Someone Named Matt Margolis Called Me "This Moron from DailyKos"
February 10-12, 2007
Commentary by Tim Horrigan © 2007
One cold Saturday morning, I stumbled across the following Usenet posting which featured some typical rightwing drivel which misconstrued some fairly reasonable remarks by Barama Obama about how his racial background affects his Presidential campaign. The posting was put up by someone who calls himself "Harry Dope":
From: "Harry Dope" <HarryDope@earthlink.net> Newsgroups: talk.politics.misc,alt.politics.bush,alt.politics.liberalism,alt.fan.rush-limbaugh,alt.politics.gw-bush,alt.politics.economics,alt.politics.usa.republican Subject: OBAMA: IF YOU LOOK AFRICAN-AMERICAN, YOU ARE TREATED LIKE ONE Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 10:50:49 -0500 X-Priority: 3 X-MSMail-Priority: Normal X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2900.3028 X-RFC2646: Format=Flowed; Original X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.3028 Lines: 43 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Organization: Road Runner High Speed Online http://www.rr.com X-Complaints-To: firstname.lastname@example.org February 09, 2007 Here We Go I'm sure we all expected this. Acknowledging that his presidential campaign has opened a racial debate, Sen. Barack Obama, who has a white mother and an African father, says if you look African-American, you are treated like one. Obama and his wife, Michelle, who also addresses the race issue, appear in an interview with Steve Kroft to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Feb. 11 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS television Network. If, as expected, Obama declares his formal candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination tomorrow, it will be his first interview to be broadcast after that event. When asked by Kroft if growing up in a white household had caused him to make a decision to be black, Obama replies, "I'm not sure I decided it. I think... if you look African American in this society, you're treated as an African-American. "It's interesting though, that now I feel very comfortable and confident in terms of who I am and where I stake my ground. But I notice that... I've become a focal point for a racial debate," says Obama. Obama's wife also addresses the race issue when asked by Kroft whether she fears for her husband's life as a black candidate. "I don't lose sleep over it because the realities are that... as a black man... Barack can get shot going to the gas station," says Michelle Obama. "You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen." This is Obama trying to inoculate himself from any criticism. The so-called "racial debate" nonsense is just a little preview of what's to come. As long as Obama keeps his race an issue, then he can use it as a shield from criticism. Be prepared. As long as Obama is running, his race will be made an issue. Not by his opponents, but by himself. -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, was so sure Saddam had stockpiles of WMD that he remained "absolutely convinced" of it even after our failure to find them in the wake of the invasion in March 2003.
The posting turned to be taken (aside from the irrelevant addendum about Bill Cohen's theories about Saddam's WMD's) from a blog called GOPBLoggers.org.
The head writer for this blog is Matt Margolis, a rightwing Republican activist who for whatever reason is not serving in Iraq, even though he is in his mid-20s. (This young patriot does his bit for the war effort by blogging and by studying for a masters' degree in Architecture.) His blog is the usual right wing drivel, although it is more intelligently written than most such drivel, and he does at least give some context for his remarks. Here, for example, Margolis does at least actually quote Sen. and Mrs. Obama's own words— and Margolis even specifically tells us when and where Obama made those remarks (i.e., during an interview with Bill Kroft of CBS's 60 Minutes, scheduled to air on February 11, 2007.)
I wouldn't have paid much attention to the blog, which is full of the usual bullshit about Nancy's Plane and the like, if hadn't seen a paid ad for the Mitt Romney campaign on the front page, which is part of his strategy of pandering to the loony right:
I was moved to fire off the following post to DailyKos.com, with the underwhelming headline: "Mitt Romney buys ad on rightwing web site":
original URL: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/2/10/135656/000
TimothyHorrigan's diary :: ::
Mitt Romney buys ad on rightwing web site
Romney's campaign has been buying ad space on at least one extremist right wing blog... GOPBloggers.org ... and evidently on others. The GOPBloggers.org blog's chief writer, Matt Margolis recently posted racist comments about Barack Obama. He responded to a news story about Obama's upcoming (February 11th) 60 Minutes appearance by sneering:
"This is Obama trying to inoculate himself from any criticism. The so-called 'racial debate' nonsense is just a little preview of what's to come. As long as Obama keeps his race an issue, then he can use it as a shield from criticism. Be prepared. As long as Obama is running, his race will be made an issue. Not by his opponents, but by himself."
Margolis's blog also has a strict rule of referring to female politicians by their first names and not by their last name. This may be defenseable in Sen. Clinton's case, since Hillary's husband is a former President. But Speaker Pelosi is the only politically prominent person named Pelosi (aside perhaps from her daughter Alexandra, who is a journalist) and is one of several political figures named Nancy.
Margolis saw my posting, which he attributed to "this moron from DailyKos", and put the following rebuttal on his web site.
UPDATE: Proving my point that Obama's race will serve as a means of protecting him against any criticism, this moron at Daily Kos is calling me a racist. Do these idiots think that I'm going to be scared into silence over stupid and baseless allegations of racism? What did I say that was racist? Nothing, of course. But, just as was the case in Deval Patrick's election in Massachusetts, you can't criticize a minority candidate without being called a racist.
It's a stupid game, and I'm not going to let the debate deteriorate into stupid name-calling. Instead of throwing around the "racist" label, why can't they talk about the issues?
Matt called me a moron, because he thinks I called him a racist. I guess we're even. None of this makes much difference to Sen. Obama (whom I am NOT endorsing!) [I eventually did endorse him after John Edwards dropped out of the race.] One funny thing is that Matt doesn't actually discuss the Senator's stands on "the issues" (which are in any case of minimal interest to Matt, anyway.)
UPDATE (February 12, 2007):
The 60 Minutes piece aired as scheduled on Sunday February 11. It was a fairly positive personal portrait, which did deal with the obvious fact that he is Black. Steve Kroft, the interviewer, asked an obnoxious question about why Obama "chose" to be Black, which Obama laughed off, saying basically that he is proud to be what he is— a Black man who grew up in a (mostly) White family. Even in the context of Margolis's original article, Obama's quotes didn't back up the claim that he was using race to inoculate himself from criticism. In the context of the 60 Minutes story, Margolis's accusations flatly contradicted the Senator's message: the Senator came right out and said that he expects to be criticized.
His wife was a little more combative than he was: when asked if she feared for her husband's life, Michelle Robinson Obama made what will doubtless be a famous comment about how "as a black man... Barack can get shot going to the gas station... so you can't make decisions based on fear." Although she will get some crap for this, her comment is perfectly reasonable (and it applies even to White candidates, since we live in a dangerous society where anyone can get shot going to the gas station.)
Click below to see an excerpt from the 60 Minutes piece:
YouTube posting of Michelle Obama's remarks (which was 45 seconds out of a 20-minute film.)
One interesting development with Margolis's web page is that his blog was suspended by his web hosting provider sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning. This probably had nothing to do with me: only a few people commented on my DailyKos posting (although Margolis himself did see it and did comment on it) and on Sunday night (judging by my web logs and my Google Analytics data) no one but myself pulled down the earlier version of this web page which you are now reading. Here is a screenshot, as of 10:15 am Eastern Time, Monday February 12:
Margolis's other blog, BlogsForBush.com did keep running, and on Monday morning he posted a piece claiming that the "Kossacks"deliberately crashed his site with a denial of service attack. I was left out of this conspiracy, I am sad to say.
I did look though more of his blog postings on Sunday night, and he had many postings about Obama, all of which complained about his ethnic background and/or his lack of experience, and none of which dealt with Obama's stands on the issues. For example, in a January 16, 2007 posting, Margolis denigrated Obama's candidacy by saying: "On a national scale, Obama would become the perfect 'You Can Feel Good About Yourself by Voting For a Minority' Candidate. The race card would be played endlessly, as Democrats would use Barack's candidacy (more specifically Republican attacks against him) as a means to accuse Republicans of being racist and shame them into silence."
I don't feel great about calling Margolis a racist, since he is no worse than most White rightwing commentators (and even White liberals like myself and Joe Biden occasionally say dumb racist things.) And he deserves credit for at least bothering (most of the time) to present evidence (albeit selectively chosen and slantedly interpreted evidence) to back up his namecalling and innuendo. But I do feel OK about pointing out that Margolis could just go ahead and challenge Obama on the issues: Obama has taken stands which could certainly be debated.
Margolis is a Massachusetts Republican, who is leaning towards Mitt Romney, who is similar to Obama in some odd ways. He comes from a non-WASP background like Obama (Mormons are Christians, but their religion is very different from mainstream Protestantism), he is a middle of the roader, he is movie-star handsome, and he had limited national political experience before his Presidential run.
I did call the Romney campaign on the weekend and left a voicemail asking them why they bought ads on "extremist" blogs such as GOPBloggers.org. Not too surprisingly, no one called me back.
GOPBloggers.org came back up sometime around noon on Monday. At least it kinda came back... if you tried to log onto the home page, you got redirected to the BlogsForBush.com blog.
Obama in Durham, New Hampshire, February 12, 2007
Also, on Monday, February 12, Sen. Obama made his first speech in New Hampshire as an official candidate. The venue was a few blocks from my house, at UNH's Lundholm Gymnasium. The place was filled to capacity: the crowd must have been over 3000 people. I took a few pictures.
One member of the massive media contingent
The Senator exiting the venue
The Forgotten Liars by Timothy Horrigan