyond these tactics and he’s shown that both Republicans and Democrats are tired of being manipulated by our politicians through fear and would rather vote for hope.

The painful irony for the Clinton camp’s talk of how hope and words mean nothing?  Bill Clinton argued for hope just four years ago when Kerry/Edwards were running to unseat the Bush/Cheney nightmare.  Why didn’t hope prevail then?  I don’t think even Kerry bought his own line and I feel it was the combination of the candidate (and his mishandling of the swiftboaters) and the fact that at the time, Bush was still a fairly popular President.  Oh and stealing Ohio of course.

So here it is, Bill Clinton on thinking and hope in 2004…


“If one candidate is trying to scare you and the other one is trying to get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope.”

  16 comments for “Clinton, “Taking Obama at his word”.

  1. Andrew Davey
    March 3, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Huh? I’m sorry to ask, but what’s the point here? Hillary said she doesn’t believe the “Obama = Muslim” rumors. End of story.

    And in regards to the whole “hope” argument, of course it’s a good thing. Of course, it’s nice to be inspired by “hope”. But what are we hoping for? With Obama, I’m not too sure… And that’s the whole problem with the way his campaign is selling “hope” like some product without offering a real message of what we’re hoping for. That’s the weakness I see that the Republicans will be able to attack him on.

    In 2004, Kerry didn’t fight back when he was swift boated. And so far from what I’m seeing with Obama, he’s setting himself up to be another Kerry. Sorry, but “hope” and “change” aren’t enough to combat the coming attacks from the right. So what “hope” does Obama give? What “change” does he offer? Tell me how he’ll fulfill my “hope” that my unemployed friends will find good jobs. Tell me how he’ll “change” my dad’s screwed up health care mess.

    And again, I’m not saying this because I get “giddy” at the thought of Obama losing. I’m saying this because I DON’T WANT HIM TO LOSE if he’s the nominee. So he wants to show me “change”? Show me how Obama will “change” strategy for the November election.

  2. March 3, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Yes Andrew, I keep hearing that Obama hasn’t said anything more about hope and it’s just not true. He has spoken more to the issues, to what he will do, it’s part of the reason why I continue to lean in his direction.

    I believe that without a mandate it will be easier for him to get his health care plan through and I won’t call either Clinton or Obama’s plans UHC, because they only way that happens if we have a single payer system. Progress not perfection. More people covered the better. More affordable the better.

    There is his speech about the economy. He is addressing these issues and it doesn’t matter how often I hear the talking point about what hope cannot not get done it is not going to make it change that Obama is running on much more tha “hope”.

    He does have a real message, just as Clinton does. I worry that Clinton supporters will hang on to this even if he does win the nomination and refuse to look past their bias against Obama.

    I’m going to be so happy when this is over and we can spend more time supporting the nominee rather than attacking other Democrats.

  3. Andrew Davey
    March 3, 2008 at 4:41 pm


    Yes, Obama’s been getting better lately on adding some policy meat to his bones of “hope” and “change”. But still, he has A LOT of work to do. I really do think economic issues will become EXTREMELY important this year, and I just don’t want to see us forfeit our opportunity to promote a progressive economic platform this year. Just take a look at Hillary’s economic proposals…

    I really do think she gets it when it comes to doing something about our endangered middle class. I’m sure Barack does as well, but he needs to stop being afraid of offending the other side and start offering bolder proposals to offer some real relief to working people in need of a helping hand.

    And btw, on health care… I actually think the opposite is true on mandates. After all, how will the insurance companies and “individual responsibility” Republicans ever allow any “health care reform” that doesn’t include them? And OTOH, how can any health care plan be universal if everyone isn’t covered? I think Hillary learned all these lessons the hard way, and that’s why I feel she has what it takes to deliver on health care. Her plan actually does MORE to make health care more affordable AND it gives people the choice of opting into the Congressional health plan (private) or an opt-in Medicare-for-all (public). If we ever want to make progress toward single-payer, we need to start by including single-payer like mechanisms of universal coverage, shared responsibility, and a large purchasing pool for care. I’m confident Hillary’s plan actually moves us in the direction we want to go. And while Obama’s plan is also a good start, I just don’t know if it goes far enough and if it will actually pass without any mandate.

    And finally, I’m also looking forward for this to be over soon. I don’t like to see all this infighting. I’d rather fight the Republicans, believe me. I just think we all need to sort things out, get prepared, and most importantly LET PEOPLE VOTE before we end this all

  4. Northcountystorm
    March 3, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Heather, there’s plenty to attack Clinton on but the ” I’ll take him at his word” attack is pretty weak.

    It’s understandable though, after Sean set off a couple of M-80’s and the polling numbers(yes, Bill, they’re probably all unreliable) in Ohio and Texas ever so slightly moved Clinton’s way in the last 48, that you would launch your own scud. I believe you when you say you’re glad when this will be over and “we” can quit attacking other Democrats but in the interim, you seem to be enjoying the fight. Fair enough. Sheriff Gila had kept things pretty quiet on the Western Front but Sean broke out of the corrall and here we go.

  5. March 3, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Northcountystorm – Sorry, I think this post was more fair than Sean’s post, but that is just me. I didn’t “attack” but I did question why she wasn’t more forceful in refuting the rumor.

    I also didn’t imply that we couldn’t trust Clinton not to “push” the button. I’ve said that I think both are great candidates and the scare tactics on either side is uncalled for and I admit that I would easily vote for either. I am not hearing that from some of the Clinton supporters here.

    I’m not really enjoying it but I do think it’s fair to stand up for Democrats and to point out facts, such as the fact that the “present” votes do only account for 3% of his total votes in the state senate. It’s fair to point that out.

  6. March 3, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    A bloggerOn Obama:

    I was crushed. I was grumbled at. I was uncomfortable contorting my tiny body on the cold, hard ground. However, I did not care. I was having the time of my life as I was watching perhaps the greatest speech ever spoken unfold in front of me. We all cheered, and we all knew that we made the right choice in going with Obama. And once Obama finished speaking, more people rushed to the floor to catch a glimpse of him, touch him, speak with him, just see someone who is actually inviting us to join in this campaign. Obama may be the big celebrity here, but he also empowered us by reaffirming that this campaign really is about us, and about our hopes to end the war, and protect our climate and our planet, and clean up the slimy ways of Washington. We were all empowered, and we all wanted to thank Obama for giving us this opportunity for hope, action, and change.

    My world had turned on its head, and I was loving it. I may have already decided to support this person for President, but this completely sealed the deal for me. Whether it was all the people outside, or seeing the actual candidate inside, I got the feeling that I had made the right choice. I think I have become a part of something special, and I can hardly wait to see where all these hopes and dreams go from here. : )

    Barack Obama is a special leader in that he has harnessed a growing progressive movement. He’s not a hero more than leaders like Russ Feingold or Chris Dodd, but what he has managed to do is to engage the public like never before. This is what we need to do to save our country. We need the public more engaged. We need people paying attention to their government. The reason that we can hope is that we are the ones who can bring the change. No, we can’t expect one leader to bring about a reveloution in American thinking. That Change has to come within us, the American people. And that has been what Obama has inspired in this burgeoning movement. And that’s why Obama will be the best nominee in 2008 and the best president for 2009.

  7. March 3, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Brian – I couldn’t agree with you more and this is one of the most important reasons for me supporting Obama over Clinton. New voters, new optimism and a future generation that is engaged and interested in politics.

  8. March 3, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Heather, FWIW I also thought Sen. Clinton equivocated. She seemed to sew the seeds of doubt. Instead of saying, “I take him at his word,” why could not she have said, “Of course he’s a Christian. There’s no question. I don’t understand why people keep harping on this. And besides, this whole thing is completely unfair to Sen. Obama, his church, and to Muslims, as if to say all Muslims are evil.” But no, she had to employ a handful of variations on “I take him at his word.” She’s a smart person. She’s careful and considered. So it leads one to wonder, was she struggling to find the right turn of a phrase? Or was it intentional?

  9. March 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Hillary Clinton told reporters that both she and the presumtive Republican nominee John McCain offer the experience to be ready to tackle any crisis facing the country under their watch, but Barack Obama simply offers more rhetoric. “I think you’ll be able to imagine many things Senator McCain will be able to say,” she said. “He’s never been the president, but he will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”

    Bill – this is the latest. So now McCain is a better choice than Obama.

  10. Andrew Davey
    March 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm


    Haha. You dug up that old post from me last April, back in the day. But hey, I still like Calitics. And for the record, I later wrote this…


    Sorry, but Hillary’s statement sounds clear enough to me. She doesn’t believe that Obama’s a Muslim. What more can you ask for? Hey, it’s not like she’s saying he’s “likeable enough” or that he has “a 20 year plan with Michelle to reign over the White House” or “D-Punjab”. Hmmm, I wonder why this all sounds so familiar…

  11. Northcountystorm
    March 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    You Obama folks have been sipping too much of the white whine. Andrew is right, she was as clear as clear can be. What did you want her to do, ask if she can get Barack a pillow also?

    You know, I don’t remember Heather or Bill complaining about attacks on Democrats when Barack and John Edwards were teeing off on Hillary pre-Iowa as a tool of the lobbying class. Both were saying that they, and not Hillary, were prepared to create the change the country needed. That her taking federal lobbyist money rendered her incapable of breaking the death grip K Street had on the country(state lobbyist money on the other hand was ok, at least for Barack). Now that the heat is coming back at you on a different subject, you want to establish some Marquis of Quinsberry rules? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Either that or Sean has you rattled.

    You folks were better off when you spent more time winning rather then whining.

  12. March 3, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Birthday Boy and Northcountystorm, Perhaps it is in haste that you skipped past where I suggested what Sen. Clinton could have said to put the issue to rest and prevent controversy. Shall I add it again to comments? And this lobbying thing is a clever diversion – too cute by half.

    PS – It’s Queensberry. 😉

  13. Northcountystorm
    March 3, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Bill–I didn’t skip it—you just wanted another pillow for Barack and that puppy won’t hunt. And you can play the diversion card and ignore the inconsistency but the reality is that you can dish it out but you can’t take it without whining. And you don’t want to be called on it.

    The jabs and the imaginary punches you folks are struggling with are nothing compared to the real pounding above and below the belt Barack will face in the general if he gets the nomination.

  14. March 3, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I thought what Hillary said was terrible. I’m absolutely not a Hillary hater, but I was aghast at the tacky way she equivocated on this and my opinion of her declined significantly. She left the door completely open for those who are using this slur against him.

    Would she have said, in response to the 2004 Swiftboat attacks, “I take Senator Kerry at his word when he says he served honorably in Vietnam?”

    As much as I dislike speaking ill of another Democrat, I have to say “Shame on you, Hillary.”

  15. March 4, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Northcountystorm – Edwards really got the shaft and there were many unfair attacks against him in this race, including from Obama but I don’t quite remember whinning as much as Hillary has. Oh she got the first question in the debates? Really? And yes I was concerned about attacks on Democrats but it got much worse after Edwards left the race. There were very few “personal” attacks prior to him leaving. And I did a whole post about the petty bickering between Clinton and Obama right before the South Carolina primary that was bad for the party.

    Edwards took her on regarding her record, Clinton has had Kindergarten essays as a line of attack! Obama has run a better campaign, that’s it. She came in with a huge advantage and she just has not run a very good campaign, end of story.

  16. March 4, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    I don’t see it as a “joke”. He said he thought the system was corrupt, not Clinton. I’m sure she sincerely believes that she can take lobbyist money and not be influenced by it. It’s fine to say otherwise. Does it mean she’s a bad person? No. Please. That is an issue and a fair criticism and a huge difference between them.

    Everyone has their talking points and I don’t see any of this as “personal” but I do think it’s a problem when she can’t just say, well that’s just silly, that’s a rumor and it’s not true.

    We are going to have to agree to disagree because I feel that all our nominees fit those descriptions. End of story is easy to type but it’s not the end of the conversation, you can’t just say, well this is how it is and no more. Others differ and don’t feel that only your opinion is the “end of the story”.

    I was proud to say I supported Edwards and never felt he never stooped to the level of Clinton or Obama. But that’s just me. I felt Obama did things that were questionable and Clinton but I made a choice that no matter who wins, I will support the nominee. I just happen to prefer Obama and I also find it frustrating when Dems compare other Dems to BUSH.

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