Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama and John Sidney McCain, III

The past several days, some supporters of the McCain campaign has reached deep into the bag of tricks. They are attempting to paint Barack Obama as dangerous, foreign and other again appealing to the sense of xenophobia buried deep in the hearts of many Americans. I think it was Cincinnati's own Bill Cunningham (a right wing shock jock here on WLW) who first began using Barack's middle name "Hussein" when introducing John McCain at a rally. An excerpt from an article published around that time.

During the segment, after Cunningham referred to Sen. John McCain as "John Juan Pablo McCain," co-host Alan Colmes said to Cunningham: "I notice you make up names for John McCain. You don't call him John Sidney McCain III, which is his full name, but you call him Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama. So you have a double standard there, don't you, Mr. Cunningham?" Cunningham replied: "My standard, Alan Colmes, is for the American people and the American way of life." Introducing the segment, co-host Sean Hannity aired a clip of Cunningham's appearance at a rally for McCain earlier that day in which he also repeatedly referred to "Barack Hussein Obama." Hannity also quoted a portion of McCain's response, saying: "I take responsibility. I repudiate what he said. I will not tolerate anyone that denigrates either Senator [Hillary] Clinton or Senator Obama."

Bill Cunningham was soundly chastized for using Obama's middle name, including a reprimand from John McCain himself. McCain has condemned the recent uses of Obama's middle name again this week. Yet, it keeps happening. It's obvious why the people using "Hussein" would want to interject that, especially when the main speaker, Sarah Palin or John McCain is about to step to the mic and try to tie Obama to domestic terrorism.  How convenient that Obama rhymes with Osama (saw it on a t-shirt on CafePress yesterday. Very cleve one I might add).  How convenient that Hussein is the last name of the evil one "Saddam Hussein".   But, I think this gives us an opportunity to talk about something more important.

John McCain's middle name is Sidney. His full name is John Sidney McCain, III. (BTW, in doing research to make sure I got his middle name correct, I ran across a nickname for him I Googled "John McCain's Middle Name" and a website popped up that suggested I Google "John Songbird McCain" a website that suggested I Google that phrase. Wow. Talk about Swift Boating. But, I digress).

I quickly (and I mean quickly) want to compare the two candidates' life stories.  John Sidney McCain, III was born to privilege and money.  His father and his grandfather  were 4 star admirals in the Navy.  His father married into oil money.  He was a mediocre student at best.  He was admitted to the Naval Academy and allowed to fly planes based largely on his family name.  I don't think anyone will dispute any of that. John McCain met Cindy when he was still married and had three children at home.  He lied about being married and about his age.  He said he was 37 (he was 41). She said she was 27 (she was 24).  His first congressional seat was basically bought for him by Cindy.  A seat came open in Arizona, she bought a house in the district and "loaned" his campaign $169,000.   I don't say any of this to "bash" John McCain.  We all have done things we are not proud of and John McCain has stepped up and taken responsibility for the failure of his marriage.  

Barack Hussein Obama was born to a mother who had married a Kenyan.  His father abandoned the family when Barack was 2 years old .  Barack would see him once after that at the age of 10)  He was raised by his single mother, with the help of an Indonesian stepfather she would marry later for a time. He was a troubled student in his youth.  But, during college, he got himself together and ended up at Harvard, and the President of the Law Review) He dedicated his early years after law school to organizing the unprivileged communities on the South Side of Chicago, foregoing over 600 lucrative job offers to make peanuts.  He has shown dedication to family and faith and embodies the American ideal of "You can make it if you try."  Interestingly enough, he was known as "Barry" during his younger years.  But, at some point, he decided to embrace his heritage and, in spite of the obvious jeopardy to any political aspirations, embrace his given name of Barack.  There's a fascinating story in "The Audacity of Hope" about Obama having lunch with a friend shortly after 9-11 and the friend mourning the end of Obama's political career because of the similarity of his name to Osama Bin Laden's.  But, by this time, Barry had decided to become Barack.

Of course names given to us by our parents really tell us nothing about ourselves as a person.  But, if some McCain supporters want to make a big deal out of Barack Obama's funny name, let them have their fun.  I hope Barack Hussein Obama will continue to wear his name as a badge of courage because it actually in a way symbolizes his uniquely American story.  John Sidney McCain, III is a man of privilege.  He is where he is today largely due to his aristocratic background and marrying into the money of Cindy McCain who helped paved the way for his political career.   John  Sidney McCain , III was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and good for him, he has taken advantage of his position and has served his country.  

Barack Obama is someone who has overcome the deck stacked against him.  John Sidney McCain, III  has played the hand he was dealt, also.  But, John Sidney McCain, III got a much better hand.  Of the two American tales, if I had to choose which one (as Bill Cunningham put it) is more about "the American people, the American way of life", I know which I would choose.  How about you?


Tones said...

Interesting post - but Brian, c'mon your short reviews of the candidate's life stories are so very biased! You focus on the negatives with regard to McCain and highlight the positives on your candidate - it reads like the many ads that we are all tired of seeing on TV.

Both candidates have wonderful accomplishments and they each have their share skeleton in their closets - to highlight one's pluses aganist ones negatives is the same dirty pool I see in the main stream ads. But hey, it's your blog!


Brian said...


I don't think it's negative to point out that John McCain comes from a family of military service or of money. And I did give him credit for his service and for using the hand he was dealt.

You're right, I did highlight the positives in Obama's bio and neither bio does either man justice. They are very short snapshots. The intent of this post is to be a reaction to the "other" charges being leveled against Barack Obama. The post deliberately highlights the parts of Obama's bio that show his underdog status while highlighting John McCain's coming from privilege. It's not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of either of their lives. Everything I said was true. Bottom line (and simplistic), I think Barack Obama is an overcomer and John McCain has taken advantage of his privilege. I made my case using the evidence that backs up that position.

Dude, you compared my post to those sleazy TV ads. Wow, that is harsh criticism indeed. But, it's all good. I am biased for Obama. I admit it. And, I apologize that my blog will probably be largely political until election day because I see this as too important a moment to not do everything I can to get my POV out to as many people as possible.

Thanks for reading. And, thanks for the feedback.

p.s.- speaking of skeletons. You are absolutely right. You wouldn't believe the stuff I've been getting on McCain over the last several days. Matches the sleaze his campaign has been throwing at Obama and then some.

Someday said...

McCain is no saint. He is however, the lesser of two evils.

Not that Senator Obama is evil. I have a fundamental difference of opinion on how this country should move forward with Senator Obama. I don't know why he is so upset when people call him out on his past. He has written his own narrative, but when anyone questions that narrative, or calls him by his middle name, his followers claim foul.
I am a truth digger. That is how I became a Christian, and eventually one that came to reject eternal punishment. I approach Politics in exactly the same way. I don't rely on either snopes or factcheck, I prefer to do my own digging. I don't believe in what politicians say, I believe in what they do. What they do is who they really are. What they say is who they want us to THINK they are.


Someday said...

Guys like Bill Cunningham won't have a voice on the radio anymore if Nancy Pelosi has her way anyway. I'm thinking, the Democrats will have a Senate and a House majority this upcoming election. With a Democratic President in the Oval office, it is more likely that the Fairness Doctrine will pass into law again, thereby effectively sealing the lips of the Rush Limbaugh's, and the Sean Hannity's of this world.

Brian said...

Fair enough, Someday. But, just one point. When these people are calling Obama by his middle name, the intent is obvious. Kind of like when you were a kid and your mother called you by all three names. When you heard that, you knew she wasn't calling you to dinner.

The intent is to make Obama appear "other, foreign, sinister". They can pretend as much as they like that it's otherwise. But most people see through that.

Brian said...

Tony made a good point about the bias in my article. I'd like to address that a little further. The intent of people using Obama's middle name to contrast him with themselves and John McCain while they like to compare John McCain to "real Americans". My article is doing just the opposite. I am contrasting John McCain with average Americans and comparing Barack Obama. I make no claims that "news" coverage on my blog is "fair and balanced". Blogs are more like editorial pages.

Tones said...

Brian - No harsh criticizm intended. I think my patience with regard to the ads is starting to grow thin.

The one item that bothers me the most (that comes from both sides) are the empty statistics that they both throw out there in their debates and their ads... "He voted to that 92 times..." "He voted against that bill 45 times..." It means nothing!

Every American should reads these bills that they vote on - 300 pages of legaleeze with a major proposal and then a bunch of other proposals in the background.

"He voted against raising taxes 30 times" Huh? What the heck does that mean? Maybe he voted against the bill because in addition to the primary proposal, there was a trillion dollars of pork - maybe he voted for a tax increase because it was a small price to pay to get a much needed sub-proposal passed?

They both do it - acuse each other with these empty, generic, voting statistics. They both drive me nuts, the I hate to say it, but most Americans have no bloody clue how hollow and empty these statistics are.

Brian said...


I completely agree with you on the stats. They are almost meaningless and, as they are used, they are misleading. For example, the stat where McCain says Obama voted to raise taxes 95 times. By the same measure, McCain has voted to raise taxes over 100 times. When Obama says McCain agreed with Bush XX% of the time, most of those "agreements" are on meaningless things and Obama's stats would probably be similar. McCain points out that Obama voted for or against something that he himself voted the exact same way on on either the same vote or another vote.

I'm sick of the ads, too. From both sides. But, Obama is finally running some that strictly mention his own plans. And, McCain had one that I remember.