A Question for Senator Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy sent out an email appeal for donations for the Obama campaign today and also has a post on DKos and BarackObama.com about his endorsement of Barack Obama. While I have the utmost respect for Senator Kennedy and consider myself to be (as I have said here before) a life long Kennedy Democrat, I feel some what dismayed by his claims that Obama is “a leader who has the extraordinary ability to move our country past the politics of fear and personal destruction.”

My reasoning is this, Barack Obama has himself been engaging in the politics of “personal destruction” and then disingenuously claiming to not be. Case in point, his latest speech in Denver today, in which Obama called Senator Clinton a “divisive figure,” and distorted Clinton’s record. Is that not the politics of “personal destruction”? I believe it is.

So, here’s a question I posed to Senator Kennedy on DKos a while ago

Barack Obama went on the attack today, in a speech in which he highly criticized Senator Clinton and offered little view on the issues or policy.

How exactly is this calling “forth the best in our country and our people” and moving “our country past the politics of fear and personal destruction” ?

I have noticed for some time now a stark contrast in the stump speeches of both of our front-runners. While Obama speaks in platitudes on the issues, Hillary Clinton offers a clear, substantive vision of her plans for the future of our nation. Time and time again she speaks on the issues with confidence, while Obama and his surrogates, including Ted and Caroline Kennedy simply speak about vision and ideals. Obama has always seemed willing to draw a distinction between himself and Clinton, and today was no exception, but what always seems to be missing is concrete proposals.

What I find most fascinating is the fact that his supporters continually applaud his attacks on Clinton while claiming that he has risen above the “politics of the past.” Some of us are not so gullible.

UPDATE: And speaking of not so gullible… Go read Greg Prince’s guest post on The Reaction: Kennedy for Obama. It’s an eye-opener.

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11 Responses to A Question for Senator Kennedy

  1. Pingback: Obama Takes on Bush/McCain/Clinton All At Once - Liberal Values - Defending Liberty and Enlightened Thought

  2. bjerryberg says:

    Since, as 7 year old, I leafleted my neighborhood for Bob Kennedy ‘s 1968 NY US Senate campaign, this one from http://www.larouchepac.com caught my eye:

    Robert F. Kennedy’s Children Endorse Hillary Clinton As A
    Candidate to Give Voice to Downtrodden

    Jan. 29 (LPAC)–The children of former Senator, U.S. Attorney
    General to and brother of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F.
    Kennedy, announced their endorsement of U.S. Senator Hillary
    Clinton in an op-ed published in the {Los Angeles Times} today.
    Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry
    Kennedy write, “By now you may have read or heard that our
    cousin, Caroline Kennedy, and our uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy,
    have [endorsed] Sen. Obama. We, however, are supporting Sen.
    Hillary Rodham Clinton because we believe that she is the
    strongest candidate for our party and our country.”
    They support Hillary Clinton because “Democrats believe that
    America should not be torturing people, eavesdropping on our
    citizens or imprisoning them without habeas corpus or other
    constitutional rights. We should not be an imperial power. We
    need healthcare for all and a clean, safe environment.” Chiding,
    without naming, Obama’s rhetorical style, they write, “The
    loftiest poetry will not solve these issues. We need a president
    willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our
    national virtues.”
    Together these Kennedys have worked with Hillary Clinton for
    15 to 25 years and find her a woman of “convictions” who has a
    “formidable work ethic.” For example, when she “ran for the
    Senate seat in New York that had been held by our father [Sen.
    Robert F. Kennedy] … She faced rabid, heavily funded attacks
    from the far right….” In that race she “articulated an
    inspiring and unifying vision rooted in American values and
    history … [which] transformed many” of New York State’s
    “rock-solid conservative counties into solid Democratic
    strongholds.”
    They conclude, “Like our father, Hillary has devoted her
    life to embracing and including those on the bottom rung of
    society’s ladder — giving voice to the alienated and
    disenfranchised and working to alleviate poverty and injustice,
    while urging that we cannot advance ourselves as a nation by
    leaving our poorer brothers and sisters behind.”

  3. bjerryberg

    LaRouche is still going I see…

  4. JCitizen says:

    No it is not.

    The “politics of personal destruction” is not a synonym for criticism. It is rather trying to slime an opponent with baseless or distorted personal charges. I dont see Obama doing that at all.

    That Hillary Clinton is a divisive figure in American politics is about as controversial as saying that the sun rises in the east. How can anyone deny that?

    His criticisms in Denver were not exploing “fear”. WHat are you talking about?
    You seem to be arguing that he should ignore her, or not make any effort to contrast his record with hers. Maybe you think he should not bother campaigning at all?

  5. JCitizen

    I think Obama would serve the party and the voters much better if he would give us a vision of his goals rather than talk in circles about hope and dreams while decrying the politics of the past and claiming Clinton is divisive. That is a right wing talking point – pure and simple.

    So yes, I guess Obama should ignore her – she sure is hell is spending more time talking about the issues than he is.

  6. english teacher says:

    i got emails from kennedy and kerry and immediately unsubscribed, for two reasons. first, i really do not appreciate them endorsing the neophyte over someone who really has paid their dues. second, it is just bad strategy for these leaders to try to influence the primary at this stage. in my opinion, they should have kept their powder dry, said they would endorse the nominee, and let the voters decide on the nominee.

    mcewan’s questions post is really outstanding. you can read those question and have a pretty solid sense of the answers you would get from senator clinton. obama is going to get smeared, hammered, nailed, and rolled by the right wing media if he is the nominee. if he is elected, he will give them everything they want, not because he want to mind you (i don’t think but am not certain), but because he will be so far out of his league.

  7. EnglishTeacher

    Maybe Hillary should respond to McEwan’s questions – I doubt Obama will.

    Thanks for chiming in here. Kennedy and Kerry have long been my heros, I am from MA originally, but I too wish they had kept their powder dry.

  8. Bacalove says:

    It is the American Way to have a healthy debate about the differences of one another’s policies, as modeled by the Lincoln-Douglas debates and it would be NEGLIGENT not Negative of the political campaigns to do otherwise. That is not a personal attack. However, it is not ok to lie, defame and smear another’s character — to Swift Boat.

    As an agent of Change, Obama has already had a positive effect and change on our political landscape as evidenced by the “nicer tones” of the current campaign commercials and political discourse prevalent today, which heretofore has been down right dirty and ugly. This is due to Obama’s position not too take the low road, walking the high road in spite of earlier low poll numbers –, continuing to stay positive and above the fray, focusing on the important issues facing us today.

    At a recet debate, a reporter asked Hillary about the dislike between the Latino and Black populations and she answered back “that’s Historic”, but what she did not Say or try to do is try to bridge the divide by stating something like “yes, that is too bad” or “and we will try to work on bridging the differences.” NO! It is to her advantage to pit one group against the other for her own personal gain. She is no change agent and she is no champion for unity. Maureen Dowd’s new op-ed piece gives an insightful glance into the real Hillary. That it was her in the beginning who Snubbed Barack and not the otherway around. She is one way for the cameras and another way when no one is apparently looking. However, I do think the facade is coming off.

  9. green bean says:

    Our biggest enemy is ourselves.

    Stay focus and be cool.

    Don’t give him the fight he is provoking.

  10. dawn evans says:

    Calling Sen. Clinton “divisive,” without acknowledging that she is so largely because of 8 years of unrelenting attacks by the right-wing is itself divisive. It implies that Sen. Clinton is especially unlikeable, dishonest, or whatever the rightwing accusation is at this particular moment. It’s also either naive, in that he assumes that Sen. Obama himself won’t be the victim of the same attacks, which by the way, have already started. Should we not vote for him because Fox is already branding him as having radical Islamist sympathies? Likely Sen. Obama would NOT agree with such an outcome and yet we should reject Sen. Clinton because she has been the victim of years of such smears.

    As for making baseless charges: Sen. Obama does this ALL the time. He routinely cites only part of Sen. Clinton’s quotes to distort what she actually said. For example, after the final New Hampshire debate, he gave speeches stating that she had called for a “reality check” on idealism, when what she’d called for was a reality check on the idea that a candidate who had appointed a pharmaceutical lobbyist chair of his New Hampshire campaign (Sen. Obama) was a beacon of change for the money politics in Washington.

    He similarly distorted her words to claim that she had changed her position on pre-committing to meeting with Ahmadineajad when she was actually calling for unconditional lower level talks with Iran.

    And most egregiously, he recently claimed that President Clinton had referred to his presidential run as a “fairytale,” when President Clinton had actually been talking about the fiction that Sen. Obama’s voting record on Iraq differed from Sen. Clinton’s (it doesn’t). As we know, this blew up into a big racial brouhaha that was only put to rest when Sen. Clinton explained at length and in great detail what the President had really been talking about. Tellingly, when face-to-face with Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama had nothing to say to her rebuttal. However, at his victory speech in South Carolina, he scoffed at those who thought his Iowa win had been an “illusion.” To my knowledge, nobody from the Clinton camp (or elsewhere) had ever referred to his Iowa win in this way. This was a transparent effort by Sen. Obama to rehash his old lie in a way that didn’t technically clash with Sen. Clinton’s truthful and effective rebuttal. This is akin to Fox’s “some people say” gambit and is wholly unworthy of someone who claims to be bringing a change to the “old” politics in Washington.

    As I’ve demonstrated, Sen. Obama does this kind of thing repeatedly and the media ignores it in favor of the “honest change v. corrupt establishment” storyline it prefers. Sen. Obama’s supporters ignore his attempts to distort Sen. Clinton’s record, I believe, because they want desperately to think that it’s possible to transform Washington magically by dint of inspirational speeches. This won’t happen because Washington is just a place where a lot of individuals with many bad habits live and do business. We can change Washington the same way we change ourselves: by swapping bad habits for good ones after a great deal of hard work and discipline. Not by waving a wand and repeating “change” ad nauseum.

  11. bjerryberg says:

    I am a man–who voted for Hillary–in Virginia’s recent ice-storm-riddled primary.

    And despite many idiotic appeals received on many idiotic issues–like Hedge Fund manager Al Gore’s ‘global warming’ cash cow–I remain in the Clinton camp.

    As a former long-time, Chicago-area resident–I am painfully aware of Sen. Obama’s vulnerabilities.

    Rezko–the Syrian gangster who paid for the Senator’s house…

    Giannoulis.

    Farrakhan.

    If Senator Barry Obama is nominated he will be destroyed on any one of the above matters.

    So an Obama nomination means, most likely, that Mussolini Mike Bloomberg–a true Cheney fascist will be the next president.

    B