Posted tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Abercrombie is all foot-in-mouth on Obama birth

January 28, 2011

President Barack Obama must be getting pretty steamed at Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his bumbling grandstand play that stirred up the Obama birth controversy all over again.

The non-issue had pretty much settled down with most reasonable Americans accepting that Obama is a U.S. citizen born in Hawai‘i — until Abercrombie announced with much fanfare that he’d use his new powers as governor to prove once and for all that Obama was born here.

That got the crazies stirred up anew, and when Abercrombie abandoned his effort after finding there was nothing more he could do to certify Obama’s birth beyond what the state had already done, it only amplified the cries of conspiracy.

In the latest bizarre twist, a “celebrity journalist” named Mike Evans, who claimed to be a friend of Abercrombie’s, said on a Minnesota radio station that the Hawai‘i governor told him he was unable to find Obama’s birth certificate despite an intensive search.

Evans later said he “mispoke,” hadn’t talked to Abercrombie and what he said wasn’t true, but not before the story was widely circulated in the national media, getting beyond the usual crackpots to guys with big audiences like Rush Limbaugh and Chris Matthews. Even our own state Sen. Sam Slom bit on the bogus story in his small business newsletter.

So now, because of Abercrombie, an issue that was all but dead will likely dog Obama into the 2012 election. Nice going, bearded one.

In his State of the State speech, Abercrombie told an amusing story about how as a young legislator he was outfoxed by veteran Kaua‘i Rep. Tony Kunimura.

After the Obama birth fiasco, the governor should now ask himself what Kunimura asked him then, “Did you learn anything, college boy?”

‘Birthers’ snipe at Boehner, Abercrombie

January 12, 2011

U.S. Rep. John Boehner is a hero of the Republican right as the new Speaker of the House, but he’s in a bit of hot water with the party’s “birther” fringe for refusing to join them in questioning President Barack Obama’s Hawai‘i  birth.

He’s said in recent interviews that he considers the issue settled, partly on the word of Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, his former colleague in Congress.

“The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there,” the speaker told NBC. “That’s good enough for me.”

That drew the ire of the United States Justice Foundation, one of the leading birther groups, which credited Boehner for “his staunch patriotic, conservative stand,” but said he is  “TOTALLY WRONG” if he “actually believes liberal Hawaiian Governor Neil Abercrombie when he says that Mr. Obama was actually born in Hawaii.”

The group suggested it won’t believe any documentation Abercrombie produces, alleging he is “a ‘fellow traveler’ (i.e., member) of the Marxist Democratic Socialist of America.  And, of course, so was Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.”

Birther groups are pushing for congressional hearings on the circumstances of Obama’s birth, and 12 Republicans have offered legislation expressing doubts about the president’s birthplace.

Despite his personal view that the issue is settled, Boehner said he’s not inclined to smack down those in his GOP caucus who think otherwise, saying, “It’s not up to me to tell them what to think.”

Obama birth flap born again after Abercrombie wades in

January 4, 2011

Talk about a story with legs. Items about Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s vow before Christmas to prove once and for all that President Barack Obama was born here continue to pop up  in my daily Google feed of national news about Hawai‘i.

That’s some favor Abercrombie did his old pal; he took a non-issue that was as settled as it’s ever going to be and fired it up all over again.

There are basically two kinds of “birthers.” There are the lackwits who wouldn’t believe Abercrombie if he produced a video of the baby popping out of the womb with Diamond Head in the background.

Then there are the most unscrupulous of the political opportunists on the right, who are happy to exploit the lackwits’ lack of wits to sow doubts about the legitimacy of our first black president.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle already vouched for the validity of Obama’s Hawai‘i birth records. If the conspiracists won’t accept the word of a Republican who spent weeks stumping for John McCain and Sarah Palin, what in the world does Abercrombie think he can say or do to change their minds?

It seems to be a case where Obama’s need to give this nonsense a rest trumps our governor’s need to emote in the national media about his personal hurt over the doubters on the fringe.

Democrats go mindless on taxes

December 9, 2010

While local Democrats celebrate their near sweep in the recent election, their counterparts in Washington are proving the old Will Rogers line: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Congressional Democrats have made jokes of themselves by bashing their own president for cutting a necessary deal with Republicans to preserve tax cuts for the middle class and secure benefits for the unemployed in exchange for also temporarily extending tax cuts for the wealthy.

They get their butts kicked in the election and they respond by fighting with each other instead of the other side.

We should remember that President Barack Obama had to negotiate a compromise with Republicans only because Democratic lawmakers, who control both houses, couldn’t deliver the votes to support the bill they and Obama wanted to end the tax cuts for the wealthy.

If you don’t have the votes for the deal you want, you negotiate the best deal you can get, and that’s what Obama did. If the Democrats’ prospects improve, they can fight it again when the tax cuts expire in two years — and between now and then, they can do all the railing they want to hold Republicans accountable for pandering to the rich.

What’s the point of a protracted fight the Democrats can’t currently win that only sticks it to middle-class taxpayers and the unemployed? If the Democrats don’t have the votes now, winning the fight only diminishes come January when the GOP takes over the House and picks up seats in the Senate.

Since when is it weakness to pursue responsible compromise when you lack the votes to have it all your own way?

Our own Democratic Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka had it right when they said they’ll will support Obama’s compromise to help working families despite their strong reservations about extending tax cuts for the wealthy, which Inouye said will cause him to  “hold my nose.”

Akaka said, “Working families in Hawai‘i need our help to put food on the table. They will spend the money locally and help our economy. I simply cannot allow these middle-class tax cuts to expire or abandon the unemployed during these tough times.”

Obama must transform the debate

November 12, 2010

Neil Abercrombie learned a lot from the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign in fashioning his Hawai‘i gubernatorial campaign theme of hope and change.

Now there’s something Obama could learn from the Abercrombie campaign as he deals with the Republican resurgence in Congress and prepares to run for a second term in two years.

Abercrombie won by surprisingly wide margins against Mufi Hannemann in the primary and James “Duke” Aiona in the general election by claiming the high road from the start of the campaign and never wavering from the course.

When an opponent took a below-the-belt shot at him, Abercrombie would respond by lecturing, “This is not how a governor acts.” He got in plenty of his own shots, of course, but he drew a line and never sank below it.

Voters who were turned off by the negativity that inundated the airwaves this election season responded to his message.

Obama could benefit politically and do the country a favor by making a similar aggressive claim to the high road.

With the standoff between Obama and the Republicans, there’s not going to be a lot of policy transformation in the next two years. But he could do something about transforming the poisonous political tone of polarization, demonization and name-calling by making civility, decency and common respect the issue.

To this point, the president has mostly shrugged it off as the opposition has rudely shouted him down, refused him the respect traditionally given the presidency and spread lies about his birth and religious beliefs.

Maybe it’s time for him to take to the presidential bully pulpit with some stern lectures about how this isn’t the way a civil society acts.

There are partisans Obama will never reach, but he might be surprised by the response of the more reasonably minded who are tired of the toxic politics.

It’s just not a sustainable future for our country to have our people divided in half with each side refusing to cede any legitimacy to the other.

Begging for Barack

October 29, 2010

E-mail can be either highly entertaining or mind-numbing around election time, depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person.

I’ve been getting so much e-mail from Joe Biden lately that he’s starting to address me by my first name.

In what apparently is his last and final offer, the vice president’s latest missive hits me up for $3 (I shook my iPad and no zeroes fell out) to support President Barack Obama’s agenda. Is he kidding? For that kind of money, you’d think he’d call me Mr. Shapiro.

“Dig deep, David,” he implores. “There’s only one way to wake up the morning after an election — with no regrets.”

I’m afraid I started having regrets a long time before election day. Does this strike anybody else as more like panhandling than politicking?


To pick on Republicans a little, I got another email, indirectly, from H. William Burgess, the attorney who’s led local conservative opposition to the Akaka bill for native Hawaiian recognition.

He’s threatening to withhold his coveted endorsement from Republican gubernatorial candidate James “Duke” Aiona and congressional candidate Charles Djou unless they withdraw their support for the Akaka bill.

He’s asking friends to send short e-mails to the candidates backing his position and suggested some wording. One of his suggestions, in a “corrected” version of the email, no less: “Ask the people first before before considering the Alala bill.”

I suppose  that’s one way of saying he thinks the legislation is for the birds.

If I send $3, will the the Aiona and Djou campaigns tell me how many folks actually sent them e-mails with the typo pasted in?

Local Democrats weigh the Obama factor

October 20, 2010

Hawai‘i  Democrats are placing a heavy bet that President Barack Obama’s popularity remains considerably higher in his native state than in the rest of the country, where his fortunes are clearly sagging.

While Democrats in other states run from the president, local candidates continue to embrace him.

A large part of Colleen Hanabusa’s campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is built around supporting Obama’s stimulus program, health care reforms and tax proposals that Djou and the Republicans have denounced as costly failures.

Democratic candidate for governor Neil Abercrombie was ebullient when he received the president’s formal endorsement this week, saying, “I treasure President Obama’s friendship and I’m happy to have his endorsement. If I’m elected Governor, our people will benefit from his commitment to Hawaii, the place of his birth.”

One top Democrat told me he didn’t believe a poll showing Abercrombie and Republican Duke Aiona in a dead heat because the poll had Obama’s local approval at barely 50 percent, which he thought was too low and demonstrated a Republican tilt to the survey.

My gut feeling is that while Obama’s local approval has dropped from the 71.5 percent of the vote the got against McCain here in 2008, it’s probably still high enough to be a net plus for the Democrats.

Can the same be said for Democratic candidates supported by our senior U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye? I look at that a little bit in my column in today’s Star-Advertiser, “Inouye might have a job for life, but it is not a royal appointment.”

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