Tales from the Trail

Obama describes family: like Thatcher, like Hayek

May 22, 2008

barack1.jpgKISSIMMEE, Fla. – Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama gave a description of his extended, multiracial family on Wednesday while introducing himself to voters in Florida. 

 Here’s what he said: 

 ”When you get my family together, I mean you’ve got people who look like Margaret Thatcher. You’ve got people who look like Bernie Mac. You’ve got, you know my sister, she looks like Salma Hayek – I don’t know if you’ve seen her … She looks Latin,” he said.

There’s more: 

 ”She’s got a baby, ’cause she married a Chinese Canadian, so she’s got a little, I’ve got a little niece who’s a little Chinese baby,” he said. 

 ”So the point is is that — that’s just how I look at the world is we all have a piece of each other and we can’t get caught up in our differences.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Scott Audette. Obama delivers a speech during a town hall meeting in Kissimmee, Florida, May 21, 2008.

Comments
19 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The Country isn’t interested in his family..Especially when he paints it so that it fits politically….He is about to announce himself as the Democratic Nominee and yet still have not publically posted his birth certificate….Who is Obama??? Why has the media not vetted him??..Since when does the public have to stay in the dark on facts that would possibly shape the votes of the people and the superdelegates??..Very unfair coverage so far this season…

Posted by kaye c. | Report as abusive
 

I couldn’t care less about Mr. Obama’s extended family, surprised it was even in print.

Posted by Jack from Kansas | Report as abusive
 

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Reader…

As much as I get a kick out of Mr. Obama’s rainbow family stories, if he and Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid and their 3-person “rainbow coalition” don’t “make it happen” for us within the first 100 days after his inauguration in January…then the party for the democrats will be over before it even starts.

As a member of the downtrodden middle class, here is the 9-point plan that will “make it happen” for me, i.e., these are the 9 symbolic pieces of gold that I want to find at the end of the rainbow at the conclusion of the first 100 days:
1. Lower the top marginal personal federal income tax rate for the middle class to 20% (15% would be better – 5% should be the top rate for the working class)…while widening these two brackets as much as is possible. The top rate is now 35%.
2. Increase the top marginal personal federal income tax rate for the privileged class and super privileged class to 50% (70% would be better, i.e., where it was before Ronald Reagan came along in 1981)…also while widening the bracket as much as is possible. Their top rate is also now 35%.

I can hear the gnashing of teeth as I pen these words! Don’t worry though, my fellow middle classers and working classers. Privileged classers and super privileged classers can afford it…they just want us to believe that they can’t.

And after all, I ask you…why in the world should we be paying the same tax rate as the wealthiest folks in this great nation?

3. Increase the top marginal corporate federal income tax rate to 40% (50% would be better). Again, widen the bracket.
4. Lower the top marginal small business federal income tax rate to 20% (15% would be better). Once again, widen the bracket as much as possible.

Again, I ask you…why in the world should small businesses be paying the same tax rate as corporations?

5. Increase the top marginal long-term capital gains tax rate for large investors to 40% (50% would be better). Widen the bracket on that too.
6. Lift the lid on the FICA wage tax base.

The grinding of teeth is reaching a collective crescendo at this point! Can you hear it?

7. Pull out of SW Asia, take the best care possible of our Veterans (not just pay lip service to them), rebuild and restore the military forces of this great nation (not nuclear stockpiles)…and spend like there is no tomorrow upgrading America’s infrastructure while creating millions of middle class and working class jobs…so that these hard working Americans can in turn go out and consume, consume, consume with their tax free dollars…which in turn will create millions more middle class and working class jobs.
8. Put immense government pressure (or just pass a few laws if necessary) on the corporate sector to recreate America’s manufacturing base…and to build those new manufacturing facilities inside the United States. What’s the point in spending on manufactured goods, if the money is going to flow to China for instance…to an American corporation doing business there?

After all, don’t you think it just a bit unpatriotic for U.S. manufacturers to be employing foreign labor at the expense of your job, or that of your neighbor?

9. Last but not least…do whatever it takes to switch to alternative forms of energy…thereby creating an oil glut that will send a message to oil producers everywhere, and particularly to those in SW Asia.

Can’t do number 9 you say? Well, I’ll tell you this folks…if we don’t do it, prices will go so high that our economy will suffer severe repercussions! And aren’t you just sick and tired of being dictated to by the Saudi royal family for instance, while a member of your family may be sacrificing his or her life or limbs, sight, hearing and mental & physical health to keep the Saudi royal family safe?

I think you get the idea. That’s right, none of this really makes much sense at all…except to George Bush and John McCain, of course.

What could prevent the rainbow coalition of Obama/Pelosi/Reid from changing your lives for the better? Well, just listen a minute to the likes of George Bush and the likes of John McCain try to scare the living daylights out of you by saying that raising their taxes will somehow immobilize the wealthy (freeze them in their tracks)…and the economy along with them.

How ridiculous is that?

So, IF the majority of the middle class and working class vote republican (along with the privileged class and super privileged class)…middle classers and working classers have only themselves to blame for not giving Obama/Pelosi/Reid the opportunity to make their lives better, e.g., the “9 points”.

Likewise, IF the majority of the middle class and working class vote democrat…and Obama/Pelosi/Reid don’t “make it happen”, e.g., ignore the “9 points”…then the democrats won’t deserve a second chance in 2010 or 2012.

Let’s hope that these 3 individuals don’t succumb to the “fear of change”…and the fear of calling the bluff of the wealthy who have been loving it ever since Ronald Reagan and a democrat congress lowered their taxes to 28% (now 35%) in 1986.

Best Regards,
Oklahoma Jack

Posted by Oklahoma Jack | Report as abusive
 

Obama ‘s family is symbolic of the world evolution. It’s great.

Posted by Cecile | Report as abusive
 

Huh? Even though Obama has clearly made his point, I still didn’t get it. I mean, sure, “we all have a piece of each other” but it isn’t enough reason to solve our differences.

Our differences, as nations, as individuals, are deeply rooted to our beliefs, our culture, our tradition, and our education. Obama may look at the world however he wants it. To recognize, to accept, and to respect, is one thing. Gearing it towards change is another.

 

Well done Obama! Less of the typical narrow – mindeness, more thinking outside of neat little boxes. Show’s your not stuck in, what has a sometimes been, a very sad past

Posted by Hez | Report as abusive
 

I believe in Mr. Obama’s position that’s their needs to be a change in the way America conducts itself. It’s administration and international policies..why? simply because America has great influence in lives of many the world over. America has fought hard to achieve this position. But such position carries the great responsibility to not lose your way. I believe America is losing it’s way. The world no longer trust them to deliver what they so heavenly preach to do. The world is wise to rhetoric.. however, the human in each and every one of us has the intuition to sense, in whatever way we can, what a candidate gives. What’s his position, his outlook. And importantly, if it’s good for you and me.. So far what Obama brings to the table is just that..He is so many things beyond just a member of a particular race.. He represent what we want in a person. how we would like a person to be. That’s why so many amongst the American population supports him. I’m not an American and I follow this election with great intrege. He’s the strongest of the candidates. I’ve what how he has answered those questions on the spot. And his mental strenght was impressive certainly above average. That’s the kind of man you want running your country..It would please me greatly if he were to visit Trinidad & Tobago. I would like to look at him in person.

Posted by barry | Report as abusive
 

I have no problem with him expressing who he is so people get to understand his background more. Hillary can pretend she’s a good ol girl in tune with Nascar etc and McCain can tell old stories but Obama gets slammed for talking about his roots? Don’t we want to have a little information on our candidates to try and decide if we want them as president? Many people are from multi-racial families and what’s the problem to say so? At least he isn’t lying like Hillary does about her glorious experience and putting up fake fronts that she’s so in tune with life around her.

Posted by Zarthus | Report as abusive
 

Well coming from a tri-racial family myself, I can tell you that it does make a difference in your attitude towards others. It is the inside knowledge of someone else’s culture or belief system which as Americans we all believe in but every culture puts emphasis on what they hold most sacred, approve as acceptable, their view of work as a whole, their willingness to go to war and sacrifice their family, etc. Example: One family who might have lost a son or daughter in war might be devastated and angry at our government for their family member’s death. Still others will be so very proud even though they feel the loss just as much.

I believe that the fact that Senator Obama is half white and half black and the very important fact that he has lived outside of the U.S. gives him a perspective none of us can identify with but I can certainly appreciate. I believe he brings a new lens and a new perspective to the table and it is that slight difference in our perspective that will allow him to be very successful in diplomatic affairs. Of course, the manner in which he has run his campaign is exemplary; no one has been so successful and it truly reflects his leadership qualities and, most importantly, his judgment. It doesn’t matter if you have experience if you lack judgment especially when we’re talking about the highest office in this great nation of ours. Also keep in mind that judgment is not related to age. You either have it or you don’t.

Give the man a break, he’s trying to share his life to assure us that he’s one of us. I cannot see how some Americans who have or are currently in the same plight in which Senator Obama found himself as a child cannot identify with him. Of course each person’s story is a little different but I have learned that there are many Americans who grew up struggling like Senator Obama’s mother. Basically this is the son of a white single mother who struggled to get by. His family is very rich in history. He’s trying to connect. Listen to the story, even if it sounds convenient or political, one’s past says everything about one’s future.

Look at George Bush, we should have looked harder at his reckless past and poor performance. They were great indicators of things to come.

And please don’t act offended as if Senator Clinton doesn’t tell you she was born in every state and even tries to talk like the people of the region … she and Bill are masters at this game. It’s called politics.

Posted by Edie Martinez | Report as abusive
 

I think that inclusivitiy is so important and Obama offers a breath of fresh air by embracing the diversity that he is and most of us are. I hope that this not seen as an anomaly but that people begin to view their family as including everyone. They are all there and even if you resemble each other more than Obama’s family seems to, this account is one of many chutneys or masalas on planet earth.

 

I would like to hear Obama talk about his mother, his experiences with her, his memory of her and how she influences his thinking right now. I like Obama, and as one of his white women supporters, I want to see him freely acknowledge his white side. I have a feeling that he is afraid to do this. It seems that he has only identified himself with his black side.

Posted by Carole H. | Report as abusive
 

Carole H is correct I believe, it would be interesting to hear more about that side of his family. Hopefully that will come out more as his campaign winds on. Perhaps that would be a good question for youtube or obama.com?

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive
 

Funny thing… when I read that headline I thought “Hayek” referred to Friedrich Hayek, the economist revered by Margaret Thatcher (and Ronald Reagan). I guess this just shows what a nerd I am sometimes ;)

Posted by John D. BLair | Report as abusive
 

The problem with Obama mentioning his “white side”, is that the Republicans and possibly Hillary will turn that around on him and make it seem as if it’s the only way he can connect with the middle class, white voters. I have no doubt in my mind that it would be miscontsrued as that way and the other candidates would scream that he’s playing the race card, again.

I think people should look past the color of his skin and see him as the person he is. If people will vote for him only because he says he’s half white too, I don’t honestly don’t care for their opinion. There’s no place for racism anymore.

Posted by JosephB | Report as abusive
 

Oh dear………..i understand how Mr. Obama feels obliged to reach out to that unfortunate part of the population who still look at the world in terms of black and white, brown and yellow, but i m sure he feels he should not have to.
As far as i am concerned, he could be purple with yellow dots on his nose and green stripes in his hair , and i would still vote for him, because i like what’s in his head. The rest is completely and utterly irrelevant.

 

For those who would like to know more about Sen. Obama’s mother, please read his book (the first one) and google his name + mother’s name (I purposely left out her name so that folks will actually research. You tend to come across so much more information that way). I have come across several articles written about his mother. She was a remarkable person and he has said on numerous occasions how much she influenced his view of the world. From what I have read, he is just like her in terms of her desire for peace and equality and to bring the world together.

Posted by sheri | Report as abusive
 

As an outsider to the USA, but keen to observe how the people of America choose a new ‘Leader’, I believe that Americans need to think very hard about the choice’s they are confronted with regarding exactly ‘WHO’ they are voting for. If I was an American Citizen, I would focus on voting for a candidate that did not wish to hide their real origins! Hilary Clinton may be a bit of a ‘Bull’, but she has all the right connections where it counts from an economic point of veiw, and no little experience of what the job entails! She could do far more for America than Obama ever could!

Posted by English Andrew | Report as abusive
 

Great ideas, Oklahoma Jack! How about requiring a larger margin in order to speculate on oil futures? Ought to dampen things down a bit. Senator Dorgan’s idea.

I wish people would get past the race thing, so stupid and boring. There are good people and bad people in all races and cultures, and wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?

I like Senator Obama because he seems to think things through and does have the good judgment and even temperament that a President needs. He has handled his campaign well in the organization and the finances, getting small contributions from a broad range of individuals. He is inspiring and a true leader.

He is also supporting the veterans and military families with his recent GI Bill vote, unlike Senator McCain. We military families appreciate it!

Posted by Terri | Report as abusive
 

The problem with Obama mentioning his “white side” now is that he didn’t write a book about his mother.

Posted by Miguel | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/