Thursday, March 31, 2005

GOP BYRD DOGGIN' OBAMA

In a posting entitled "Barack in bed with the Grand Wizard?", Chris Rhodes of the Cross Blog links to a story in which the right-wing Illinois Leader chastises Barack Obama for raising money for Robert Byrd's reelection campaign as part of the Democrats ongoing fight to win back the Senate.

The folks at the Leader were particularly concerned about a line in which Obama, the only black member of the U.S. Senate, said that Byrd, a member of the Ku Klux Klan when in his 20's, "understands the history, the importance and the role Senate plays in our government -- at 87 years old, he's the most senior senator." Obama's e-mail also said:
I hope you will give generously to help send Robert Byrd back to the Senate for another term to fight for the Constitution and the freedom of speech we all enjoy.

I don't have to tell you how important every Senate seat is right now. Just last week, the Senate voted 51-49 to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling and Republicans now threaten even more drastic measures such as privatizing Social Security.

Last fall, I had the privilege to write and ask your help to support candidates and help us take back the U.S. Senate. And your response was nothing short of amazing--you raised more than $1 million for seven Senate candidates, providing them with much-needed resources at the end of their campaigns. I'm happy to be part of these efforts again.

A Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate would mean a real change in the priorities of Washington, but more importantly, it would provide significant change for everyday people across America.

Remember, in order to win back the Senate majority, we need Robert Byrd.
Referring to Obama's support for Byrd, Chris Rhodes suggests that "all this hero worship will end once Barack continues with these missteps."

But isn't a strategy of tying Obama to White Supremacists just another misguided attempt to drive a wedge between Obama and the African-American community. It certainly looks like an extension of Alan Keyes' pitiful claim that, because his dad was from Africa and his mom was from Kansas, Obama wasn't "really" an African-American. Both ploys not-so-subtly suggest that there is something illegitimate about Obama's identity as an African-American.

Well, that gambit already failed spectacularly in November -- in part because, by any definition, his wife and kids are "really" African-American. So while I have no doubt that we will soon see right-wing bloggers calling him "BaraKKK Obama," I don't think Obama's support will be undermined by references to "the Grand Wizard" and other inflammatory rhetoric.

So now we know that Republicans are deeply offended by Obama's fund-raising e-mail, but what about Democrats?

You remember Democrats -- the party that nominated Obama, the party that had Obama speak at their national convention and then overwhelmingly voted for Obama?

Via Atrios:
Early Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., sent an appeal over the Internet urging people to contribute to the re-election campaign of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.

In less than 24 hours, more than 15,000 contributors gave $634,000 to Byrd’s campaign, according to the National Journal’s daily Internet publication “Hotline.” The average donation was about $42.25.
Somehow, I think that Obama will survive this "misstep."

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