Obama compares Coburn to '70s bomber

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Here's what the junior senator from Illinois said, in response to a question from ABC's George Stephanopoulos during tonight's debate (click here to see the full transcript):

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, if you get the nomination, you'll have to -- (applause) -- (inaudible).

I want to give Senator Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, the general theme of patriotism in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers, he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He's never apologized for that. And in fact, on 9/11 he was quoted in The New York Times saying, "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."

An early organizing meeting for your state senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?

SEN. OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about.

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George.

The fact is, is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those either.

So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow -- somehow their ideas could be attributed to me -- I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't.

Coburn got a lot of flack for some of the offhand comments he made during his 2004 Senate run, but I believe his friend and colleague from Illinois has surpassed him in the last seven days.

(Via TulsaNow's public forum.)

MORE: Coburn responds: "'Barack Obama is my friend,' said Coburn, when asked if he was offended by Obama's comment. 'We're not all necessarily happy with everything we say.'"

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4 Comments

Nik said:

He wasn't comparing the two. He was downplaying the guilt-by-association comment the moderators were trying to imply.

The argument Obama was making is an a fortiori argument, which by implication drew a comparison between the two: "If you don't hold me accountable for my association with Tom Coburn, a real moral monster who blasphemes against the holy sacrament of abortion, why should you hold me accountable for my friendship with a mere radical left-wing bomber?" Obama's argument only makes sense if he believes that an association with Coburn is more shameful than an association with Ayers.

Mike B Author Profile Page said:

Mr. Bates, you are incorrect. A truly unbiased view of the statement shows that it was merely, as Nik said, just a way to show how truly silly the guilt by association mem is. Your screed about blaspheming against "the holy sacrament of abortion" serves to sap your argument of any potential to be taken seriously, whether or not you are able to throw in a Latin phrase.

Fred X said:

The real take away lesson from the Obama - Ayers Axis connection is:

-1- apply to B.O. and Ayers to use some of the grant money to teach math and science to minority kids ...... get rejected

-2- apply to get money for teaching racial agitprop techniques ...... get approved.

Whether you call is "racial awareness" or by the more accurate term "racial agitprop" ......Math and Science trump EVERYTHING. Unless those in question are incapable of learning them. Is that what he was saying?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 16, 2008 11:15 PM.

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